Akasaki may be the most powerful vampire in the world, but is someone that struggles to merely pass his makeup exams really that dangerous?
Kojou Akasaki is the fourth primogeniture, the most powerful vampire in the world. Concerned that his existence could upset the balance of power between humans and demons, the Lion King Organization sends an apprentice sword shaman, Yukina Himeragi, to monitor him. However, life in Itogami City is full of supernatural encounters as demons living alongside humans creates numerous conflicts, and Himeragi and Akasaki find themselves unwittingly involved in various happenings.
Fans of supernatural shounen series who enjoy a vampire or two and girls with big weapons are most definitely a target for Strike the Blood.
Strike the Blood is a series many might recognize from the popular anime or the original light novels, but my first true exposure to it is though the manga. The story follows Kojou Akasaki, a human-turned-vampire who is the fourth primogeniture, and supposedly the most powerful vampire in the world. Vampires and humans have been able to coexist in the past due to the power split with the three other progenitors, but with the introduction of a fourth, human organizations are concerned. This premise is a pretty intriguing one if not entirely ground breaking, and I was definitely interested to see where they went with it.
The solution to such a crucial problem is simple: send in the 14 year old girl. Fortunately for the world, the girl in question, Yukina Himeragi, is a very powerful sword shaman and very driven to complete her mission. While Himeragi comes across as a very much classic over-serious female lead, she is definitely a very good example of one and I found her to be an endearing character. Really, this is a good way to summarize Strike the Blood’s first volume: the characters and plot points all have been done before, but still manage to have a decent amount of appeal on their own, especially if you are a fan of the supernatural shounen type of stories.
For those of you who are familiar with the anime or light novels, the first volume of manga is very much introductory and doesn’t go very far into the story. I can tell the series is set up to be a harem because virtually all the ‘good’ characters outside of Kojou and the token jokester friend have been female, although romantic affections have yet to develop substantially. While outside of Himeragi there hasn’t been much page space for others, the cast seems to be serviceable. I was particularly interested in the genius programmer Aiba Asagi, who is set up as a very capable and independent force of her own. The characters in general also benefit from the adapting artist TATE’s illustrations, which are very detailed and surprisingly high quality for an adaptation of a light novel. Much like the characters, while the world the story of Strike the Blood takes place in has much left to be explored, what has been made available to us as readers is interesting enough on its own as the combination of vampires and other demons living with both humans and battle mages capable of fighting them all on a man-made island is very appealing.
If there was one complaint I had with the first volume, it would be Yukina Himeragi. While, as I said earlier, Yukina is a fine character, as you might gather from the cover she is heavily sexualized. And fourteen. The sexualization of Himeragi is annoying because while for the most part it isn’t completely shameless, there is basically a continuing undertone throughout the book that is pretty much on every page she shows up in. While for me this is a bit of a turn off, since the series is a pretty traditional shounen, it definitely has a target audience that would very likely take little issue with this. The sexualization is the most blatant annoyance I had with Himeragi, but there is also a bit of a strain on the suspension of disbelief as Himeragi is supposedly on an absolutely crucial mission for her Order, but not only is it odd that such an important mission would be given to an apprentice, it is also strange that Himeragi gives so much information away to her supposed enemy so willingly as she tells Kojou everything. That being said, it’s likely an issue that will be easy to overlook in the future, even if it is annoying at the very beginning.
Strike the Blood is a series that takes many of the classic shounen tropes without being completely dull. In truth, I think I would have liked this volume more if I felt like more had happened outside of introducing things, which will probably give the next book an advantage. Although the sexualization of the female lead is ever present, the setting and characters do work well and if the summary sounds appealing there is a good chance you will find something you like in this volume.
Strike the Blood Vol. 1 was published by Yen Press on October 27th, 2015. Authored by Gakuto Mikumo and illustrated by TATE, the series is currently ongoing and published by ASCII Mediaworks’Dengeki Daioh imprint. Based on a light novel series of the same name first published in Japan on May 10th, 2011, seven volumes have currently been released, with volume 2 scheduled to be published in English on February 23rd, 2016.
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