ANIME & MANGA - Review
15:00 - 13th August 2016, by David West

Seraph Of The End: Series 1

In the aftermath of a virus that wipes out most of the human population, vampires emerge to seize control of the survivors. Raised as livestock to provide a steady supply of food for the bloodsuckers, Yuichiro escaped the vampires’ subterranean city as a child, but all his friends died in the process.

Now Yuichiro is a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and is desperate to join the Moon Demon Squad, an elite Vampire Extermination Unit. But what he doesn’t realise is that his closest childhood friend, Mika, didn’t die during their escape attempt and has now become a vampire himself.

Seraph Of The End comes from Wit Studio, the company behind Attack on Titan, so expectations for the series are sky high. It’s easy to see why Wit Studio chose Seraph, as it boasts many similarities with AOT. There’s the angry young hero with a secret power, humanity teetering on the brink of eradication, and even walled enclaves.

Like Eren and his deep-seated hatred for titans in AOT, Yuichiro wants nothing more than the chance to kill vampires. He’s not the most likeable hero as he is CONSTANTLY SHOUTING and obnoxious, so he’s cut from a very familiar shonen hero cloth.

Family is a major theme – as the virus mainly killed people over the age of 13, it left a lot of orphans in search of substitute families. This leads to some fairly heavy-handed dialogue about the importance of trusting your family and belonging to a group, rather than being a loner. The world building in the series is not terribly detailed. There’s very little information about the vampires – where they came from, how they run their society, or what abilities they possess (if they’re not allergic to sunlight, why live underground?).

The script, by Hiroshi Seko, can be guilty of spoon feeding information to the viewer and, combined with Daisuke Toku’s unimaginative direction, struggles to maintain tension due to poor pacing. The series’ biggest weakness and where it really can’t measure up to AOT is in the action scenes. The constant spouting of unwieldy and expository dialogue sucks the momentum out of the battles – characters literally stop mid-fight to have long arguments, usually when Yuichiro is disobeying orders, while the vampires just stand there and do nothing – and the very heavy use of still frames only exacerbates the problem. Compared to the thrilling aerial action of AOT, Seraph falls flat on its face.

The screenplay jumps around, starting as a post-apocalyptic survival series, then moving into high school high jinks with Yuichiro in full moody teen mode, before becoming a supernatural melodrama. It would flow more smoothly if ideas were followed through, instead of being stuck in to provide plot devices. At one point, a vampire escapes from a laboratory located in the high school but later there’s a huge secret lab where vampires are kept as test subjects. It feels haphazard to have two different, identical facilities and stronger plotting would iron those inconsistencies out.

With its angry teen protagonist, magical weapons and a dear friend-turned-foe, Seraph Of The End ticks plenty of the classic shonen action series boxes, but director Toku and writer Seko drop the ball when it comes to kicking butt and taking names. There’s too much excess chatter and not nearly enough vampire slaying. Someone get Buffy out of retirement.
SCORE: 3/5
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