「華焔の魔女」 (Kaen no majo)
“Witch of the Resplendent Flames”
Eh, not my thing.
In my opinion, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk is a somewhat forgettable and hackneyed compilation of worn out anime tropes. “Battle High School” settings have never gripped me or struck me as particularly intriguing—let alone ones filled with stock side characters, an uninspired, blank-slate protagonist, and loads of gratuitous ecchi. It’s a regurgitation of a lot of things which conflict with my own, personal tastes.
Let me first back up a little.
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk takes place in a world far flung into the future. More than a century ago, a group of meteorites dubbed “Invertia” exterminated a substantial portion of the human species. Some of those who managed to survive were left with odd mana-infused abilities. Fast forward to the present, and six academies—each representing a major power in the world—send their most skilled and gifted students to wage battle at “Festa,” an annual major battle tournament which takes place on the floating city of Asterisk (of which the series derives its namesake). In the meantime, students are free to organize and partake in consensual duels in order to increase their ranking and status.
If it sounds like you’ve heard it before, it’s because you probably have.
The exposition is a dilapidated and unoriginal explanation for the sort of superpowers and action battles fought between mere high school students—a setting which itself is already well-explored territory. I don’t see the lore being built here as anything striking, intriguing, or unique. The series doesn’t even try to do anything new with this setting—it really is just more of the same. At least it’s not the case that every student besides the protagonist is a girl.
I think the argument against unnecessary and distracting ecchi has been made time and time again, so I won’t go there. I will point out, however, that not a minute since being introduced to our main character, and he is almost immediately thrown into a pervy situation. The episode sacrifices a valuable first impression of our leading man for some good ol’ T&A. And it doesn’t stop. Instead of being well-developed and intriguing characters, the only two female leads introduced seem to only exist to provide sexual tension and eye candy for the protagonist and the audience. Sure we’re told Julis-Alexia van Riessfeld (what a mouthful) has some problems socializing and making friends, but it’s barely mentioned in passing, and it’s a pretty generic personality trait.
And apart from the hasty mention of some lost sister, Ayato Amagiri undergoes little to no growth as a unique or fleshed-out character. He’s not too much of a loser, not too much of a cool guy, not too awkward around girls, not too cocky or humble, not too angsty or carefree—you get the idea. He’s apparently a gifted fighter, however, which still provides nothing in the sense of personality or motivation. He really is just an outlet for the viewer to insert him/herself into this world—not how I prefer my characters.
And that’s just it: these are just my own, personal thoughts.
I’m not necessarily discrediting these types of shows—if you enjoy them, that’s totally cool; hell, I’ve even liked a few in the past. Anyone who watches anime enough knows that these kinds of productions have a place in the market, and will persist through and through in bulk. Fans of the genre might really enjoy what Gakusen Toshi Asterisk has to offer. Even though I’ve been raggin’ on the infrastructure and make-up of the plot and characters, I think the production is rock solid. The animation is consistent, stylish, and not too flashy or over-the-top, the pacing and tone is appealing and executed well enough, and the music and audio are appropriate and excellently complementary to the visuals. Plus, the OP is super catchy and fun.
In the end, though, I didn’t like it, but I’m certainly not attempting to purport my opinions as hard objective fact. And maybe the show will develop and grow into something I’d very much enjoy—who knows. As it stands, however, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk doesn’t do much to change my stance on these kinds of shows, but that shouldn’t at all hinder another’s potential enjoyment of it.
Note: There are currently no plans to blog Gakusen Toshi Asterisk on a weekly basis.
OP: 「Brand-new World」by 華焔の魔女(Shiena Nishizawa)