Strike the Blood, Vol. 8

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

This does not quite hit the highs (relatively speaking) of the previous volume, mostly as the entire volume is “let’s reveal the backstory the reader has been in the dark about for so long” and not much else, but it’s still a pretty solid volume of Strike the Blood. While we’re technically carrying on from the end of the last book, most of this is Kojou (and Asagi, along for the ride for some reason) remembering the events that led to him becoming the Fourth Primogenitor, which took place just before the start of the series. There’s a lot of attempts at worldbuiding and introducing potential new antagonists, which doesn’t work quite as well as the author likes. The good news is that there were a couple of genuine surprises in this volume, which is especially impressive given that Strike the Blood is one of the most by-the-numbers light novels out there.

Despite being on the cover as always, there’s very little Yukina in this book, which makes sense given it’s predominately a flashback. (This, by the way, means we have now gone TWO WHOLE BOOKS without her catchphrase of “No, sempai, this is OUR fight!”. I feel like I’m going through withdrawal.) She and Natsuki have removed Kojou and Asagi to her dream prison space so that Kojou can recover the memories of what really happened and be controlled if that happens to drive him insane (spoiler: it doesn’t.) What we see is not particularly surprising: Kojou is a natural at empathizing with others, which is why all the girls fall for him, and that also works here for Avrova. I hate to break it to people who may roll their eyes at the appearance of another one, but Avrova is, in fact, a blond vampire girl with the body of a child. That said, while she occasionally tries to be haughty in a Shinobu Oshino sort of way, she’s really more introverted and scared. Her bonding with Kojou was the best part of this book.

I’d mentioned surprises, and it comes in the form of Veldiana, who we’d met in the prior volume as a somewhat harried colleague of Kojou’s father. (Speaking of which, both Kojou’s parents appear quite a bit in this book, and while they are admittedly trying their best to save Nagisa’s life, it doesn’t change the fact that they are terrible, terrible parents.) Veldiana is played, in the first half of the book, as something of a comic relief character, and we assume that this is going to be her role in the book. But no, she’s here to teach a darker lesson about what happens when you let revenge consume you, and (leaving the epilogue aside, which I wasn’t too fond of) it works very well. There are also one or two scenes that are not surprises, but the way that they work out with precision timing is also well handled – watch for Kojou bribing the enemy with ice cream.

Strike the Blood is never going to rise to the level of the top light novels being released over here. But it has at least risen to the level where I don’t feel the need to make fun of it or wonder if it’s written by a Light Novel artificial intelligence. As always, the fights are well written and make you want to see them animated. It’s a decent volume in what has become a decent series.

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