By Gakuto Mikumo and Manyako. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jeremiah Bourque.
This is definitely a stronger volume than the previous one. It starts off by slowly removing all of Kojou’s allies, which gives a nice feeling of impending doom. Asagi is supposedly helping with the rebuilding the island needs by being… a pop idol, but anyone who’s met Asagi knows this is fake. In reality, she’s being held hostage. So is Motoki, who is recovering from his grievous wounds from last time, and thus can’t put up much of a fight when he’s used in a corporate struggle. And even Yukina ends up being a liability when, due to the various events that have been happening since the start and her own superweapon, she’s now turning into a faux-Angel, just like Kanon was. Fortunately, Kojou still has his own typical battle plan, which is use his Beast Vassals, see them fail, get nearly killed, and drink someone’s blood to power up. So far it’s been a sound strategy. Of course, there’s a little catch here.
The subtitle for this volume is Golden Days, which is how Yukina views her time here with Kojou. Leaving aside her romantic feelings for him, this is the closest thing she’s ever had to a normal life, something that Sayaka and Yukina’s mentor Yukari both point out. Yukina’s past has been shown to us on occasion in bits, and we certainly have no doubt that this is true. As such, despite his good intentions, when Kojou readily accepts that, in order not to be turned into a faux-Angel, she’ll never be able to see or help him again, she is very quick to reject this. It’s a lot of good, solid scenes. As for the solution to the problem… well, it’s sort of a macguffin, really, but I suppose we could do worse. While “fiancee” may be a bit much (mostly as it would require Kojou to admit to actually having romantic feelings for a girl without another one beating him up), certainly they’re much closer after this, and Yukina can stick around.
There were a few things I wasn’t as thrilled with. As ever, Strike the Blood’s attempts at humor are terrible, and the whole “this isn’t really a pregnancy test but” joke, even with it signposted a mile away, still made me roll my eyes. Asagi’s skills are shown off here, but – as she herself is quick to point out – all she did was sit around for two weeks. I like books that are more Asagi-heavy. And of course, despite having stronger scenes in general, the overall plot of this book is remarkably similar to about five or six others in this series – I’ve joked before about it being written by an AI, and the joke still holds up. It is designed to be made into an anime. I like the characters, but, except for Yukina a bit here, they simply don’t have the depth to elevate this series above “satisfactory”.
Still, satisfactory is not bad, and this book should please those who enjoy Strike the Blood, particularly Yukina fans, which I’m sure there must be one or two of. Next time we get the “end of Part One” of the series, but I’ll believe it when I see it, to be honest.