Anime: Seraph Of The End (Season 1 Part 1)
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Retail Price: $64.98
In the anime series Seraph of the End, we discover a world where vampires are prevalent and humans are becoming a rarity to the undead population. Initially, we meet Yuichiro Hyakuya and his best friend Mikaela Hyakuya as children in an orphanage with hopes for a better life outside of what they have come to know. They serve as very different characters with Yuichiro being a vengeful young man with built up aggression towards the vampires and Mikaela seemingly known to have a level head or almost carefree demeanor. Their entire lives change in a matter of moments as an escape with other orphans is intervened by a particularly vicious creature who begins a bloodbath of rather unfortunate circumstances. The series makes a time jump a few years later and you can still feel ripples of the losses from the protagonist Yuichiro that only fuels his distaste for blood thirsty beasts.
During the decent time gap, we see that a faction of survivors (in an army like squadron) have developed and carry massively helpful weapons called Cursed Gear. The Cursed Gear isn’t exactly accessible to anyone who may want to command the weapons, it is specifically for those soldiers with impressive abilities - and also requires them to form a pact with ancient demons to wield these almost enchantedly powerful tools. Before an actual team is formed they take the efforts of introducing multiple characters to interact with Yuichiro which better fleshes out the essential figures in Seraph of the End. Yuichiro exhibits bravery and challenges one of the Cursed Gear holders that soon leads to his own arrangement that places him in a role where he can actually do good and get some necessary payback that he wants to dish out on every vampire possible.
Things take a drastic turn as this group of (somewhat) unlikely heroes assembled against powerful enemies, but Yuichiro eventually discovers an all too familiar face that isn’t quite the person he remembered. Though the anime uses a humans vs vampires approach as its premise, the true captivating narrative involves this practically dire relationship coming to the surface through flashbacks and a stretched out chance at a genuine moment to acknowledge what they’ve gone through. Yuichiro’s life grows more and more complicated because of the fact that he is also being referred to as a being called “Seraph of the End” by vampire opponents, promising an essential power to overcome (or maybe even cause disaster) but only time will tell what Yuichiro’s specific role is in the series endgame.
The characters of Seraph of the End are the biggest contributing factor to my adoration of the action/character driven series. Despite having Yuichiro and Mikaela represent such different roles, the anime still makes their immediate bond comprehensible from a viewer’s perspective. There isn’t one moment where you aren’t hoping to cease the exploration of how important they are to each other - and even with extreme romantic insinuations, not something done often (like No. 6.) It is a strength that Seraph of the End can be an action series that pairs two male characters without feeling like fan service or gratuity, it’s all centered on emotional attachment that doesn’t overcompensate. The other members of Yuichiro’s squad aren’t background roles either, with all of them having an enjoyable place in the anime. Whether it is Yoichi, Shinoa or Shiho, I was interested in just about every chance of interaction that they attempted in the span of the first 12 episodes. Yoichi being somewhat spastic, or Shiho’s attempted portrayal of a tough exterior (though still a softy) made them more relatable - a smarter method to make people root for the others aside from the main roles.
As far as action goes, Seraph of the End didn’t go above and beyond to focus solely on that fanbase, but it made sure not to isolate potential viewers who may seek out series with battles or sporadic violence. The sequences were simple to follow yet found new ways to switch up the fights with a variety of weapons that proved handy when infused with some skilled fighters as well. The way the vampires die (or deteriorate) adds a visually appealing method to give a little bit of reward for the strenuous brawls. Seraph doesn’t bother shying away from brutality which you learn instantly through dismemberment, but not in a way that feels entirely unnecessary - serving a purpose of reminding everyone that the creatures have an animalistic tactic that relates to predators and prey.
There are truly no discrepancies from Seraph of the End for its artistry in any way possible. The designs of the humans and the vampires are very detail oriented, becoming a strongsuit for the anime from the first episode to the last. The only thing I could say wasn’t my favorite would perhaps be the pointed ears of the vampires, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s such a minor detail in comparison to everything the anime does so well and successful. Another detail that made Seraph so exceptional was the well executed Japanese and English dubbing of the anime. When checking out both you can sometimes find a preference, but there wasn’t anything wrong with either audio production of the series and the talented voice actors. Although this is only part one of a two part season, Seraph of the End is one of the most alluring anime series around and one that practically anyone could find a reason to watch.
Overall Score: 9/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
Even though it may have had similarities to other anime series from time to time, it had so many qualities that guaranteed us it was an original story with courage and determination.
This had similarities to Attack on Titan if there were vampires and a stronger male bond between leads.
The squad dynamics were easily entertaining and brilliant inclusions to the series.
Yuichiro and Mikaela will soon be viewed as unforgettable lead roles with a complex history.