The Asterisk War
Episode 9

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 9 of
The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water ?

Whether directly or indirectly, everything that has happened in the series to date has been building towards the Phoenix Festa, which finally gets underway with episode 9. Based on other magical school series over the past few years, there are two ways that this could play out: either the tournament will continue in the background while other things transpire in the foreground (a ala Unbreakable Machine-Doll) or else the tournament will be the primary structural focus of the remaining few episodes this season, albeit perhaps with some nefarious side activities going on (a la High School DxD Born). My estimation, based on what we have seen so far and what transpires at the beginning of the episode, is that we will see more the latter than the former. With some judicious round-skipping they could even get through the finals by the end of the season, which would mean that whatever happens in the tournament will set the tone for the second season coming next year.

The “what transpires at the beginning of the episode” is connected to an ominous note near the end of the previous episode. There was one person that Claudia was worried about Ayato/Julis and Kirin/Saya running into in the Festa, one Irene Urzaiz, whom we initially encounter in a dungeon-like area. Dirk Eberwein, the unctuous Student Council President of Le Wolfe Academy, is willing to let her out in exchange for her taking down Ayato, as his Lux is regarded as a potential future problem. Though she is being coerced (Dirk apparently has her sister under his thumb), she also looks like trouble. Far less trouble are Ayato and Julis's first-round opponents, who last only a few seconds against Ayato. Much more of an immediate concern for both them and Saya/Kirin are the Allekant “puppets,” who have full personalities and quickly show to be devastatingly strong. And was the director of the tournament specifically twisting the rules to allow their inclusion, with an eye on Ayato in particular as he announced it?

Whatever the case with that last point, the stage has effectively been set for the rest of the tournament, as even the crowd seemed to comprehend that the presence of the Allekant puppets dramatically ups the stakes. Seeing the camaraderie of the two lead Seidoukan teams as they take a Kirin-and-Saya-prepared lunch before the tournament starts is refreshing even if it does has more than a tinge of harem flavor to it; the effort put into character development in earlier episodes is paying dividends here. The battles shown so far are crisp and mostly to the point; the banter between the two puppets was almost entirely recycled, but they do not goof around too much. The technical merits for the battle animation are also pretty good.

Overall, the grade drops a little because nothing all that remarkable happens here. However, the series is still solidly put together for what it is, which keeps the grade from dropping off more than one step.

Rating: B-

The Asterisk War is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

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