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Strike the Blood Vol. #01: The Right Arm of the Saint Novel Review

5 min read

Strike the Blood Novel 1 CoverBloody unremarkable

Creative Staff
Story: Gakuto Mikumo
Illustrations: Manyako
Translation: Jeremiah Bourque

What They Say
Kojo Akatsuki used to be an ordinary high school boy – but that was before he became the Fourth Progenitor, the most powerful vampire of all time. Worse – he doesn’t even remember how it happened. Middle schooler Yukina Himeragi, meanwhile, is the attack mage sent to observe him – and to stop him if he gets out of control. But was it really a good idea to send a cute girl to observe a massively powerful vampire boy whose abilities activate whenever he gets aroused? And on an artificial island populated with all manner of demonic individuals, each with their own designs on the Fourth Primogenitor!

The front cover is a pleasing image of Yukina standing with her spear while standing in front of a blue cityscape. It’s nothing too outstanding, but it has a really lovely palette about it, with the blue giving the whole image a rather calming feel to it. The back cover, on the other hand, goes for a simplistic feel, offering only a synopsis and an image of the spear over a plain white background. The text reads smoothly enough, though something like a glossary of the terms unique to the book probably wouldn’t have hurt, as there are a decent number to keep track of. Paper quality feels solid, honorifics are not used, and several color illustrations are included at the front of the book.

The images included throughout make for some pretty flat choices and unfortunately don’t really add much. For the most part they’re just plain images of a character or two, acting as more or less alternates to the color pages that show what the characters look like. At least only one got dedicated to halfhearted fanservice, and we actually do get two that attempt a little bit of action. But still, pretty much anything interesting you may want a picture of to help better visualize isn’t shown, and you really wouldn’t lose a thing by removing the images from the book entirely.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
As the volume kicks off, we get a brief introduction to the setting of the novel, Itogami Island. This manmade floating city is a haven for monsters and the otherwise inhuman in particular, acting as the basis for study of such supernatural powers. Switching gears, we join a young junior high school girl known as Yukina Himeragi as she receives her orders from her superiors. The organization she belongs to is the mysterious and unfortunately named Lion King Agency (the translator seriously couldn’t have tweaked their way of handling this a little to avoid the awkward overlap with a certain famous Disney film?) It turns out her task is to monitor and, if needed, exterminate the Fourth Primogenitor of the vampires, a powerful being equal to his three predecessors who are strong enough to divvy up the world. To aid in this task, she’s given the Mechanical Demon-Purging Assault Spear Mark Seven/Schneewalzer, Snowdrift Wolf (which is a whole lot of nonsense to say it’s a really strong spear). And much to her surprise, the target turns out to be a high school student on Itogami Island known as Kojou Akatsuki.

With the intro out of the way, we kick off the story proper by joining Kojou. After plenty of clichés and tropes as he hangs out with his friends and complains about homework, our hero quickly discovers Yukina. And… she plays her cards really, really straight by telling him the truth in full, causing him to flee the scene. With this we’re given the other key concept of the volume/series when Yukina gets some guys hitting on her, one of which is a vampire. This turns into a fight, and the vampire unleashes his Beast Vassal. And as the book explains, Beast Vassals are the key unique function of vampires in this series, powerful energy monsters that only they can summon. Of course Yukina manages to take it down, and Kojou is forced to step in to stop her from going all the way to murder.

From there the volume continues on in a rather mediocre manner, as Yukina and Kojou steadily get closer, with her honestly not putting up as much of a fight to this as one would expect, considering her job. And of course, there’s a ton of cliché perviness and misunderstandings and everything of the sort. And while perhaps this could be excused due to a limited age gap for the hero, maybe, it’s incredibly awkward for the reader to hear over and over again about the sexiness of a middle school student. Of course as all this goes on, the powerful and mysterious Rudolf and Astarte begin to move in the background. Which is okay enough, and the descriptions of their strength at least are interesting, but Rudolf (and of course Astarte as well) just doesn’t come together as a very well put together character, with his rough motivations feeling incredibly unjustified (even if the book tries to say otherwise) and only coming at the tail end.
In Summary
Though it has some intriguing ideas, this book ultimately ends up pretty mediocre, though at least not terrible. Kojou’s position as someone with a ton of power yet no idea how to use it is kind of neat, and is probably one of the better bits of the book, though as a character he just isn’t very interesting. Yukina is similarly bland and is built from some cliché tropes, much as the book tries to deny that at points, and her being a middle schooler makes the sexualization of her character incredibly uncomfortable. The Beast Vassals also could be an interesting element, though not much is shown of them other than “they’re really strong” as of this volume. Which is a similar complaint that could be leveled against the villains, who are quite imposing but don’t really have the depth they should. Even the setting seems cool at first, but not much is done with it, and at least right now it feels awkwardly similar to the better known setting from the Certain Magical Index series. All in all the book isn’t bad and shows some potential, so if you really like vampires and don’t mind wading through a ton of clichés to get to the more unique concepts in the volume, then I could definitely see you having fun here. Otherwise, though, it’s probably a good idea to hold off and see if later volumes manage to do something more worthwhile with what’s set up here.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: N/A
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
MSRP: $14.00

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