Saturday, 24 October 2015

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk Impressions

Note this is a first impressions based on the first 4 episodes.

I was told not to watch this series. I was told it had nothing to offer. I was told wrong. This series has a lot going for it if you are a fan of the harem genre and can get over the standard tropes. The most glaring aspect of the show is its art and animation. The show is drop dead gorgeous. The action sequences flow effortlessly and it’s a joy to watch. Just take a look at the opening of the show to get an idea of the art. Speaking of which the show has one of the best opening and endings of the season. Therefore in terms of production the show is at a extremely high level.

A negative I have with the show is the story. In recent years there have been an influx of shows with the same type of story and characters. A variety of shows I can think of with a similar storyline and feel is “Absolute Duo”, “Freezing” and “Infinite Stratos”. I have also been told another show this year called “Rakudai Kishi no Cavalay” is copy and paste of Asterisk. The show also suffers from an overpowered protagonist. This is another trope that has been increasingly popular particularly in light novels where so many of these anime are based on. Therefore my gripe is not of the show specifically but more of the Anime industry as a whole. With this amount of production and quality you have to wonder if the money could have been used for a more creative and unique series.

While the show’s story may be copy and paste from previous shows there are hints of it being superior to its predecessors besides the improved art and animation. The concept of a world ruled by companies is intriguing as massive conglomerates tend to be corrupt. In today’s world companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are having increasingly more power and influence to the point of many countries relying on the business of these companies to stimulate and elongate economic growth. Ursula K. Le Guin (Nebula and Hugo award winning author) stated that “Science Fiction is descriptive not predictive.” Therefore the concept is exactly what good science fiction should be. The issue is that there has so far only been passing mention of this concept. There has not been any great detail or implications shown which is worrying considering I’m 4 episodes in and the show is only 12 episodes long. Another positive is that the protagonist does have a weakness (possibly multiple weaknesses if you are paying attention), I hope these weaknesses get exploited to combat the trope of an overpowered MC.

Lastly I feel there are two sides to the protagonist. There are times where he acts like the stereotypical dumb harem protagonist however there are times where he uses diplomacy/speech in order to get out of a potential conflict. This frankly is a breath of fresh air in the genre. In battle he is able to analyze and understand strategy showing that he isn’t as dumb as he looks. This is a side I want to see more off.

Therefore I feel as though this show could turn into something that might not be great but might be at the top tier of its category. In recent years similar shows to this series are decent and fine at best, but this series could actually be good. I wonder if this concept has been rehashed to such a degree that the imperfections have diminished. Analogous to a chemist purifying or concentrating a certain solution. Perhaps so, perhaps not.

6.5/10 (so far)

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