Strike the Blood, Vol. 3

By Gakuto Mikumo and Manyako. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen Press.

You’ll pardon me if I find myself saying the same things I said in the first two reviews of this series. I have gotten to the point where I almost wish Strike the Blood was worse than it actually was, as that might actually make it slightly more surprising, even in a horrible way. But no, this is very much a series that fulfills its function. It has a lot of cool, well-written action scenes, the plot advances incrementally, the hero gets a couple of new girls who like him, and the heroine sees this and is cool and frosty to him for reasons he can’t quite figure out. It’s very well colored, but never goes outside the lines. Not once.


Oddly, you would expect a series like this to have varied covers, usually with the hero and a different girl on each of them. that is one thing Strike the Blood does do differently – each cover is Yukina posing for the reader, reminding readers that she is the main heroine whether they like it or not. And as a main heroine, she’s pretty good. The main reason I’m interested in her is that she seems to get frosty when the hero does something that implies he’s not attracted to her, rather than the usual punchy. Her overly earnest personality balances nicely against the more normal childhood hacker friend, the classic tsundere not-lesbian, and (introduced here) the shy princess and her sister, the teasing princess. Of course, the fact that all those are classic harem series archetypes also says something about what we’re reading here.

As for non-harem plot antics, well, trying to turn your adopted daughter into an Angel in order to make her happy is certainly not something you’ll see every day. I did appreciate that Kensei’s motives were given a bit of depth, showing off the somewhat misplaced love he has for her, even if his solution is appalling. It made a nice contrast with Beatrice, who comes to us right out of sneering female villains 101, and is such a cliche that it begins to verge on parody. Same with the elder princess, La Folia, who is noble and very royal, but also introduced to the reader by being found bathing in a stream, and also becomes the latest girl Kojou has to bite in order to release a beast monster to save the day.

I would ideally like something in this series to horribly offend or appall me, so that I could simply drop it and that would be the end of it. But no, Strike the Blood continues to be quietly competent and eminently enjoyable, provided you hate surprises. The hero is a nice guy, but if it weren’t for the illustrations provided throughout, I’d likely imagine him as looking exactly the same as Touma from A Certain Magical Index, a series which this has some similarities with. Index’s prose can be a bear to read, though, and it does throw the occasional curveball. Strike the Blood is batting practice. Straight down the middle, book after book.

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