Strike The Blood is currently in a Christmas intermission after the end of its 14th episode and first major story arc, and will have new episodes starting in a few days. This alternate Earth anime takes place predominately on an artificial island, a place where many of the world’s demons have been forced to live. The Vampires of the world are ruled by three Progenitors – supremely powerful Vampires, each in command of a region of the world, who are unable to overcome each other and whose equality provides balance and stability to the world. But this stability could not last…
Enter our main character: Kojou Akutsuki, a teenage boy who has been given the power of the Fourth Progenitor – a legendary Vampire, more powerful than any other whose existence threatens to rattle the precarious stability the world has found. Knowing of his existence, various supernaturally-interested factions around the world react. One such group known as the Lion King Organization sends one of their Sword Shaman, a girl named Yukina Himeragi, to watch him and assess if he needs to be eliminated for the safety of the world.
This is where our story begins. The show, sadly, doesn’t do a very good job of introducing you to the setting – Itogami City, the Demon District. It never gives you a complete picture of the world you’re dealing with, so even the explanation above is likely more information than you’ll be able to glean from the first arc (to get that info I had to do some research into the LN). With such an interesting alternate Earth created here, it’s a real pity we don’t get more exposure, but I suspect it would have been difficult to give much better background without altering the show’s pacing.
And the pacing is perfect. You never get so lost in action that you forget what is happening, but you’re also never so mired in story that it becomes hard to pay attention. It is almost enough to make up for the poor introduction you receive to the world. Not quite, but almost.
Enter The Harem
I have to say, I’m curious as to what has caused the huge rise in Harem Anime in the past few years. Every time I turn around our main character has girls fighting over him… and this show is no exception. Kojou is the center of attention for at least 4 women, arguably 5 if you count his teacher, and one man who all seem to be throwing themselves at him. It’s a little annoying, but the show does make fairly good use of this to create some humourous moments.
And, fortunately, none of these characters suffer from this. None of the characters are completely one-dimensional, and they all have their layers on layers of secrets and mysteries. And the show never lets you forget that these mysteries are there… tossing little hints and reminders that there’s more than what you realize going on every so often but rarely in a way that it feels like they’re doing it just to remind you of that – it always feels fairly natural.
While this show does feature a powerful entity gradually becoming stronger and stronger to overcome greater challenges… the designers have overcome the temptation to fall into the Dragonball Z trap – it doesn’t feel like he is just arbitrarily getting stronger for the sake of giving him a challenge to overcome. While Kojou does continually become stronger, they manage to make it not feel like a power creep. Rather than him just needing to be stronger to overcome a new obstacle… he instead needs to get some new type of power. The new powers he gets feel a lot more like they are just rounding out his potential. For example, his initial familiar is lightning based… so when he runs into something that lightning doesn’t work well against, he has to bond with a new familiar in order to overcome that foe.
It’s certainly nothing new – in fact in some ways it reminds me of either Megaman or Zelda in the way it all plays out which just makes me love it all the more. Most notably, the foes he faces do not seem to get exceedingly more powerful as time goes on – they just feel new. Which adds a layer of believability to the challenges he faces.
At first glance this show felt a little like a generic high school harem anime… but the way they make use of the different character personalities, the clever avoidance of power creep, and most importantly of all the fantastic pacing of this show make it stand out and make it more than worth your time.