Saturday, October 17, 2015

Strike the Blood Anime Review

Strike the Blood Anime Review
Written by: ClayDragon

Imagine a city dedicated solely to housing demons and other supernatural creatures. A city where demons, witches and shamans are commonplace, and new magical advances are made every day. Kojou Akatsuki is an inhabitant of such a place, called Itogami City. Despite living in this place, Kojou only wants a normal life. Unfortunately, he happens to be the Fourth Progenitor – an incredibly powerful vampire with a host of magical familiars. As such, this causes him to be labelled as a potential threat, and so the government send an agent to observe him and, should he threaten the safety of the island’s inhabitants, kill him.
Even immortal vampire lords have to do their homework.
Thankfully for Kojou, the Sword Shaman sent to observe him is Yukina Himeragi, a high-school girl who seems more interested in helping him defeat all the psychos that attack the city than killing him. Despite being a vampire, Kojou is a rather friendly one, preferring to drink his own blood in order to satisfy his bloodlust, and only drinking the blood of others when they explicitly agree to let him do so.
You have no idea how many times these lines get repeated.
The characters are all quite varied, although as I watched the series I began to notice that a lot of them were similar to characters from A Certain Magical Index, either in personality, plot relevance or background. I wouldn’t have had a problem with one or two characters being similar to those from other series, but by the time the third story arc rolled around I needed two hands to count how many people reminded me of Index characters.
All we need now is a hungry nun and we'd have the whole set.
That’s not to say that the characters are all bad. Even though a fair number of them resembled Index characters, they do tend to differ from their counterparts as time goes on. For example, Kojou’s teacher Natsuki starts off as the typical ‘cute teacher’ character, but she gets a lot more focus and screentime as the series progresses. Similarly, Astarte is initially an emotionless homunculus, but as time went on she became one of my favourite characters simply because of how blunt yet na├»ve she is.
Why is she wearing a maid outfit, you ask? The answer is, why not?
Sadly, Strike the Blood falls into the same problem as a number of other shows, in that the supporting cast is more interesting than the main characters. Kojou is a nice enough guy, but he doesn’t get an awful lot of development, and his past (and in particular, the events that made him become a vampire) are never touched upon in any real detail. This is also the case for Yukina who, despite being the secondary protagonist, tends to seem a little flat and one-dimensional (there’s also another aspect about her that really annoyed me, but more on that later).

The show doesn’t do itself any favours plot-wise either. The story is very arc-based, which leaves it feeling clunky and segmented. To make things worse, the arc villains aren’t exactly noteworthy, with only one ‘villain’ – another vampire known as Dimitrie Vatler – coming back for more than one arc. Thankfully, Vatler is pretty damn awesome, so he earns bonus points. In fact, there’s only one story arc that has both a decent main villain and continuity ties to previous arcs, and it’s a shame that Strike the Blood only used a format like this once, as the show would have worked much better as a result. 
Yes Vatler, you are awesome (if more than a little psychotic).
The soundtrack is pretty good, and the first opening in particular became an instant favourite – although considering that it performed by the same people who did the opening for Highschool of the Dead, this was perhaps a given. The second opening, and by extension the endings, are nice, but not as memorable as the first opening. The animation is well-done for the most part, although certain moments tend to have a coloured tinge around the edges of the screen, giving the impression that you’re looking at one of those old red/blue 3D images without the glasses.
You and me both, lady.
With all that being said, I’ve left my biggest problem with Strike the Blood for last – most of the females in the show are handled horrendously. To clarify, I’m not saying that the female characters themselves are bad – three of my favourite characters were women – but the way that they’re characterised whenever the romance subplot kicks in is ridiculous. For whatever reason, almost every girl that Kojou meets wants to have his vampire babies. And because we can’t have a vampire story without some measure of eroticism, Strike the Blood takes the path of ‘drinking blood = pg-rated sex’. This means that most of the show’s females are practically falling over each other in an attempt to have Kojou drink their blood, and when it gets to the point where girls treat Kojou drinking someone else’s blood as a betrayal, regardless of context, it starts to get very frustrating.
"Sorry, but my bed is more interesting."
For example, at one point one of Kojou’s female friends wakes up in his bed with no memory of the previous night. When she (wrongly) puts two and two together and believes that Kojou had sex with her whilst she was asleep, she begins to cry tears of joy. No self-respecting person would ever be overjoyed to the point of tears if they thought that someone had taken their virginity whilst they were sleeping. In fact, when it comes to any sexual action on Kojou’s part, regardless of how minor or accidental it was, most of the females pretty much lean back and let him do what he wants. It makes it a lot harder to argue the fact that the show has a strong female cast when most of them turn completely submissive at the mere possibility of Kojou getting to second base with them.
"But seriously, can you get me a doctor? You're not much help."
I’m not really sure what to think of Strike the Blood. On one hand, the presentation is nice, the secondary characters are varied and interesting, and there’s a decent mix of action and humour. Ultimately, it comes off as if the author had copied down the framework of A Certain Magical Index’s characters and setting and then added a large supernatural element and took it from there. But the plot, flat main characters and incredibly blatant sexual undertones were quite disappointing, to say nothing of the way that most of the female characters were treated in relation to their attraction towards Kojou. It makes for decent light viewing, but there are better vampire anime series out there.
It also has the creepiest AI ever designed.

Good Things:        Interesting secondary characters.
                                                               
                               Good animation and soundtrack.

                               Decent balance of emotion and humour.

                               Cool fight scenes.


Bad Things:          Segmented plot and poor arc villains.
                
                               The main characters get virtually no development.

                               Everything related to the romantic and sexual aspects.
                               

Final Verdict:
Okay.
Sorry, Astarte...
Do you have a suggestion for an anime I should review? Let me know in the comments, or submit it to ask.fm/ClayDragon! Thanks to Jackpot21, who requested this review!
  

ClayDragon:
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at claydragon.on@gmail.com. He has an ask.fm account at ask.fm/ClayDragon. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. No, Senpai. This is our review!

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