Strike the Blood Vol. 1 - Light Novel Review

Is it really a good idea to send a cute girl to watch over a a teenage boy who happens to be a frighteningly powerful vampire called the Fourth Primogenitor? Even worse, how about if his powers are triggered when he gets turned on? The adventures of the world’s mightiest, laziest vampire begin in the original light novel series that spawned the hit anime.

The Lowdown

Kojou Akasaki is an ordinary high school boy with one big exception - he is the Fourth Primogenitor, one of the most powerful and feared vampires in the world. Living on Itogami island, an artificial island built to house all of Japan’s supernatural citizens, Kojou goes about his everyday life as normally as possible while avoiding triggering his power by becoming turned on. However, the demon-hunting Lion King Agency has plans of their own and sends sword shaman Yukina Himeragi to monitor and eliminate him if he proves to be a threat. While Kojou didn’t ask for this power, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to use it trying to balance keeping Yukina at bay, attending his make-up exams and saving the island in the process.

Who Is It For?

Strike the Blood will appeal to fans of your standard action-fantasy series, so most will find this series easily accessible.

How Was It?

For better or for worse, Strike the Blood Vol.1 is pretty much exactly what you would expect out of your typical action-fantasy series. Protagonist with overwhelming power he can’t control? Check. Cute, dangerous and relatively clueless love-interest? Check. Cast of various friends, including fawning younger sister? Check. Sinister group that wants to destroy the world with only our hero standing in the way? Check. In spite of how formulaic this all sounds, Strike the Blood Vol. 1 is actually a pretty fun ride that doesn’t particularly stand out in any way, but doesn’t really do anything wrong either thanks to how well these elements all come together throughout the story. The story itself isn’t anything noteworthy and while you’ll likely guess the general plot direction well in advance of getting there, I still found the story to be an enjoyable ride throughout.

Forgive me if you feel like you’ve heard this before in the synopsis of many other light novels and manga series, but Kojou Akatsuki is your every-day teenager who happens to inherit more power than he’d ever want to use. Kojou doesn’t really stand out as a protagonist at all; he’s a little reluctant, a little heroic and a little bit lewd, but he works well enough as a stand-in for the reader. The other characters are a little better, with Yukina fitting in quite well as your typical too-serious heroine and Kojou’s friends Kaze and Asagi filling out the rest of the cast nicely. I’d describe the characters more as inoffensive rather than bland, and while I didn’t feel particularly attached to any of them they were characterized well enough for me to enjoy the story. The dynamics of the various relationships in this book were actually a high point that I felt were handled pretty well, and I felt that the relationship between Kojou and Yukina showed a enjoyably tangible sense of progression throughout the book (awkward blood-sucking aside).

This is a book definitely has an idea of what demographic it is aiming for, and as such there is an inherently suggestive undertone during some parts of the story. This is especially present through Kojou’s need to suck blood and avoid getting too excited. I’m not quite sure that this was a necessary part of the story, but if this is the route that the series is going to go, I would have preferred if Mikumo wasn’t quite so vague in some sequences. I can recall a few cases during which I was unclear what had transpired, and this turned out to be fairly relevant shortly afterwards and caused me to have to re-read passages a few times. It’s more of a minor complaint as I didn’t need to have the mechanics of blood-sucking completely spelled out for me, but a little indication of what was going on would have been nice to help make plot developments a little clearer. Overall, if you’re not going to enjoy a smidgen of unnecessary sexualization in your helping of action-fantasy, you should be aware of what you’re heading into with this series but I didn’t think that it was a deal-breaker by any means.

On the topic of vampires, I felt that the setting and the general world of Strike the Blood was one of the stronger parts as my interest was held throughout thanks their efficient and clear establishment over the course of the volume. The story also moves along at a good pace, never bogging itself down for too long in dialogue while mixing in a good amount of action. Again, nothing that anyone familiar with the genre hasn’t seen before but it’s executed in an enjoyable manner. In particular, I feel that special note should be given to the ending which set the series up quite well for a sequel which I know that I’ll be reading.

1426100878748698510.jpg

Final Thoughts

How much you’ll enjoy Strike the Blood Vol. 1 will likely depend on how tired you are of the tropes typical of action-fantasy series. If you’re game for another go-round, Strike the Blood is about as good a choice as any, with a satisfying if by-the-books story that moves along at an appropriate clip. I get the sense that the series shows some good potential especially considering some of the reveals of at the end of this volume, so I can definitely recommend giving this series a try if you’re a fan of the action-fantasy genre.


Strike the Blood Vol. 1: The Right Arm of the Saint was published by Yen Press on September 22nd, 2015. Authored by Gakuto Mikumo and illustrated by Manyako, the series is currently ongoing and published by ASCII Mediaworks’ Dengeki Bunko imprint. First published in Japan on May 10th, 2011, thirteen volumes have currently been released, with volume 2 scheduled to be published in English on January 19th, 2016.

Verdict:

B

Date of Publication: September 22nd, 2015

Translator: Jerimiah Bourque

Author: Gakuto Mikumo

Publisher: Yen Press



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka