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Literature / The Asterisk War

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This page contains unmarked spoilers for the first six volumes. You Have Been Warned!

The Asterisk War (学戦都市アスタリスク Gakusen Toshi Asterisk, "Academy Battle City Asterisk") is a Science Fantasy Light Novel series written by Yuu Miyazaki and illustrated by Okiura. It was published from September 2012 to June 2022 in 17 volumes under Media Factory's MF Bunko J imprint.

In the wake of an extinction-level event called the Invertia, traditional governments around the world fell to be replaced with six megacorporations called the integrated enterprise foundations, and many people born after this event discovered they were to tap into reserves of prana, giving them superhuman abilities or even the ability to use magic. These people are known as the Genestella of the "Starpulse Generation." Our hero, Ayato Amagiri, is one such person who comes to the titular Academy City on water, Rikka, otherwise known as "Asterisk", to attend Seidoukan Academy (and to possibly find out what happened to his sister, Haruka).

Asterisk is a famous city which is home to six educational institutions, which engage in tournaments known as "Festas," in which the super-powered students engage in hand-to-hand combat, which is broadcast around the world for entertainment. The winners of these tournaments are allowed to have any wish they want within reason granted.

A manga adaptation written by the same author and illustrated by Ningen was serialized in Monthly Comic Alive from 2013 to 2016. A-1 Pictures released an Animated Adaptation in October 2015, which ran for two twelve-episode seasons that closely adapt the novels through the end of volume 6. The anime is licensed by Aniplex USA for an English-language release. Yen Press licensed the light novels and the manga for an English-language release and began releasing them in late 2016.

There is also a Spin-Off manga and light novel series, both written by Miyazaki, titled The Asterisk War Wings Of Queenvale, focused on Queenvale Girls' Academy. The manga, illustrated by Akane Shou, was serialized in Kodansha's Bessatsu Shounen Magazine from April 2014 to August 2016; the novels, illustrated by okiura, entered publication in April 2016. To date there is no English release.

Bandai Namco Entertainment developed an Action RPG based on the property for PS Vita, AW Phoenix Festa, which was released in Japan in January 2016 and in North America as a digital download in July 2016.

The Asterisk War provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The student council presidents of each the seven schools have varying degrees of power depending on how they get elected. For example, at one school, the President is elected through a battle tournament, in which case her power over the students is very high. However, at Arlequint, a research institution, the President is typically chosen as a compromise between several powerful factions. However, the Presidents themselves are part of a pan-school council which plays the trope completely straight down to having implausibly broad powers to direct school affairs (even operating their own intelligence services that are at least as powerful as the professional Asterisk police force), answering only to the IEF.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The anime adapts the first six volumes and condenses them to the important plot elements.
  • All for Nothing:
    • In the end, Lester MacPhail's attempts to surpass Julis and become the top-ranking student ends up being a lost cause. He tries to wield Ser-Veresta as part of his efforts, but is utterly shocked to realize that his attempts to wield it have caused it to go berserk.
    • Koichiro Toudou's plan to have Kirin's father Seijiro released proved pointless when Kirin competes in the Gryps Festa with Ayato and releases Seijiro on her own terms.
  • Almost Kiss: Julis nearly kisses Ayato when they're talking at the end of the first season but they're interrupted by Saya and Kirin coming into the room.
  • Androids Are People, Too: AI research has advanced to the point where robots can develop human personalities and emotions. Camila Pareto from Arlequint is trying to get robots to be recognized as actual citizens and not just machinery.
  • Apocalypse How: While on the surface, it resembles a Class 1, socially it's a class 2. Society has reverted to a monarchistic system with societies completely subordinate to the IEF.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After Ayato rescues Julis from Silas, he shuts down her pleas not to get involved by asking "Who's going to protect you, Julis?"
  • Asimov's Three Kinds of Science Fiction: It focuses on the social aspects of the "Starpulse Generation" (people born with magical abilities after an Apocalypse How that nearly extinguished humanity). In the wake of superpowered individuals, the Government believes keeping tight control is the best way to maintain a peaceful society, and what better way to ensure that than by making the "Starpulse Generation" fight themselves to entertain the masses?
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Each student is ranked by their fighting abilities based on their sportsmanship in Festas.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Orga Luxes are extremely powerful weapons, but they're little more than a curiosity to the IEFs because a weapon that can only be wielded by a select few cannot be mass-produced. They're only profitable when they're used in the Festa tournaments.
    • Camilla Pareto notes design flaws in Saya's weapons that make them impractical (for example, long recharge time), which is why Saya's father is ridiculed by the Lux-making community. This prompts Saya to enter the Phoenix Festa to make Camilla apologize. However, in volume 7 and 8, she spends a lot of time in Seidoukan's workshops upgrading her guns, having decided as a result of her performance in the Phoenix that Camilla had a point.
  • Battle Harem: Every one of Ayato's girls is seriously badass, but when working together, there is very little they can't do. Claudia may have chosen them as her team for the Gryps Festa for this very reason.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Despite their quirks, AR-D and RM-C are nothing short of helpful to their owners and follow their orders, no strings attached.
  • Be Yourself: Kirin's arc in volume 2 revolves around this trope. Her Evil Uncle Kouichirou trained her in the art of swordplay, becoming the top-ranked Seidoukan fighter at the start of the series. After meeting Ayato, however, she finally gains the strength to break away from her uncle's teachings and fight him in a fair duel.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ayato rescues Julis from Silas's clutches towards the end of volume 1.
  • Bitch Slap: Kouichirou often slaps his niece Kirin when she disagrees with his methods.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The major characters are not inherently good or evil. On the other hand, the IEFs, the current rulers of world politics, is positive that Despotism Justifies the Means as it is to be profitable to them, and that's before getting into the likes of Rewolf and Arlequint. Only a few characters like Ayato, Julis, Saya, Kirin and Sylvia are in the White area of morality, and this is mostly due to situations in their past that gave them stronger senses of morality.
  • Bland-Name Product: Ayato and Julis have lunch at a WcDonald.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Invoked. The higher echelons of the IEF, originally brought together to aid recovery efforts after the Invertia incident, has instituted a program where anyone in, seeking, or being assigned a leadership position is mentally "reprogrammed" in such a way as to lose all human desire, both good and bad, except for what is in the best interest of making the corporation profitable, and spurring the flow of commerce, by whatever means necessary.
  • Breather Episode: Episodes 5, 8 & 11, which were preceded by fairly intense action-packed episodes. Some of them also double as A Day in the Limelight, giving more character development to the supporting characters such as Saya and Kirin.
  • Burn Scars, Burning Powers: Downplayed with Julis when she begins training with Fan Xinglou following the Gryps Festa. Julis is normally immune to her own flames, so Ayato is surprised when she starts turning up with burns after training sessions. No mention of permanent scars yet, though.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The general baseline populace are generally distrustful towards the Genestella, that it sometimes border on harassment (this is despite the Genestella being, far, stronger than an ordinary baseline human who can easily dismantle them). The things that prevent non-Genestellas from being put in their place is that A.) the Genestella are a minority (being smaller in number compared to baseline muggles), and B.) laws are heavily biased in favor of non-superpowered populace (a Genestella acting in self-defense is considered a heinous crime). Just ask Kirin Toudou, whose father was arrested for defending her from an armed robber.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: The overall subtext of the series. The primary villains are the integrated enterprise foundations, a group of Mega Corps that control the world economy, bringing entire countries to the brink of poverty (Lieseltania included), encouraging the unethical treatment of Genestella for their own purposes, using the Asterisk Festas to extend their political influence and brainwashing their own members to prevent any defiance. For what has been seen so far, its only goal seems to be "profit at any cost."
  • Casting Gag:
    • Hilariously enough, the anime adaptation uses six voice actors from Chivalry of a Failed Knight, albeit in different roles. Nao Tōyama, Shizuku Kurogane's voice actress, voices Claudia Enfield; Shintarō Asanuma, Nagi Arisuin's actor, voices Wernher; Yuu Kobayashi, Ayase Ayatsuji's VA, voices Hilda Jane Rowlands; M·A·O, Renren Tomaru's VA, voices Yosuga Migahara, voices; Chinatsu Akasaki, who voices of the Tsukuyomi Sisters, provides the voice for Ernesta Kuhne; while Juri Kimura, who played minor roles in Chivalry, voices Zhao Hufeng. Bonus points for both anime series airing at around the same timeframe.
    • The English dub mostly avoids this, as the dubs for both series were recorded in different states (Chivalry in Texas and Asterisk War in L.A.), however Chris Patton (due to working as a bi-coastal actor) voices both Nagi Arisuin in Chivalry and Jolbert in Asterisk War.
  • Central Theme:
    • Overcoming limits. Ayato is limited by the seal placed on his powers by his sister, and learns to unlock more and more of his abilities. Julis is limited in her efforts to provide for her countrymen by the influence of the IEFs, and learns to use their own power against them. Kirin, initially, is limited in her development by the stranglehold her Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist uncle Koichiro has over her life, and has to kick him out of it to get better. Irene Urzaiz is limited as a person by the very Orga Lux that makes her such a powerful fighter, and Ayato must destroy it to save her life. AR-D and RM-C want to overcome the limits of their lack of experience as fighters. Lester and Julis later seek out Fan Xinglou for unconventional training to improve further after hitting a wall with conventional methods.
    • Working to save and protect others. Ayato decides in volume one that the purpose he's been looking for is to protect Julis. Julis is trying to relieve poverty in her country. Saya is trying to salvage her father's reputation as a weaponsmith. Kirin is trying to free her father from unjust imprisonment. Irene Urzaiz gave up her freedom and risks her sanity to save her sister from a Leonine Contract, and Ayato has to destroy her Evil Weapon to save her from herself. Camilla Pareto wants to develop self-defense weapons the untrained can use to protect themselves, after insurgents killed her aid worker parents. Camilla's partner Ernesta Kühne wants to win civil rights for AIs. Even the robots AR-D and RM-C get in on it, fighting to achieve Camilla and Ernesta's goals.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Silas Norman tries to assassinate Julis and other Seidoukan students so he can win the Phoenix Festa. Unfortunately for Silas, Ayato rescues Julis and sends him falling to the streets below so Claudia and Eishirou can arrest him.
  • Childhood Friends: There are a few characters who are these:
    • Ayato and Saya were friends when they were young.
    • Julis and Orphelia, before the latter's Face–Heel Turn.
  • The City: The Academy City Rikka, also known as Asterisk City, is where the story revolves around.
  • City of Adventure: Rikka is a city full of <Starpulse Generation> people where duels to compete in ranking take place often.
  • City on the Water: Rikka is an artificial island city based on a crater-lake in North Kanto.
  • The City Narrows: The redevelopment area of the city where gangs and illegal activities are.
  • Coming of Age Story: For Ayato, Julis and Kirin. Ayato becomes a top-ranking student at Seidoukan Academy and Julis becomes his girlfriend, while Kirin has to prove her individuality as a swordswoman.
  • Cool Sword: The Four Colored Magic Swords are four sword-type Ogre Luxes, said to be extremely powerful even by Ogre Lux standards. They are:
    • Ser-Veresta (black), wielded by Ayato.
    • Lei-Gleims (white), wielded by Fairclough.
    • Raksha-Nada (red), wielded by Madiath.
    • Wole-Zain (blue), wielded by no one as its compability rate is so high no one as been able to match it.
  • Corporate Warfare: As befits a good MegaCorp, the IEFs have their own Private Military Contractors to enforce their goals (made up mainly of Genestella), so this sometimes happens. Defied at one point in the Backstory when a couple of them nearly fought a war over the manadite deposits in what became Lieseltania, but the other IEFs joined in and forced a peaceful settlement of the dispute. This resulted in Lieseltania becoming an independent state (in theory).
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Several of the IEF's executive have been involved in conspiracies. Some of these include:
    • Koichiro Toudou, who is all too keen to become a top member of Galaxy, even if it means using Kirin and covering up her father's deeds to have him released.
    • Nicholas Enfield, Claudia's father who wants what's best for her to the point that he attempts to kill Julis to prevent his daughter from competing in the Gryps Festa.
  • Crapsack World: Ooooh, boy. Entire countries have become slums after the Invertia impact event, and the IEF keeps it that way because it’s profitable.
  • Creator's Culture Carryover: Japanese example: Volume 7 has the Girl Group Rusalka try to exploit Contractual Purity to ruin their rival Sylvia Lyynneheym's career by starting a scandal with the rumor that she has a boyfriend. This might work in Japan—Idol Singer otakus can be weird, and their agencies are notorious for controlling their talent's personal lives—but Sylvia (and Rusalka) explicitly has a worldwide fanbase and Western audiences probably wouldn't consider this a big deal. invoked There's two potential justifications, the simpler of the two being that the plan really is meant to come off as idiotic and they only thought it was a good idea because of their Orga Lux messing with their heads (Mahulena, the least affected by Lyre-Poros, is the one member to object to the plan beforehand).note 
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Even if it's completely justified, nearly any attack by a Genestella on an ordinary human is regarded as a Felony Misdemeanor, given the Fantastic Racism against the Genestella. Seijirou Toudou was arrested when he killed a man to protect his daughter. Well, until Kirin releases him on her own terms at least...
  • Crippling the Competition: Silas commits assassination attempts on Seidoukan students to the point that they can't compete because if it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In episode 8, Queenvale's Violet Weinberg attempts to fight the unranked Saya, but the latter blasts her across the room on the word "go".
    • An Invoked example occurs in the Festas: the preliminary round brackets are not random, but rather deliberately organized such that competitors favored to win the tourney are not set against each other too early. This is meant to ensure that the later rounds remain exciting for the audience, which keeps the tournament profitable; the downside is that early matches have a tendency to result in some rando being put up against a Page One and getting slaughtered in seconds.
      • In the Phoenix, until their duel with the Urzaiz sisters in volume 3, Ayato and Julis win their matches in a matter of seconds (in the first two, Ayato and Julis respectively solo the other team). This includes a team from Queenvale, which is generally considered the lowest-ranked school in competition.
      • AR-D and RM-C, the robots entered by Ernesta and Camilla, put on a show of standing still and tanking their opponent with their Deflector Shields for a full minute, after which they flatten them in a couple seconds. However, this means that they're lacking in experience when they encounter Saya and Kirin in the semifinals, which lets the girls get in several damaging hits and ultimately forces them to unveil their Super Mode.
      • Julis and Ayato's quarterfinal match against Elliot Forster and Doroteo Lemus. It takes longer than usual due to the Hostage Situation with Flora requiring Ayato to not use Ser Veresta but still results in the other team being completely unable to land any serious hits: Ayato outclasses Elliot for experience and physical strength, while Julis just shoots fireballs at Doroteo until he passes out from heat exhaustion.
      • In the Gryps Festa, Team Enfield—consisting of Ayato, Julis, Claudia, Saya, and Kirin—steamrolls through all their matches until they reach Rusalka.
    • In volume six, Julis attacks Ophelia Landlufen when she encounters her in Lieseltania (apparently on a bet to get Ophelia to stop competing) only to get quickly knocked out seconds later.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 8 greatly expands upon Kirin and Saya's interactions.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Mixed in with Dystopia Justifies the Means, the IEF actively keeps the world crapsack as it would be profitable to them.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • Julis didn't expect Ayato to dodge her flame-based attacks when they first met. But Ayato displays his Amagiri Shinmei Style techniques in front of her and easily avoids the attacks.
    • Silas clearly didn't calculate that Ayato would rescue Julis and wipe out his robot army at the end of volume 1.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Played for Laughs at the beginning of the series. Ayato returns the handkerchief to Julis by jumping up to her apartment balcony. Unfortunately for him, he walks in on Julis while she is changing and almost gets blasted to kingdom come. Then, upon realizing that Ayato's a Genestella, Julis decides to duel with him.
    • Lester attempting to use Ser-Veresta as his main Orga Lux by force... which can only be wielded by the Amagiris.
    • Julis investigates the assassination attempts on Seidoukan in volume 1. Unfortunately for her, she gets abducted by Silas and Ayato has to rescue her.
    • Koichiro Toudou, who intends to secure Seijirou's release for Kirin, doesn't exactly think all the way about how his plans would go about. He thought that by covering up the truth about Seijirou's deeds and using Kirin as a pawn in his plans, it would further his goals in securing a high-ranking position as a Galaxy executive and would help Seijirou's release. Cue an Oh, Crap! when Claudia makes him aware of this.
  • Differently Powered Individual: The <Starpulse Generation> (Genestella) are some people born after the Ember Tears meteor shower that pelted the Earth for three days. They are stronger, faster, and heal quicker than normal humans and can manipulate Mana with their Prana (Star-Power).
    • Even among the Genestella there are even more unique individuals, the Strega (female) and the Dante (male) who can link with mana through flesh and blood, making them like magicians with their abilities, however for some reason they are disliked by Orga Lux to the point that only 10 have managed to use one in all of Asterisk's history.
  • Disciplines of Magic: There are three primary schools of Genestella fighting arts. "Normal" Genestella typically use "Meteor Arts", which pump their mana and prana into bodily functions and/or into their weapons. Stregas (female) and Dantes (male) are akin to the Squishy Wizard, able to cast actual spells. The wild card is the seisenjutsu practiced at Jie Long Seventh Institute, which appears to hybridize the other two forms.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the beginning of volume 1, Julis invokes the Felony Misdemeanor and challenges Ayato to a duel because he caught her in a state of undress while returning her handkerchief.
  • Distaff Counterpart: One class of Genestella can use their prana for Psychic Powers or Elemental Powers. Females of this type are called Stregas (Italian for "witch"), while males are referred to as Dantes (seemingly referring to Dante Alighieri).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The IEF's persecution of the Genestella as a minority is very similar to what the Nazis did to the minorities, especially the Jews.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
    • Julis trying to outright kill Ayato for accidentally seeing her in her underwear is Played for Laughs. Koichiro Toudou slapping and emotionally abusing his niece Kirin Toudou is Played for Drama and provokes Ayato to intervene on her behalf (eventually leading Kirin to grow a spine and kick Koichiro to the curb).
    • Ardi is never safe from Rimsi's abuse. When he questions Ernesta why they were programmed that way, she gives a philosophical excuse that a woman would always dominate a man, which he seems to accept. She then quietly mentions to herself that Rimsi is also his Power Limiter.
  • Double Standard: If a guy sneaks into the female dorms, he's punished harshly as a Felony Misdemeanor. Just ask Ayato, who was forced to duel with Julis upon sneaking into her room. On the other hand, if a girl sneaks into the guy's dorms, the guy whose room she breaks into is the one punished instead, and any complaints he might voice are summarily ignored.
  • Dystopia: The entire world is all but completely controlled by a group of megacorporations which forced countries back into the system of monarchic rule and actively work against social safety net programs, and the one place that isn't a crapsack location, Asterisk, is used primarily as a stage for very dangerous martial arts duels and tournaments among the teenage students.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Orga Lux which, unlike regular Lux that are made with Mana Dite, are made with Ulm Mana Dite. They have their own will and personalities. Some can even corrupt their users.
  • Enter Stage Window:
    • Ayato enters Julis's window to return her handkerchief at the beginning of Volume 1, only for her to challenge him to a duel.
    • He subsequently sneaks into Julis's and Claudia's rooms in the girl's dormitory using their windows when he is invited by them to meet.
    • Saya does this to Ayato too, much to his horror due to the Double Standard listed above.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Killing someone in self-defense, even if one is a Genestella, is a serious crime. The IEF executives using their own relatives or children as pawns in their plans, covering up a crime, and hiring someone to kill a princess are even more serious matters, as demonstrated by Claudia when she learns about Koichiro's intentions to corrupt Kirin and when Nicholas plots an assassination attempt on Julis to keep her out of the Gryps Festa.
    • Ernesta is extremely reluctant to work with Dirk Eberwein despite her doing a few shady things like hiring Silas, and the terms of the deal he's proposing her are very tempting.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: The second volume compares and contrasts Ayato's Amagiri Shinmei Style with Kirin's Toudou Style. Amagiri Shinmei is about five hundred years old, dating to the heyday of the samurai, and is noted to be a little bit slower since it's designed with the weight of armor in mind (Kirin recognizes its age because Ayato's stance puts his hips lower). The Toudou school dates to the end of the Edo period and puts the user in a more upright stance. However, since it's a style developed for the battlefield rather than the dojo, Amagiri Shinmei includes more than just katana moves: Ayato ultimately defeats Kirin by combining katana, spear, kodachi, and hand-to-hand combat.
  • Felony Misdemeanor:
    • Ayato enters Julis's room to return her handkerchief while she is still changing. She ends up dueling with him as a punishment.
    • Seijiro Toudou, a Genestella, kills a robber to defend Kirin and is arrested for it. An example of how the IEF persecutes the Genestella.
  • Filler: The anime's episode 8, "A Holiday for Two, Part 2", which takes place offscreen between novel volumes 2 and 3 and consists of new teammates Saya and Kirin taking a vacation day to get to know one another and improve their teamwork. The plot was extrapolated from a comment Saya makes to Ayato in volume 8 about when she had visited a particular gun store previously.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Ayato uses Silas's arrogance to his advantage by defeating his robots and ultimately using his chess master skills against him, to the point of saying "Checkmate" before sending him falling into the city below.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In volume 1, a cloaked robotic assassin attempts to kill Julis during her duel with Ayato, foreshadowing the possibility that Silas is the one who's responsible for the assassination attempts.
    • In volume 2, while Ayato confers with Kirin after being stuck underground, he suggests that choosing her own path will be better for her to release her father. Guess what Kirin does after that?
  • For Want Of A Nail:
    • If Haruka wasn't seriously injured, Ayato would never have gone to Seidoukan Academy to search for her; he wouldn't have befriended Julis, Lester, Saya, Kirin, or Claudia; he wouldn't have obtained Ser-Veresta; and he wouldn't have defeated Kirin to become the top-ranking fighter at Seidoukan and free her from her uncle's grasp.
    • If Lester hadn't attempted to bully Ser-Veresta into compliance, it wouldn't have caused the weapon to go berserk and Ayato wouldn't become its rightful owner.
    • If Ernesta hadn't dispatched Silas to take out the strongest students at Seidoukan to win the Phoenix Festa, Julis wouldn't have been kidnapped, Lester wouldn't have realized Silas's true colors, Ayato wouldn't have rescued her after being tipped off by Saya and Claudia, Arlequint would never have been discovered to be behind the assassination attempts, and the deal between Arlequint and Seidoukan wouldn't have gone ahead.
  • From Zero to Hero: Ayato Amagiri once was a swordsman and martial artist who studied under his sister, Haruka. He then transfers into Seidoukan Academy and eventually dethrones Kirin Toudou as the academy's top student.
  • Golden Snitch: Under Gryps Festa rules, the team whose leader is incapacitated or has his/her badge broken first loses. This produces a number of strategic shifts compared to the two-person teams of the Phoenix and the one-on-one fights in the Lindvolus, especially since a team can designate a different leader for any match.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot:
    • Between Ayato and Julis, he's a Master Swordsman while she mainly fights at range with fireballs and booby traps. She has a rapier lux, but it's mainly a weapon of last resort.
    • Also true of the robots AR-D and RM-C: he is a heavy brawler who favors a gigantic hammer, while she is a lightweight flier who fights with guns. That is, until they go all Combining Mecha and RM-C gives up her weapons to AR-D, where he becomes able to shoot the head of his hammer at his opponents.
  • Holographic Terminal: They seem to have completely replaced physical cellphones and computers. We never see any device that projects them, and they seem to be activated by thought.
  • Human Resources / Superhuman Trafficking: Arlequint is notorious for this, and Rewolf has a history of partaking in it as well. The IEF often turns a blind eye to it as long as doing so remains profitable.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Ayato defeats Kirin in their rematch at the end of volume 2/episode 7 by using long sword, spear, and short sword to draw Kirin into grappling range. His Fantastic Fighting Style including these is new to this episode and only appears one other time, though it's justified: he explains to Julis afterwards that, while he's trained in spear, short sword, and grappling, he's best by far with the long sword.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: While there's violence aplenty in this series, so far the only named character who has actually been killed onscreen was a college student: Werner, the Le Wolf Ninja who holds Flora hostage in volume 5, is finished off in a drainage culvert by Eishirou.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Even though he was a jerk to Kirin, Kouichiro does note that she wants to secure Seijiro's release. His prediction comes true when she wins the Gryps Festa and secures her father's release on her own terms.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Despite being a manipulative and ruthless man to the point that he's willing to kidnap Flora Klemm, the fact that Dirk Eberwein is still Le Wolf's Student Council President means that he has gotten off scot-free (for now, anyway).
    • A downplayed example occurs with Nicholas Enfield. Claudia lets him go and still loves him, but it's clear that they are on opposite sides and he'll never achieve his goal to become a Galaxy executive in his own right.
  • Kick the Dog: Silas wasn't being biased about what he plans to do at the Phoenix Festa because of him kidnapping Julis.
  • Knight Templar: Koichiro Toudou wants to have Kirin's father (and his brother) Seijiro released from prison. His solution drives him into covering up her father's crime and using her to attain his goals and become a top-ranking member of Galaxy.
  • Lady and Knight: Julis is the beautiful princess and Ayato is her noble knight who has sworn to protect her.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kirin's uncle Koichiro, a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist and Corrupt Corporate Executive, frequently uses her as a pawn in his plans. However, after Ayato shows up in her life, she begins to stand up for herself and breaks ties with Koichiro. Then after Ayato defeats Kirin, Koichiro reveals that he covered up her father's deeds in order for his niece to come back with him; Claudia threatens to ruin Koichiro's career and the latter becomes even less of a jerkass by volume 11.
  • Laser Blade: Many of the Lux and Orga Lux weapons manifest as this (although not all of them). Ser-Veresta plays the trope completely straight as it functions almost identically to a lightsaber and will melt/cut through anything. Lester notably wields a laser battleaxe instead.
  • Lover Tug of War: Ayato is caught in this by Julis and Saya in episode 5 when both girls attempt to claim him as their partner for the upcoming tournament. Lester wisely steps out of the room to avoid the incoming drama.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Orga Luxes are Empathic Weapons and will only let themselves be wielded by people they like (which Asterisk's scientists measure as a compatibility rating). Trying to force an Orga Lux to let you wield it tends to be counterproductive, as Lester demonstrates when he tries to take control of Ser Veresta.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The Seidoukan students when Ayato ends up touching Julis's breast after pushing her out of the way from a robotic assassin.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Invertia, a mysterious meteor shower that came out of nowhere (literally: it appeared on no astronomical instruments on Earth prior to impact) and, in the midst of causing worldwide destruction, left behind deposits of a mineral called manadite that is used in the setting for magitek weapons and caused many children born after the event, the Genestella or Star-Pulse Generation, to have superpowers. In volume 7, however, Xinglou Fan claims that this has happened before, and that many legendary figures of the past were really Genestella who became Shrouded in Myth.
  • Master of the Levitating Blades: After her original rapier-style Lux, Aspera Spina, is wrecked at the climax of the Phoenix Festa, Julis is given a prototype Rect Lux. Nova Spina consists of four laser blades that she can manipulate remotely.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Seidoukan is Japanese for "Star Guide Hall".
    • Julis is a variant of Julius, which means "downy" in Greek. Florentia and Renate are Latin for "flowering, in bloom" and "rebirth", respectively.
    • The kanji in Haruka's name (遥) means "distant" in Japanese. Ayato's been distant from his sister ever since she went into a coma. At least until she is unfrozen.
  • Memento MacGuffin: There are several in the story.
  • The Men in Black: Shadow Star serves as the secret police force for Seidoukan.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: One spanning the first volume. Ayato discovers that the assasination attempt on the students at Seidoukan is a plot by Silas Norman to win the Phoenix Festa, who in turn is being used by Arlequint as an Unwitting Pawn.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Only the protagonists and Sylvia are in the White area of morality. Several characters like Claudia are willing to use underhanded means to achieve noble goals. Others like Irene and Orphelia used to be good people until they were forced into villainy by circumstances beyond their control. The IEF is a power-hungry MegaCorp that keeps entire countries in poverty simply because it's profitable to them.
  • Mugging the Monster: In the eighth episode, Kirin is just learning to swim under Saya's tutelage and bumps into Violet by accident. Violet starts bullying her, and Kirin is too much of a Shrinking Violet (no pun intended) to bring up the fact that she was Seidoukan's top-ranking student. When Saya, unranked but with enough prowess to be a Page One, defends Kirin, Violet challenges Saya to a duel. Violet is ranked 35th, so you can guess how that went.
  • Naked First Impression: At the beginning of the series, Ayato catches Julis's handkerchief from her upstairs window. When he goes up to the window, he inadvertently walks in on Julis in the middle of changing her clothes. The result: Julis invokes the Felony Misdemeanor on Ayato and duels with him.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Silas's attempt to cripple Julis caused Ayato to pull a Big Damn Heroes moment when the latter is tipped off by Claudia about what's happened.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Kirin Toudou allows herself to be pushed around by Koichiro for most of volume 2... until she has a heart-to-heart talk about wanting to release Seijiro on her own terms. Kirin finally stands up for herself, stunning her uncle in the process, and Ayato becomes her mentor. Koichiro seems to realize his foolishness and becomes less of a jerk after he retires from Galaxy and reconnects with his family in Volume 11.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ayato's understandable reaction when he accidentally sees Julis getting dressed, when she is about to fry him with Amaryllis and when he accidentally grabs her breast while protecting her from a robotic assassin.
    • Lester when he realizes that he isn't worthy of wielding Ser-Veresta.
    • Julis when Silas reveals that he is behind the assassination attempts.
    • Lester when he is beaten up by Silas's robots.
    • Silas when Ayato outsmarts him and when Claudia is about to capture him.
    • Koichiro when Kirin decides to leave her uncle behind and when Claudia threatens him to expose his actions towards Kirin to her mother Isabella.
    • Gustave when Kirin defeats him.
    • Nicholas when Claudia refuses to reconsider her participation in the Gryps Festa.
  • One Cast Member per Cover: Volumes 1-6 feature a different girl on each cover. From volume 7 on, all the covers have at least two characters.
  • Opening Narration: The anime's first episode has one that describes how the Invertia crashed into Earth and its history that followed:
    "During the previous century, an unprecedented disaster known as the Invertia struck the planet and drastically changed the world as we knew it. The powers of existing nations declined significantly and paved the way for the Integrated Enterprise Foundation conglomerate to seize leadership. As time passed, global perceptions of ethics and principles were forever altered. But despite this turn of events, the Invertia also gave the world new potential. A new species of humans emerged, graced with phenomenal physical abilities, known as the Genestella. The young men and women of the Genestella vie for supremacy in the battle entertainment called Festas. This is Rikka, the academy city on the water, also known as Asterisk."
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: When Ayato decides to cut loose, he's the Awesome and pretty much everyone else is being overshadowed. His Power Limiter is mostly just a plot convenience to prevent him from constantly overshadowing everyone.
  • Playing with Syringes: Apparently, the Geneva Convention does not exist in this world setting. Again, of the academies in Asterisk, Arlequint is the most notorious for this.
  • Power at a Price: Orga Luxes are extremely powerful weapons, but every one of them is intelligent and exacts some kind of toll on its wielder.
    • Few Stregas or Dantes, the setting's equivalent of a Squishy Wizard, are compatible with Orga Luxes.
    • Ser Veresta and Gravisheath simply require a lot of mana and prana to power them, which few Genestella can supply. Ayato has to release his Power Limiter in order to wield Ser Veresta, while Gravisheath transforms its wielder into a vampiric being to drain prana from others. Except for Orphelia Landlufen, whose mana is just as toxic as the rest of her, letting her easily force Gravisheath into compliance.
    • Pan-Dora and Lyre-Poros have a tendency to drive their wielders insane: Pan-Dora forces its wielder to dream of their own death every night, while Lyre-Poros had to be broken into five weapons wielded by five different people to mitigate its mind-degrading effects.
    • Lei-Glems will only allow a wielder who adheres to a very strict Knight in Shining Armor code of conduct and denies their own desires.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: As opposed to some of IEF's Corrupt Corporate Executives like Koichiro, Nicholas and Isabella Enfield are dutiful and level-headed when they do their work.
  • Punny Name: The City of "Asterisk" is named because the city's design resembles a large asterisk.
  • Random Power Ranking: There is an official ranking system of student battle skills and every participating student's names are recorded in a ranking book. This led to those recorded on the first page as "Page Ones". This is ultimately mocked and deconstructed as its repeatedly mentioned that this is not an accurate representation of the strength of each character since multiple factors can determine your placement in the rankings. Examples:
    • Someone might be stuck in their current placement because the opponent(s) that they must defeat to advance just so happened to perfectly counter their abilities.
    • There are those that do not participate in duels either because they wish to hide their true strength, or because they don't care about it (such as Saya, who is on the same level as Julis, but is completely unranked).
    • There are even various power ranking charts on various fan websites, but it's mostly based on favorites of the week and as shown, the rankings on one fansite are completely different than the rankings on another.
    • Ayato becomes the top-ranking student of Seidoukan after defeating the previous holder of that rank, Kirin, but it's not because he is necessary a superior fighter: he didn't give her time to take advantage of the time limit on his Power Limiter, and she was unaware of his true fighting style. Ayato even notes that this tactic would only work once, and believes he wouldn't stand a chance against her in a rematch. Regardless of the reasons or the actual difference in strength, he is given the superior rank.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In volume 11, Lester takes Julis to where he's been training, a secret dojo run by Fan Xinglou, the Body Surfing student council president of Jie-Long and probably the most powerful Genestella in history. Julis asks for training, and Fan refuses, believing that Julis has peaked. Julis responds by challenging her to a duel, resorting to a brand new, near-suicidal move in hopes of impressing Fan enough to change her mind. She succeeds.
  • Returning the Handkerchief: The whole story begins with our protagonist Ayato trying to return a handkerchief he found floating down from the sky. When he returned the handkerchief he met its owner Julis who was in the middle of changing her clothes. Unfortunately for Ayato, it ends up being a Felony Misdemeanor as he is forced to duel with her after that.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Ernesta Kühne created AR-Dnote  and RM-Cnote  to be so and wishes for A.I.s to be accepted the same as humans. Ironically Ardi, the more robotic-looking one, is more emotional than RM-C the more human looking one who's consciousness is nearer to that of a human's. Justified since AR-D has an Ulm Mana Dite in him thus making him like an Orga Lux and have a personality.
  • Ruritania:
    • Various maps place Julis's homeland of Lieseltania on the southeastern border of Germany, the real-life location of the Czech Republic (indeed, it appears to be the western half of it). It used to be part of the Holy Roman Empire and was given de jure independence by the IEF in exchange for access to its Manadite resources, though it is de facto an IEF Puppet State.
    • Irene and Priscilla Urzaiz grew up in an unspecified poor country in southern Europe. Based on their Basque surname and Irene's Spanish incantations, it's probably Spain (or a former part of Spain, given IEF redrawing of borders elsewhere in Europe).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: A heroic example with Kirin. Kirin has a heart-to-heart talk with Ayato about following her own path to secure Seijiro's release. After being rescued, Kirin snaps out of her Slave to PR mindset, confronts her uncle and flat-out tells him that she's going to fight on her own terms.
  • Scylla and Charybdis: The prize for being on the winning team at a Festa is for the IEFs to grant the winner any boon it is within their power to provide, which, given their power, means almost anything that isn't a physical impossibility. Occasionally, however, a winning Genestella's wish puts them into a bind, particularly if it impinges on the IEFs' political power: if they refuse to grant a wish that might cause them problems, they put the legitimacy of their own regime at risk, so they normally try to negotiate a compromise with the champion.
    • Madiath Mesa asked to become an executive at Galaxy, but they didn't want to make an exception in their intake procedures for him (which involve Brainwashing for the Greater Shareholder Value). The solution was to make him an Authority in Name Only, giving him the job of chief administrative officer of the Festas but no other official power in the company.
    • Claudia wishes to interview her Orga Lux's creator Ladislav Bartošik, who was involved in a mysterious incident in the recent backstory and is spending life in prison at a Galaxy black site. Galaxy, whose standing would apparently be significantly damaged by whatever happened, first sends Gustave Malraux to try and drive her prospective teammates away from her, then escalates to sending Bujinsai Yabuki's Ninja clan to assassinate her. When that fails, Galaxy agrees to let her meet Bartošik on condition of keeping anything she learns from him secret.
    • Julis's second wish is to expand the power of Lieseltania's monarchy, in hopes of eventually ending its Puppet State status to the IEFs. In volume 12, the IEFs are mentioned to be negotiating with her and her brother King Jolbert on just how much leash to give him.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Ser-Veresta outright refuses to use her full potential unless Julis and Ayato wield her together, as Lester found out the hard way.
    • Julis's elder brother Jolbert, the King of Lieseltania, refers to Ayato as "my future brother-in-law" in his first scene (over a phone). This is Played for Laughs at that time, but when he meets them in person later (after they win the Phoenix Festa), he suggests a Perfectly Arranged Marriage: he can see their attraction and thinks that they'd make a good couple, but also notes that if Julis remains single, the IEF that runs Lieseltania behind the scenes might arrange her a match to benefit itself instead. (Julis isn't ready to admit her feelings, and Ayato refuses to be "the chain that binds Julis", at least not unless she's willing.)
  • Shout-Out: In the anime, the Lux's activation sounds use the lightsaber sound effects from the Star Wars franchise.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Some translations differ depending on the version you read. It's "Ogre Lux" in the anime subtitles but "Orga Lux" in the light novel translation. Also the school with the Mad Scientist hat is spelled "Allekant Academy" rather than "Arlequint" in the novel and anime. It was probably meant to be "Arlequint"—close to the French word arlequin ("harlequin")—but the translators didn't understand the katakana for the made-up word.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: This is what ultimately does in Team Lancelot in the Gryps Final at the end of Volume 10. Ernest Fairclough, dueling Ayato, inadvertently damages Ser Veresta and disables it. Ayato discards the Orga Lux for his backup weapon, and Ernest tosses aside his own Orga Luxnote  and pulls his own out of a desire to duel Ayato personally. Ayato's teammates quickly break free of their own opponents and gang up on Ernest, with Claudia breaking his badge. In his warrior desire for a climactic duel, Ernest forgot he was supposed to be fighting as part of a team.
  • Sudden Principled Stand: In volume 2, Kirin learns from Ayato that she can find her own path to release Seijiro as opposed to her following Koichiro's advice. When Koichiro tells her to not go near Ayato, however, Kirin draws the line and breaks free from her uncle's influence to follow her own path and join Ayato.
  • Supporting Harem: Julis may be clearly in the lead (but she and Ayato are the only ones unaware of it), but Ayato has several other girls vying for him, and their affections are not very subtle. Still, Ayato is in this to protect Julis and none of the other girls have a chance.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The series shows that despite the things the Genestella can do, it doesn't mean that they're painless: Julis cries out in pain when Silas' mooks slash her leg, Lester is electrocuted when he unsuccessfully tries to grab Ayato's Ser-Veresta and Ayato points out to Kouichirou that a human hitting another Genestella will have an impact on their emotions.
    • Holding a duel with a student who has not yet transferred to Seidoukan will result in an immediate invalidation of said duel, as demonstrated when Claudia ends the duel with Julis and Ayato at the beginning of volume 1.
    • Causing public disturbances or attacking Muggles as a Genestella, even in self-defense, can also result in a Felony Misdemeanor, as Seijiro found out the hard way.
    • If the IEFs discover you're either attempting to covering up evidence that could clear your relatives of all charges and using them as a pawns for your own goals, or even hiring a Genestella to kill a student, it will come back to haunt you.
    • Kirin's katana, Senbakiri, is a completely mundane metal sword. This means that it has no chance of being able to block a blow from an Orga Lux (reducing Kirin to evading blows when Ayato fights her with Ser Veresta the first time around), nor can it inflict appreciable damage on the robot AR-D.
    • In the Phoenix Festa semifinals, Julis battles a Galahadsworth student who materializes classical High Middle Ages heavy cavalry gear. This includes a suit of plate armor that covers his badge and regenerates when destroyed, making it impossible for her to hit the badge with a fireball and win the match. It turns out, however, that the armor also traps heat, so she just keeps shooting fire at him until he passes out from heat exhaustion.
    • Ser Veresta is damaged at the climax of the Gryps Final, and Ayato pulls his backup sword lux. His opponent, Team Lancelot leader Ernest Fairclough, promptly drops his own Orga Lux and draws his own backup weapon, hoping for a climactic sword duel with a man he sees as Worthy Opponent. Instead, he snafus his own team's defensive teamwork and all of Ayato's teammates promptly gang up on him, since it's a five-on-five match in which breaking the leader's badge wins it—which Claudia promptly does. Should've just challenged him to a regular duel, Ernie.
  • Team-Based Tournament: The Phoenix Festa consists of two-on-two bouts where teams of Genestella try to either break both opposing team members' badges or render them unconscious. The Gryps Festa instead follows a Golden Snitch format with two teams of five that try to defeat the opposing team's designated leader for an immediate victory, whereas defeating another member only eliminates that member.
  • This Is Something She's Got to Do Herself: In the second half of Volume 1, Julis decides to go it alone and thwart Silas's assassination attempts on the Seidoukan students. It doesn't work.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill Muggles: The Genestella are strictly forbidden from ever harming a baseline person (even in self-defense), and anyone caught doing that are harshly punished due to laws being heavily biased in favor of the latter. The Genestella attacking each other is considered a fair game.
  • Tournament Arc: The Phoenix Festa, in which the top schools compete against each other in matches.
  • Unit Confusion: Irene Urzaiz uses the term "fanega" to describe micro-singularities she can fire at her opponents. The fanega is the Spanish bushel, a measurement of volume rather than of mass, force, or acceleration, any of which would be more apt for a Gravity Master.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: The "fanegas" that Irene generates with Gravisheath, which appear to be micro-singularities that she fires at her opponents and which can suck objects into them (she destroys Lester's lux this way in volume 3). Even a black hole can't destroy matter and energy: when it decomposes, it releases the energy equivalent of everything it absorbed as Hawking radiation (which follows Einstein's E=mc^2 equation and is a lot of energy, even for small objects).
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • Every assassination attempt Silas did during volume 1 was allowed to happen by Ernesta.
    • Kirin is used as a pawn by her Evil Uncle Koichiro to become Seidoukan's top-ranking student, expand his power at Galaxy and help secure Seijiro's release. While Kirin knew she was a pawn, Koichiro had no idea that Kirin has her own agenda, wants to release him on her own terms and has developed feelings for Ayato. It backfires on him as Kirin and Claudia are not happy that Koichiro would go so far as to corrupt his niece into becoming Seidoukan's undefeatable champion and resorting to covering up the truth about Seijiro.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Silas attempts to flee after Ayato destroys his robots. It doesn't work and Claudia and Eishirou capture him.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Claudia's father Nicholas Enfield, a fellow IEF executive, reveals himself to be one when he gives out his reasons to Claudia. He believed that by sending Gustave Marlowe to attack Julis, she would reconsider her decision to compete in the Gryps Festa. Unfortunately for him, Claudia understandably refuses.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In Volume 1, Julis calls Ayato out on his Unwanted Rescue from Silas, but Ayato counters it with an Armor-Piercing Question on who's going to protect her.
    • Near the end of volume 3, Ayato gets attacked by Claudia after visiting her late at night to discuss more about his upcoming fight. Fortunately he's able to snap her out of it, and she goes to explain more about the Cursed with Awesome nature of her Orga-Lux.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Kirin's uncle Koichiro has no problems hitting her whenever she questions him. Ayato ends up intervening, only for him to be forced into a duel with her to get her uncle to stop hitting her. He ends up losing, then finds out she's the top-ranked fighter at their school, but only because he's still unable to go all out at this point. Eventually, Kirin decides to stand up for herself and breaks ties with Koichiro at the end of Volume 2.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Arlequint to Silas at the end of volume 1.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Gakusen Toshi Asterisk


Ayato and Julis, Interrupted

"The Gravisheath". While Ayato recuperates from the backlash of breaking his power limiter in their Festa match with the Urzaiz sisters, he and Julis discuss their next move. Concerned for him, Julis starts to move in to kiss him when they're interrupted by Saya, Claudia, and Kirin entering their waiting room.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AlmostKiss

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