Seraph of the End is an anime which plays it safe. In a post apocalyptic world, an orphan by the name of Yu has a desire for revenge against vampires for killing the other orphans in his orphanage. He escapes the underground city of the vampires and is found by members of the Moon Demon Company, which is a division of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. While it is told well, the story and characters are all run of the mill, generic tropes and cliches rehashed in a different way.
The first half of the story is all about setting up the world, the characters and the overarching plot. The protagonist is Yuichiro Hyakuya, a sixteen year old orphan hell bent on slaying vampires for what one did to his “family”, a group of orphans he grew up with. Four years earlier, he and his friend Mikaela hatched a plot to escape the vampires, who had risen on the back of a deadly virus wiping out most of humanity, yet leaving children under the age of thirteen untouched. During their escape, Mikaela and the other orphans who also lived with Yu were massacred by a vampire. Mikaela sacrificed himself so that Yu could run away. After escaping, he is found by Lt. Col. Gruen of the Moon Demon Company. From that day, Yu vows to become part of the Moon Demon Company and wipe out every vampire he sees.
The story is nothing new. In fact, it is very generic. With that said, it’s a generic story that is told quite well. It does pace itself well, despite the four year jump between episode one and episode two and it unfolds in a natural, coherent way. However, the whole generic feel of the story is hard to shrug off. In fact, if you have watched Attack on Titan, replace titans with vampires and you have Seraph of the End. It’s the classic boy seeks revenge on a form of evil for causing him emotional pain. It leaves a disappointing taste as the first part draws to a close.
The cast of characters all have distinct goals and personalities and create a colourful group, but at the same time, they are quite safe and cliche. With Yu, as he is focused on slaying every vampire he finds, he is very impatient, as seen in the early episodes when he questions why he isn’t in the Moon Demon Company. When he does join, he doesn’t lose that desire, but he also isolates himself from every one. He also displays arrogance and over confidence. Of course, he learns teamwork, compassion and he loses that vengeful spirit to a degree, but his character development felt so cliche.
As for the other characters, they also fall into the generic category. Yu encounters several classmates, namely Shinoa, Yoichi and Shiho, who are all different but fill in generic roles. Yoichi, for example, is the cowardly friend who turns brave when he faces trouble. He also has a great relationship with Yu and it further develops throughout the series. Shiho is a bland as it gets. He is the rival that warms to Yu, he’s a troublemaker with a soft spot and has a sad back story. It was hard caring about Shiho due to the blandness. Shinoa, however, was a interesting character. Sure, one would be able to point towards the obvious relationship route that will be taken between her and Yu, but she was smart, quirky and a bit sadistic, not usually a trait reserved for the main female character. Everyone else is some stereotype, especially the vampires.
The animation was top notch, but that’s to be expected from WIT Studio, who was behind Attack on Titan. The contrasting nature of both the human and vampire worlds were as clear as day. The underground cities of the vampires were dreary and lifeless, like the vampires themselves. In contrast, above ground was shown to be both in despair and in harmony, especially in the scenes at school, which were bright and colourful. However, the animation for Seraph of the End were truly highlighted by the action sequences. There are a lot of elements that string together to make the action sequences stand out. It was fast paced and exciting to watch. As for the music, there was nothing special about it. The music fit the scenes when they did play, but there’s nothing memorable. The voice acting was great and the opening theme was enjoyable to listen to. The ending theme, not so much.
Seraph of the End was a great anime to watch, but it’s hard to see past the generic story and the characters that play their part in it. Yu could have been more interesting if he wasn’t developed from brooding isolationist to a team player. The same can be said of his classmates and other characters. However, the action sequences were a highlight and the animation was top notch. If you’re into anime such as Attack on Titan, then Seraph of the End is right up your alley. If you’re looking for something deeper, then I can’t recommend Seraph of the End.
Seraph of the End Part 1 was provided by Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for the purpose of this review. The Bluray/DVD combo pack is now available in retail stores across Australia and New Zealand.