By Yuu Miyazaki and okiura. Released in Japan by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Haydn Trowell.
New semester, new characters, new translator, it’s all new on the Asterisk War front. That said, I would not call this the start of a new arc, really. This book seems to be entirely concerned with putting pieces in place to set up the next few books. Sometimes this works well – the villain of the book is suitably arrogant and snotty, and you will enjoy his defeat – and sometimes it feels like it’s been shoehorned in – Orphelia essentially drops in to reveal who she is and her connection to Julis before going away for the rest of the book. Everyone’s schemes seem to have one think in common, though, which is to stop Claudia winning the next section of the tournament. This is because of her wish, which we are told several times we’re going to hear but never do. And certainly our main five characters would make quite a team if they can all work together, so the bad guys have good reason to worry.
We’ve moved a few months along after the battle of the last three books, and I am very happy o see we won’t have to deal with wacky classroom comedy like a lot of other magical school series. Instead Julis invites everyone to her home country, which is the ever popular “tiny country somewhere in Central Europe” that fantasy authors seem to love, so that she can visit the orphanage she saved by winning the tournament and also catch up with her brother the King. Of course, Julis lacks self-awareness (something she shares with Ayato at times), so is not sure why there’s suddenly a giant parade in her honor, or a party set up to show her off. She’s insanely popular now. Also, the country and various organizations seem to be shipping her with Ayato, which should go well as the author is as well, despite all the fanservicey harem illustrations. Unfortunately, there’s also a group out to kill her, and they’ve sent an assassin who can create magical beasts. Oh yes, and Julis’ old childhood friend shows up. Sadly, she’s evil now.
As I’ve said before (possibly in every single review), no one reads Asterisk War for the plot twists. Everything develops the war you think it is going to develop. But the book also exhibits a basic level of competence that makes me quite happy to keep reading it, and the girls are all harem ‘types’ without quite being boring cliches. I am looking forward to the main cast teaming up with Claudia, if only as I find Claudia’s powers and backstory the most interesting of them. Everyone gets something cool to do in the final battle, and there’s some decent discussion of politics. And oh yes, after Ayato asid his wish was for his sister to be found last time… his sister is found. Sadly, that doesn’t really do him much good, abut at least he knows her circumstances now.
This takes us to the end of the Asterisk War anime adaptation, so new volumes should be new content. I am aware that the anime was unpopular, but I’ve never had an issue with the books. Perhaps it reads better in prose. (More likely it’s because I’ve never read Chivalry of a Failed Knight.) I’d still recommend Asterisk War to anyone who likes magical fighting school series, it is a nice light snack of a novel.