Strike the Blood, Vol. 13

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

The author mentioned in his afterword that this volume was meant to be something of a return to “traditional” Strike the Blood volumes, and it certainly succeeds at that. We’re back on the island, which is under attack by a terrorist organization that seemingly has all the cards. Half of Kojou’s allies are taken out, and he’s weakened by a Beast that can do something no one else had thought possible. Fortunately, by biting Yukina, as well as another girl, he’s able to save the day. And Yukina gets to say “No, senpai, this is our fight!” It’s all here, all present and correct. Unfortunately, that also includes the less-than-stellar parts of the series – for the first time in a while, I was thinking of this as book-by-numbers. This series has a tendency to feel like it’s a novelization of an anime rather than the other way around, and plot, characterization and action scenes are so smoothly written and precise that they come across as dull some of the time. Nothing is particularly surprising in this book.

The head of the terrorist organization has a past connection with Natsuki, something that cries out for a flashback or more detail but sadly no. He’s also a rather crap terrorist, trying to get Kojou to join him by mentioning that some of the Island’s leaders are evil while also causing events that will kill massive numbers of innocents and yeah, sorry, your #2 love interest also has to die too, but join us anyway. Needless to say, this doesn’t go well, and he ends up being killed off by one of the evil leaders of the island, whose identity is meant to be a shocking surprise but is not. The other members of the terrorist organization are essentially plucky orphans who no one ever loved, and I’d feel sympathy if we got more time with each of them, which we don’t. The other leader is December, who does manage to be interesting, but she’s also a spoiler, so I’ll just end it there.

I was going to complain about Nagisa briefly being in peril for no reason at all (actually, there is a reason, and it’s relatively benign, but we don’t figure it out till the end of the book), but then I realized that this is essentially “Peril: the Series”. Nagisa is obviously #1, but Natsuki also gets to be removed from the field for a while, and the author even jokes about “Asagi having another bad day”. The only ones NOT in peril are Sayaka, Shio and Yuiri, who actually manage to save the day to an extent. Speaking of Yuiri, I’d like to remind the author that he is absolutely shit at writing humor, so stop it. I’d rather read A Certain Magical Index’s humor than yours. That’s how bad the “he sucked my blood/took my virginity” scenes were. Stay in your “action adventure” lane, please.

There were a few elements here I liked, including seeing Astarte do something again for the first time in like ten books. But sadly this attempt to go back to the basics of Strike the Blood reminded me that the series’ basics aren’t all that interesting. Go outside the box again, please!

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