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Light Novel

Light Novel Review – Gakusen Toshi Asterisk

Hello, I am Yascob.

I’m an avid lover of Japanese culture like many of my bros on this site. One of my favourite things from Japan is light novels. As a result of that I ended up as an editor for a little known series, at the time, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk (Lit. “Asterisk, the Floating City”, Officially “Asterisk War”). As such I thought it would probably be appropriate for my first review especially with the anime airing so recently. So let’s get started shall we?

Stats:

  Author: Yuu Miyazaki
  Volumes: 9
  Illustrator: Okiura
  Translated: 7
  Licensed: Yes (has been recently licensed with the first volume being published in summer 2016)

First Impressions

The basic setting is some people are born as a member of the Starpulse Generation aka Genestella. Members of the Genestella are able to manipulate an energy known as Prana (basically mana under a different name). The ability to manipulate this substance called Prana gives the Genestella abilities beyond that of a human. In addition, those among the Genestella who are able to use some sort of image to manipulate magic are either known as Strega (witch), if they are female, or Dante (magician), if they are male. For example if a Strega/Dante were to use painting as an image the magic they could use would be related to painting in some way and could be developed in many directions as long as it stays faithful to this image.

The main place in which the story occurs is Seidoukan Academy, one of six Academies on the floating Academy Island, Rikka, which is also known as Asterisk. The other five Academies are St. Garrardsworth Academy, Allekant Academy, World Dragon Seventh Institute, Le Wolfe Black Institute, and Queen Veil Girl’s Academy. Every year a tournament occurs called a Festa (star warrior festival). Every year it rotates between a doubles team tournament, Phoenix; a tournament of  4 person teams, Gryps; and a solo tournament, Lindvolus. A Genestella may only participate in 3 Festas and must be between the ages of 13 and 22 to be eligible.

Initially the story starts a little bit cliché  if you are familiar with light novels; the main character, Amagiri Ayato, is a swordsman the series starts out with him meeting a heroine in some embarrassing manner and initially garnering a bit of hate for it. Later a childhood friend who has an obvious like for him is introduced as well as a mysterious student council president who seems to like to tease him with the temptation of “ecchi” things. However, each of the characters has something different about their personality from a true cliché and each seems to harbor some kind of secret. In addition Ayato’s friend and roommate, Yabuki Eishirou, is definitely an interesting character.

Plot   -   6 / 10

The plot of the series what I would call perfectly average. The developments are not completely unpredictable nor are they easily predictable. The developments are not overly exciting, other than during the climaxes, but neither are they boring and most of them have some sort of implication on the plot. In other words the plot is very average.

Most of the plot is some unexpected problem occurs, an arc about a character’s past, or a tournament arc due to the nature of the series itself. Another thing to note is the story progresses at a fairly slow pace in contrast to most other light novels I’ve read (About half of baka-tsuki pre-purge and some external series).

Characters   -   7 / 10

I feel like the characters are the biggest draw this series has. None of them are really standouts but they all feel like they are a step above others in the respect that almost character, even the minor ones, has at least one aspect that makes them a bit out of the norm. The other thing I like about the characters is that none of the heroines seem to be in love with Ayato to an outrageous degree and it has no major impacts on their personality, which is something I see all too often in other series. Also another bonus is the heroines are by no means weak and do not need saving all that often if at all.

Later in future reviews I may add reviews about the actual characters but I’m not going to on this one because I’m a little pressed for time. I might add them in at a later point, though.

Illustrations   -   6 / 10

Personally, I find the illustrations to be one of the most underappreciated parts of a light novel as there are only so many in one volume. However I find them to be one of the mediums defining characteristics (though technically not all Japanese light novels have illustrations). In addition they help to better express the imagery in the text and augment one’s imaginings of the situations. As such I want to review the illustrations as well.

Gakusen has pretty average illustrations they aren’t amazingly good but they aren’t bad either. The style makes them lack a little bit of depth but adds some interesting character to the images. The colour images definitely seem to look pretty good and mix some soft and harsh colours to good effect. Either way they are different than something you would see in a manga, especially the characters.

Action   -   6 / 10

The action (fighting in this case), is pretty good centering more around strategy than reactivity though some of the fights do not lack in intensity. However, from a pure excitement perspective it is a little bit lacking. Also the fight seems to be a lot less entertaining after the first readthrough. Although that is kind of a given for most fights but I feel it is bit more lackluster than normal. However I find a lot of the abilities and battle situations to be quite inventive and definitely well thought out.

Final Thoughts

All in all there is nothing overly exceptional about the series but it is not a bad series in the slightest. If you don’t mind the slow plot it is definitely a good read. The characters are something to look forward to. The action is a little bit lackluster though.

6
All in all there is nothing overly exceptional about the series but there isn't anything exceptionally wrong with it either.
  • Characters to look forward to
  • Good Illustrations
  • Strong heroines
  • Average Plot
  • Average Action
  • A little bit cliché
Yascobro

Hi, I'm the Light/Web Novel addict, Yascobro (AKA Yascob). I have been learning Japanese for 4-5 years now and finally have started to make the biggest step towards my goal of translating LNs that I like. I'm not perfect at it but I love doing all I can to give back to the community that has given me so much.