Taking a look at pop culture nowadays, you may realise that the monster genre is rather widespread…much like the viruses that usually exist within them. But, wherever a virus is lacking, some monstrous race will take footing and plague humanity. Seraph of the End likes both of these ideas. Thus begins a story that features both, the effect of which are…less than beneficial on mankind.
Roughly four years ago, a terrible virus spread throughout the world. Going the extra mile in specific cruelty, only children below the age of 13 were immune to infection. As such, the world lost its guiding force and children were rendered parentless…then the vampires came. With no way to defend themselves, the children were stolen away by these monsters, to live as a continuous source of blood. Thus we arrive in the present, wherein we meet Yuichiro, a plucky young boy with an unyielding desire to slaughter his vampiric oppressors and free his fellow orphans from the shackles of servitude. Of course, lacking the power to do so, he is nought but bluster…at least until his friend Mikaela, a self appointed genius, devises a plan to escape from their underground lodgings. Long story short, this endeavour goes south immediately and Yu is the only child to survive…damn bloodsuckers. Breaching into the light of the surface world Yu, along with the rest of us learn a shocking truth: humanity isn’t dead…somebody has some serious explaining to do.
Jump ahead yet another four years and we see a 16 year old Yu slaughter on of the “Four Horseman of John” with nary a complication…before heading to school. That’s right folks, even in this soul crushingly barren world, our hero must still go to class. Shonen logic demands it. Though, so you don’t think I’m being completely negative, there is somewhat of a reason for this arrangement revealed towards the end of the chapter. IT’s not entirely the greatest explanation, but the fact that there is one at all speaks volumes for the series ability to follow through with a story element. A sign of the future I hope. Anyway, as if they have manpower to spare, Yu is placed on suspension from the Imperial Demon Army, humanity’s last bastion of resistance. But luckily for the revenge seeking Yu, he is but one simple task away from joining a vampire extermination unit: make a friend. you see, after everyone he knew was slaughtered by vampires, Yu opted against opening himself up to anyone. Whilst this is completely understandable, he manages to overcome said emotional obstacle with such speed that it somewhat undermines his sincerity. Though I realise that four years have passed in universe, we were not privy to it, therefore his turnaround appears rather swift.
On that note, the main negative I would have to note about Seraph of the End would be the speed with which it progresses. Don’t get me wrong, the content itself is solid, I just wish we got to spend a little more time on each moment in the story. In one volume we leap ahead eight years, then blaze through Yu’s suspension, anger at his assigned task, completion of said task, instatement into the company he sought, discovery of Cursed Gear, contact with a demon, defeat of a demon and acceptance into anti-vampire classes…phew. I never thought I’d complain about too much content, but I honestly feel that certain moments required more depth, more dialogue to truly propel them towards greatness. I hope that, with Yu’s origin revealed, the series will adopt a more controlled pace.
Plot aside, Seraph of the End features tremendous visuals. This is most obvious once the existence of demons is revealed. Featuring intricate designs, these creatures stand apart from the cleaner style of the humans and vampires, lending to their mystery and terror. That being said, the human characters are by no means boring to look at, possessing facial features that convey a wide range of emotions. Though admittdely when in chibi-esque form it can be a tad difficult to differentiate Yu from his “friend” Yoichi, as both possess black hair and wear the same uniform. Costuming also receives a nice amount of detail, resulting in one of the coolest military outfits ever, existing somewhere in the previously unexplored boundary between a cavalry uniform and bancho garb. Main characters also receive a neat little titlebar when they appear, revealing name and occupation/position. A minor touch, but a nice one.
Ultimately Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 1 is a manga that seems just as excited as the fans who read it (a fact only made clearer by the author’s afterword). Though this adds a certain sense of positivity to the series in a meta sense, knowing that the creator enjoys their work, it also unfortunately results in a manga that almost trips over itself to get to the next cool part. Calm down Seraph of the End. Your content is good, so slow down and enjoy it with us. I mean, we all want to see the vampires destroyed…especially that damn Ferid.
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign can be enjoyed in all its vampire slaying glory over at Madman.