Throughout the span of pop culture, vampires have enjoyed/tolerated their fair share of image changes. From terrifying creatures born to drink the blood of humans, to smooth talking recluses (who still drink blood), to outspoken victims of a human dominated society (who still drink blood, but don’t necessarily want to). Following this trend, one might think that a new series featuring said night dwellers may focus on their presence as a demonised race, forced by biology to kill humans. Well you’d be wrong. Seraph of the End decides to hark back to the earlier days of fiction and present us with a race of pretentious upstarts who despise the humans they now dominate…also a virus killed every human over the age of 13, I feel like that’s pretty important as well.
So, with the sudden appearance of vampires and a plague that instantly kills everyone above the tender, origin story age of 13, society was drastically altered within a moment. A moment that can almost unanimously be labelled as the worst day in history forever. Left alone in a world of chaos, dead bodies and monsters, the remaining children left unaffected by the virus were captured by the vampires and made livestock in their underground city, the existence of which leads me to believe that vampires aren’t exactly a new occurrence on the planet of Earth. Anyway, after skipping not-so-merrily four years past the day of destruction, we meet Yu and Mika, two orphan friends who have two very different ways of coping with their situation. Now, you may wonder why I mentioned they were orphans, considering every single child now falls into said category. Well, the episode makes it very clear that none of the main group had family before the vampires struck, I suppose in an effort to cement their status as a de-facto family and show how cohesive a unit they are. But I digress.
With Yu’s propensity for emotional outbursts, we immediately recognise him as our protagonist, with Mika filling the concerned friend position, along with that of brain to Yu’s brawn. Though this is far from a new combo of personalities, the fact that they are established as a survival tactic add a certain freshness to them. Having been forced into this world of slavery, their actions seem much more believable than your typical highschool anime hero, having had four years to develop in this new, broken world. The young age of the main cast also has the added effect of making the vampires appear even more evil, relentless and petty than one would originally think possible. Far from above injuring or threatening the children, one particularly sleazy bloodsucker, named Ferid, manages to stand out even more and comes across as whatever the vampiric equivalent of a child molester is. Dark stuff I know, but I’m pretty sure that was intentional in the portrayal of said “Noble” vampire, showing just how much you can dehumanise a character who physically appears human.
On the side of visuals, Wit Studio does an amazing job of conveying emotions in the characters faces. There’s just something about the way they’re drawn in the climactic moments that sells a sense of sadness and desperation, adding a great deal of impact to already depressing scenes. The paintbrush style of the backgrounds also grabbed my attentions, creating an oddly artistic effect in what would normally be regular (Albeit it well designed) backdrops.
Though the overall premise and presentation served to draw me into the world of Seraph of the End, I couldn’t put aside the feeling that this episode was too busy. In setting up the series, we jumped 8 years across time and witnessed a small collection of flashbacks to moments scattered throughout said years. Whilst all of this info helped establish characters, motivation and all that fun anime stuff, the flow just seemed of. Admittedly, this is the same problem I found when reading the Seraph manga and, knowing how the story has turned out, I am confident that the anime will find a smoother pace in the episodes to come.
With all that said, I am definitely looking forward to the next episode of Seraph. With how this episode left off, the story to follow promises action, fury and vengeance on the creatures who destroyed society. Also Yu has a sword now and, if I know my anime, that makes him at least 1000% more effective in combat. Pair that with a neon green and black uniform? Forget about it. The vampires don’t stand a chance.