In the 21st century following economic downturn and the impact event known as the Invertia many of the Earth’s governments have collapsed and been replaced by the Integrated Enterprise Foundation corporation. After the Invertia, humans started to develop superpowers, these people became known as Genestella and are enrolled at one of 6 academies on the floating city, known as Asterisk, to compete in the Festas tournaments.
The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water is a two-season 24 episode series based on the light novel series by Yū Miyazaki licensed by Yen Press, airing in Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016 respectively and produced by A-1 pictures. MVM Entertainment has licensed both seasons in the UK, with part 1 currently scheduled for late August and part 2 currently slated for release in October. Both parts come as standard edition Blu-ray and DVD sets.
The Asterisk War centres around Ayato Amagiri the recent transfer student to Seidoukan Academy, Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld the first princess of Lieseitania (located in western Czech Republic), Claudia Enfield Seidoukan Academy Student Council President, Saya Sasamiya childhood friend of Ayato and Kirin Toudou a middle schooler and top rank at Seidoukan. The first half of the first season of Asterisk War is a bit slow, serving as a way to introduce all the characters in turn and explain their reasons for why they’re competing in the Festa, along with providing world building. Also, following most of the tropes you’d expect to find in a Magic Highschool Harem Battle show, such as Ayato walking in on Julis while she’s getting changed, all the main girls developing feelings for Ayato (surprise surprise), oh and head pats are aplenty. While the second half is where Asterisk War starts to shine as it covers the preliminary rounds of the Phoenix Festa the 2v2 tournament with 256 teams entered, where the winning team is granted a wish.
The Magic Highschool Harem Battle genre has seen a sort of a breakout over the past few years, with this type of show becoming more and more common and is currently one of my favourite genres of anime. Magic Highschool shows are still behind in popularity and frequency of Isekai shows though. Asterisk War is a bit generic especially with its character traits, Ayato is a lot stronger than what he first makes out to be, Julis is a tsundere princess with fire abilities, Claudia is the old sister type who likes to tease the others, Saya is the childhood friend (that pretty much says it all) and Kirin is the shy junior, and parts of the story does play out rather predictably especially in the tournament section of the story.
Being an A-1 Pictures production Asterisk War is visually very impressive, the character designs are a bit generic but it’s the visuals of the magic attacks and fight scenes where Asterisk War really stands out, with one particular scene in the final fight being the best shot of the entire season. Background scenes are typically set in the Academy or the Festa tournament rings, with the odd part being set in the city of Asterisk, so there isn’t much variety when it comes to location. Asterisk War comes with both Japanese and English language tracks both of which are really good. For the main cast of Ayato, Julis, Claudia, Saya and Kirin are voiced by Erik Scott Kimerer (Gowther in The Seven Deadly Sins), Kira Buckland (2B in Nier: Automata), Erika Harlacher (Asseylum Vers Allusia in Aldnoah Zero), Sarah Anne Williams (Lisbeth in Sword Art Online) and Brianna Knickerbocker (Emilia in ReZero) respectively, with the supporting cast including Max Mittelman, Patrick Seitz, Vic Mignogna, Cherami Leigh, Erica Mendez and Cassandra Lee Morris to name a few.
The opening theme “Brand-new World” is performed by Shiena Nishizawa (Fubuki ed for Kantai Collection) which fits quite well with the backstory of how the Genestella came to be. While the ending theme is “Waiting for the Rain” by Maaya Sakamoto (Re:Creators and Fate/Apocrypha) which focuses more on the bonds between the characters.
Despite being a bit predictable with how the story plays out and some overused character traits, Asterisk War redeems itself by having well animated and stunning fight scenes along with an excellent dub and soundtrack, it is a show which is quite enjoyable to watch even though you know what the outcome will be.