Title: Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Synopsis: “Now that Yuichiro has earned his place in the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, he prepares to undergo a fiendish test to acquire the most powerful and deadly of humanity’s weapons against vampires--Black Demon Series Cursed Gear. Meanwhile, the vampire nobility welcome a new member- Mika, the best friend Yuichiro thinks died in their escape, but who has his own bitter story of survival.”
Seraph of the End Volume 1 ended with the reveal of that Mikaela not only survived the attack years before, but now he’s a full-fledged vampire. Mikaela isn’t all that present in the second volume, however, readers do find out how he survived and exactly how he became a vampire. It’s revealed that Mikaela was turned into a vampire by the vampire queen herself: Krul Tepes. Why would a royal vampire revive a dying Mikaela? Krul mentions to Ferid that he managed to let “one seraph” slip away while the other (Mikaela) is close to dying. So, Yu and Mikaela are both “seraph of the end,” thus explaining the title of the series.
Krul declares war against the Japanese Demon Imperial Army and it’s mentioned that the army has started to experiment with the seraph of the end, which clearly means Yu. When Yu gains his cursed gear (a katana) towards the end of the volume, the demon known as Asuramaru, who resides within Yu's cursed gear, reveals to Yu he’s not completely human and implies that humans have been experimenting on him. This makes me think Guren is clearly aware of Yu’s seraph status and it remains unclear if the humans have good intentions towards Yu or bad.
While Mikaela endlessly searches for Yu, Yu remains stubborn and headstrong in his desire to slay vampires and attain a cursed gear in order to slaughter said vampires. This volume of Seraph avoids filler of any kind and slowly but surely expands on the ongoing plot while introducing key new characters and further developing existing characters; mainly Yoichi, whose character finally finds solid footing in regards to where his motivations and allegiances lie. By the second volume’s end, Yoichi finds the power within himself to take a stand and vow to protect the family he has now instead of constantly living in the guilt of being unable to save his sister. Yu comes to a similar revelation, but it’s clear he has no intention of letting Mikaela go despite finding himself a “new” family. Along with the two gaining newfound motivation, Team Yu also garners in an additional member: Shiho Kimizuki.
The first key character, and perhaps the most important one introduced this volume, is Yu’s rival Kimizuki, whose determination stems from wanting his ill sister to get better; in order for her to recover, she must be admitted into an army medical facility, which will only happen if Kimizuki makes it on to the Vampire Extermination Unit. Yu and Kimizuki clash almost instantly and spend a good portion of the volume picking fights with one another. Despite supposedly “disliking” each other, the two have a great amount of respect and understanding for one another. During a paired test, Yu forces Kimizuki to visit his sister after receiving word her health is gradually deteriorating. After the visit, Yu and Kimizuki share a nice and quiet moment where Yu motivates and encourages Kimizuki to never give up on his sister. I’m usually not all that crazy about glasses characters, but Kimizuki was a welcome addition to the already solid character department of Seraph of the End. I immensely enjoyed the humorous interactions Kimizuki shared with Yu which often led to the two beating one another or being beaten by an agitated Guren.
The next character introduced is the vampire Lacus, whose introduction may have been brief, but he’ll play a major role in the character development of Yoichi because Lacus is the one who killed Yoichi’s sister. At this point in the story, Lacus is a completely unsympathetic character who wants nothing more than the extermination of the human race. One of the things I like most about Seraph is its ability to introduce such a vast amount of characters whose goals and endgame remain unknown and slowly start to unravel with each passing page. Lacus may seem cruel now, but I’m sure at one point or another, readers will be given an origin story that explains why Lacus is the way he is.
Seraph has multiple characters in its universe whose motives remain shrouded in darkness and the character who best embodies that complexity is Guren.
Guren, after this volume, has established himself as the most complex character of the series thus far. I simply can't pinpoint if Guren's intentions towards Yu are good or bad.
Despite his shifty motives, Guren remains a good source for humor. Guren simply doesn’t care for other higher ups, or anyone in general and basically does what he wants to do, but his actions usually have a dual motive; when Yoichi becomes possessed, Guren orders Yu and Kimizuki to dispose of Yoichi immediately. Shinoa looked on in concern while Guren remained relatively calm. Guren’s orders and insistence lead to Yu adamantly refusing to kill a comrade which, by the volume’s end, seems to be the stance and mindset Guren wanted Yu to adopt; Guren obviously has his own hidden agenda that will be revealed in time, but I honestly do believe he deeply cares for Yu and the others.
One of my favorite moments in the second volume, other than all the comedic moments present, was the meeting that takes place at the Japanese Imperial Demon Army headquarters, as the readers are finally introduced to other characters in a major position of power other than Guren. Guren attempts to sleep through the meeting, much to the increasing annoyance and anger of General Tenri Hiragi. Other members of the Hiragi clan are present, including Lieutenant General Kureto Hiragi, Major General Seishiro Hiragi and finally Major General Shinya Hiragi. Shinya appears to be the only one in the room who genuinely likes Guren and constantly covers for him. It’s also revealed, by Guren, that the demon army’s top ranks are controlled by the Hiragi Clan, whereas the Ichinose family is a “mere junior branch family.” I loved this moment not only because Guren was in it, but because readers get a glimpse of how things work in the army, along with introducing some heavy hitters who are bound to reappear in the plot in a bigger capacity.
Overall, Volume 2 essentially focuses on the core group of Seraph which includes Yu, Yoichi, Shinoa, Guren (surprisingly), and newcomer Kimizuki. While centering on these individuals, Seraph is also trying to emphasize the theme of finding a motivation stronger than revenge, which in these characters' cases would be each other. A new family is starting to form and Yu finally acknowledges his attachment to his new “friends” when he refuses to kill a possessed Yoichi. Yoichi in turn, with fierce encouragement from Guren, manages to break the hold of the demon, thus gaining control over his newly-acquired cursed gear, a bow and arrow.
The second volume ends with the team being officially assembled and Guren stating it’s time to send them to the front lines by sending them to Shinjuku, which is exactly where Mikaela and the other vampires are heading. Will Yu and Mikaela come face to face in volume 3? If so, how will Yu react to Mikaela, who is now a vampire dead set on saving Yu from the humans?
Mikaela’s endgame clearly revolves around Yu and it appears he isn’t as resentful of the humans as his vampire comrades are since he saved the life of a young human girl early in the second volume. There isn’t enough support to back Mikaela’s current stance in regards to things that don’t involve Yu, because we simply haven’t seen enough of Mikaela just yet.
Seraph of the End volume 2 easily exceeds the first volume and truly reels you into the universe being established. It’s only volume 2 and I’m already deeply invested in these characters; losing any one of them would be a devastating blow and that’s how you know you’ve made a truly amazing manga series.
If the first volume wasn’t your cup of tea, then check out volume 2 because I guarantee that you will start to care about the plot and characters present. I highly, highly recommend Seraph of the End and I’m eager to see what twists and turns await readers in future volumes of Seraph!
+Pros: A big pro was the introduction of new and exciting characters that didn’t hinder the character development of existing characters in the slightest. Volume 2 pushes forward the plot bit by bit while having good doses of humor sprinkled throughout. Yoichi finally gets his moment to shine and fully integrate and establish himself as Yu’s friend and family. The Guren and Yu interactions were some of this volume’s standout moments and I hope to see more development in their odd relationship. The art remains one of my favorite aspects of Seraph of the End, as it continues to remain consistent and gorgeous.
-Cons: There was only one downside to the second volume and it was the lack of Mikaela throughout.
Overall Score: 9/10
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