Like our other supernatural romp (Unbreakable Machine Doll), Strike the Blood decided to take it easy this week by comparison to the pace of the premiere.
Unlike Machine Doll, this is limited to things we might actually give a damn about.
I know, I hear it already. “Anna”, you will say, “why do you seem to loathe the tonal differences in that show but give a pass on this one?”
The answer is complex, but fundamentally simple. In the fundamentals, it is because Strike the Blood built suspense around it’s slice-of-life sections, and never made them the focal point of the episode. Let’s get into this a bit deeper.
So, we were introduced to our goth lolita, English teacher Natsuki-chan! I mean…Minamiya Natsuki-sensei. We got a grasp of the workings of the supernatural world. Your standard triumverate of demon lords. Three all powerful vampires who rule vast swaths of the earth, one in Europe, one from Asia, and a third from America (America’s vampire lord is the “Chaos Queen”, quite a striking name, I hope we meet her). Likewise, the Lion’s King organization is run by three “Saints”, who apparently, somehow, administer these treaties between Human and Demon. Seperate from these two are the attack mages, who also seem to possess no special affiliation, as one met attack mage, Natsuki, seems to work for the Japanese government in some manner, while the other, our enemy from the end, is a Vatican agent, yet still referred to as an attack mage.
See? Detail. We have something of a picture forming about this world.
More important, after Kojo sets up his shopping date with Yukina, Natsuki tells him to beware Lion’s King agents at all costs. We had a similar warning in Machine Doll. But whereas that warning about Charlotte was red flagged from a mile away, it didn’t hold weight. But Yukina, ah! That is a different matter. Even if she is nice to Kojo, we see during the shopping trip (which is full of moemoe moments from Yukina seeing everything as a weapon), that Yukina’s been among Lion’s King her entire life, unaware of what golf is, and only interested in laundry detergent because it is capable of producing toxins. In the back of the mind, while this is cute and fish-out-of-water, we come to one inescapable conclusion: Yukina IS the Lion’s King. If they order her to kill Kojo, even against her better judgment, will she carry that order out? Almost every scene re-emphasizes this point, including her creepy stalker-obsessive manner of stalking Kojo via ESP, apparently.
Nagisa is a believable middle-schooler. She is somewhat responsible, but still immature. She feels like a kid. Too often child-like attributes are exaggerated (where a six year old is played up like a three year old), or their maturity given focus (so, much more commonly, they are like tiny adults). Nagisa strikes the balance (ha), and that’s important. But I hope she is here to be more than just a “humanizing” factor for Kojo. I want her to be a part of some soul crushing realization that her brother’s a vampire.
And most importantly, Strike the Blood’s difference from Machine Doll is that they didn’t derail a primary plot, and kept the action in. The fight with the Vatican mage (whose name escapes me because it is Japanimation-European) was pretty to look at and felt like it had weight, even if it will ultimately be consequence free. This is starting to feel a little like Hellsing with the drama meter brought back into the visible spectrum. I like that, a more realistic series that isn’t up its own ass would make a great vampire series.
So, strike another win for Strike the Blood.