The Asterisk War: Gathering Clouds and Resplendent Flames

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

I was going to spend this review of the latest Asterisk War talking about how awesome Saya Sasamiya is, the girl whose main solution to every single problem is “I guess I just need a bigger gun”, but then I looked at my review of the previous volume and realized I’d done that already. But I mean, come on, what do you expect me to talk about? The fights? That said, there is a little bit of non-tournament stuff here. The King Arthur school is back, and one of their members is now mind-controlled and evil, and has a backstory that makes me wonder if the author of Asterisk War read A Certain Scientific Railgun one day and thought “Hmmm”. And we finally get the end of the Sugary Days flashbacks with Akari and Madiath Mesa, which shows off his reasoning for being the big bad of the series, and I guess it’s all right as a motivation, but I dunno, the bad guys in this series just feel really boring. I guess I do need to talk about the fights.

Kirin’s on the cover, but, as with the previous book, isn’t actually the focus. We get instead 1) Ayato vs. Fuyuka, who essentially calls up a spiritual tag team to beat the crap out of Ayato (he still wins – hard to avoid that spoiler given he also fights later in the book); 2) Orphelia vs. Sylvia, which gives us some more of Sylvia’s backstory and thankfully does not kill her off, though it’s a close one; Saya vs. Lenaty, where even the announcers are making fun of Saya (who is, admittedly, wearing what amounts to an elementary schooler’s backpack), and again MORE DAKKA wins the day; and finally Ayato vs. Julis. The last battle you’d think would be called off, as his sister’s “you have a bomb in my body” problem is dealt with here as well, but when Ayato hears what Julis is actually planning to do…

Asterisk War is never going to be winning any “favorite series” competitions – as far as I can tell, its current fanbase is divided between those who hated the Ayato and Julis fight because he was too overpowered and those who hated it because he wasn’t overpowered enough – but it chugs along its fights never wear out their welcome, and, as I said at the start of the book, it has Saya. I was amused at the epilogue, which discusses the finals as if Saya has already lost. Saya, while admitting she thinks the same thing, is rather pissed off about this, but doesn’t want to forfeit even though she’s grievously injured and Orphelia literally tried to murder her last opponent, because she has something she “wants to try out”. Several times she thinks to herself that she’s the weakest of those in the quarterfinals, but now she’s in the semis, and I highly doubt the author will kill her off for drama, so I look forward to seeing what happens.

But that may take a bit. Yes, those dreaded words, we’ve caught up with Japan. The 16th volume is out there at the end of March, but I suspect we won’t see it till the fall at the earliest. Till then, Asterisk War is still coasting on being “okay”, but it has Saya, and that’s good enough for me.

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