Review: ‘Seraph of the End,’ Vols. 1-2
It was like the end of the world when first a virus killed all humans over the age of 13 and then vampires rose up to take over the world and enslave the last of humanity while demons hunted those the vampires missed. Yuichiro lost the only family he knew trying to escape their vampire masters, and now he craves the power to kills all vampires, but he can only get it from the Moon Demon Company, the elite vampire extermination unit, only after he proves himself.
Seraph of the End, Vols. 1-2
Story by Takaya Kagami; Art by Yamato Yamamoto
Viz Media; June & September 2014;
193 pgs, $9.99
At the 2015 American Library Association Midwinter conventions, YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association, announced their Great Graphic Novels for Teens list for 2015. 79 titles were selected and covered both fiction and nonfiction. Of those 79 titles, 8 of them were manga. The first two volumes of Seraph of the End -Vampire Reign- were among them. This series is a dystopian fantasy about humanity’s attempt to reclaim their freedom and their world from the vampires that see them as nothing more than cattle.
Seraph of the End -Vampire Reign- centers around Yuichiro Hyakuya, an orphan who, along with the rest of his orphanage, is taken in by vampires after a virus kills humans over the age of 13. Four years later, Yuichiro, along with his best friend Mikaela and the other orphans, tries to escape their vampire masters, but only Yuichiro is able to get out, and he is found by the Moon Demon Company, an elite vampire extermination unit. Another four years pass, and Yuichiro has joined the army, but due to his lone wolf ways, he has been suspended and sent to a civilian high school where he must make a friend before he can return to training. Once he does, he must then face down a demon to claim the “cursed” gear he needs to kill a vampire. But all of his family may not be as dead as he thought.
Yuichiro is not a typical hero. He is loud and aggressive and not looking to make any friends. Even as an orphan he didn’t want to get close to anyone. But that gruff exterior hides a heart that really does care about others. He talks a lot about wanting power so he can avenge his fellow orphans, but what he really wants is to protect everyone. He resists the order to make friends but ends up endearing himself to his class and making two actual friends. Yuichiro can be hard to like at first, but he does grow on you.
Yoichi is in Yuichiro’s class and wants to join the Moon Demon Company to get revenge for his sister who died protecting him from vampires. He is kind and gentle and will break down in tears in an instant, but he has an inner strength that makes him the most stable. Shiho is already a recruit in the army when Yuichiro and Yoichi meet him. He is smart and capable, but like Yuichiro has little patience. His sister is ill and he needs the resources of the military to help her. He and Yuichiro butt heads immediately, but Yuichiro’s willingness to give up a test so Shiho could see his sister wins him over as well. Shinoa is sent to watch over Yuichiro, and while not counted as a friend, she sees his kinder side and is at least on his side. She works under Guren, the leader of the Moon Demon Company. While he feigns not caring about Yuichiro and the others, he is the one insisting they develop their teamwork and create bonds of friendship.
The main antagonists are the vampires. They are first shown in their city, treating the human children like cattle be drained of blood as needed. They save humans above ground from demons to gain their gratitude and then donations of blood. They set themselves up as protectors of the world from humanity’s greed, which they blame for starting the apocalypse. Forced into this world is Mikaela, Yuichiro’s best friend from the orphanage. Thought dead by Yuichiro, he was saved by the leader of the vampire city and made into a vampire against his will. He fights to protect humans from the demons, but it’s obvious he’s not happy with his fate.
Yamamoto’s art has a darker feel to it, as is fitting of a dystopian future. The characters do have some similar features, such as all the males having shaggy hair, but their overall appearance is dissimilar enough that they can be told apart. The backgrounds are still well rendered with some nice detail on the architecture, differentiating between the vampire and human worlds. There is some blood and dismemberment in the battles, but it isn’t gory, and it occurs sporadically over the the two volumes.
Seraph of the End -Vampire Reign- has some good messages about friendship and valuing family. It shows that sometimes we can be so focused on something that we might miss what’s in front of us. There is a lot of humor, from Shinoa’s snarky remarks to Yuichiro butting heads with everyone—and usually losing despite his big talk. It balances out the drama, with everyone having some sort of tragic back story, and the hint of political intrigue from both the vampires and humans. This is another title teens will enjoy sinking their teeth into with plenty of action and the promise of growing drama.
Filed under: Manga
About Lori Henderson
Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!
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