- Titles: Owari no Seraph , OwaSera, Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Owaranai Seraph
- Genre: Urban fantasy, supernatural, war, drama
- Episodes: 12 + 12
- Studio: Wit Studio
The world has changed, and as the world tends to do, it has gotten much worse. The once prosperous human race has been reduced in huddling together in the best-preserved ruins of what was once civilization, as a new apex predator uses them as livestock. Some years ago, a virus devastated the planet, leaving only children alive and from there, the vampires rose and enslaved them. But humans aren’t complacent creatures. Even now, they are banding together and planning to take the world back…by any means necessary. And those means may prove disastrous, especially for childhood friends and adoptive brothers Yuuichirou Hyakuya and Mikaela Hyakuya.
I think I may have two specialty niches when it comes to anime reviews. These aren’t necessarily the genres I enjoy the most, but they certainly are genres I talk about way more often than other people do. And those are idol and vampire! (Yes Visual Prison rocked my world…)
There is a reason I titled my post “Appreciating Character design” to this day, I think the characters in Seraph of the End look great. All of them. And the art consistency in those designs is quite impressive considering how much they move around.
Those designs are really a highlight of the production, which is a bit of a compromise on other elements. For instance, I really like the panoramas in this show. Those large-scale views of destroyed cities are both sad and beautiful. However, when you bring it down to a more personal level, backgrounds tend to be boring and largely nondescript. Empty rooms, plain walls with little detail, not even wear and tear to catch the eye. Just basically dull.
I have a similar take away about the animation. As in the animation itself is quite good in my opinion. Characters glide through the screen, there’s none of that jagged or stiff quality that cheaper action scenes have. But the choreographies are not very impressive to look at. Not bad but they could have done a lot more with what they had.
I will give a special note to costume design. The demon company’s uniforms were amazing. Obviously inspired by military fashion which has long been admired in a lot of fashion contexts, the construction is classical and creates a really clean silhouette. Most of the outfit is in a basic black that easily makes the characters stand out on colourful backgrounds. It’s those neon green accents that really set it apart though. They highlight the shape of the uniform making it look more structured than it would have without them. And although I’m not a huge fan of the colour it’s not present enough to be overwhelming and it gives the show a signature look. You see that green and black on a costume at any con and you instantly know what show it’s from. That’s good design!
I’m just going to touch on the voice acting. It is good but… Seraph of the End is a dramatic story where the characters go through a lot of intense emotions. And these are acted out in an honest and straightforward manner. This is a good thing, but it isn’t my thing.
Story & Characters
How can I put this? The base premise of Seraph of the End is not that unusual. Humanity is driven to the brink of extinction and now it’s up to two friends, separated by circumstance and driven to opposite sides, to save everyone. We’ve seen this premise before. But it’s also not a bad premise.
I am really not a fan of the best friends turned enemy trope. This is what I expected from this show. But Seraph of the End had some surprises in store for me and I ended up enjoying it way more than I thought.
Moreover, there’s a larger and more involved story. Complex vampire politics, unscrupulous human scheming. Everything is shades of gray and it’s difficult to tell the good guys apart from the bad at some point.
All of these elements are commendable. And although the characters tend to be on the stereotypical side, the base cast is diverse and large enough to remain interesting. Not to mention that each of them has room to grow.
All in all, Seraph of the End has some good bones. The underlying structure is solid, if unoriginal. However, execution can be lacking. I’m not saying that these things destroy the experience, but the way that Seraph of the End plays out certainly does not do the story any favours.
The pacing is rather bad in my opinion. I would say the first 4 episodes or so are pretty great but as soon as the intro arc is done the story starts losing its tempo. I can’t tell you if this is a case of an anime trying to stuff too many events in a restrained air time or whether the original story wasn’t mapped out in as much detail after the opening arc.
Either way, fairly quickly into the first season you start getting episodes that seem to drag on forever while others fly by so fast it can be confusing or rob you of the chance to really appreciate the emotional impact of what’s happening. Unfortunately, this is a problem that persists through the end of the series despite the fact that season 2 is essentially one long fight.
Also, for my money, the complexities and moral dilemmas raised by the show, are presented and resolved in a way that is much too simplified to truly take advantage of them. What I mean is that the core of the story allows for a lot of philosophical speculation, some of it rather interesting. But it’s often resolved in such a naive way that all the complexity of the question amounts to nothing.
All of this said, my personal biggest issue with the Seraph of the End anime is that it’s incomplete. There is a lot of set up for big interesting things to come that are just left up in the air by the end of season 2 and I don’t think I got proper closure. So even if you like the pacing and are fully invested in the story, I think you might end up a bit disappointed by how unresolved the ending is. And I’m a fan of open-ended stories.
When you take everything together, I think the good still slightly outshines the bad in this show. I enjoyed it more than other series I watched around Halloween for instance and I stuck it out for two seasons without thinking it was painful to watch. Heck, I might even pick up the manga just to see where the story goes. Like I said, I think the foundations of Seraph of the End are pretty good and if the manga has the space to build on it better, it might turn out to be an enjoyable story.
You might like this anime if:
You enjoy those character designs. You like emotional dramas and long-lost friendships.
My favourite character:
Yoichi Saotome. I’m not sure if this is a surprise to anyone…
- Every time Yu loses his temper – take a small sip
- Every time we see the orphans – pour some out
- Every time Shinoa is being a smartass – take a small sip
- Every time anyone metons “progenitor” – take a sip
- Every time teamwork makes the dream work – raise your glass
- Every time Yu and Kimizuki bicker – take a sip
- Every time we see dream Mika – awwww
- Every time Shinoa brings out her scythe – take a sip
- Every time Yu’s markings come out – take a sip
- Every time Mitsuba blushes – awwww again
- Every time Yu speaks with Ashuramaru – take a sip
- Every time you get suspicious of the human army – put the glass dow, you need your wits about you
- Every time Guren is so cool – take a sip
- Every time Mika choke slams someone – dayum
- Every time Mika is a Yucon (it’s like brocon but for Yus) – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.