12 Days of Anime Day 6: Strike the Blood, or “the most generic crap I’ve seen in a while. I LOVE IT!”

So let’s talk about the best light novel adaptation (LNA) I’ve seen in a long time. After Outbreak Company, of course.

Also, updates: we now have a brand spanking new Twitter account (@i_for_an_ipiece) and Facebook page! Feel free to follow us there, since we should be using them more in the future.

I'm talking about Kuroko no Basket, of course.

Shoot, was I supposed to be talking about Kuroko no Basket?

Now, when I say best LNA in a long time, I’m referring more to the genre that the show occupies rather than the show itself being the best adaptation of its source material (I’d probably have to give the latter award to the Monogatari series). As I’ve talked about before, for me LNAs today tend to fall into 3 groups:

  • The “normal” LNAs, which are similar to young adult (YA) novels except with a lot of anime-esque influence. These are just plain old stories, without many explicit additional meta-narrative additions taken from the surrounding otaku culture (as opposed to meta-narratives inherent to, say, writing in general). Sword Art Online and Durarara!! are probably the best examples of this, and shows like High School DxD also fall in this category. If we’re looking back even further, the original LNAs like Kino’s Journey and Boogiepop Phantom (hence  why I call them “normal” LNAs) also tend to belong here.
  • The “meta” LNAs, which are obsessed with showing how aware they are of the meta-narrative structure in which they are embedded and actively participate in it. Haiyore! Nyaruko-sanOreShura, and Henneko are the most recent examples that come to mind, along with NouCome, although there are a billion others out there.
  • The “meta-meta” LNAs, which are more generally meta not only about their immediate environment, but also about their own footing in regards to said environment. I made a decent case for Oregairu and OreShura as good examples a while back, and Monogatari falls here almost by default. I probably would also add Outbreak Company to this list.

Out of these, the majority of LNAs I see today tend to fall into the later two divisions, since an emphasis on meta-ness seems to be the “hot new thing” on the market today. Which is fine, except that the medium has since been absolutely saturated with them, such that the “typical” LNA today is not anywhere close to what used to be a “normal” one. So there’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance (and overall irony) here, when the LNAs that are meant to be “meta” and clever are somehow becoming the norm, and the culture they are parodying is becoming relatively scarce. Because of this trend, I tend to have a soft spot for LNAs (and anime in general) that don’t try and pull any of that fancy meta stuff. Which brings me to Strike the Blood.

My thoughts exactly.

My thoughts exactly.

The reason I like the show so much is simple. If someone asked me, “What’s the most ‘anime-like’ anime you’ve seen recently?”, I would without hesitation say Strike the Blood. Every week when I sit down to watch it, I end up saying things to myself like:

“This is so ridiculously ‘anime.’ IT’S GREAT!”

Like this scene lol

Like this scene lol

Nice response.

Nice reaction.

or “This is the most generic crap I’ve seen in a while. I LOVE IT!”.

TOO MUCH LOVE.

SAVE ME FROM MYSELF HUGE AXE-WIELDING MONOCLE-WEARING VILLAIN CRYING TEARS OF JOY.

YES YES GIVE ME MORE

yes. Yes. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! GIVE ME MOAR!!!!!!

I find this to be really interesting. Anime in general tends to be dominated by a lot of in-bred tropes, much to the enjoyment of many of its fans and to the annoyance of directors such as Shinichiro Watanabe. And these tropes are pretty much a fundamental, established, often celebrated part of the culture. So much so that, in fact, a huge minority (possibly majority) of shows that come out today actually rip off and/or openly participate in this trope culture, rather than simply drawing upon it.

Reality be rent. Synapse break. Banishment, THIS WORLD.

Reality be rent. Synapse break. Banishment, THIS WORLD.

I just caught myself wondering just the other day how anime today would look like to a total newcomer, and how they would take in shows like Outbreak CompanyNouCome, and even Kyoukai no Kanata, which are so much inundated with playing off an existing database of tropes that takes a lot of time to work your way into.

Like Kyoukai no Kanata's idol gag, for instance.

Like Kyoukai no Kanata’s idol gag, for instance.

Like, how weird would this be to someone who had no idea about any of this stuff?

Like, how weird would this be to someone who had no idea about any of this stuff?

Probably pretty bizarre (BUT NO LESS MOTHEREFFING KAWAII).

Probably pretty bizarre (BUT NO LESS MOTHEREFFING KAWAII).

And this would just be creepy.

And this would just be (still is) creepy.

Within this culture, I’m not certain how exactly these elements combine to form an impression of what an anime should be like, or what anime most (arche)typically is. However, somehow Strike the Blood seems to have gotten pretty much everything right, to the tropes, the characters, the setting, the harembuilding, the plot, etc.

The following dump, for instance, is how the show does some worldbuilding:

Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.03.54 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.03.58 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.02 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.06 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.10 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.12 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.15 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.21 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.28 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.30 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.33 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.37 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.40 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.43 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.45 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.47 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.50 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.54 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.04.57 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.04 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.05 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.09 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.14 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.17 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.19 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.22 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.24Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.26.08 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.26.11 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.26.15 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.26.16 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.26.18Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.38 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.41 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.45 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.47 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.49 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.51 Screenshot 2013-12-19 16.05.56

God I love all this bullshit. At a time when most anime are obsessed with what it means to be typically “anime”, having a show just be typically anime is refreshing.

I should probably go finish Highschool DxD New now.

Besides just being “typically anime,” I also just just really like the atmosphere and general style of Strike the Blood, so take this as a part recommendation/part review from me that the show is worth watching if you’re not looking for anything really deep and don’t mind seeing the usual tropes (including standard harembuilding/fanservice-y stuff).

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5 responses to “12 Days of Anime Day 6: Strike the Blood, or “the most generic crap I’ve seen in a while. I LOVE IT!”

  1. This has been probably my second- or third-most-anticipated show this season, and now I finally get why: it’s the sort of show that made me want to watch anime in the first place. Granted, it’s not particularly great (though as far as the storytelling, the pacing, the characters, etc. go it’s certainly solid enough for my undiscerning tastes), but it’s ridiculous in a pretty straightforward way: this kind of stuff got me into anime because I didn’t need to already be into anime to enjoy it.

    By now all this stuff is so familiar to me that a scene parodying, say, the exposition-dump that you screencapped would be instantly recognizable as parody, whereas if I’d seen the Kyoukai no Kanata dance scene early in my anime-watching life I’d probably have left thinking that all anime was that ridiculous and was unaware of (or didn’t care about) its own ridiculousness. Something sorta clever would just look plain dumb.

    As a side note: the LN author for Strike the Blood seems to be the same person who wrote Dantalian no Shoka, which both makes total sense—I really liked Dantalian (more than it probably deserves) and a couple of its episodes are personal favorites of mine—and no sense at all, as they seem miles apart in tone and style. I’m still trying to puzzle that one out.

    • it’s the sort of show that made me want to watch anime in the first place.

      THIS. THIS EXACTLY.

      the same person who wrote Dantalian no Shoka

      Did not know that tidbit at all…huh. His Wikipedia’d credentials look really solid, so I can believe it. Seems like he has quite some flexibility as a writer!

  2. Pingback: Soft Power, National Branding, and the Process of Engineering Attraction (Part 1: Power in International Relations) | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere·

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