Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2nd Season continues the story of Genestella students Ayato Amagiri and Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld, who have progressed to the next round of the Phoenix Festa after a long and strenuous battle with sisters Irene and Priscilla Urzaiz.
Despite Julis and Ayato's best attempts, the fact that Ayato's powers have been sealed is no longer a secret. Now at a major disadvantage, the duo must come up with a plan if they are to have any hope of winning the Phoenix Festa. Only one thing is for sure: the troubles heading their way are only going to get more insurmountable from here on.
Have you ever hated something so much you went out of the way to hate it? If this sentence makes you judge me, you're probably right in doing so.
After all, if I really hate it that much, then I should just go watch something else. And I probably should. Regardless, it's gotten to the point that I derive some sort of twisted happiness from watching and hating this show. It's pitiful, to be honest.
But enough about my failure to act rationally.
Why do I have such a hate boner for this anime? Why do I go out of my way to hate it?
I hate it for
a lot of reasons. If I got into all of them, you'd probably close this review. So I'll keep it simple.
Asterisk is a simple show. The Strongest Man To Ever Grace Our Good Earth With His Gorgeous Looks And Massive Penis arrives at a high school where students battle for ranking to determine status. He quickly assembles a harem of girls who fight to see who gets to sit on his crotch, has a roommate capable of spouting exposition like a broken sewer pipe, and always saves the day in the nick of time, and defeats all his enemies handily while making them reconsider their lives, despite his Dark And Secret Past. And shit, that's just the first season!
The second season delivers more of the same. Ayato's harem expands, and the only thing limiting his strength is removed nearly immediately.
And the first sentence there highlights the problem- it's more of the same. Normally that's not a bad thing, but in Asterisk's case it's bad because it doesn't want to expand on anything. It's completely comfortable with what it did, so it doesn't see a need to do anything else. Its "more of the same" isn't "the story and characters you loved, bigger and better" it's "cut and paste everything from last season, and hope that no one notices". Ayato is still a paper thin excuse for a character created so that you can project yourself on to him. Julis is still a tsundere trope rather than a character. Kirin and Saya are still just there to be in love with Ayato, and Claudia still only exists to proposition Ayato for sex and pull a convenient way to advance the plot out of her ass.
I hate Asterisk for what it stands for. With Season 1 attaining a score of 7.18 and Season 2 attaining a score of 7.49 (at the time of writing this), it displays the willingness to accept sub-par and mediocre shows. The popularity of Asterisk promotes the making of anime that follows a formula, and has minimal effort put in because they know that it will sell. Asterisk takes no risks and contributes nothing. Its fight scenes aren't exciting. Its story and characters don't give any reason to care or feel for them. It's the Best Bits of anime- something for everyone. There's high school, tournament fights, power ups, cute girls, a Sci Fi setting, and the good guys fighting for the greater good. But this all falls flat because while it has all of these things, it fails to do them well. I preferred Julis when she was Taiga Aisaka. I preferred Saya when she was Yuki Nagato. I preferred the high school battles better in Kill la Kill. I preferred power ups in Gurren Lagann. I preferred the Sci Fi setting in Psycho Pass. Despite having all sorts of things I love, Asterisk falls flat because it doesn't do them right.
You can tell me that it's just not to my taste. That Asterisk wasn't targeted towards me. Honestly, you may be right. But that's beside the point. The point being that Asterisk War most definitely sucks.
There's not really much to say about the story other than the fact that it focuses on the Phoenix Festa and the events that transpire during it.
The art is really good. I love the designs of the characters and the city itself looks beautiful. The action scenes also look amazing. Unfortunately, I have to give the art a 6 because I couldn't ignore the fact that there were times where the animation looked kind of stilted and 3D-ish and I hate when anime do that because in my opinion, it's lazy. At least put in the time and effort to flesh everything out.
Two words: FUCKING AMAZING!! If there's one reason I would recommend this series, it's the music. Seriously, if I could, I would download every single song they use in this series from both seasons. That's how good it is. I'm not lying when I say I could listen to the music from this series ALL DAY LONG! The opening is amazing, the ending is amazing, the music during the episodes is just right and does an excellent job of setting the tone of a scene.
Although this is a harem anime, I don't hate the characters. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this season did a good job of fleshing them out more and giving each of them their time to shine. For example, I liked how they did Julis' and Saya's backstories because it made me like them more, especially Saya. When I first saw Saya, I thought she was going to be the typical childhood friend that tried everything to make Ayato notice her. But after seeing her backstory, I realized that she's actually a very supportive friend of Ayato. Yes, she does drop subtle hints and does cliché things, but honestly, I see it more as joking than actually trying her hardest to make him like her. I really liked how close Ayato and Julis grow as a team throughout the season, not only as teammates, but friends that can trust each other. I hope they flesh out Kirin's and Claudia's characters a bit more in season 3(Come on, if you watched this season to the end, then it's obvious there's going to be a season 3)
I definitely enjoyed this season more than last season because of the action. The action in this series is so good, there are times where I enjoy it more than the story(I'm not kidding)
Final score: 7/10
Although there are bad things about this series, I feel like the good things outweigh the bad things. In my opinion, most of the people that dislike this series just point out the bad things and overanalyze them(*Cough* Digibro). Otherwise, I recommend this to action genre lovers. Seriously, the action in this series is amazing and the music that is played during the scenes just make them so much better. Trust me when I tell you it's not that bad of a series. Give it a chance. I never follow the "3 episode rule" because in my opinion, it's stupid and I like to keep an open mind and watch the series to the very end. I can't wait for season 3.
I've been struggling with an opening sentence, because before I was gonna hate, i'd like to tell a bit about asterisk in general. But what is asterisks?
It has no story or anything interesting to write an opening about. This is one of those few anime that might be well liked by newbie anime watchers since they haven't seen many good or even mediocre anime that are out there.
After all it has decent art and the music is great. You can't deny this. Sadly these are the only 2 good points of the anime are completely wasted on asterisk.
So we continue where the anime
ended in Season 1, the Phoenix Festa. Phoenix Festa is a fighting tournament between the 6 Magic High schools and the winner get's his 'wish' granted.
The wishes of our MC Ayato and his partner Julis have already been told in Season 1.
Julis' wish is to save the orphanage she used to hang out. Very generous of her. I can't really say much more about it. Julis is a princess so it wasn't like she had a hard past or anything, she just hang out with the orphan kids and had fun, but now the orphanage has financial troubles so Julis wants to help them. Interesting... right? No... yeah. The wish and the background story are far too weak to contribute to the story really.
So what about our Main Character Ayato?
He doesn't have a wish.
In Season 1 we are told that his older sister put a seal on his power for no apparent reason and disappeared shortly afterwards.
Ayato however showed no interest of searching for her or anything.
Since season 1, the things about Ayato's sword Ser=vesta are made so grand that him finding his sister should be important to the story, though it really doesn't matter. The sub stories in this anime are apparently much more important than the main story.
So the tournament. At the start of the tournament in Season 1 it was already said that Ayato is the strongest competitor and that his team is the most likely to win. So when he was selected to fight in the Phoenix Festa it wasn't much of a surprise and since he was head and shoulders above the rest I really did not expect much from this tournament.
But there are some "tough looking" opponents.
The asian style twins who really make an effort to look mean, because they for some reason they need to be really devilish without reason or background story.
The boy who is presented as even younger as kirin, but contrary to her he is allowed to use a light saber.
And the robots which i could rampage for hours about on how bad their design (the robot the design, not the art. The art is pretty neat) is, their dialogue ect. but i don't want to make it too long...
Without spoiling I can't really tell much about how bad the story is after the tournament arc, but it's even more pointless and it's basically a setup for another tournament.
So basically the story is about a tournament in which the main character helps a girl who wishes to raise funds for an orphanage. That's the sub story the whole first part of the anime is about. Yeah...
Wait, what did you say? Something about the ecchi tag? This season had an ecchi tag? Why ._. Where was the ecchi-ness in this? Season 1 hardly deserved that tag. Seriously though, why is there an ecchi tag? I don't understand, there is nothing ecchi about this show. If it was i'm sure i would have rated it higher... if there were any interesting characters that is.
Ayato: Our main character. His powers are sealed away by his older sister who disappeared shortly afterwards. And he doesn't care at all. Somewhere halfway the show he gets some interest and it feels like he has to force him self to give a damn about his sister. The rest of the show Ayato is working to support Julis but hasn't shown any affection towards her yet other than groping her in season 1.
He also has minimal facial expressions. Not dandere or kuudere like, but ... so generic. So normal. So uninteresting.
The only interesting thing (maybe) about Ayato is the seal on his power, but the anime doesn't seem to care much about that. Up till now it only has been something to let him and Julis face tough seeming opponents and then when it was dragged out long enough Ayato would find a way to activate or re-activate his power again so he can own them in a few seconds.
Julis: The main girl.
Saya- Eh i haven't said enough about julis yet? But that's all there is to say ._. Ok fine I'll try.
Julis is a princess and uses fire magic. She wants to raise funds to save an orphanage she used to hang out by using the Main Character, Ayato, to win the Phoenix Festa. and she likes him.
That's really all i can say about her. She bosses the guy around making very simplistic plans. The only reason she stands out is because she is more of a main character than the main character and she has pink hair.
Saya: Her father designed weapons, but those weapons were regarded as inferior to the rest and therefor discarded. Saya now uses the Phoenix Festa to showcase her father's weapon, proving to the world they are far from inferior and hope to restore his honor. This makes her for me more important than the main character and the main girl since she actually has some back story.
However what i dislike about here is that she looks ans speaks like a dandere but acts mostly like a deredere. What's up with that. Make a choice. This is just uninteresting. Monotone, weak facial expressions, lacking spirit. If she did dandere stuff it'd fit, but not with the deredere act.
Kirin: The oppai loli of the show. She clearly feels affection for Ayato and is idioticly shy. She was also the number one fighter of the school that Ayato and the others also attend, until Ayato fought her in Season 1 and beat her. However she is not allowed to use a light saber, because she's too young, implying that if she had one of those flying swords (referring to season 1 randomness) she'd be even stronger. Yet one of the competitors of the Phoenix Festa who was presented as younger (i don't remember how much younger, but as I recall he hasn't finished high school yet) is allowed to wield one.
Kirin probably has the most personality in this show apart from the Vampire girl and her little sister (the only 2 real characters of the show who hardly made an appearance in this season sadly)
Also she trusts Saya blindly even when she makes stupid decisions like guessing the right direction without any hints, but a mere feeling of gut. This even happens when lives are on the line.
Claudia: The girl with the most interesting power that is listed as a main character, but only really appears for a total of a few minutes at most throughout the whole anime and it was already explained in season 1, she can see into the future at the cost of seeing her own death in a unique way every night. This could be such a great chance for some character development, but they don't do anything useful with her.
An example on what they could have done: Seeing as she always tries to lure Ayato in her bed if she ever shows up in the episode at all, so what if that actually happens? I don't mean to "sleep" with her like that, but create a situation where they have to share the blankets. Ayato yet awake see's Claudia squirming in her bed due to the awefull nightmare. He'd grab her hand, maybe say something to her to help her relax and having her relax, smile even in her sleep. Then Claudia wakes up earlier than Ayato still having their hands intertwined. I'm not saying they should go for Claudia x Ayato, but it would be great for some character development. And after all, the tag says it's a harem.
But no, she's just a plot convenience tool.
Flora: Her voice made me want to mute the video. I just wanted to mention her because i wanted to mention this. It's horrible.
The art and music are terrific. The art is above average compared to the other anime of the same season and the music is really good. Every time I hear it I feel sad it's wasted on a show like this.
I was mostly sighing throughout the show. Useless pieces of story, the sub-plot overshadowing the main story, no character progression, no character development, nothing. I finished it because I finished the first season. The first season was decent, but this was just bad. The only thing I enjoyed a bit were some art and the music. If the anime was a black screen with no voices and just the OST, OP and ED, i might have rated it higher.
My conclusion is as followed: If you'd remove the story and the characters, you'd have a somewhat decent anime.
You can't really say "Just because you didn't like it, it means it's bad", because I've seen a lot of similar anime, such as Rakudai no Kishi no Cavelary which I enjoyed for more than just subjective reasons.
Rakudai and Asterisk aired in the same season and they had the same baseline, however Asterisk the example on how not to make a magic romance high school harem.
I've seen a lot of this standard set of genres actually and the reason why I dislike asterisk has nothing to do with the genres. It's a failure as a story. I don't even want to give it the praise as "another generic romance blablabla" anime, that's way too high for this. Generic anime get a 5 from me, because they are generic. Generic anime that have a good story get a 6.
Anime with a generic set of genres that completely fails on the story and character part, are like Asterisk Season 2. (because season 1 was somewhat okay)
After 12 episodes of broken nonsense, this show somehow got a second season that attempted the impossible: being a competent sequel to The Asterisk War. By some miracle, it succeeded. Not to say that this show is even remotely good now, but this second season somehow turned being awful into an accomplishment. I'm not sure whether to be impressed or depressed.
Part of why this second season managed to improve upon the first one is that it actually makes an attempt to have dynamic characters, giving every character something to do, posing an actual threat for the main character,
and attempt slightly more meaningful character arcs. It doesn't necessarily succeed in many of these areas, as the asspulls are still as frequent as the world-building is disastrous. However, for the first time, I felt slightly engaged in what was going on. The new characters such as Sylvia had genuinely cool designs and personalities, and some of the returning characters that barely got any screen time last season actually become genuine threats that bring actual life to this show during the end of the show's tournament arc. Hell, the final bosses of the arc --two literal robots-- have some actual chemistry and character development, both of which were missing in this franchise. The irony here is adorable.
Sadly, the tournament arc ends around episode 8, the show spends its final episodes trying at giving someone other than our main lead an emotional arc that was set up in the first season. The foundation of the first season had already collapsed in on itself, so seeing Julis' childhood friend that got teased in the early parts of season 1 was almost enough to keep me invested for an episode...before nearly falling asleep. None of the actually worthwhile side characters like Sylvia or the two robots Ayato would fight in the Phoenix Festa tournament make an appearance, and we're left with our dry harem, which only got marginally better than the first season. It's far too late to flesh any of them out now as we already spent an entire season enduring them as obnoxious caricatures with nothing going for them. There's no way for me to care about Julis's problems or Claudia's sneaky advances on Ayatofu. Even seeing some of the more neglected side characters Ayato hung out with in season 1 team up wasn't enough to get me to care about them, and that's because of season 1. If these characters were written as anything more than sleazy caricatures of archetypes beforehand, then maybe seeing the show try to do interesting things with them would have been more satisfying. It also would have helped if the show's idea of character development was natural growth instead of making Kirin radically more stern and mature than before out of nowhere. Sadly, all I can do is attempt to cherish what obligatory efforts the writers made to make us care about a couple of mediocre side characters.
While the awful artwork and art style mostly hasn't changed, they are a few moments of impressive visuals, such as the very first scene of the season. The sequence where Sylvia sings to Ayato is also pretty nice, as it's both a visual and narrative highlight for the show. Sadly, the fights are still terrible overall, as like last time, they're either incredibly clunky or immensely difficult to follow. There's no real middle ground here. The closest they come to that would be the final fights of the two major arcs of the season, which are admittedly entertaining, if not necessarily well-animated.
The music is still incredibly mediocre, with no memorable OSTs whatsoever. They do have the courtesy to throw in a new vocal track and a few new pieces of background music, but the only highlights are the songs that open and close each episode. The OP for this season --"The Asterisk War" by Shiena Nishizawa-- is incredibly frantic, albeit a tad unwieldy with the frantic techno beats in the chorus. Once again, it's the ED that shines compared to everything else, as Haruka Chigusa's "Ai no Uta -words of love-" is a catchy and relatively heartwarming piece with pleasant vocals and visuals of characters actually having fun for once.
Sadly, this season is still not worth your time if you didn't already enjoy the first season. It tries to do what legitimately good sequels do, yet it fails thanks to its own incompetence and the borderline irredeemable failings of its predecessor. It's still a mess with largely terrible characters, nonsensical world-building, and asspulls galore. It still fails to animate good fight scenes. It still fails to be captivating for more than a few minutes at a time. At the very least, the attempt was there, which is more than I can say for the first season. That doesn't mean people like me are going to care since it's the sequel to The Asterisk War. No matter how good a sequel it may be, it would always be limited by the unsalvageable foundation that series built for this now dead franchise.
The spring season is coming and you don't want to be left behind before it's even become. Now is the best time to get all caught up on the anime that have sequels airing next season so you can join in on the hype.