The Asterisk War
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water ?
Once again an episode of The Asterisk War takes the focus away from its main female character in lieu of other female characters. This time, though, the male lead is also out of the picture, thus turning this into one of those “side characters in the spotlight” episodes which pop up from time to time within the “battle school” genre. Unlike many other episodes of its type, though, it does not end up feeling like filler. Instead it turns into a surprisingly satisfying bonding exercise between Kirin and Saya, one which could have significant ramifications down the road.
Kirin apparently accepted Saya's surprise proposal last episode to team up for the Phoenix Festa, but while both have the skills necessary to be competitive, their teamwork is distinctly lacking, especially compared to Ayato and Julis's. Hence Saya proposes that the two of them devote a day to socializing with each other to hopefully build up some teamwork, although in truth neither girl has the first clue how to go about it (albeit for different reasons; Saya is just antisocial, while Kirin's uncle never allowed her to do so). They eventually decide to go out shopping for a birthday gift for Saya's father, but since he is a mad scientist, that proves tricky until Saya asks Kirin to lead her to a shady gun/Lux shop, where a broken but still specially-made piece proves ideal. As a trade-off Kirin has Saya help her learn to swim, which through a series of mishaps leads to a confrontation with one Violet Weiberg, a Strega from a rival school who's more than a bit proud of her middling ranking. That duel proves brief, but afterwards Saya has a good talk with Kirin about how she could have avoided the trouble by being more assertive and thus not letting Violet verbally treat her like a doormat. The experiences and good chance to talk to end up helping the girls to become friends, which pays benefits in their next practice duel.
While the turn-around in the girls' level of teamwork may be a little too much a little too fast to be fully credible, I nonetheless welcome an episode which displays that the leads aren't the only ones who can make an effective team. Remarkably for a character like Saya, she seems to be comfortable enough around Kirin to loosen up a bit; she even smiles on a couple of occasions, and that is so rare for her archetype that even male harem leads are not usually graced with it. The two do make a good team and convincing friends, something which should be a nice complement to Julis and Ayato going forward. Perhaps just as importantly, it keeps both from being wasted by hopelessly pine for Ayato.
Amongst other developments, that the President was scheming something was always clear, but it now seems that Ayato's roommate Eishiro is directly involved somehow. The scenes at the pool also spent a little too much time and effort establishing Violet for her to be a one-off character; presumably she will show up in the Festa. Her skimpy bathing suit (amongst others) did provide the episode's prominent dose of fan service, and the scene of her flying across the pool after being shot by Saya is one of the episode's better-animated moments.
So even if it's a little unconventional, it is still another solid, fun, effective episode.
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