The animation studio A-1 Pictures had an irreversible impact on the anime scene, playing a large part in helping the medium go mainstream. “Sword Art Online” and “Seven Deadly Sins” were two of the first major anime to be picked up by Netflix, spreading anime to Western audiences. “Darling in the FranXX” gained a cult following surrounding its female lead Zero Two
in 2018. Most recently, A-1 was behind the most popular romantic comedy anime of all time, “Kaguya-sama.”
Hidden among their massive repertoire is “The Asterisk War,” a fantasy story surrounding five exceptional students from Seidoukan Academy:
– Ayato Amagiri, the male lead who attended Seidoukan to find out where his older sister
Haruka has disappeared to
– Saya Sasamiya, Ayato’s childhood friend who only uses weapons her father makes
– Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld, the princess of the faraway nation of Lieseltania
– Claudia Enfield, the slightly seductive student council president shrouded in mystery
– Kirin Toudou, the exceptionally timid rank one student at Seidoukan
On the surface, the show revolves around various “Festas,” or sword competitions between various numbers of students from six representative schools. Establishing dominance through these tournaments is fine and dandy, but the real motivation to attend a Festa is the reward, where the prize is anything the winner desires.
The two seasons of “The Asterisk War” present a tournament arc at the Phoenix Festa, a tournament strictly composed of 2v2 battles. Tournament arcs allow characters to come to life by portraying each individual’s motivation for winning, providing an easy but satisfying way to introduce characters. In this case, Ayato wants to start a search for his sister. He joins up with Julis for the first Festa who wants to use the money to help out an orphanage where she found a home away from home as a kid.
They are, of course, not the only ones with grand aspirations. Some motivations are straightforward. Kirin wants to free her father from prison for a crime committed in self-defense. The fearsome Irene Urzaiz has a debt to repay. Meanwhile, other people are shrouded in mystery. Ernesta Kuhne and Camilla Pareto use the stage as a testing ground for the first ever autonomous AI. And the twins Shenhua and Shenyun Li just seem to like tormenting people.
This tournament sheds light on several side characters that each bring their own unique atmosphere to the table. No two characters are quite the same, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. It’s as if everyone is an individual piece to a much larger puzzle, larger than anybody could hope to predict.
“The Asterisk War” is an unforgettable experience. The visual direction makes every character look like a model and every setting seems stunning as wallpaper. The characters captivate you and make you want to know what they’re up to. The music sets the mood flawlessly every time. People have attempted to draw parallels to other shows, but there’s no denying how unique “The Asterisk War” truly is.