When you live in a world swarmed by demons, vampires and creatures that defy classification, the one thing you can be thankful for is the ease with which you can differentiate friend from foe. After all, it’s not exactly difficult to tell a human apart from a skycraper sized abomination, even vampires have those fangs and unmistakeable bloodlust…they’re also probably already biting you if you’re close enough to focus on the details. But what if, just maybe, there were enemies within? What if there were those who stood alone amongst the survivors? What if you couldn’t trust a human?
Following the rather explosive volume that preceded it, this particular instalment of Seraph of the End dwells in a more conversational realm. Having been involved in a sizeable vampire attack, the Shinoa Company is called in by the illustrious Hiragi family, rulers of the Imperial Demon Army…you know, like how all military forces are dictated by a single family. Though I suppose that does call back to historical Japan in its own way, talk about history repeating…except with vampires. Anyway, the most trifling issue of which the Hiragi’s wish to speak about is the rumour that our very own protagonist Yu is a vampire sympathiser and spy. This in itself is an interesting new take on Yu’s predicament, removing all familial feelings and placing it under the light of the military, under which, talking with a vampire on the battlefield instead of killing him does look bad. That being said, the method through which the Hiragi’s converse with you does not paint them favourably and they remain very much the villains of Guren and his subordinates. The Hiragi’s insistence on the purity of the Hiragi line is also, in itself, a dark parallel to the vampire nobility, with snobs on both side controlling the war for their own benefit, one above that of simply winning.
On a more personal note, this volume also gives us a few more key examples of the budding friendships between those of Shinoa Company. More specifically however, it presents the not-so-subtle interest that both Shinoa and Mitsuba have in dear old Yu. Of course, in typical anime style, Yu has managed to garner said affection whilst still being completely unaware of it. His traditional good guy speeches also manage to increase interest of said teammates, in addition to showing a touch more maturity in Yu…before he immediately regresses and teases Kimizuki or something. That being said, this less-than-unexpected development of feelings has helped give Shinoa a more personable presence, softening her a fair bit and giving her an interesting internal evolution.
Jumping back topic of violence (for the first time in this article), this article also presents the introduction of the next level of Cursed Gear utility; Possession and Manifestation. Depending on the demon dwelling within, Cursed Gear is categorised as one of these two types, something which directly affects how they may be utilised in battle. Manifestation types, such as Shinoa and Mitsuba’s are able to enter the physical realm and employ a variance of special powers. It is also for this reason that both are able to have their bulky weapons vanish and appear at will (yet another question answered). Possession types on the other hand, such as Yu and Guren’s, remain present in weapon form ceaselessly, instead opting to imbue the wielder with increased power. This too serves as an explanation, namely for why Yu accrues sigil-like tattoos when utilising Asuramaru. It is for this clarification of Cursed Gear that this reveal interests me. Sure the powers are cool and will no doubt evolve as the series progresses, but finally having a little clarity about such a key feature of the manga is pretty nice. Now if we could just find out exactly what the Four Horsemen of John are…and why there are so many more than four…
As it stands, Volume 5 provided us with some much needed clarification regarding a few key issues. The Cursed Gear has been categorised, the Hiragi family has reappeared with a vengeance, and a plan, and Yu has accepted a new source of motivation, in addition to sating his bloodsucker bloodlust. The cliffhanger-esque promise of learning even more about Yu’s explosive transformation from last volume also adds a nice progression and adherence to story, with the added benefit of serving as a linchpin for the Shinoa Company’s friendship. All in all, this was a surprisingly good volume, given the overall lack of vampire slaughter and the presence of no small number of military jerks who you want to punch really hard in the face. Seriously, even the Hiragi family hates the Hiragi family, that’s how jerky they are.
Will your power manifest, or will you be possessed by it? Why not head over to Madman and discover which?