The Asterisk War: The Steps of Glory

By Yuu Miyazaki and okiura. Released in Japan by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Haydn Trowell.

There’s good news and bad news in this new volume of The Asterisk War. The bad news is that this is the start of the series’ THIRD tournament arc, and with a few exceptions, battle scenes are what we’re going to get. The good news is that this author is quite good at writing battle scenes, particularly with a lot of young men and women kicking ass in various kinds of ways. We do get more at the start of the book showing the growing relationship between our villain, Madiath Mesa, and Ayato’s mother Sakura, whose real name seems to be Akari. It’s no surprise by now that she’s a girl shunned by the rest of her family due to “out of control” powers and forced to essentially live in a shed for most of her childhood, given what we’ve seen of this world to date. We do also get a bit of Kirin investigating, though that’s mostly her almost getting killed. The rest is fighting and foreshadowing of more fighting to come.

Saya is on the cover this time, and does get a bit to do, as she’s in the tournament. I was amused that chaotic, unpredictable fighters are her weakness, which makes perfect sense given her own personality and her love for Ayato. Ayato actually gets the most troublesome fights, not a big surprise given he’s the main character, and learns the hard way that the nature of this tournament (one-on-one, as opposed to pairs or groups) means everyone is far more brutal – several characters are hospitalized and the narrative has to tell us “it’s OK, they’re going to live”. He fights a big guy who has a few surprise Luxes that he can bring out, which shows off that there are various factions trying to influence this tournament as much as possible. He also fights a very nice girl and is very nice back at her, and it’s a good thing their battle is fierce otherwise I suspect the audience watching these fights would have been rather bored.

For those wanting more Julis, sorry to say you will have to wait – she’s barely in this book, and we don’t get to see any of her preliminary bouts. Instead we get a large number of characters, some of whom we’ve seen before and some we haven’t, but I can guarantee you I’ve mostly forgotten who they are. That’s fine, we’re not here for character development, we’re here to read some nice fights. Hilda’s battle was excellent, and I look forward to seeing the Mad Scientist fight, even though the narrator for some reason wants to tell me I won’t be able to get it. I was also amused at the student council presidents of the various schools trying to figure out how to explain the various borderline-illegal things their students have done. Next volume promises us the start of the real Tournament proper – in other words, battles where we may NOT guess the outcome in advance.

This is apparently the final arc in the series, per the author, which doesn’t surprise me given the main cast is about to graduate. I am assuming that many good fights will be had, all the remaining women in love with Ayato will confess to him, and he will end up with Julis, because in the end Asterisk War is well-written cliche but still very, very cliche. Still, I’ll be back next time.

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