Original Story: Gakuto Mikumo
Character Design: Manyako
Translation/Adaptation: Jeremiah Bourque
What They Say:
Kojou Akatsuki lives on the artificial island of Itogami, and he has a secret: He’s the “Fourth Primogenitor,” the most powerful vampire in the world. He’s carefully kept this dark knowledge from his family and friends, but one day, a beautiful girl named Yukina Himeragi appears before him and tells him that she knows who he really is – and that she’s been sent to … kill him?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Vampires don’t really exist, do they? Or at least that’s what Kojou Akatsuki thought; he was a regular high schooler until he received the blood of the Fourth Primogenitor, supposedly the most powerful vampire in history, and now his life has turned out for … the worse. It’s bad enough he has no energy in the mornings, but now Kojou finds this strange girl following him through Itogami City, the only safe place where vampires can live in Tokyo. She introduces herself as a Sword Shaman for the Lion King Agency and confronts him with the knowledge that she knows about his true nature. He tries to brush off the incident by feigning ignorance, but the situation quickly gets out of hand once she begins to follow him again.
Anyone can understand if she defends herself against a duo when they hit her, but if a misunderstanding causes his follower to attack them with magic, they have no choice but to fight back. But the problem quickly grows out of hand when one of the vampires summons his beast vassal, a powerful spectral monster that will attack according to its master’s command. As the phantom closes in, she brings forth her weapon, a spear called the Snowdrift Wolf and easily dispels the being in one strike. Before anything else can happen, Kojou has no choice but to step in as he easily fends off her weapon and tells his kin to leave before the authorities arrive. Confused by his decision, he escorts the girl out of the area, whereby she quickly leaves him with even more questions that he had before, but after accidently dropping her wallet.
The next morning, he asks his English teacher Natsuki Minamiya, who is a counter-demon attack mage which works for the government, about the Lion King Agency; she promptly warns him to avoid all contact with that organisation since they are her competition and their only job is to eliminate any problems with his kind. After leaving her office, he once again meets his stalker, a girl named Yukina Himeragi. She informs him that her true mission is to observe the new Fourth Primogenitor and if he appears to pose any kind of danger – to eliminate him. But, to her surprise, Kojou has no intentions of causing any problems, he just wants to live out his life as a normal human being. However, with his newfound powers, how can he?
Strike the Blood appears to be your typical vampire manga, until the element of a human who doesn’t want the powers is dipped into the mix. Kojou Akatsuki is your typical lazy high school kid, but instead of dealing with only late homework and makeup tests, he now has to put up with someone who wants to kill you for having abilities you doesn’t want. Sword Shaman Yukina Himeragi is not used to life in a big city and she also has to watch over this kid who is supposed to be the most powerful vampire in existence and also a closet pervert? This is a comedic duel from the beginning and Mikumo-sensei takes advantage of their situation from the start and continues from there with great results. Tate-sensei’s artwork dynamically interchanges moments of true compassion, humour and action into a wonderful book that is worth the time to sit back and enjoy.
However, once the translation begins, we run into problems. Since this series was released after the English simulcast and most fans will already be familiar with the material, the substance of this manga is lost from the first page once Yukina introduces herself as the watcher of the Fourth Primogenitor. In the anime, we were told that Kojou was the Fourth Progenitor, why the difference? As with most properties licensed by different companies, I can understand a difference over terminology, but to have such dissimilar terms for such an important word is confusing. Anyone with a dictionary can see that a primogenitor is an ancestor, especially the earliest ancestor of a people and a progenitor is a person or thing from which a person, animal, or plant is descended or originates. So, if you use these definitions, it would make more sense that Kojou is the fourth generation of the latter and not the former. Besides the fact that primo can also be translated into meaning first. So if you follow that logic, the Yen Press translation would mean Fourth First Ancestor? That’s an oxymoronic phrase if I ever heard one!
Lastly, this must be a tendency for Yen Press since I have also encountered this in other books under their umbrella, but why do they need to translate all of the sound effects within the manga? I can understand the need to do it for the first few times, but to have the English word under the Japanese for every effect gets tiresome very fast. I know that it is a trend in the original books, but why do they need to do it for the translations? The reader can infer the meaning from the context of the word, and most of the time, it is obvious. So why not save the time typesetting and us the aggravation in the future by dropping this habit so we can both savour story without having to nitpick everything?
Strike the Blood is a great story if you can ignore the faux pas in the translation and see past to the thrilling narrative underneath. The clash of various factions trying to vie for control via amazing beasts and vampires is a wonderful interpretation on the classic monster tale … and the cute cover of Yukina doesn’t hurt either!
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: C
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 27th, 2015