Anime: Seraph of the End (Collector’s Edition)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Retail Price: $199.98
The popular anime series Seraph of the End has taken the anime realm by storm. After releasing an insanely popular first season through anime distributors and licensing company FUNimation, another installment is finally here. For those of you who aren’t quite aware of the plot and story, here’s a little refresher on the premise from my Season 1 review before we dive into Season 2 and the perks of this uniquely crafted collector's set for anime devotees. In 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.” This loss? Mikaela is now a vampire -- with Yuichiro becoming someone who hunts the ravenous beasts.
These young survivors (a part of Yuichiro’s side) are grouped into rescue teams armed with cursed gear to combat the vampire enemies despite an imbalance of power and numbers. In the first season, we spend a majority of the time learning about Yuichiro and the unit he’s assigned to, only discovering his true power by the end. In the second half, it goes further down the rabbit hole of the bizarre world -- adding a new team to the mix. Now that the task force is faced with deadlier opponents and a new faction to collaborate with, the series evolves right before our eyes. Now that Yuichiro and Mikaela know of each other’s existence, the stakes are also increased as the two undergo a mission that involves figuring out who they are as individuals and what that could mean for them together.
The action elements of Seraph of the End went back and forth during Season 1, sometimes feeling like it was a major aspect to the series progression and other moments feeling like it wasn’t treated as important to the characters. In the second season, action scenes were more elaborate after a few quiet episodes. The battles began to make me feel the intensity of Seraph, with the balance of team members trying to discover their role in the group. One thing that makes the action in Seraph as enjoyable as it is is the simplistic fact that there is character development that trumps it, and, when the series does cut to action, it’s because things are getting more serious, and you feel the anxiety building up for whatever character you may become attached to. One clash that involved a vampire losing a limb was possibly one of the best standout action moments of the series for making it crucial to their growth and memorable for a drawn-out battle to describe the series' energy.
As I mentioned earlier, the relationship between Yuichiro and Mikaela is one to be remembered by anime aficionados. In the beginning, we only saw the pair long for the companionship of the other, with nods to a backstory that implied there was a distinct connection that could be more than a friendship. As they came back into each other’s lives, a clear mission was apparent that they hoped to reunite once more even if they are on opposite sides. It takes a page from Shakespeare with a traditional Romeo and Juliet dynamic (but surprisingly enough between two men), and the two star-crossed “friends” are provided with multiple scenes suggesting more are the focal point of a supernatural action series. I want to credit Seraph of the End for being forward-thinking enough to develop a LGBT relationship without addressing it for fan-service sake. Sure, they didn’t confirm a full-fledged love or anything of that nature, but I can appreciate the attempt to use the two as a buffer for future anime to prove any genre series can have gay or straight characters that aren’t cliche.
Aside from using character development, action and evolved perspectives, Seraph of the End has striking animation from beginning to end. The cursed gear, humans and environmental settings showcase the series' best work -- with the depiction of vampires being the only slightly weaker link in my opinion. The English voice cast brought phenomenal work, keeping translations relatively close to their meaning and presenting the anime in its intended form. Seraph of the End is certainly a series that successfully made itself a well-rounded anime that others can use as a model for achieving greatness in the medium. In terms of packaging, Seraph of the End (Collector’s Edition) bundles the first and second season in a gorgeous gothic display box that resembles a large book with dark green accents and a black base. The inside includes an elaborate art book with a special look inside the exclusive set, special art cards, and plenty of behind the scenes features for the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. Overall, Seraph of the End is one of my favorite animes in recent years, and this exclusive special collector’s set is worth the purchase for art, animation, quality and the most important: enjoyment! Make sure to check out Seraph of the End, available now from FUNimation.
Overall Score: 9/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- I’m still in awe of the beauty radiating from this exclusive set. FUNimation clearly cares about their strong titles.
- The ending for Mikaela and Yuichiro was unexpected but one of the best ways to conclude a series with range.
- I would love for them to bring Seraph of the End back for a third season, but the ending worked so well I would understand leaving it on a high note.