Strike the Blood – Episode 1: The Right Arm of the Saint I [First Impression]
Chris’s First Impression:
Not to start the post off on a sour note or anything but… did anyone else feel as though this was almost exactly like ‘A Certain Magical Index’, well, you know, a part from a few minor differences. I mean, if you compare the plot of both first episodes you’ll see distinct similarities; a girl who is hit on by older men, that girl then going on to destroy said men in true over powered female protagonist fashion, the whole ‘I’m a simple teenage boy living his simple life… but I’m not’ mentality and a main protagonist who is (apparently) ridiculously powerful but doesn’t quite know how to use his powers yet…? Yeah, I think this episode is pretty much ‘A Certain Magical Index’ in a nutshell. Hell, even the art style is similar (I’ve just Googled it and it turns out that the Character Designer, Keiichi Sano, was also the Chief Animation Direction on ‘A Certain Magical Index’… makes sense I guess).
But I wouldn’t want you to think that I hate Strike the Blood, no, if anything I found it oddly enjoyable. Now that’s not to say that it’s the best thing to ever appear on my TV screen, but it didn’t do too bad for your run of the mill action fantasy. Mellow. Yes, that’s how I would describe this first episode. For some reason (after reading the first chapter of the manga, that is) I felt as though it would be… more. I read the first chapter of the light novel and the manga to get a feel for it and, well, to be honest, I felt as thought this animated representation of it was the weakest out of the three. The light novel was much more detailed, the manga laced humor into the dialogue better and overall the anime just felt weak. Info dumps appeared sporadically in the form of flashing pictures and it felt… well, a bit disjointed. It was almost as if they were trying to cram everything into the first episode just so that they could get on with the rest of the show with the knowledge that the viewer is now up to date and I don’t think that was smart. For example, I had to actually Google what primogenitor meant because either I’m just inept or it, perhaps, needed more of explanation. And take this ‘D Type’ title for example. Is being D Type bad? Good? At least with ‘A Certain Magical Index’ they made it very clear that ‘Level 5 Espers’ were meant to be amazing within the first few minutes of the show. Like I said, it felt disjointed.
But let’s not dwell on ‘the bad’ for too long, as I said, this was actually a pretty decent viewing experience. Before I get onto the fun stuff however, I’d first like to talk about the production side of things. The animation quality was nice, exactly what I’d expect from, firstly, Silver Link and, secondly, an anime like this. I didn’t blow me away, but it was watchable and, as long as I’m not noticing odd animation, it’s an enjoyable experience for me. The soundtrack was, again, exactly like I thought it would be. Action packed where it needed to be and mellow when the story required it. I had to actually go back and having a second listen to the soundtrack because it was so forgettable the first time… it’s a shame really.
Now that we’ve gotten all of the ‘boring’ stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the characters and the plot. Yeah! Akatsuki Kojou is the Fourth Primogenitor, the worlds strongest and most legendary vampire. Himegari Yukina is the Sword Shaman girl, contracted by the government and Lion King to observe Kojou and eliminate him should he begin causing trouble. And, I guess, that’s really the plot in a nutshell. As it stands, there’s not much to go off, but if I’ve learn anything from watching anime over the years, it’s that you shouldn’t judge a series on it’s first episode (Steins;Gate…) and I certainly don’t think that the plot is bad. I’ve always like the idea of overpowered middle school girls kicking ass and so I can’t complain about that, but I’m still not sure about our main character, Akatsuki. Sure, he has his funny moments, but as it stands he’s pretty bland. And another thing… I swear his hair was black in the PV (or was the the promo poster)? But I digress, his back story looks really interesting, although I don’t really understand why the city he was in was (seemingly) under water? Is this Nagi no Asakura? Just what is going on? He’s your typical ‘nice guy’ the girl that the girls can’t help but fall for because he’s just so nice… even though he gets a nose bleed whenever he imagines the necks of women… Creepy.
Now Yukina is a much more interesting entity, her bad ass attitude carrying her through the entire episode and her poor ability to perform espionage being one of her only flaws. Design wise, I love her character… I don’t know, I just like the whole ‘orange flavored dark chocolate‘ look okay? I feel as though both Yukina and Akatsuki are still figuring out who they are and that’s why they’re going to make an awesome duo, the reluctant hero and the over powered demon slayer… yeah, I can just see it now… Romantically speaking, I think this is going to be one of those shows where Yukina falls for Akatsuki, doesn’t want to let him know, they go for the whole season with this ‘awkward romance’ back story and then it ends without closure. At lest, that’s what I’m guessing (from experience, mind you). That said, I still like the Yukina character, whilst we still haven’t seen much of her yet due to the series focus being on the Fourth, I’m looking forward to seeing her and Akatsuki develop together as characters. Onwards!
And just who is the blonde girl at the end of the episode? Is she from Akatsuki’s past? Will she make an appearance in the show? We can only speculate…
To conclude, I don’t know how to feel about Strike the Blood. I feel as though I’ve seen it all before but there’s something nice about it, y’know? Perhaps it’s because it’s not actually a bad take on the action fantasy genre, this first episode ticking all the right boxes and being just what I expected. But who wants to blog about something ‘normal’? I want to talk about shows that are going to blow me away, shows that are going to make me laugh and cry with every passing episode and I don’t think that this is it. Who knows, perhaps it’ll get better? But, as it stands now, I’m bringing out the three episode rule. Three episodes to decide whether or not I’ll blog about this to the end… don’t let me down Strike the Blood!
Possibility of Blogging: Maybe (giving it three episodes)
Possibility of Watching: High
Dan’s First Impression:
Echoing Chris, not to start off on a bad note, but this episode can be summed up in one word for me: ehhhhhhhhhhhhh. I had a lot of trouble engaging with the cast and actually staying interested in what was happening on-screen. Which isn’t to say Strike the Blood was bad, just that it felt fairly mediocre to me.
I think half the reason I was so bored this episode was because a lot of the world building was done through exposition and stills floating over the screen. For me, this is never a good sign. A good show will be able to construct its world without having to rely on a character’s narration. Use of scenery, allowing the environment (physically, culturally and politically) to influence events and eliciting feelings from you which shape how you feel and understand the world are much more powerful and engaging tools. Obviously, at times exposition is necessary, but relying on it as your primary means of conveying information about the world is how you’re going to lose me. At least turn it into dialogue around some event in the story, rather than have it play out as an internal monologue. Or a conversation between two people. I mean, if someone decided to explain Australia to me, I would probably stare at them and say, “Yes, I know. I live here.” and do the megane thing if I was wearing glasses. Not only that, but delivering all that information in one bolus dose is going to make me switch off.
We did get to see what it’s like to live in a world populated by a variety of magical creatures, if only a little, with our lead girl Yukina kicking demon butt after they decide to look at her underwear (side note: I absolutely hate the word “panties”. Can we please ban its use?). She’s been charged with watching over our protagonist, Fourth Progenitor Akutsuki Kojou, to make sure he doesn’t cause any trouble. As for where we’re going to go from here, I don’t know. But the demons Yukina beat up were approached by a guy wearing a monocle (the universal symbol for evil) so they’re obviously going to be back next week for another ass kicking. This is one area where I think Strike the Blood will succeed, and that’s the fight scenes. Yukina taking down a flaming horse was pretty cool, and the shorts from next week’s episode promises more action in the same vein. Which is a relief, because if a shonen action series can’t do fight scenes right, well. It becomes Code:Breaker.
So far, our cast is pretty bland. We haven’t really seen anything in terms of personality, so I don’t know how I feel about any of the characters excepted bored. The action, however, does show promise. Additionally, we haven’t really seen anything in regards to plot yet. Obviously Akatsuki’s role as Fourth Progenitor will come into play. I am slightly interested in what role the blonde girl we saw at the episode’s end has to play, and what exactly it means to be the Fourth Progenitor. These questions have got me interested enough to see what Strike the Blood is going to do next episode, so it has succeeded in creating sufficient hook.
If you’re into ecchi jokes, then this could be a series for you. I don’t know how pervasive they’re going to be, but Yukina’s underwear came up a lot. I personally hate that stuff, but if you like it, give it a go. This kinda stuff doesn’t really fill me with hope that Strike the Blood is going to be deep or have some big message, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not all anime has to be thought provoking, and I’m hoping that Strike the Blood will at least prove to be entertaining.
Overall, I felt this episode simultaneously tried to pack too much in, and at the same time, didn’t really deliver anything. Obviously it has only been one episode, and Strike the Blood has got plenty of time to redeem itself. At this stage, I think we can expect it to be your typical shonen action series with echhi jokes. Nothing profound and meaningful, but hopefully worth a watch for the entertaining fight scenes. For now, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and watch a few more episodes. Who knows, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Possibility of blogging: Maybe.
Possibility of watching: Yes, at least until I decide whether or not it’s worth my time