Strike the Blood, Vol. 20

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

I’d like to welcome you all and thank you for coming to another one of my attempts to review the latest volume of Strike the Blood. If you’re reading this, I assume that either you are a hardcore fan of the series (and have therefore, no doubt, seen the anime that has already adapted this volume) or you just enjoy reading about me trying and failing to get 500 words out of a series whose main plot is “cool action sequences for 279 pages”. It’s always felt like a novelization more than a novel, but here in English, where we’re reading the novels after the equivalent anime, it’s even more apparent. This is, essentially, the final arc, Part 2 of 4. It will therefore not surprise you that it ends with a bit of a downer, though honestly not as much as previous books. That said, fans will feel relieved to hear that Kojou says “my fight” and Yukina corrects him with “No, senpai, this is OUR fight”, so all is present and correct.

As noted, for the most part this is the second part of what we saw last time, so there’s still a lot of Itogami Island being divided into factions that are fighting for supremacy. We do, however, get the reason that this is happening: Avrora is alive again, and that means Kojou does NOT have all 12 beast vassals… meaning he’s essentially about to spiral out of control. There’s two main ways to solve this: kill everyone on the island by removing their memories and reason (bad), or kill Avrora (kind of what they’ve been trying not to do for the last several books). This therefore sets up most of the book, which is a lot of plotting, counterplotting, and friends turning against each other for the greater good and then feeling like absolute crap about it afterwards. That said, Kojou’s actual solution SEEMED like a good idea at the time, but…

The end of the book, i.e. Kojou’s fate, is honestly something I thought we’d have gotten about a dozen novels before now, so I’m relieved to see it here right before everyone gathers for the big finale. It’s still a powerful moment, mostly because it’s so quiet, just him and Yukina sitting watching the horizon after completely failing to stop the end of the world. Also a surprising scene, and showing that the author is perhaps getting a handle on light-hearted stuff at last, is Kojou in the shower, struggling against his vampiric instincts, and then Kanon, Shizuri AND Yukina all offering him their bodies. Separately. Which means it briefly turns into a British farce. That’s not the surprising thing, the surprising thing is that Kojou doesn’t get beaten up for it. Perhaps we have graduated from the Rumiko Takahashi school of slapstick.

Presumably next time we will be headed to the big island in the sky to have yet more exciting battles that are very hard to review. Till then, please enjoy another Strike the Blood. It is what it is.

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