Welcome to “All In or Fold”, our weekly segment where we review the start of a manga or comic series of our choice as if we just picked it up off the shelves. Our goal is to offer potential readers a brief understanding of the content presented, and help them decide if it is a good idea to pick up the series for themselves moving forward. So let us jump in and decide, should we go All In on this one?
Kagami and Yamamoto’s Seraph of the End is another entry into the fairly extensive collection of vampire manga. The premise is relatively simple – humanity was almost completely wiped out, and the remnants are taken captive by vampires and held in an underground city to serve as blood-banks for their captors. I personally think a manga about the captives exploring the city would have been cool, but for now the manga takes the route of having a person escape the city, and that person vows to get revenge on the vampires by killing them all. Sound familiar? I bet.
The issue is that Seraph is not exactly as simple as its premise would lead one to believe. Humans have formed vampire extermination units to combat their enemy by making contracts with demons inside of weapons, who were possibly vampires before being turned to demons, in order to gain those weapons and fight the vampires. That’s all fine and dandy, until you realize the manga never really explains anything. At least not in these first three volumes. It explains how demons are formed, but, unless I missed something, it glosses over the whole weaponry aspect, which is kind of a big deal. For such a detailed, complicated mechanic, it is entirely unclear how it all works. It feels thrown together, almost as if the author was not exactly sure how to explain the concept either. But, you know, a shaky story can often be salvaged by its characters.
Or not. Protagonist Yuichiro is essentially every hot-headed, idiotic male protagonist ever. And his supporting cast doesn’t help matters either. Accompanying him are sarcastic Shinoa, scheming Guren, brainiac Shiho, whiny Mitsuba, and crybaby Yoichi. Almost everyone has a single defining trait that pretty much defines them and that’s it. Mitsuba and Yoichi are the most developed, but their personalities tend to be so exaggerated that you can’t really identify with them. It’s similar to how it took forever to warm up to Soul Eater’s rather loud cast. The saving grace is that almost every character gets a backstory, so everyone has room to grow from those, but the first three volumes don’t do much to head in that direction, unless you count Yuichiro yelling philosophical advice at people as a gripping narrative device.
Despite its somewhat unoriginal storyline and one-dimensional cast, it does have a few things going for it. It’s pretty, plain and simple. The characters look nice, and the environment, when it’s actually drawn, is fairly detailed. And hot damn do those cover arts look fantastic. Plus, the color illustrations are gorgeous. There’s also a somewhat secondary story going on with a character in the vampire city. That plotline gives me hope the series will pick up and reach some real emotional resonance in the future.
Overall, it’s typical shonen fare, which should tell you all you need to know in order to decide if this is a series for you or not. I’m personally going to give the series a little longer without dropping it. That being said, I’m not sure I’d advise anyone to go all in exactly on this series, especially if you’re looking for something fresher. There’s a lot of lore that still needs explaining, and I’m hopeful that if/once that happens, the world of Seraph will become more vivid and rich. A lot of cool ideas are going on, but we don’t delve into the meat of any of it. If you want something that’s pure entertainment and you like the average shonen action manga, go ahead and give the series a shot.
Read if you like: Action, pretty art, vampires, more mainstream anime/manga series
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Vol. 1-3
- Pleasing to the eye
- Settings and lore have potential
- Character interactions are interesting even when cliche
- Fairly standard shonen
- Exaggerated personalities are obnoxious
- Hardly anything is explained
- Humor attempts are repetitive and seldom funny
- Yuichiro and Shinoa
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