ANIME & MANGA - Review
16:00 - 18th July 2015, by David West

Seraph Of The End

After a mysterious virus decimates mankind, wiping out anyone over the age of 13, the surviving children of Japan are left defenceless when vampires emerge from their subterranean lairs seeking to subjugate what remains of civilisation. Yuichiro and Mikaela are two of the older kids amongst a group of orphans abducted by the vampires to become their captive blood banks. Yuichiro bristles under the yolk of oppression, even as Mikaela seeks to curry favour with a powerful, aristocratic vampire called Ferid Bathory. When an attempt to escape the vampires’ underground city ends in slaughter, Yuichiro vows to seek retribution.

Seraph Of The End is the new series from WIT Studio, the folks behind Attack On Titan, so it arrives with a hefty sense of expectation. It gets off to a fast start, but the world-building here seems less thorough than Attack On Titan. There are so many facets of the premise that the show never addresses as it scrambles to manoeuvre all the elements into place to set up the plot. There are the obvious ones that hopefully will be answered as the story unfolds, like where did the virus come from, but then there are more prosaic issues like, who built the massive subterranean city where the vampires live? And how did nobody notice it prior to the virus outbreak? They’re not just hanging out in some gloomy cave. They’ve got streets and bridges and mansions down there.
Yuichiro fits the Angry Anime Teen type to a tee. He hates vampires with a passion, is hopelessly impulsive and pig-headed, a rebel with a cause. He’s not terribly sympathetic and his constant refusal to ever listen to advice or orders makes him seem childish. Where the opening episode is heavy on fantasy and mild horror (the bloodletting invariably happens off screen), the tone then shifts when Yuichiro becomes a pupil at a school for the survivors above ground. Then it’s all about him needing to make friends and hanging out with Shinoa, the obligatory cute girl, and Yoichi, who is one of those nice, self-effacing guys who make for perfectly inoffensive sidekicks.
There’s plenty of exposition to dish out about how any prospective soldiers have to bond with demons in order to gain weapons powerful enough to fight vampires. It can be a little clumsy – in one awkward scene a demon-possessed teen patiently waits while Shinoa explains everything to Yuichiro instead of attacking them. Much more effective is the sequence in which a vampire runs amok in the school, leading to a fast paced fight as Yuichiro discovers all his bad intentions don’t make him a match for an immortal bloodsucker.
Like Attack On Titan, Seraph Of The End has strong production values with lots of detail in backgrounds and smooth animation. Taking into consideration the episodes so far, the design work is good but not great. Whilst the leads like Yuchiro and Mikaela are certainly distinctive, a lot of the supporting cast, particularly the other orphans and non-royal vampires, lack individual characteristics.

So far, Seraph feels like it has yet to settle down, jumping between fantasy / horror and high school teen drama in the blink of an eye. One moment Yuichiro is slaying monsters, the next he’s in a classroom. Director Daisuke Tokudo and writer Hiroshi Seko should slow down to build up the emotional impact of their story. What’s the rush?
SCORE: 3/5
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