Despite what you may think, not every vampire is a sparkly metrosexual who has a thing for stone faced girls. The bloodsuckers featured in Seraph of the End for example are a lot less amorous. Written by author Takaya Kagami, this ongoing manga series is set in a world were Dracula’s kind have unleashed a deadly virus that has eradicated most of the adult population. The surviving kiddies have subsequently been captured by the malevolent Nosferatu and are kept as cattle that are milked for their tasty blood. Using germ warfare to kidnap children in order to satisfy their own desires? I hope catholic priests don’t get wind of this nefarious scheme.
Yuichiro Hyakuya is the protagonist of this book and one of the unfortunate youngsters who have been sequestered by the vampires. Sick of being nothing more than a plasma-giving cow, he decides to lead his fellow captive orphans on a mission to escape their subterranean prison. The plan doesn’t go well however resulting in the party suffering heavy losses. In the end only Yuichiro is able to reach the surface and secure his freedom. There he discovers a metropolis populated by surviving humans who are presently waging war against the vampire race. Eager to avenge his fallen comrades, Yuichiro decides to join the ranks of the Moon Demon Company – an army of warriors who battle the un-dead using cursed weapons.
This opening volume in the Seraph of the End series can roughly be split in twain. The first half focuses on showing readers how terrible life is for the kidnapped children. Seriously, their living conditions mirror the inhumane working conditions of a Walmart employee. It’s a dark tale that isn’t averse to showing minors getting slaughtered. Things get goofier however once Yuichiro escapes the vampires’ clutches. He’s determined to eradicate the race that killed the only family he has ever known, but unfortunately for him vampires are physically superior to humans. He’ll be unable to exact his revengeance (Metal Gear claims that’s a real word) unless he can attain one of the army’s mystical demon weapons. What’s goofy about that? Conscription requires that he attend high school to prove to his superiors that he can be a team player.
My rating for Seraph of the End (Volume One) is four stars. From what I have read thus far Takaya Kagami comes across as a solid writer. Likewise, Yamato Yamamoto does a good job with the book’s artwork. The well-illustrated panels make the comic’s action easy to follow. My positive rating can be predominately attributed to the story’s strong opener. I am however concerned by the direction the plot takes in the later pages. The book suddenly shifts from a brooding tale of humanity being oppressed by vampires to whacky capers revolving around moody Yuichiro settling into high school life. The change in setting feels really forced. Why are the majority of animes and manga compelled to make their lead a teenage student?
Fingers crossed that the subsequent volumes won’t stray too far from the tone of the earlier chapters. Using comedy to alleviate some of the book’s darker themes is fine. Silliness smothering the plot’s intriguing premise would however be a shame. I’m also hoping that future releases will flesh out the supporting cast. The spotlight thus far has been squarely on Yuichiro who comes across as your typical angsty hero. I’d like to see more pages dedicated to his classmates Yoichi Saotome (dweeb sidekick with a tragic past) and Shinoa Hiragi (female wind up merchant who is destined to become the love interest.) Yuichiro’s relationship with his commander Guren Ichinose also shows promise. The two are constantly butting heads, which is reminiscent of the entertaining Roy/Al exchanges in Fullmetal Alchemist.
Time will tell whether Seraph of the End will live up to it’s potential or if it will turn out to be nothing more than a generic Blue Exorcist clone. From what I have read thus far I can at least recommend volume one. If perusing manga isn’t your thing you’ll be glad to know that an anime adaptation exists and is available to stream in the UK thanks to Anime Limited. Not sure why I am plugging their site though, because they still haven’t replaced my defective Durarara discs (grumble, grumble.)