The Asterisk War
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 10 of
The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water ?
One-Punch Man is, I think indisputably, the pre-eminent action series of the season, but The Asterisk War is no slouch either, when it actually devotes itself to its action elements. Such is (mostly) the case with episode 10.
Coverage of the first round of the Festa concludes with the first battle for Saya and Kirin. Each of them gets ample chance to show off, with Saya in particular shining as she demonstrates that being a gun-type Lux user doesn't leave her incapable of physically defending herself; those are some nifty moves in using her gun to ward off melee attacks. (Apparently her training with Ayato has borne big fruit.) It doesn't take long to overcome their overmatched opponents. With the beginning of the second round, Julis now takes her turn and makes short work of her and Ayato's opponents using her flame powers, while Ayato hangs back and watches. The third match of the episode – and the second second-round match shown – features Lester and his partner taking on Irene, the dangerous-looking woman introduced last episode. Ayato and Julis had already encountered her in person when they came upon her in a street brawl, and Julis is already wary of her because she seemed to recognize Ayato and approach him menacingly despite Julis being the one who called her out about endangering others by fighting in the street. Viewing this match isn't going to make her any less uneasy, as Irene's demonstration of her full power with her gravity-manipulating Ogre Lux and method for overcoming its key weakness (the weapon depletes the wielder's blood, so she uses vampire-like fangs granted by the weapon to feed off of her regenerating partner/sister's blood) marks her as a fearsome opponent. Fortunately her sister seems capable of reining her in outside of the arena, though this does raise the question of what Le Wolfe's president is holding over Irene concerning her sister if the sister is roaming around freely.
The pacing of this episode is excellent, as it fully resolves three main battle scenes and still leaves time in between for other stuff; none of them taking more than 4½ minutes to play out is the key. Some of that other stuff includes an exchange between the Allekant robots and their master, which reveals that the reason the female-type one is able to cow the male-type one – and he is unable to resist it – is that she is meant to be his limiter. (Doubtless this will come into play down the road.) Saya's father also pops up and has a new gun for her, which she will get to use in the second round, and Ayato and Julis get a cute scene where Julis's long-restrained tsundere tendencies finally bloom again; she is envious of the way that Ayato has previously patted Kirin and Saya on the head and wants some of that kind of service, too. The restraint on fan service for viewers also goes out the window with a steamed-out shower scene for Saya and Kirin, one which the devilish Saya makes sure that Ayato unwittingly gets in on. That scene is more notable, though, for one tiny detail: it is an extremely rare occasion where a girl-on-girl boob-grabbing attempt is successfully fended off. Even more surprisingly, A-1 Pictures didn't skimp on the animation there, as Kirin repeatedly slapping away Saya's attempts is feature fight scene-level detail.
Really though, most of the fight scenes looked good, with the exception being the early stages of the Lester/Irene fight. Choreography is sound and the animation shows plenty enough movement to be convincing. Despite the steady pacing, I still question whether or not the tournament can be concluded in only two episodes, but the series definitely isn't dragging its heels even though it isn't cutting many corners.
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