The Asterisk War Episode 2: A Most Impressive Sword

October 27, 2015

Titled “Ser Versta,” episode 2 starts off giving us some background on Amagiri Ayato and his sister.

What Happened?

The show starts out with a flashback, where Amagiri Haruka has to console her little brother, Ayato, because he got in trouble for fighting to defend her. She tells him his power is too great, and he’ll need to find his purpose in life before he can responsibly use it. Based on his talk with Claudia Enfield last week, Ayato still hasn’t found his purpose. After helping Julis van Rissefeld get rid of Lester (remember last week’s final scene?), Ayato learns that the princess is competing solely for money — and that she has no friends! While in class, Ayato discovers that an old friend of his, Sasamiya Saya, is a classmate, and she’s attending school to help promote her father’s weapons business. Julis agrees to show Ayato around the campus and town to pay her debt to him. Before they can leave, Claudia stops by and lets Ayato know that he can check out his sister’s (supposed) sword tomorrow. Claudia’s feminine wiles — and the danger those wiles will affect Ayato — encourages Julis and Saya to join forces to give Ayato the grand tour. After Julis objects that Saya’s benefiting as much from the tour as Ayato, Ayato goes to buy drinks as a peace offering. That’s when Saya tells Julis how powerful Arato really is. Before Julis can become too angry, she’s attacked with glowing arrows again. Julis fights them off with Saya’s help, and Claudia confesses to Ayato that the discipline committee has been trying to find the culprits. But so far, no results. Ayato and Claudia arrive to check out the sword. Lester’s already there with his sights set on the same sword. The sword has a say in who wields it, and as we might expect, Ser Versta (a specific sword of the type Ogre Lux we met in the last episode) didn’t much like Lester. In fact, it kicked him out of the testing arena. After the sword attacks even him, Ayato convinces it to acknowledge him as its master. Ayato accepts Claudia’s invitation to visit her in her dorm. When he arrives, he finds her fresh in the shower in a revealing robe.

What I Liked

This episode showed Ayato jogging! There’s a reason I’m mentioning this (and no, I’m not into BL): shows seldom show the main character working to hone their skills (World Trigger being a notable exception). I like to see the main character working hard to stay in shape. It adds a bit of realism and helps me connect to the character.

Ayato jogs! He has to do something to keep in shape! Capture from Crunchyroll's stream.

Ayato jogs! He has to do something to keep in shape! Capture from Crunchyroll’s stream.

If someone who can fight as well as Ayato needs to jog to keep in shape, maybe there’s hope for me! (Okay, that’s a stretch, but I still think the jogging is realistic…)

Julis’ standards for a potential partner cracked me up. She basically said she wanted a white knight, which might feel cliche, but given the circumstance, it made her feel naive and hopeful for such a cynical soul.

I though it was adorable when Ayato asked Julis how to get to the men’s dorm. She laughed at him (but it didn’t seem mean-spirited), and when he said that he was happy to see she laughed, the got angry and said, “Even I’ve been known to laugh at times!” She seems to be a moderate tsundere, but I think there’s hope for her.

Along the same lines, the class freaked out when Julis returned Ayato’s “Good morning.”

Julis didn't appreciate the class's reaction when she returned Ayato's "Good morning!" Image from the Crunchyroll stream.

Julis didn’t appreciate the class’s reaction when she returned Ayato’s “Good morning!” Image from the Crunchyroll stream.

Julis felt compelled to defend herself, and I thought her tsundere act was just unique enough to not be cliche.

Saya’s complaint that she over slept because her bed “Held me hostage” made me chuckle. Asterisk seems to employ reasonable humor that, at least for me, isn’t coming across as heavy-handed. It doesn’t interrupt the plot or action, either.

I have to say that I enjoyed seeing Julis touching up her makeup and getting ready to show Ayato around the campus and town. She’s wrapped up in her mission to acquire money for whatever reason, but it looks like she sees Ayato as someone who just might be her equal. It’s fun seeing her start to drop her shields, even if just a bit.

It turned out that Saya didn’t so much want to help Ayato learn his way around campus as to learn the way around it herself. It appears she is “directionally challenged,” so she got as much benefit out of the tour as Ayato did.

I’m a sucker for characters supporting one another. That’s why I loved the exchange between Saya and Julis on the tour. Says asked why Julis owed Ayato, and Julis mentioned the dual. Saya said, “That doesn’t make sense… After dueling Ayato, there’s no way you’d live to tell the tale.” Ayato didn’t have to brag; his skills spoke for themselves through Saya.

When the bad guys attack Saya and Julis, the latter gets all indignant and does her normal attack — which is impressive.

Saya's dad apparently makes really good weaponry. Capture from Crunchyroll's stream.

Saya’s dad apparently makes really good weaponry. Capture from Crunchyroll’s stream.

Saya, though, just says, “Boom!” and fires her grenade launcher. I loved her blasé attitude!

I don’t like cliches, and I don’t like characters acting all bad and stuff without merit. In the last episode, Ayato held his own against Julis (actually defeating her for all intents and purposes). In this episode, Saya testified to Ayato’s strength. I have to say that I really enjoyed it when Ayato switched to “bad ass” mode and tamed the sword. A strong male lead whose both strong and humble appeals to me.

What I Liked Less

I’d like to know more about Lester’s character. So far, he’s just angry and huge. Why is he so intent on challenging Julis? Why is he so angry? How’s he find the time to work out so much? To be fair, this is only the second episode, and Asterisk may be about to answer those questions. But I felt like I had to point out something I didn’t like, so this is what I came up with!

Summary

The episode started with Arato jogging.

Ayato had to convince the sword to accept him -- though the sword seemed to just be testing him. Picture is from the Crunchyroll stream.

Ayato had to convince the sword to accept him — though the sword seemed to just be testing him. Picture is from the Crunchyroll stream.

It ended with him in possession of Ser Veresta, his sister’s old sword. Okay, it ended with him visiting Claudia who was in a revealing robe. I’m seriously curious what she’s after. Some shows emphasis the salacious aspects of a scene like that. In Asterisk, though, the scene seems to be showing Claudia’s scheming nature more than anything else. She clearly intended for Ayato to see her like that. Instead of erupting in a nose bleed, Ayato just fretted, which is about what I’d expect from him.

After the end of the second episode, the plot seems to be developing nicely. I’m curious to know more about why Julis, a princess, needs money. I want to know more about Ayato’s sister — like why was she fighting in that duel? In fact, I want to learn more about Saya, Ayato, Claudia, Haruka — heck, I even want to learn more about Lester!

I have to reflect on the trust I’m placing in the writers and team producing Asterisk. I’m investing my time not only in watching it, but in blogging about it. Only two episodes in, I’m feeling good about my choice to use this show as my Fall 2015 representative for Crunchyroll. Here’s to hoping it’ll continue to build on the promise on the first two episodes!

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