「蒼き魔女の迷宮篇I」 (Aoki Majo no Meikyu Hen I)
“Labyrinth of the Blue Witch I”
Phew* It feels like forever since the last episode! But yeah, Strike the Blood’s back and it doesn’t miss a beat. I’d go as far to say that it actually gained an extra beat or two, because this episode was fabulous in regards to the amount of trolling the cast receives throughout. Sayaka getting her cellphone favorites revealed, her and La Folia passing through an airport gate and ending up on the other side of the island… the list goes on. As usual though, Akatsuki gets the short end of the stick by far, and it wouldn’t be Strike the Blood if he didn’t. You can’t top how his bathroom door ends up opening to Himeragi’s bathroom (with both Astarte and Kanase in it no less!) instead. Nor can you top the fact that your childhood friend decided to kiss you out of no where… and steal your body while they were at it. I just can’t. There were a lot of priceless laughs this week, and it’s just a great way to start off the second half.
What makes this even better, is how they manage to tie in the Halloween Festa celebrations into all of this as well. Not only do we get to see our characters dressed up in ways they never would be otherwise, it also set up for the “being mistaken as a molester” moment Akatsuki had (even more trolling), gave us some priceless facial reactions, and set the stage for the next group of villains our cast needs to overcome. And true to usual Strike the Blood formula, they’re anything but normal and they’re people we haven’t seen much of.
Granted, we have seen Natsuki occasionally using magician/witch powers, but rarely on any grand scale. In some ways, it feels like part of that was intentionally done in order to save it for this arc, and Strike the Blood does a lot right in regards to introducing new elements of its grandiose universe. There’s a clear sequence of events here—especially in regards to Akatsuki slowly building up his
harem group of familiars—and it shows that the people behind this series (and the original creator) clearly knew what they were doing here. In particular, both Nagisa’s homeroom teacher and Yuuma end up seamlessly integrating into the cast, and it’s as if they were always here in the first place. It goes without saying that both Kanase and La Folia have as well, and it takes a lot of skill to execute this properly—especially when the cast continues to grow with every arc.
It’s an impressive feat to say the least, but in the end, it does still pale in comparison to one thing: Natsuki’s ability to pull off that middle school look. That’s just borderline criminal! Jokes aside, what is impressive is how Natsuki seems to have seen this coming for a little while now. She’s got Astarte performing a specific set of instructions in the event of her absence, and her reminder to Akatsuki to be on time for class was loaded with extra meaning. She clearly knew he was going to get involved in this in one way or another, and she’s just awesome for turning a normal line teacher’s say to something that’s a reminder, warning, and snide comment.
Overall, we have a lot to look forward to—especially the misunderstandings Akatsuki is going to cause in Yuuma’s body—and Strike the Blood looks like it may just end up better than we expected. That’s not to say it hasn’t been good up until this point, but generally it’s been more solid/decent than anything, and I’m looking forward to the series potentially shedding this label and being more than just a series that has “generic elements but does its genre well.” Notably, there’s also a new OP/ED on the horizon too, but it looks like it’ll be held off until the next arc. Not that I mind though. The current OP/ED’s are pretty darn fitting for this series. They even have the series’ name in them!
Author’s Note: Just a heads up, depending on various circumstances, Strike the Blood posts may come out around this time more often than not for the remainder of this season.