The Asterisk War: The Golden Bough Conflagration

By Yuu Miyazaki and okiura. Released in Japan as “Gakusen Toshi Asterisk” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Haydn Trowell.

OK, this took about a year longer than I was expecting it to when I wrote the review of Vol. 15 in February 2021. Part of the reason is that this took a long time to come out in Japan. The complete lack of interior illustrations may tell you why – the artist was ill, and the writer really did not want to change to a different artist. Still, we get a cover! Sylvia is on it! That said, you know what Asterisk War cover appearances are like. Fans of Sylvia will probably be unhappy with this book. The book itself tries to balance its three genres – harem romcom, tournament fighting, and counterterrorism thriller – but, to no one’s surprise, the last of those is going to get the attention in this penultimate book. We get set up to most of the big fights, with the help of our main cast, as well as Minato Wakamiya! You remember Minato. From the spinoff series? That never got licensed? Yeah. (She was briefly in Book 13-14.)

We begin with the fight between Saya and Orphelia, which… goes about how you’d expect, but Saya gets crucial information and also doesn’t die, so I’ll call that a moral victory. So now we know why Julis is pushing all her friends away, and also what the villains hope to achieve… though the villains are not really working together because they like each other. As such, while Julis prepares for her fight against Orphelia, which will no doubt be the centerpiece of the next volume, the others go to take out all the villains they can. Ayato, Saya and Kirin face off against Madiath Mesa… as well as his mind-controlled underling. Meanwhile, Claudia and Sylvia are fighting Varda-Vaos, bringing along Minato because they believe she will prove useful, and possibly also as her personality is basically “I’m gonna do my best!” with a massive anime hammer.

This series really works best when writing fights, and they are well-written, so I appreciate that. As for the villains, I feel it acknowledges that they’re a bit meh, though two of the three fights are still to come. And then there’s Dirk, who pretty much behaves exactly as you’d expect Dirk to behave. I’d say he’s a problematic fave, except this series has no fans anymore, so who really likes him enough to call him a fave? The fights basically exist to have the supporting cast do really cool things, but then end up unable to go on any further. Kirin wins but is unconscious, Sylvia… well, we hope she’s back to normal, and Claudia seems to have sacrificed the rest of her life in order to win. She’s probably the one I worry most about. As for Julis and Ayato (and Saya, but you know she’ll be written out fast), wait for the next book.

Which is the final book in the series. Hopefully it won’t take a year and a half to come out here, but given this is not one of Yen On’s top sellers who knows? The Japanese volume came out in June, and had the reaction you’d expect for a harem romcom with fans that get Very Angry Indeed. For those who enjoy this series (it’s pretty much just me, isn’t it?), this was a solid book. Which it had pictures, but oh well.

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