The Asterisk War
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water ?
The feature piece is, of course, the fight between the Ayato/Julis and Irene/Priscilla teams – and really, it's the former two vs. Irene and her Gravi-Sheath. To get here the series entirely skipped over the third round, as this is a fourth round match, and the battle doesn't disappoint. Neither side wastes time in pulling out their big guns, but Irene is at a disadvantage here, as Ayato and Julis have both honed their teamwork and coordinated strategy, and that is fully on display – a nice touch in a genre where fights all too often degenerate into tag-team affairs. As Ayato tackles Irene head-on, Julis backs him up with occasional support fire but is actually setting a double-layered trap. Ayato also takes the atypical strategy of going after the Gravi-Sheath rather than Irene, which throws Irene at first. Eventually the battle turns badly enough for her that the Gravi-Sheath takes over, which also forces Ayato to pull out his most powerful tricks both to win and to protect Priscilla. Though he does eventually triumph and destroy the Gravi-Sheath in the process, everyone in power – including the girl in the throne who has appeared in the opener but not yet in the regular episode content – also gets to see his biggest secret: the way the seal laid on him gives him a limited duration on his top-level power use, and how debilitated he becomes when he exceeds that. Knowing that this will be a future problem, Ayato concludes afterwards that to advance he must confront and deal with that seal. But that, of course, is a concern for next season.
Besides dropping all kinds of tidbits about where the series might go next (including an epilogue in which a mysterious figure connected to Ayato's sister ominously suggests that the stall on his plans caused by that sister might finally be over), the other thing that the season's final episode does is explore the Irene/Priscilla pair a bit more. An opening flashback, which suggests that they come from a war-torn region, shows how their Genestella status comes out and how their parents tried to sell them off once it was known. The Le Wolf President then found them, which is apparently how Irene became indebted to him. At the end of the episode, after the battle, Priscilla insists that she wants to become stronger so she can fight beside Irene rather than just being protected by here. That almost certainly means that we'll be seeing more of them at some point in the second season, but even if not, seeing a little extra effort put into characterizing them is welcome, as they are a likable duo.
Evaluated on its own, episode 12 offers a satisfying battle and a reasonable first-season stopping point, though it does not actually do anything spectacular. The same can really be said of the season as a whole: a solid and generally entertaining but definitely not spectacular rendition of the “super-powered school battle” concept. Some strong character pairings offset deficiencies in suitably building up drama in some story arcs (especially the last one) and plenty of unresolved threads are left hanging out to entice viewers to come back. This won't be a hotly-anticipated returning title for me in the spring, but it is decent enough that I will be back.
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