Strike the Blood, Vol. 6

By Gakuto Mikumo and Manyako. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jeremiah Bourque.

Sigh. And here we are again, blank screen. It’s you vs. me, as I try to fill you up with another 500 or so words about the latest volume of Strike the Blood. The goal, as always, is not to simply cut and paste from the previous five reviews. As always, this goal tends to be thwarted by the plot, characterization, and writing in Strike the Blood, whose cookie-cutter quality means that the same things happen over and over again. Let’s face it, the big surprise in this volume was that for once Kojou is not biting a different girl to gain more superpowers… though in an icky way, I suppose that his possessed younger sister may count. I’d prefer to think that it does not. Other than that, though, it’s business as usual at Strike the Blood, Inc.

Even the covers depress me, as you can’t even get the ‘new harem member gets the cover’ cliche that you do with most other series of this sort. No, Strike the Blood now has 16 volumes out in Japan, and it’s Yukinas all the way down. The ‘new girl’ this time, sort of, is Nina Adelard, an immortal alchemist with a tragic past that’s tied into Kanon’s own tragic past. She spends most of the book either occupying Asagi’s body or taking on her appearance, and I suspect her ending up as a “fairy-like” creature will allow her to take on a role in future books similar to a magical girl mascot. (It also reminds me of Index, as much of this series does, though for once I believe that Strike the Blood actually did this first.) The plot involves lots of alchemy and liquid metal, and a few guards end up dead in horrible ways, but aren’t dwelled on.

Asagi also ends up dead briefly, which might have had more impact if there was any chance that it would stick. We do get more concrete proof that as long as she’s on the island she’s effectively immortal. Unfortunately, with no computer problems to solve this time, Asagi is in full on “tsundere anime girl” mode, which means wacky cooking antics and exploding stoves. (Yukina, of course, is also in cliche mode, reacting any time Koujo even briefly pays attention to another attractive female.) Everyone else fills their function: Kanon is waifish and still somewhat broken, Natsuki flits around saving the day and being the cute loli teacher. and Yaze continues to get hints that he may one day be relevant to the plot without actually being so in this book.

And so as ever I’m left with saying the same thing. The writing is good, moves quickly, the fights are exciting. But this could be written by the Light Noveltron 3000. And there’s still no real sign of any developing main plot, anything that might carry over from book to book. Things are neatly wrapped up, and I suspect Book 7 will have another danger to the island that is also neatly wrapped up. Strike the Blood is, when you get down to it, Strike the Blood. It is shaped like itself, and can’t really be reviewed as anything but that.

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