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[Crunchyroll promo art]
AKA: ストライク・ザ・ブラッド
Genre: Action, Comedy, some harem tendencies.
Length: Television series, 24 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG-15 (Violence, fanservice.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Dance in the Vampire Bund, Zakuro.
Notes: Based on a light novel series by Gakuto Mikumo, with art by Manyako. There's also a manga by artist Tate, with writing credited by Gakuto Mikumo, but that's probably accredited said novel.
Rating:
 

Strike The Blood

Synopsis

The fourth progenitor; a legendary vampire who is said to be ruled by nobody, and doesn't want to rule anyone. He has the powers of the twelve familiars said to bring calamity, and his existence seems to be a bit of a legend.

...except for Kojou Akatsuki (seriously?) whom this is all very real. He seemingly inherited the powers of the fourth progenitor during a meeting still short on solid details, outside of a mysterious girl named Avrora whom he shot with a crossbow bolt, apparently. Possibly.

Review

And in the duration of the show, he will meet a good number of cute girls who he will either rescue at some point, or they'll just fall for him in general. In other words, this is a pretty blatant teenage fantasy for boys.

Most of the show takes place on a man-made island... though "man-made" might be a bit of a misnomer, as most of its residents are supernatural beings; vampires, werewolves, spirits, demons, half-... any of those. Maybe some human beings too, since I think some of the girls are; Kojou's sister being one, at least, and presumably also the lead female, Yukina, as well as some of their friends. I don't have a clear overview over this, OK? They aren't being very divulging with the information here. It's strictly on a need-to-know basis, and you don't really need to know until the proverbial blood-clot hits the fan.

Now, I don't want to rag on this show for being fanservice on several levels. To slightly alter a phrase by one of America's biggest television personalities: "I've been a teenager once too", so I would not necessarily want to relieve you kids out there of your fantasies.... within limits, of course, but Strike the Blood doesn't really cross that border. For what it's worth, it isn't really a bad show either. It's an action show that actually has a lot of action, and some of it is even quite well animated. It's fairly episodic, in that each story arc lasts either three or four episodes and comes to a pretty definite conclusion each time. Even the end of the show actually does a neat job of rounding off in a way that leaves itself open for future seasons, but won't hurt too much if it doesn't happen either. I guess you could say animation houses are learning, since the light novel series is still being produced as we speak.

Strike the Blood has chosen to approach its mystical angle with a lot of different titles and labels. Kojou is the fourth progenitor. Yukina is a sword Shaman from the Lion King Organisation, and wielding a spear/lance thing of a series named "Schneewalzer", even though it makes absolutely no sense for an organisation and a weapon that's designed in a Japanese style being given a German title. There's also still no word whether the organisation is made to battle the dreaded terrorist organisation "Hakuna Matata", who many years ago turned their backs on the world and proceeded to do whatever the hell they wanted.

Kojou Akatsuki -- and honestly, with a name like that, what other future do you have but "mysterious vampire (or demon) lord"? -- seems to follow the "aloof teenager" school of male leads, but one that obviously wants to do right, because we're all good people, right? So, naturally, he does get involved with all these girls because it'll put him into the position of rescuing them regardless of whether they need it or not.

I say "..or not", because for what it's worth, none of these girls are any slouches in their departments. It's actually kind of odd to have this setup when the girls are as capable as they are. Makes me wonder whether it was meant as a compromise; here is a show that's basically male fantasy, and with a... relatively generous amount of fetishization and fanservice, but aside from said fanservice, it probably won't alienate any women who might choose to watch this. Yukina is, as mentioned, a Sword Shaman from the Lion King Organ... hee heeGUH! Sorry, I have a bit of a problem taking that name seriously, and it's all Disney's fault. Kind of. Anyway, she's quite the capable fighter who seems to get the lion's share... um, no pun intended... of the well-animated battle moves. Aiba Asagi, one of Kojou's classmates and the other main love interest, might not know anything about physical combat, but she's a technological wizard in her own right; possibly the best of them all. The show doesn't come ut and say it, but it kind of feels like all her skills are mostly self-taught, though there is still the mystery of her AI; some kind of cat plushy 3D CG icon who seems to have a mind of his own.

Common sense, however, seems to be a bit in short order with most of these girls. It does get a bit painful to watch, because you'd get something like Yukina directly hopping out of the shower because she has to constantly keep an eye on Kojou, and aside from the obvious reason to do this (if you need to know; wet fabric does cling to the body, after all, and this being male fanservice, the girls have them in abundance) it also makes me painfully aware that it's also probably made so that the male lead can at least be useful in some way by being a pragmatic foil to their absurdity.

It's that level of comedy that's Strike the Blood's biggest crutch. Most of the girls who enter Kojou's life have lived pretty sheltered lives, so they seem to be a bit out of touch with regular life, which will of course coax the snark out of our male lead. That's not the worst of it, though; because of said lack of common sense in some of our female leads, accusations will fly, most of which are centered around our main lead being a pervert for things outside of his control. Skirts will be blown up by the wind, clothes will sometimes get ripped, and in one scene, an odd teleportation phenomenon will create havoc on the island, and you better believe that will lead to our main lead being teleported straight to the girls' bathroom while they're taking a bath. And they will never let him hear the end of it. Much irrational behavior was made light of that day.

Which is not to say all of them. Natsuki, Kojou's homeroom teacher, is a seemingly young girl who is really a very powerful sorceress, and she's definitely one of the more sensible ones among the girls. She's.... also kind of the more fetishy ones, because unlike the other girls, she's always clad in frilly, goth-like dresses and carrying an umbrella around when venturing outside, she's almost like a double curse for adults; she's the character I can relate to the easiest in this show, but I'll be damned if it isn't going to make me feel horribly guilty because of it.

The show's habit of throwing out terms randomly can get a bit aggravating as well. Most of the plot is centered around various magical relics and icons, and what isn't is centered around people who have some connection with the supernatural world. One relatively early arrival is the vampire Dimitrie Vatler, a descendant of the first progenitor, and if I bashed my head against a brick wall for each time he uttered the word "interesting", I would probably suffer some pretty hefty brain damage by now. Maybe I would even have welcomed it, because Christ, is most of the dialogue in this show really hard to digest without rolling one's eyes. Even the tiresome harem/romance dynamic aside, the jealous outbursts and baseless accusations aside, the tiresome diatribes aside and Kojou's laughably attempts at "not caring about any of this" aside, the show throws so many meaningless, minute terms around that the whole thing starts becoming more than just a bit pretentious. And when they combine that with the romantic dynamic of Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo, well... there goes my forehead again. And don't think watching a few of the first episode and not finding it too bad will save you; this is definitely one of those cases where it gets worse the further into the show we go.

In a sense, that makes the hilarious theatrics of some of the villains at least beneficial for the show in that it makes it somewhat easier to watch, as well as funnier, if unintentionally at that. I suppose the scenery in Itogami Island must be quite delicious, because the villains are all arriving on the scene with a full set of healthy teeth and the willingness to use them quite vigorously. It's a double-edged curse, I guess. It's fun, but it's also the kind of fun that'll leave a mark later on.

I can only recommend Strike the Blood if you have a high tolerance for this kind of thing. The relative high standard for the action sequences does make it all a bit easier to digest, but you're going to have to endure a pretty damn clueless male and some pretty irrational girls to enjoy it. Some of the terminology on display here is pretty cool, I'd have to admit, but a lot of it also sound like they were just slapped on because they sound cool, and the team of creators couldn't be bothered to make the connection make sense.

There's also the thing with Kojou's familiars. Neither of them accept him as his master because he hasn't had anyone's blood. The show doesn't really get very specific here, so we don't really know whether it's enough that he drinks someone's blood or if he has to drink it FROM someone directly, but that's what it takes to unlock ONE familiar at a time, meaning the show resorts to this element to get our team of heroes out of the pinches they get themselves into. Kojou did have some problems accepting having to drink someone's blood at first, which is understandable -- if generally unexplored as a theme -- but there are twelve familiar, five or six which gets "unlocked" during this show, meaning he drinks the blood from someone five or six times. Having apparently gotten over his hesitation, and the fact that drinking someone's blood has no ill effects on whomever's blood he drinks, shouldn't he just unlock all of them at the same time? Or does that constitute a cheat code, and would therefor make the show less exciting? Maybe some of it needs to be saved for the post-plot revelations that "you had planned all along, huh? You... you... minor, seemingly harmless character!"

An action-packed, but kind of frustrating show to watch.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The show gets kind of visceral at times; at one point, Kojou even gets decapitated, but the way he's immortal does take the edge of that violence and just turns it into so much red paint instead.

There's also so much fanservice and nudity on display. Not directly; no nipples or pubic hair are ever shown, but to say the show carries a heavy undertone of sexuality would be quite accurate. All part and parcel of the teenage deal, I suppose.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Strike The Blood © 2013 Connect, Silver Link.