Kojou Akatsuki - the fourth Primogenitor, supposedly the strongest of vampires, and his observer Yukina Himeragi have found themselves in the midst of battle with the Homunculus Astarte. Can Kojou and Yukina manage to face this monster who has control over a beast vassal even better that Kojou does?
With Kojou having accidentally dealt massive damage to the city with his beast vassal, Yukina has finally been able to observe the terrifying power Kojou keeps within him. However there are bigger issues to deal with as Astarte the homunculus and her handler manage to flee the fight, and are still at large in the city. It’s up to Yukina and Kojou then to find those two before even more chaos is unleashed upon Itogami Island.
I will have to be upfront with this review, I found volume 2 of the Strike the Blood manga to be an incredibly dull read. Not bad, or offensive, just utterly boring to read and look at. It’s a systemic problem but one has turned this possibly interesting take on vampire-action story with might have had some meat on it’s bones into the manga equivalent of unsalted soup crackers.
The biggest contributor to the blandness of this manga is the art by TATE. Now the art isn’t terrible, but the best thing I can say about it is that it’s clean. In action scenes the artwork comes out the best, with some of the action panels actually sporting some depth of shading and some interesting composition. However when not depicting those action panels (and sometimes even when doing so) the art feels overly simplistic, and visually uninspired. The worst of it comes out in exposition scenes, some of which feel like the same expression (usually Yukino’s) is just being redrawn over and over again, giving little to no emotional depth or personality through the art work.
It’s a real shame because the art manages to make the lackluster story even more bland (whereas good art could have perhaps overshadowed the story’s faults). Not that the concept itself is bad, structurally the bare bones of the plot and the world seem fine as far as action shounen plots go, with a world full of demonic creatures and religious sects that can stand in the way of our protagonists, but when it gets down to actually writing, it comes off at best as trite, and at worst like a paint-by-numbers shounen show. For an example, this volume contains one of those, I-accidentally-fell-on-top-of-the-girl scenes (which you may have seen an anime gif of floating around online). However both the writing and the art fail to make this scene have any sort of tension. Kojou even refers to himself as a pervert during the scene, but it fails to convey any sort of danger as Yukina, at worst, looks slightly embarrassed, with Kojou being nothing but kind and sheepish looking, which is reinforced by the fact that nowhere else in the volume is Kojou’s “pervertedness” really referenced, Rather he is shown to be lazy, and forgetful. So the entire scene falls flat because there’s no threat, or even tension except physical closeness.
One of the other issues is in the nature of the cast. At least in the first volume of manga Kojou and co. faced off against some visually distinctive male thugs which added some diversity to the cast. However in volume 2, aside from Kojou (who looks like an unassuming male dude), and Astarte’s handler (a large male with a cool monocle) the rest of the cast seems entirely composed of “sometimes miffed, pretty and cute girl” variety of character. There’s even a scene in the extra end-chapters which places Yukina beside Kojou’s Sister, best friend and teacher (see above), who all look and act almost identical to each other- aside from their hairstyles. It’s like the story has only one mould for female characters to be made from. It’s hard to tell at times if these characters are so similar because of how the original LN that this is adapting was written like that, or if TATE simply doesn’t have any range in creating female art designs.
Strike the blood volume 2, is a barely passable volume of this story. While the bare bones of the plot, and the world construction has some interesting ideas to explore, the execution simply falls flat with an uninspiring narrative and artwork that barely gives it any character or depth. If you absolutely need more strike the blood manga, it may be okay, but to anyone not yet on board with the series, you won’t be worse off for giving this one a pass.
Strike the Blood Vol. 2 was published by Yen Press on February 23, 2016 and translated by Jeremiah Borque. The original work was created by Gakuto Mikumo with art by TATE, and published in Dengeki Daioh. Volume 4 releases in English on May 24, 2016 .
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