By Yuu Miyazaki and okiura. Released in Japan by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Haydn Trowell.
Even if you hadn’t already figured out what the result of the Gryps competition, the subtitle of the volume may clue you in. Our heroes this time take on Jie Long’s Dragon Warriors, a team seemingly set up to look like they stepped off the screen of a videogame. The winner of that battle goes on to face Saint Gallardsworth’s team of Arthurian types, though I’m honestly not sure if Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table ever had an obvious princess-curled tsundere quite like Laetitia. Things are not helped by the events in the previous volume, which have left most of Team Enfield feeling particularly exhausted. Of course, this is exactly the time when a typical cliched shonen series would have its cast each reach the next level, pull new abilities out of their asses, and go on to crush the competition by virtue of being really, really shonen about it. And never let it be said that Asterisk War does not go for the easy answer, as this is exactly what happens.
Kirin has the cover image this time around, and while the author apologizes in the afterword for sidelining her from the final fight, I have a feeling that was meant to be partly ironic, as the fight against Jie Long is Kirin’s finest hour to date. Honestly, I was expecting Ayato to pull things off again, but to be fair, he was needed for the next fight along, and Kirin had not had a spotlight in some time, so it’s justified. Much as it’s talked about in terms of being able to see the way the fighter’s prana is behaving, her new ability essentially boils down to “can predict moves better”, which is fine. No one cries out for gritty realism in a magical academy fighting manga – at least I hope they don’t. Instead you ask for cool, and that’s what we get here… at the cost of Kirin being bedridden for the rest of the book. And possible getting yelled at by her family, there’s a cliffhanger involved.
We then go up against Team Lancelot, though not before we see Ayato meet a mysterious masked man who professes to be the one who put his sister in her coma. He’s a trickster mentor of the finest water, and his presence (and assistant) seems to hint that Ayato’s story will be tied up with Sylvie’s again pretty soon. That said, the best part of this second half was seeing Ernest finally give in and embrace his inner selfish asshole. His weapon involves being pure, noble and chivalrous, but doing so was clearly pressuring him in ways that were obvious to see. It was one of those things where the reader, who knows his character type, was waiting for the other shoe to drop. He also becomes far more interesting, even though it may be Percival who we follow going forward. (Sorry, Laetitia, you have “always a side character” written all over you.
In addition to Kirin’s family cliffhanger, we also get Ayato getting a call from his father right at the end. Still, despite that, I suspect that the next volume will be a lighter, breezier one to help relax after this arc. If you’re enjoying this beach read of a light novel, this is an excellent pickup.