Strike the Blood, Vol. 19

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

Readers of the Strike the Blood light novels have always had a somewhat annoying problem, which is that we can never quite catch up to what’s been animated. For a while it looked like the novels would pass the anime, but then all these OAVs came out. It’s been especially noticeable with the last two books, both of which are expansions of original OAV storylines that came out years ago. You’d think, now that we’re only four volumes from the end, that we’d bee home free, but no: this volume and the next two came out in animated form last year. And, let’s face it, probably the only person still reading Strike the Blood who has NOT seen the anime is me. Most fans are likely simply reading the books to see what bits were cut out. I’m going to guess that the answer is not much, because as always this reads like a novelization more than a novel, and is almost entirely action.

Returning from the off-island events of the last book, Kojou and company find that the entire island is isolated – and appears to have been tu5rned into a survival game. This is being done by the Order of the End, a mysterious and powerful organization who can nearly murder a shaman princess, kidnap the Witch of the Void, and otherwise be the latest unstoppable opponent for Kojou to stop. They’re also led by The Blood, the very awkwardly named man (who also says his real name is Kenon here, though Kojou still annoyingly calls him The Blood) who is now pretending to be the Fourth Primogenitor. The obvious thing to do is to have Kojou go public, but he’s still trying to cling on to normal life till he can graduate. So he’ll do what he does best: muddle along, fight and find that it doesn’t work, rant and rave a lot, and win anyway. Though not yet, as this is more than one part long.

First of all, props to the author: Having Asagi save Yukina from certain death by turning the ocean into Strawberry Jell-O, then having to flee across it before it snaps back to reality, is one of the best things in the books to date, including her relief at it not being pudding, which would have been lethal. Other than that, there’s not really much to talk about here. It’s clearly only the start of the story (there’s no “this is OUR fight!” to be seen) and, well, it’s a lot of fights. Yume, the succubus from earlier books, is back protecting her school, and does cool things. The First Primogenitor, who we saw in the cliffhanger for the last book, is also around, along with his minion/girlfriend, and he’s fairly begign – so far. And the goofy humor is mostly kept to a minimum here – Kojou panicked when Kanon’s father sees them both in bathrobes in a love hotel; Sayaka getting summarily dumped out of La Folia’s airplane at 10,000 feet. It’s a decent action book.

But there’s no depth to it, which is why I always find these reviews hard. It has its highs and lows, but in the end Strike the Blood will always be what it is on the surface.

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