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The Asterisk War Vol. #09 Light Novel Review

4 min read
In a way, it’s almost impressive how flat and dull this volume is

Suddenly, generic ninjas.

Creative Staff
Story: Yuu Miyazaki
Illustrations: okiura
Translation: Melissa Tanaka

What They Say
Team Enfield is preparing for the next battle, but just as they start planning to build their teamwork, Claudia disappears! Claudia has some information that only the upper echelons of Galaxy should know, and they’re not going to let her get away with it…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
So, there are two main plot elements running throughout this book, and those are a look at Claudia’s past, and an attack by some ninjas in the present. Unsurprisingly neither of these things are handled well, but we’ll start by discussing Claudia’s story arc here first. Pretty much, we just get some flashbacks sprinkled here and there showing that she and Laetitia were friendly rivals, which is I guess something, and also a look back to when she first got the Pan-Dora. I guess at least that shows a bit of how messed up of a childhood she had, but it’s really not exactly like any of this backstory does much of anything to flesh out the character, tell us anything new, or help us actually connect to her.

However, in theory it ties into the aforementioned ninjas, who are sent by Galaxy to wipe out Claudia for what she’s been saying and doing. And man, I know the series has been sloppy and slipshod with its world-building up till now anyway, but just going “here’s an ancient ninja clan using generic ninja skills passed down through the ages” feels particularly ridiculous and ill-fitting. In theory there should be some emotional connection from the fact that Eishirou is part of their group and his father is their leader, but that element is so half-baked and the character so just sort of there that it’s hard to care. That “why should I even care?” element gets even worse when we get an extended part of the events being given to some random girl from Jie Long being introduced and getting in on the fight for a while. In other series perhaps that would feel like it’s likely intended: a fun way to let us meet someone who will be important later… but the thing is, she leaves so little of an impression that she’s little more than a name, a gibberish title, and the vague note that she’s supposed to be kind of strong.

© Yuu Miyazaki 2015

Anyway, even the big boss feels lame as his big trick is “he sort of hypnotizes you so your attacks miss while his hit,” which doesn’t lend itself to very good fights. In theory when Ayato inevitably ends up against him, there’s something “cool” in that he unlocks his seal more to win, but it’s just another example of the book telling rather than showing and going “wow, he’s so fast and strong now, I guess.” Oh, and then it turns out Claudia’s whole plan was… to reach this moment and die with Ayato coming to save her, because that’s the “best death” she could see. But then he does save her after all, and so she has to find a new path forwards in life or whatever. Which, again, could be something worthwhile in a better series, but it just falls flat here.

In Summary
In a way, it’s almost impressive how flat and dull this volume is, as it in theory had the pieces in place needed to be one of the better entries in the series. For a few characters this is a climactic moment in their arcs. Ayato is pushed up against the wall and has to step his game up to win the day, and the stakes are definitely high. And heck, the setup of alternating flashbacks with key events in the present is a good one that has worked well in plenty of other series in the past. And yet, all of this feels bland and empty, with none of the characters coming out of this any more interesting than they went in. I think it really says it all that at the end of this, my takeaway of the book is ultimately it being “the extra dull one where they spent a lot of time fighting boring generic ninjas.” So yeah, even when the series builds up to something, it really does feel completely unable of sticking the landing, which makes it hard to see why anyone should care in the least.

Content Grade: C-
Art Grade: N/A
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B-

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 19th, 2019
MSRP: $14.00

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