Strike the Blood, Vol. 11

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

To its credit, this volume of Strike the Blood is not the same as many of its predecessors. School plays a minimal role, and wacky “hur hur, Kojou is a teenage boy and everyone gets mad about it” humor is there, but takes a back seat to more serious stuff. The volume begins with Kujou’s sister being kidnapped and his father being fairly easily taken out, and you expect that he and Yukina will be headed to the mainland to save the day. Which… may be true in Vol. 12, but instead this volume shows us that all the various factions around Kojou are perfectly happy with him destroying city blocks and causing massive panic and serious disruption of everything… as long as he does it within the island itself. Leaving the island, though, is no longer an option. And if that means that his mentor Natsuki has to become the book’s big bad, well then that’s what’s going to have to happen.

Natsuki at times has reminded me a lot of Evangeline McDowell from the Negima series. She looks like a little girl but is really of age, she is happy to abuse the hero while also imparting important lessons, etc. Turns out that “she’s also a powerhouse who can kick his ass eight ways from Sunday” also applies. I am going to assume that something in the next volume is going to allow Koujo to forgive her for this, because otherwise this is causing a pretty irreparable rift in their relationship. Honestly, it’s not really clear why the Lion King Society and Natsuki both decide the answer is “lock Kojou in prison and don’t explain anything”, but it’s easily the weakest part of the book – I know the author likes fights, but this seems willfully stubborn purely for the sake of putting the plot off to another volume. (On the bright side, I did like seeing Asagi acknowledge that she tends not to get majorly involved in these sorts of things, and taking steps to change that.)

Speaking of relationships that may be irreparably damaged, Yukina is beginning to realize just how little the Lion King Agency cares about her – and despite some lip service from a few characters that tries to put their actions in a better light, the cliffhanger seems to reinforce that. It’s been pretty clear for a while now that there are other LKA agents surrounding Kojou, and after this volume I’m beginning to wonder why they want Yukina there at all, besides being a feint to draw attention elsewhere. Maybe they’re trying to have Kojou fall for her? That’s a pretty long row to hoe given that, despite stirrings of libido, he continues to have no idea Yukina loves him – or Asagi for that matter, despite her father literally saying “please marry my daughter so that I can gain political power”. As with Kojou and Natsuki, I do wonder if Yukina is going to be able to recover any working relationship with the Agency after this.

Of course, I am assuming they somehow escape the island in the next volume, because everyone is STILL THERE. This volume of Strike the Blood is a nice change of pace, and well written as always. But man, it drags things out so long that you feel as frustrated as the heroes by the end of the book.

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