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There are many, many, reasons why I should not like Strike the Blood. However, Strike the Blood has also steadfastly avoided the error that caused me to rant so much about Sword Art Online, and I am prepared to forgive a lot for that.

The Setup

Akatsuki Kojou is the Ordinary High School Student who has inherited the powers of the Fourth Progenitor making him one of the most powerful vampires in the world. Or he would be if he was willing to drink human blood & bring his monstrous familiars under control.

Himeragi [1] Yukina is a Sword [1] Shaman of the Lion-King organisation sent to observe Kojou, and kill him if he becomes a threat to humanity.

Oh, and there’s a bunch of other cute girls about with more showing up as the series goes on.

The Serials

Strike the Blood is currently structured as a set of 4 episode serials. Each episode title is the serial name, and the part number within the serial. So far each serial has resulted in Kojou bringing a familiar under control.  The two serials completed thus far are The Right Arm of the Saint and From the Warlords Empire.

The serial structure is unusual in my experience of anime. Whilst many series have arcs within the larger story, relatively few have constructed the mini stories quite so explicitly.

In a sense this reminds me of early Doctor Who, and it is no bad thing.

The Bad

There is a lot to not like in Strike the Blood, the question is where to start.

This is clearly developing into a harem anime with, as of episode 8, at least three of the female characters trying to get it on with Kojou [1]. Obviously the First Girl Wins trope is likely to be in effect, which puts Yukina into the box seat.

There has been plenty of fanservice, including the sort that makes me want to slap GAINAX for popularising it, and there will be much more to come. So far it hasn’t been quite enough to throw me out of the story, but like a number of other shows [4] Strike the Blood is definitely skirting [5] the tolerable limit.

That said, the sequence from 0:32 – 0:36 in the opening credits is almost inappropriate enough on its own to make me drop the show.

Then there’s the issue of Kojou bringing his familiars to heel which very much smacks of “gotta catch em all”.

The final problem is one that Strike the Blood shares with Kiddy Grade: it is effectively a superhero show. The characters appear to be essentially unkillable, and this removes a lot of the dramatic tension.

The Good

Yukina-chan is such a perfect implementation of the Badass Adorable, and one that never degenerates into a Faux Action Girl.

As you may recall I ranted at some length about the Deedlit Syndrome in Harem, er, Sword Art Online. In the eight episodes to date of Strike the Blood there has already been one occasion where Yukina ends up kidnapped, and zero occasions where Yukina ends up losing agency as a character. Temporarily inconvenienced perhaps, but never reduced to a Distressed Damsel or one that waits to be rescued [6].

With one minor (and entirely justified) exception the same is true of the other female characters. Each has her area of power or skill, and all have had fully contributing roles to play.

Indeed the finale to From the Warlord’s Empire required a degree of teamwork across multiple characters that was a delight to watch, especially as it only worked because the female characters retained agency throughout.

For this I will forgive many sins. The awkward charm of the developing relationship between Yukina and Kojou doesn’t hurt.

The Interim Verdict

Despite the many problems I am still enjoying Strike the Blood, and will continue watching through the third serial at least. Whether I keep watching after that will depend in large part on Yukina remaining the character to cheer for.

[1] I suspect a meaningful name given that “Hime” = “Princess”.

[2] More of a Spear Shaman really. Calling her weapon a sword is about as accurate a description as calling that axe thingy the Slayer Scythe in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

[3] Not that all of them have admitted this yet.

[4] Kiddy Grade, Mai-HIME and Papakiki spring to mind.

[5] Pun intended. You can groan now.

[6] Yukina can rescue herself, thanks very much.