Thursday, July 30, 2015

Strike the Blood – review

Directors: Takao Sano & Hideyo Yamamoto

First aired: 2013-2014

Contains spoilers

Strike the Blood began life as a Japanese light novel, which transitioned to Manga and then this anime television series. The series ran for 24 episodes. It does feature a vampire, indeed the vampire is the main character – Kojou Akatsuki (Yoshimasa Hosoya) – although like many anime series the powers displayed go well beyond standard portrayals of vampirism. Blood drinking is, however, an integral part of the story.

Three months before the story started Kojou was an ordinary 16-year-old, he lived on Itogami City an artificial island built off the coast of Japan, tethered by both technology and magic and home to both humans, mages, alike. In an event that he doesn’t clearly remember the mythical fourth progenitor, an ultra-powerful vampire, passed her spirit into him.

Sword Shaman
In the wider world there are three revealed progenitors and the power between them is held in a delicate balance. The existence of the fourth progenitor threatens to destroy that balance. A secret human society – the Lion King Organisation – send an apprentice Sword Shaman Yukina Himeragi (Risa Taneda) to observe him and, if he is a danger, destroy him. To accomplish this she has been given a magical spear that can break magic.

As things develop not only does she seem to develop feelings for him but she also allows him to feed from her. The progenitor has familiars – giant spirit beasts used in combat – that slowly through the series begin to awaken. However they will not allow him to control them unless he has drunk human blood (thus he must feed once, before the first attempt to control any given familiar). There is a chance that a donor might be blood bonded to him.

This brings us to the overarching style of the series. It is very much a harem series with a series of female characters falling for Kojou (though not actually blood bonded). This is also tied in with the fact that his vampirism is triggered by sexual excitement. This can feel a little weird, especially given the suggested ages of the characters. However the show does keep the thrust of this centred on sexual embarrassment rather than sexual activity. In fact Kojou has a nosebleed every time something like this happens – short hand for sexual arousal often of an embarrassing nature, I understand. The nosebleed actually allows Kojou to control the vampirism with his own blood. It also means that the series adds in a thread of fan service.

Beyond this the series is a fairly straight action series and I rather enjoyed it for that. Cut into chapters of (mostly) 4 episodes we get some self-contained stories. A body swap moment almost killed me off as I dislike body swap storylines generally, but that’s a personal preference thing and the fact that I still enjoy the series despite that storyline is to the series credit. The animation was solid but nothing extra special. I felt there was some exposition around backgrounds that was lacking – I never felt that I got a full picture of the world the series was set in.

However it was a decent enough series to prove a pleasant distraction 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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