The Asterisk War Episode 7: Kirin Unshackled
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Amagiri Ayato and Toudou Kirin, having fallen into the storm sewer after the pavement collapsed at the end of the last episode, surface uninjured — though both are soaked. They have no time to get their bearings before a huge version of the dragons attacks them. Ayato unchains himself to withstand the first attack (therefore starting the clock running — remember that he can only run that way for about 5 minutes). He’s able to slash the monster in half and luckily destroys its core. Unfortunately, he has to pay the price for unchaining his power, and he passes out.
When he comes to, they hang their clothes up to dry and spend some time back to back, bonding. She discloses to him that her father is in jail because he killed a man to protect her from assault when she was 8 years old. Since he was a Genestella, he was imprisoned. Kirin holds herself responsible. She’s also completely bought into the lie “he who must not be named because he doesn’t deserve the publicity” (i.e., her evil uncle) has been telling her — namely, that only he can help her free her dad. Using his own experience, Ayato helps her see that choosing her own way will be better for herself, and her dad. Shortly thereafter, rescuers find them.
Kirin confronts “he who must not be named because he doesn’t deserve the publicity” and tells him she’s going to choose her own way. He inadvertently strengthened her resolve when he told her to stay away from the troublemaker Ayato. She allows him to slap her once, but not twice. She thanks him for his previous help and departs to start down her own path.
As her first autonomous act, she decides to challenge someone of her own choosing to a duel. She challenges Ayato. Out of respect for each other, they agree to go all out.
In the press box, Julis-Alexia van Riessfeld, Claudia Enfield, Sasamiya Saya, Lester MacPhail, and Yabuki Eishirou are watching the match. It seems Ayato asked both Lester and Eishirou if he could borrow their weapons, and Lester concludes Ayato must have some plan to defeat the number 1 ranked Kirin. Ayato spends the first part of the match cataloguing and surviving her attacks. She unleashes one of her most powerful techniques, and he switches weapons to a spear — Lester’s weapon. She counters, and he switches weapons again. She counters yet again, and he allows her to disarm him so he can grapple. That proved to be his winning move.
She seemed almost freed by her loss.
Afterward, Ayato’s enjoying a rare moment of praise from both Julis and Saya when Claudia asks if she can enter. She brings Kirin with her, and Kirin asks if she can join their practices. Julis takes some convincing, but Saya’s all for it. Just as they are welcoming Kirin to the team, “he who must not be named because he doesn’t deserve the publicity” begins to pound on the door and demanding to be let in.
Kirin bats his hand aside when he attempts to grab her. When he tries to strike her, she resolves to take the blow. But Ayato had other ideas. The evil one tries to play the “I’m just a weak human and you’re a powerful Genestella, so you can’t touch me” card. Then he threatens to divulge everything he knew about her father to keep him in jail even longer.
That proves to be his undoing. Until that moment, Claudia had stood silently by. As long as their argument was a family matter, Claudia could not interfere. However, when he threatened to compromise Kirin’s position as a student and an asset of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation, the fight became Claudia’s business. “If you intend to corrupt her with your self-interests in mind,” she says,” I can ill afford to look the other way.”
To drive the point home, Claudia added that she was she her mom would see things the same way.
“He who must not be named because he doesn’t deserve the publicity” shuffled away in defeat.
To her credit, Kirin thanked him again.
After he leaves, Kirin asks if she can call Ayato by his first name. Of course, he says yes. When she asks if he’ll call her by her first name, Julis, Saya, and even Claudia are surprised. But he says yes.
The scene shifts to Ernesta Kuhne and Camilla Pareto as they review a performance by new, upgraded puppet combatants. Kuhne used footage from Ayato’s fight with the giant dragon to upgrade her puppets’ programs. She announces to Camilla that she’s ready for her main performance.
At the end, Saya approaches Kirin and says it’s admirable that Kirin’s fighting for her father. In fact, Saya is, too. So, Saya asks if they can be partners for the Festa. Kirin’s too surprised to answer.
What I Liked
Ayato and Kirin are sitting back to back in their underwear as their clothes dry. As they talk, he finally turns around in a moment of emotional intimacy — which is shattered when he realizes she’s in her underwear. No nose bleed; no leering; just realistic embarrassment.
Kirin’s first act as a free woman is to challenge Ayato. I took that to mean she wants to see how powerful she really is, and she thought Ayato would be a good measure. She seemed to know he would give her an all-out, honest fight, and that’s exactly what she wanted.
Ayato looks to Kirin for permission before he lets her evil uncle enter the locker room. I thought that little gesture reinforced that Kirin was in control of the situation, and Ayato acknowledged her authority.
Instead of cussing out “he who must not be named because he doesn’t deserve the publicity” (and $deity knows he deserves it!), Kirin apologizes and again thanks him for his past help.
I like the theme of Kirin deciding to break free. She had help — Ayato, in particular, cheered her on. But she did it on her own, without anyone directly helping her. Taking responsibility for one’s own life is a theme I love seeing play out.
Saya’s reaction when Kirin asked to join made me laugh out loud. She was all for it, saying, “Sure, I don’t mind. Bring it on!”
What I Liked Less
Isn’t Kirin a little too well developed for someone who’s supposed to be thirteen?
The Asterisk War is doing a great job of building sympathy for the main characters. I’m pulling for Ayato to find his sister and to help Julis reach her goals. I’m backing Julis in her quest to find funding for the orphanage. I’m emotionally invested in Saya and Kirin as they strive to help their fathers. I’m even hoping that Claudia succeeds, and I’m not even clear on what her goals are!
I think it’s a good sign when a series can evoke such strong and positive reaction to the characters in only seven episodes.
Now, I wonder what Kuhne and Pareto are up to…
Reviews of Other Season 1 Episodes
- Episode 1: Witch of the Resplendent Flames
- Episode 2: Ser Versta
- Episode 3: A Holiday for Two
- Episode 4: Unshackled
- Episode 5: Lightning Blade Speed
- Episode 6: The True Face of the Girl
- 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