Gakusen toshi Asterisk came out in hand with the Rakudai Kishi no Calvary, which is slightly better show. It is yet another unimaginative light-novel adaptation about schools, magic weapons, tournament and weak protagonist who is undefeated badass. Lately this stupid gimmick is so overused. I say stupid, because what is the point of saying about a guy, who never loses a fight that he is "weak". Story itself is quite boring honestly. It is completely open ended for other season or it is the case of read the rest of the source material ending. Not only the end is poor. The very beginning and forgive me for lack of better expression .. It begins as shit. I mean the battle at the beginning, which is never explained. Does make no sense at all. Viewer knows nothing and the show throws at him a battle scene with some generic opponent. The only thing is established is that it is sister of the main protagonist. The fights are not that great either. Except maybe the last episode, where I was mildly interested in the way how the main protagonists are going to win. I knew already they are going to win. I was right about that.
However that is just not enough. I didn't care about scheming of various fractions behind the scenes. I didn't care about romance between main protagonist and the "chosen girl" from his harem. I didn't care about friendship of his little sister with the other girl (the "not chosen" girl in love with the main protagonist). Lastly I didn't care for fights with CGI weapons. Especially since there was no balance. Some were clearly OP as hell.
Characters usual light-novel stuff with tsundere girl, OP main protagonist, etc. I can't think anything worthy of mentioning about them.
Animation was OK, but the CGI weapons were in my opinion slightly off-puting. Soundtrack was ok, but OP and ED forgettable.
Overall I would classify this as an average light-novel adaptation. It is easily forgettable, especially because there was other very similar and slightly more interesting anime (Rakudai Kishi no Calvary) released during the same season.
First and foremost, please note that this review is currently for both The Asterisk War and The Asterisk War (2016) with certain ratings being averaged out between the two seasons.
TAW (2016): 2/10
The Asterisk War (TAW) is the telling of a very clichéd story set in the future in which humankind suffered a global disaster at the hands of a meteor. Many large cities were completely decimated as a result. However, due to a substance called mana, which came from said meteor, human civilization became greatly advanced into the future. Plus, this “mana” proved to be useful in somehow granting select people with special abilities known as Genestella. They, along with the rapidly advancing technology, are to be the future of humankind, with the epicenter being the city of Rikka, also known as Asterisk.
The city of Rikka is home to six academies, all with Genestella students, all who compete against each other in various tournaments in order to claim the right of being number one. People from around the world witness these tournaments for pure entertainment, at the behest of these academies and its students engaging in combat. One of the most renowned tournaments is the Phoenix Festa, which is what the most significant and largest part of the anime revolves around, leading all the way through to the sequel season, The Asterisk War (2016).
Now for the critiquing. TAW is very clichéd as previously mentioned. However, it is a decent telling of such a re-hashed plot. The worst part is the huge cliffhanger at the end of season one, which would’ve been awful for any one watching this when it first aired since there is a gap between the seasons; Fall 2015 for TAW and Spring 2016 for the sequel, its direct continuation. That is a poor job by A-1 Pictures, which leads us into season two, or TAW (2016).
The first few episodes of TAW (2016) started off relatively good, especially since I had minimal expectations after witnessing TAW. However, it was not meant to last. After the solid start to TAW (2016), it completely imploded after that by the addition of way too many potential mini story arcs and scenarios happening within the main story arc. Everything was all over the place with little to no cohesiveness.
To make matters even worse, the damn anime doesn’t end! It leaves the viewers on another large cliffhanger with only the light novels and/or manga left to find out what happens. In all honesty, who would want to though? The story is so broken and incomplete that the potential from the first few episodes of TAW (2016) gets entirely wasted. Season two ends up being horrendous for an anime that only had an “okay” first season to begin with.
The animation featured some good fluidity throughout with acceptable CG elements mixed in. In terms of artistic merits, A-1 Pictures succeeded in creating a world full of color, which continues all the way through with the battle scenes. Where the studio failed was in its generic character designs and simplistic backgrounds, which is surprising since they produce some of the highest quality looking anime in the business.
Lastly, I was surprised to see the quality, or lack thereof, in the HD streaming. It just looked bad at times, standard definition bad with pixels popping up all over the screen. Whether it was due to the studio’s inconsistencies, or my Wi-Fi or hardwire connection is to be debated. I will say that my internet is above average, that I do know.
TAW (2016): 7/10
Season one’s initial ED is wonderfully composed and completely memorable. It’s a beautiful song called “Waiting for the Rain,” sung by Maaya Sakamoto. It is the best part of the entire anime. Outside of that, the remainder of the ED’s and all the OP’s are fine.
The sound effects, especially during the battle scenes, are good. When Ayato wields his Orga Lux, the Ser-Veresta, it has a robotic, Star Wars-like light saber sound to it, which is actually pretty cool. Overall, no complaints here.
Representing the Seidoukan Academy’s team in the Phoenix Festa is Ayato Amagiri, Julis “Glühen Rose” Riessfield, Saya Sasamiya, and Kirin Toudou. They are a fun bunch to watch between their competitive battles and the overall interaction of their personalities amongst themselves. It is not always the case on an individual scale. Ayato is way to agreeable and shows varying emotion that is often inconsistent and all over the place. He is a badass, but an unremarkable one. Both Tsundere princess Julis and Kirin are two of the better characters. Julis has a spunky attitude and personality that makes up for some of Ayato’s deficiencies in that department. Kirin’s use of a real katana versus an Ogra Lux scores some major awesome points in my book, personally. That said, she can more than hold her own against equally powerful opponents, sometimes flat out kicking their asses. Saya is borderline Stoic, but likeable. Her team partnership with Kirin is strong in technique, but a little on the weaker side in personality. However, they’re more engaging when they are partnered in one of the storyline’s mini arcs.
Where the rest of the general cast is concerned, there are some definite issues with poor writing, bad development, and general aggravation. Just to mention a few standouts: Gustave is old, arrogant, and overpowered. He’s a worthless Elderly Genestella who should find himself a coffin and be buried in it. Dirk is another shit bag like the just mentioned old man. It’s too bad we don’t get to see him get knocked off and buried alongside Gustave. The likeable Eishirou Yabuki is the first to last character I’ll specifically mention. He has some uniquely crazy ability that only gets briefly showcased once, and then only slightly hinted at another time prior. His ability is not clearly witness to fully identify it, which would’ve been nice to do so in his character background that never happens. Julis’s childhood friend, Orphelia, is another one whose back story never comes to fruition despite her evident strength and abilities. I’ll stop here because this list could just keep going. That’s poorly executed these characters are in conjunction with the poor storyline.
Overall character development was seriously lacking. It didn’t help that A-1 Pictures introduced so many additional characters in TAW (2016), especially mid-point or later into the season. Their introductions were poorly timed, random, and thrown into the mix with little to no understandable purpose, other than to bolster lousy mini story arcs and create unnecessary drama. That’s a nearly unforgiveable job done by the studio.
This anime often gets compared to Chivalry of a Failed Knight, or CFK, and I can certainly see some similarities. The main differences being that CFK is better in storyline, animation, and character development. That’s significant considering that TAW/TAW (2016) had a total of 24 episodes to tell its story, where as CFK only had 12 and it did an overall better job.
How this anime rates as high as it does is totally confusing to me. Season two starts off as if it’s going to better than its predecessor before completely crashing into confusion and burning in sub-mediocrity. It gets so bad that another Post-apocalyptic event can’t save this garbage. Clichés are bad enough, but lousy telling of an already mundane concept is the worst.
TAW was what I expected. TAW (2016) was hopeful in the beginning but ultimately a huge failure. I cannot remember the last time a hopeful, even promising second season pissed me off this much! It was the inspiration I needed to write what has been the longest review I’ve done on anime-planet.
Maybe the third season that will never be can fix this. Oh wait! It probably won’t ever exist. Whether that's a good thing or not is up for debate. Personally, I don't care due to the shear disappointment of TAW (2016).
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE (COMBINED AVERAGE): 5.5/10
TAW (2016): 5/10
Warning this Review may contain spoilers
Welcome to another one of my badly written reviews but you guys still seem to enjoy them...somehow, to be honest if you like a harem with boobs and a op main character then this is the perfect anime for you guys. Don't get me wrong I actually enjoyed most of it but there are clear problems with story and how it was set out.
So the story, there was quite a few holes by the end of the anime, implying a second season to come but who knows. The main problem for me was they tried to cram so much into this season that it all seemed too rushed to actually understand half of it. Plus loads of unanswered questions still remain such as who was Ayato's sister really, was she that much of a big deal? or who wins the Festas that was ongoing that the end of the series...urgh now we just hope for another season XD
There was honestly not much wrong with the animation but there were still moments where you though that 'this scene probably could of been drawn slightly better', mainly when it comes to the shots further away however there were scenes that captured this long shot very well.
Opening was good and catchy however the ending I didn't feel it lived up to that standard, but it was still good compared to some I have heard and absolutely hated. The voice acting was mostly good, there was some times where I thought, maybe that characters voice doesn't really suit them but that was pretty rare.
Ayato, one of the most OP characters ever, come on seriously it doesn't give the other characters a chance when they are up against him, yeah you have this whole limiter thing but still he can still defeat most people quite quickly. Yeah he lost once and nearly lost a second time but still....it's annoying, come up with a more interesting main. (It's Mahouka all over again). Now the female harem that developed...yeah they all have quite typical personalities so I don't want to go into much detail but I just want to say that the character of Irene I loved, she was just so different and her sister may appear as a bland character but still.
But that ends the review here, hope you enjoyed xx
PS: This is for the Monthly Marathon January 2016
Towards the end of 2015, two light novel adaptations became notable for sharing startling similarities between them. Chivalry of a Failed Knight was considered somewhat refreshing, occasionally playing around with awful tropes and channeling the power of competent screenplays and exciting directing to turn a school battle LN adaptation into something worth watching. Conversely, The Asterisk War failed to meet even the basic requirements to function as a generic work of fiction. It's barely worth the effort it takes to write about it, let alone animate it.
Before we start, I dare one of you to make a thread or a blog showcasing the exact amount of problems each episode has. Don't make a drinking game out of it, or you'll die of alcohol poisoning by episode 8. The show literally starts with the main puss ass lead walking into our Tsundere in the middle of undress, under the pretenses that she dropped something important to her. After she claims to owe him one, she tries to incinerate him out of nowhere, resenting him for the rest of the episode in the process. This sets a precedent as to how badly this show will execute and contradict everything, like being low enough to over-sexualize a 13-year-old who regularly gets slapped by her uncle and saved by Ayato, whilst simultaneously acting like her asking for a sparring match the main character she fought of her own volition before is in any way indicator of her strength as a person. Just to provide the illusion that broke as hell Ayato isn't obscenely powerful, they provide flimsy limiters that only work when he uses a specific weapon for too long, despite that he often goes past the time limit of the limiters with no problem until the match finishes. The show breaks its rules so often that its ravaged narrative arcs become that much worse. Even the interesting ideas this dreck presents aren't capitalized, let alone worth capitalizing on in the first place.
The world-building is easily the most fractured part of this dumpster fire. The tournament arc has been hinted to be a tournament in which things can get deadly and bloody for competitors, but no one gets remotely injured or killed, aside from that one pointless and awkwardly done flashback scene at the very beginning., if students can summon hovering screens with their hands for no reason, then why do they need to hold them, and why is there actual paper involved? The world-building of this show is some of the worst I've ever seen, as if the narrative wasn't already cheap enough with its trite nonsense, missed opportunities, and romantic mood killers designed to preserve a terrible harem.
Speaking of which, Ayato is as horribly characterized and intolerable as his harem, which is one of the worst in the mainstream anime hemisphere. Julis is a trash tier Tsundere who plays up that trope to obnoxious degrees, especially when she retardedly blows up her room in an attempt to scorch him alive for the crime of accidentally seeing her in her underwear. Saya is an obnoxiously possessive loli with all the intolerable tropes you'd expect. Kirin is an annoyingly squeaky pushover with a ridiculously lousy character arc As for Claudia, anything she has going for her can be boiled down to sass, sex appeal, and an insidious and mysterious nature that I guarantee this show won't capitalize on. The other characters are either stupid or wasted, with almost no middle ground beyond just being "there". Easily the most crushing case of the latter is Irene, who is a dangerous punk with a heart of gold and an interesting design. They go out of their way to do nothing interesting with her when it's time for her to fight our unbearable main lead in the finale, and the closest we ever get is how her younger sister keeps her in check, which has also been done a million times. When a character like her is the best character in the show, it speaks volumes of just how worthless this cast is.
Visually speaking, this show isn't much better. The colors are certainly bright, and some of the character designs can actually be pretty neat and sexy but the artwork is pretty miserable. It's a low-budget SAO and Aldnoah.Zero style with even shittier and more incomprehensible choreography, and even more all-encompassing fugly CGI. Much like the show itself, the visuals are bad at even pulling off being generic and mediocre, barring a few relatively dazzling environments. Even the aesthetics are gaudy and nonsensical, and the cuts of actually good animation are few and far between. At least Andloah.Zero had some flourish to make up for generic style and cheap CGI.
The OST is a mixed bag of vanilla background noise, awful dubstep, and ill-fitting emotional pieces. Even the OP is a milquetoast pop song, in spite of it being catchy. The ED titled "Waiting for the rain" by Maaya Sakamoto and Ramsus Faber is the only stellar bit of music in the show, as it's a pretty stellar emotional track to close out each episode with. If having one good track is all the audio needs to be unquestionably better than every other aspect of this show combined, then I really can't find a better way to call this show dogshit.
People put themselves through hell slaving away at this, and no one did a remotely good job beyond the musicians. That's as sad as the show itself. This anime isn't even infuriating or laughable, just annoying and lifeless, which is one of the purest tells that this has no value I can assign to it, let alone any reason to be watched enough to garner a second season. It even fails to live up to its title in any way, shape or form. How this got popular is beyond me, and I'm glad it's dead.
Winner 2016 JV Anime Award: Best Opening Song (The Asterisk War)
This is a review of all 24 episodes.
*To start off my positive section I again have to praise A-1 Pictures for the animation in Asterisk. The animation was on one side again very sharp and detailed which was definitely noticeable in the many battles that we get to see when the Phoenix Festa starts. And the sharpness of the animation was very well combines with the bright coloring. I found the color palette that Asterisk used very enjoyable to look at. The bright and vibrant colors reflected the flow of Asterisk, still being an action based anime. And I find colorfull anime’s still way more enjoyable to watch than anime’s that are based on grayish colors.
Now although the animation was sharp most of the time, I must admit that in the later episodes I did notice some irregularities in the animation. Like some facial expressions were animated quite roughly but no anime is without fault.
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*The next positive point that I want to address are the characters. For this point I’m going to make some comparisons between Asterisk and its so called brother from Fall 2015: Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry. Let’s start with the main characters: Ayato in Asterisk and Ikki in Chivalry. If I had to make a choice between them I would definitely choose Ikki over Ayato. Ayato was a good MC but I found Ikki to be much more interesting and to have a much more layered personality especially when we got to the end of Chivalry. And with Ayato I felt that some things happened out of the blue. I will clarify in the negative section of this review.
Now Asterisk did have the better main female character in my opinion. Despite the fact that Julis and Stella are almost completely alike, they both have pink hair, control fire, are princesses and semi-tsundere’s, I found Julis to be a more enjoyable character. I think that that’s also related to the comedy that Chivalry used mostly with Stella that I didn’t really enjoy.
And finally we have the side characters. Asterisk did a very good job at creating lovable side characters that were actually important to the main storyline. In Chivalry, if we’re honest, the side characters Shizuku and Nagi weren’t really that important especially Nagi. But the 2 side characters in Asterisk, being Kirin and Saya, were really important to the story and Asterisk rewarded them for that by giving them episodes that focused on them in stead of the main duo Julis-Ayato. And if we’re again honest, both Saya and Kirin were so damn adorable, especially Kirin in my opinion.
*A final positive point that I definitely want to mention were the opening and ending songs. The opening songs were so dope, talking about OP’s that get you hyped up for the episode that was the come. To illustrate this and this is a true story: when I was at a tournament a few monthsagi , I actually used the second OP called “The Asterisk War” to prepare myself, to gain focus. That’s how good of a hype-opening I found that to be.
Apart from the few small negative points that mentioned earlier, Asterisk was, like almost every anime, not flawless.
*As I mentioned before I felt with Ayato that some things happened out of the blue. Best example was the battle between him and the ninja sisters where he suddenly unlocks a new level of his power. And that happened like that, this should have had way more focus on it since Ayato’s power and the seal on it was a very important element for the story of Asterisk.
*Another negative point was the semi-final fight between Julis and Ayato and the 2 knights. This was a fight that I expected way more off. This was a semi-final and it gets resolved in halve an episode. Now the reasons for this “rushing” was that 1) at the time of this semi-final something else was happening that was very important for the main storyline. And 2) the other semi-final got more attention for a reason that I mentioned earlier but no further spoilers. But despite these reasons I still found this semi-final to be way too rushed.
*My next negative point is the reason that I think Asterisk will have lost quite some viewers after its first few episodes. The main storyline of Asterisk is everything but original. The concept of a guy, who is usually weak as shit, who has to win some kind of tournament to save someone close to him has been used time after time after time in anime. Examples are Chivalry and Taimado Gakuen 35 Shinken Shoutai. And I think some viewers of Asterisk dropped it because of that. That they thought that this was another stereotypical anime, I even know that fellow anime reviewer Chibi dropped Asterisk because of this reason. Now I am happy that I kept on watching Asterisk because although the story wasn’t very original, the execution was splendid.
*And my last negative point is an obvious one if you’re familiar with my channel and know what bothers me in anime. It was of course the open ending of Asterisk. This anime is far from finished especially since it opens up new story lines in its final episodes. The Phoenix Festival is finished in episode 20 and in the episodes after that completely new stories about Claudia and Julis get introduced and the anime looks forward to the Gryps Festival. On top of that the story resolving around Ayato’s sister isn’t resolved yet and we also learned that Ernesta is working on a new robot. So lot’s of things that still need resolution. Now I truly hope that this anime wasn’t solely a promotion for the LN’s. I truly hope that A-1 will make a 3rd season when there’s enough content in the LN. The first 2 season now covered 7 volumes of the LN and the last one to be released was the 10th one. So hopefully we will get a new adaption maybe somewhere in 2017.
So as a conclusion, despite Asterisk being a very typical anime at its core, I really enjoyed the execution of it from the animation and the music to the characters and their personalities. And that’s why I’m going to rate Gakusen Toshi Asterisk at 3,5 stars. This was again a good anime by A-1, not their best I must admit, but I still enjoyed it enough to wish for a 3rd season.