The Asterisk War Episode 3: So That’s Why Julis Fights.
In Holiday for Two, the third episode, we learn why Julis fights.
Amazon’s selling a wall scroll for The Asterisk War. Looks like it’d be a great addition to an anime fan’s room!
At the end of the last episode, Claudia Enfield invited Amagiri Ayato to discuss a request in her room. Ayato visits and learns that top students have been dropping out of the Phoenix Festa, a major ranking competition, because they’ve been attacked and severely injured. Claudia wants him to stay by Julis-Alexia van Riessfeld’s side to protect her from the same fate. The timing’s fortuitous: Julis had planned to show Ayato around the city the next day. While eating lunch, the two of them run into Lester and his friends, who are prime suspects in the attacks. Lester, of course, wants to fight Julis right then and there. Ayato convinces Lester that the timing’s not right.
On their way home, they run into students from the Le Wolfe Academy dueling on an isolated street. Immediately, Julis realizes it’s a trap. Without breaking a sweat, she flames the hoodlums into unconsciousness except for the leader, who explains they’d been hired by the man who is standing in the tree-line. Julis sprints after the man in the trees despite Ayato’s warning, and she was barely able to avoid the ambush. Ayato reaches her in time to disrupt an attack from what turned out to be three assailants. In the brief scuffle, the attackers manage to destroy his Lux (weapon) and ruin his jacket.
Julis invites him back to her place. When she asked him to take off his clothes, he made the same mistake as most healthy young men: he misunderstood her intent. She only wanted to repay him by repairing his clothes. Ayato guessed correctly that she learned to sew from her friends in her country.
Her friends were the orphans she met while illicitly exploring the town as a child. Cornered by thugs, she could only sob until the orphans swarmed her and brought her back to the relative safety of the orphanage. She enjoyed their company so much she continued to sneak out of the palace. She didn’t tell them she was a princess. Julis learned that the funds keeping the orphanage open were dwindling. She’s fighting now to funnel her winnings to them so they can keep the orphanage going. The handkerchief that causes so much trouble? After the orphans took turns embroidering it, they had given it to her for her birthday. She sees it as her most treasured possession.
The next day, Julie receives a letter and leaves immediately after school. Ayato thinks she’s trying to keep her distance again, but Claudia, after hearing about the letter, says Julis is likely trying to keep him safe and uninvolved. He goes after Julis to confront the letter writer, who’s likely the one crippling top students. Claudia gives him his sister’s old weapon before he leaves.
What I Liked
I’m not a fan of gratuitous nudity, and that’s why it was refreshing to see how Claudia choose to influence Ayato. She wasn’t naked, but she made sure her robe was strategically open. In my book, the show gets bonus points for no nose bleeds! Ayato’s slack-jawed stare seemed much more realistic.
Ayato innocently expressed surprise that Claudia was good enough to earn a position on Page One. She chides him that he didn’t show more interest in her by looking that up ahead of time. It’s refreshing to see such realistic examples of manipulation versus what I see too often in other shows.
Julis and Ayato have begun to develop an easy, comfortable tone around each other. The progression seems natural and un-rushed. She’s not falling head over heels in love with him. At the same time, she’s not a total tsundere. I like the complexity in her character.
Ayato came right out and told Julis that he wanted her to lay low because an attacker was on the loose. Julis declined to change her plans because of the “cowards” who are after top students, saying “My will belongs to me alone.” I could cast this in a negative light by suggesting that she is just being stubborn, but I think this is consistent with her character. I admire her courage.
When Lester insisted — again — that Julis duel him right then and there, Ayato used logic to de-escalate the restaurant confrontation. I found this a refreshing change from using violence to decide everything.
Julis and Ayato encounter the Le Wolfe street fight, and Julis takes the time to describe how it’s a trap to Ayato. She is so bad-ass that she effortlessly dodges an arrow without changing her verbal cadence. In fact, her expression didn’t acknowledge that attack at all.
I chuckled when Ayato just watches Julis take on the entire gang of hoodlums because he knows how powerful she is. No macho posturing, just smiling trust. I have to think she respects his reaction.
As Ayato leaps into her window after she invites him to her room (what is his aversion to elevators, anyway?), he says, “Jeez, I hate how that’s become, like, second nature to me!” Julis didn’t react this time, either. This is another example of how they are getting more comfortable with each other!
Ayato was shocked that she could sew, and she didn’t get angry when he mentioned it! It was almost as if she expected him to say something about her skill.
I liked the realistic description of why she had to fight to raise funds: the monarchy of which she was a part was a puppet regime that had little financial backing. Plus, since the orphanage had no revenue, she could not find investors. The narrative could have glossed over this, but for me, the little details make the background compelling.
I liked how she just kept sewing as she told him about her friends and their troubles. She seems pretty good at multi-tasking!
I loved her rant against the city, its propensity to make students fight, and the greed those fights fed. Stories with a gently-applied theme (i.e., not something heavy-handed) like this pull me more deeply into the story.
One of the questions the story grappled with earlier was Ayato’s purpose. In this episode, he figures it out: his mission is protect Julis. It’s hokey. It’s sentimental. But it worked for me, probably because Julis won’t just passively accept his offer.
What I Liked Less
Claudia gave Ayato his sister’s old sword. I was under the impression that he already had it, and that it had been destroyed in the ambush earlier in the episode. Or maybe his sister’s sword was only available for checkout at special times? That confused me.
Being completely original is impossible. The best a story can hope for is to combine old elements into an entertaining combination. So far, The Asterisk War delivers. Ayato is a strong hero who’s neither boastful and arrogant nor demure and weak. Julis is a tsundere, certainly, but she’s more than that. She’s confident, strong, and motivated by her love for the orphans who saved her when she was a child. Then there’s Claudia and her simultaneously obvious and subtle attempts at manipulation. The cast keeps me coming back for the next episode.
The mystery of who’s behind the attacks seems to be moving forward at a good pace, too. If I read this week’s ending correctly, Julis will find out the attacker’s identity (or identities) next week. I hope Ayato reaches her in time — or that her solitary skills can carry the day.
Reviews of Other Season 1 Episodes
- Episode 1: Witch of the Resplendent Flames
- Episode 2: Ser Versta
- Episode 4: Unshackled
- Episode 5: Lightning Blade Speed
- Episode 6: The True Face of the Girl
- Episode 7: Decisions and Duels
- Episode 8: A Holiday for Two Part 2
- Episode 9: Phoenix Festa
- Episode 10: The Tyrant Vampire Princess
- Episode 11: Power and Its Prices
- Episode 12: The Gravi-Sheath