When you’re a writer, every once in a while, you’ll open up your file of story ideas, or the stories you started, but got sidetracked on and so never finished. And, every once in a while, you’ll come across a story and wonder, “What on earth was I planning to do with this?”
Which leads nicely into Zettai Shoujo Astoria (絶対少女アストライア), by Shininome Mizuo. This particular combination of girls at a private school, battle lines drawn in war between two girls who seem to like one another, each carrying a secret from the past, ought to have been better than it was. Unfortunately it was hard not to wonder where they were going with this – a feeling that continued right through the rushed ending.
Rito is the rather unfortunately typical clueless transfer student into this iteration of the prestigious girls’ school. She is instantly befriended by Nadesico beauty Iori-sempai, who turns out the be the school star and a member of the Student Council. Iori and Rito are instantly close and, if Iori has her way, they’ll shortly be even closer than that…until Iori sees the pendant that Rito wears around her neck. A pendant that, we learn, comes from Rito’s grandmother.
Instantly Iori declares Rito her enemy, then declares war on the current Student Council, asking all her fans to rebel with her. Almost 3/4 of the school does. Lines are drawn, sides face off…and Rito, who has been here a total of a week, and most of the reading audience, has no idea why.
Rito is adopted by the current Student Council, which also adopts her ideas to regain supremacy (primarily through the tactic of not being insane) and incidentally we get to see that the President and VP are kind of an item. But eventually Iori will have to cough up her reasoning for declaring war…right?
Well…no, she never does, really. But we do learn why she declared Rito to be “the enemy.” And let me tell you, it was a total hairball of a reason. I don’t want to spoil it, on the chance you like Shinonome-sensei’s art and want to read this book. But I can’t say that the Reason For It AllTM impressed me much. I’m not a big believer in holding grudges. I’m certainly not going to credit anyone for holding someone *else’s* grudge.
In any case, the book comes to an end with a giant leap of logic and a switch of relationship dynamic that can only be called bipolar.
The character designs are, like most of Shinonome-sensei’s work, cute. But they are so reminiscent of her other work that it felt like it could easily be an alt-universe of at least one of her other series. In the end, I’m sorry to say this was a pretty forgettable story.
Art – 7
Story – Starts 7, but goes downhill from there, ending at a 5
Characters – 7
Yuri – 5
Service – 1
Overall – 7
I was looking forward to something new by Shinonome-sensei, and given the uniform designs was holding out for something a little more action-oriented. At this point, lover’s spats aren’t quite enough to hold a story together for me.
I do have some good feelings about this book, though, as it was provided by Okazu Superhero George R.! Thank you George for the pleasure.