Strike the Blood – 01

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Akatsuki Kojou was once an ordinary high schooler in the Demon District of Itogami City, but somehow became the Fourth Primogenitor – the world’s strongest vampire. The Lion King Organization, an agency tasked with preventing supernatural calamities, dispatched the apprentice Sword Shaman Himegari Yukina to observe Kojou – and eliminate him if necessary.

Like Staz last season, Maou the season before, and Mirai this season, Akatsuki Kojou is a reluctant host to a potentially world-threatening power, but still in a low-power state, who would rather just live a normal life, but the story will probably make sure that doesn’t happen. In the beginning he’s presented as just your run-of-the-mill slacking high-schooler whose nose bleeds when he’s turned on. And that he’d like nothing else but to keep that nose down and stay out of trouble. Trouble will of course eventually find him, however, so continuing to pretend he’s not the Fourth Primogenitor is futile.

Enter the heroine, Himeragi Yukina, who doesn’t seem to be there only to keep an eye on him and destroy him if he tries anything. It’s possible the powers that be paired her with Kojou because they’re both still figuring out who and what they are. Perhaps they’re not even certain anyone can defeat him, so they’re going with a softer approach to appeal to the humanity still within him, in an effort to manage the threat. Or maybe they have so much faith in Yukina, despite her youth and inexperience, to be a Sword Shaman who can handle the Fourth.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • There’s not a lot we haven’t seen before in this series, and the expansion of the cast the OP foretells could be troublesome, but we know for sure that we like the two leads, and after an unfortunate upskirt incident, they eventually settle down and interact cordially. Considering they’re stuck together, making peace was the logical course.
  • Yukina is a lot less stealthy than she thinks.
  • Animation quality is a step down from the other Fall series so far, but it doesn’t embarrass itself. Where the series is truly let down is in its uninspired soundtrack.
  • We appreciated the restraint with which the episode handled ecchi elements, but Kojou’s bloody nose will probably continue to get him into trouble, which is kinda lame.
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Nagi no Asukara – 01

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Sakishima Hikari and his friends Mikaido Manaka, Isaki Kaname, and Hiradaira Chisaki are “sea-dwellers” who have always lived underwater. When their school closes, they must transfer to one on the surface. On their first day Manaka is pulled out of the sea by the fishing net of Kihara Tsumugu, who turns out to be their classmate. Manaka is also cursed with a fish head on her knee when she insults their local shrine’s Lord Uroko. That day, Manaka runs away to escape the surface girls’ teasing and gets lost. Tsumugu rescues her and submerges her in salt water to heal her cracking skin. Later that night she reunites with Hikari, who is increasingly threatened by Tsumugu.

There are a lot of reasons to have reservations about transferring to a new school. Maybe you’re from the country and moving to the big city; that’ll probably get you teased. Or maybe you’re among the few humans who never left the sea and so have a natural “raiment” that allows you to breathe and live down there without any difficulty. Kids are awful anyway; they’re more awful if you’re different from them, and Hikari, Manaka, Kaname and Chisaki are definitely that. It’s a clever, literal take on the “fish out of water” theme. Of course, not all landlubbers are assholes; and Tsumugu is efficiently introduced as Hikari’s rival for Manaka’s heart. There’s nothing too fancy about the Manaka/Hikari relationship – they’re like a sister and her doting big brother. Only Hikari likes Manaka.

Meanwhile, Chisaki likes Hikari, while Manaka taks an instant liking to Tsumugu, which Hikari notices and isn’t happy about. We see that anger causing him more troubles down the road. We also wouldn’t be surprised if Kaname likes Chisaki, thus completing the love wheel. Romance (and science) aside, the sea-dweller town has an otherworldly beauty to it. Nice details abounded, from showing how one can simply swim up to a balcony, the use of special blue fire, and tv weather forecasts talking about salt content. There was also an underlying melancholy to the sea world: the encroaching fishing boats, closed school, and cancelled ceremony all indicate life there becoming increasingly fragile. Decisive action may be needed to prevent its destruction, just as Hikari will have to act if he doesn’t want to lose his beloved Manaka to Tsumugu and the surface.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • We liked the concept of the half-godlike Lord Uroko (one “scale” of the sea god) portioning out fire to the townspeople. It’s too bad he’s a bit of a pervert.
  • The fish head curse he places on Manaka’s knee is deliciously random, if unfair. Being a fisherman, Tsumugu knows just what to say about it to soothe Manaka’s anxiety.
  • We’re wondering if a sea-dweller’s skin cracks and falls away completely, will that mean they’ll die, or simply be unable to return to the sea…we’ll see. 
  • This and Kyoukai no Kanata are both supernatural slice-of-life high school shows. They both look great, but we think Nagi had the stronger first episode overall, if only because it felt less derivative.

Kyoukai no Kanata – 01

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Kanbara Akihito is an immortal half-human, half-dreamshade and member of the literature club along with his friend Nase Mitsuki. He meets the spirit hunter Kuriyama Mirai, the last of her clan, who starts regularly stabbing him with her blood sword because she fears killing, even a nightshades. Mitsuki warns Akihito (on behalf of the Nase clan) to stay away from Mirai, but he refuses. Finally he learns her apartment is haunted by a nightshade. He accompanies her there, and they draw it out, beginning her first true battle as a spirit hunter.

This show was rich with detail and very beautifully made, as all KyoAni series tend to be, but thematic and aesthetic similarities to Haruhi, Hyouka, Chu2Koi, and Free! were everywhere. Akihito resembles Nagisa, while Mitsuki looks kinda like Chitanda but acts like Ibara (with the voice of Nagato). Mirai’s ditzy mischievousness reminded us of Rikka, only without the delusions. And like Haruhi, the world contains people with supernatural powers hiding in plain sight. So there’s a lot we found familiar, but all of it from solid shows we don’t regret watching. That could be true of this show too, if it sufficiently shuffles the elements.

We do like how the supernatural elements are actually real; Mirai isn’t forging a sword from her blood in her imagination, and she’s definitely got some slick moves when in combat. While she’d rather live a normal life, her “cursed” blood drags her towards the life of spirit hunting, and baddies are drawn to her power. She doesn’t fear them, but fears killing them, because rival clans will target her if she grows too powerful. Akihito is charmed by her interest in him – and by her ridiculous glasses – but getting involved with Mirai carries certain degree of risks, not the least of which being that it’ll piss off Mitsuki and the Nase clan. Looks like he’ll cross that boundary when he gets to it.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)