Title- Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
Publisher- VIZ Media LLC
Release Date- June 2nd, 2015
Synopsis- “Yuichiro has no memory of his terrifying but temporary transformation into a one-winged monster during the battle for Shinjuku. The widely feared leaders of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, however, take note of his squad’s unusual talent. Despite the unwanted attention, Yuichiro’s resolve to save Mika from the vampires crystallizes as his real training in demon possession and manifestation begins.”
This volume of Seraph of the End is perhaps the series most pivotal as it expands on the members of the great Hiragi family while alluding to the events to come. Some of Guren’s past is revealed in terms of his relationship to Shinoa’s sister, Mahiru, and readers are left to further ponder upon Guren’s true motives when it comes to Yu.
Volume 5 showcases a more positive shift in Yu’s personality since he’s now fully aware that Mika is alive and waiting for him. Yu has become more determined than ever, and, throughout the volume, it becomes clear the only thing on Yu’s one-track mind is Mika; in fact, Yu makes it clear he doesn’t mind being used by the military, Guren or anyone really, as long as he’s able to reunite with Mika. This self-sacrificial aspect of Yu’s personality wasn’t all that shocking to see because Yu is the type of individual who will lay his life down for anyone he cares about, especially for Mika. Yu’s dedication and pure heart continue to shock others around him as they simply can’t seem to believe an individual like Yu still exists: one who is still brimming with hope for the treacherous world in which he lives.
Guren is one such character who’s surprised by Yu’s words and actions; if Guren’s reactions to Yu are anything to go by, then I believe Yu is changing Guren to the point where, if anything tragic were to happen to Yu, then Guren would be just as devastated as Yu’s newly-formed family. Guren’s first interaction with Yu in this volume certainly triggered a few red flags in my mind with regard to Guren’s true intentions towards Yu. I do believe Guren cares for Yu, but it’s something I don’t think Guren has accepted quite yet because he’s caught up in the demons of his past. Yu is summoned for an interrogation by the Hiragi family, and, while on his way there, he encounters a healed Guren. Guren proceeds to remind Yu of all that he owes him (Guren saved Yu’s life and trained him) in order to stake a claim on Yu. “You are mine. You belong to my faction. So don’t go wagging your mutt tail to the Hiragi.” Guren somewhat jokingly calls himself Yu’s surrogate father before proclaiming he’s practically a god to Yu. Guren almost seemed worried about Yu being swayed by the Hiragi -- probably because Yu possess the deadly Seraph gene which makes him a lethal and powerful weapon.
Guren has quite a plausible reason to worry because Kureto Hiragi, the lieutenant general of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, has taken an interest in Yu after officially encountering him during the interrogation. He examines Yu’s behavior with regard to vampires, Guren and his comrades. During the lengthy interrogation, Yu becomes aware of the truth about the Hyakuya orphanage: the orphanage, along with several others, conducted illegal experiments on the children. These experiments could very well be the reason why Yu is a Seraph of the End. All in all, Yu deems himself trustworthy and useful to the Hiragi, which is something I’m sure will be brought up in future volumes. Yu’s interactions with Kureto and Shinya were certainly interesting -- definitely the most intriguing and plot heavy sections of the volume -- and I’m hoping future volumes integrate the Hiragi even more.
The rest of the volume delves into “proper” cursed gear training as Yu is adamant about becoming strong as soon as possible in order to reunite with Mika. Readers learn, in-depth, about the two types of cursed gear, the first being possessed gear and the second being manifestation gear. Yu and Kimizuki have possessed gear just like Guren, whereas the rest of the team wields manifestation gear. Manifestation gear allows an individual to summon their demon and weapon by sheer will alone, but that kind of weapon fully transfers the user’s energy to the demon, leaving them vulnerable to close range attacks. Possessed gear requires the user to lend strength from the demon via possession and is extremely powerful when used during close range attacks.
After Shinoa and Mitsuba explain the basics, Yu falls unconscious in order to acquire true possession, which will require Yu to fully fuse with Asuramaru. Shinoa, Mitsuba, Kimizuki and Yoichi decide to watch over Yu while he’s unconscious. During this time, Kimizuki questions Shinoa about her, Guren and the military’s intentions towards Yu and makes it clear he’ll regard them with disgust if they have ill plans for Yu. The group share a sweet moment together and decide to tell Yu the truth (about his transformation) the minute he wakes up. I truly do love the bonding segments of the manga series because it shows just how much these individuals adore and care for one another. These types of moments also showcase just how much these characters have developed since chapter one. Volume 5 ends with a quick glimpse of Mika, who’s slowly being driven insane by pure thirst because he refuses to drink human blood.
My favorite parts of this volume are perhaps the interactions between Guren and Shinoa. Readers become aware, just as Shinoa, that Guren’s cursed gear is possessed by Mahiru, who just so happens to be Shinoa’s deceased sister and Guren’s lover (she also invented cursed gear). Mahiru is quite an important figure in Seraph of the End, and her involvement in the plot will only thicken since Shinoa suspects Mahiru of influencing Guren in his decisions involving Yu. Mahiru has the aura of a major antagonist, and only time will tell just how much of an influence and what kind of an influence she holds over Guren, who seems adamant about reminding Shinoa that he controls Mahiru and not the other way around. Shinoa makes it quite clear that she won’t allow Guren to put plans into action that won’t benefit Yu; I absolutely loved this moment because Shinoa crosses a line and firmly aligns herself with Yu. Shinoa’s feelings for Yu have changed her perception of the world, and I couldn’t help but squeal by the sheer cuteness exhibited by Shinoa whenever she’s near Yu.
The romantic aspect of the manga remained minimal in this volume, as readers are only treated to brief blushes on Shinoa and Mitsuba’s part. It’s interesting to see both Shinoa and Mitsuba develop feelings for Yu, who remains oblivious to their emotions. Shinoa’s feelings are more obviously stated, whereas Mitsuba’s are only implied through teasing done by Shinoa. I greatly appreciate Seraph’s brief doses of romance because it gives readers a quick break from all the plot heavy moments laced throughout. The comedy I love so much was present in this volume as well, but it wasn’t as consistent as previous volumes because this volume delved into more plot-heavy territory.
+Pros: The Hiragi family is finally introduced to Yu, and it’s glorious. Previous mysteries are solved, and new ones are formed. I constantly found myself questioning Guren and the Hiragis' motives as this volume intensifies suspicion, placing me firmly at the edge of my seat. Seraph may be officially classified as an action series, but, in my eyes, it’s proving to be a greater mystery. Shinoa’s protective nature was nice to see as was Yu’s upbeat attitude. Yu has established himself as quite a likeable protagonist, and I can’t wait to see what Seraph has in store for him as well as Mika and his comrades.
-Cons: Again, my only issue with Seraph as a series is the lack of Yu’s other half Mika. I understand Mika’s absence was due to moving the plot forward on Yu’s side, but couldn’t Mika have been present for more than 3 pages?
Overall Score: 9.5/10
I can’t stress enough just how good and engaging of a series Seraph truly is. Seraph of the End continues to excel and establish characters and conflicts you can’t help but get invested in. Volume 6 of Seraph has just recently been released so stay tuned with MangaNook for the review of Volume 6!