‘Seraph of the End’ Blu-ray Review
Seraph of the End is a shonen anime that takes its time to build its world, characters, and plot in order to deliver on the storytelling.
In Seraph of the End, a virus has decimated the world’s human population, leaving only those under the age of 13 unaffected. In the wake of the virus, vampires have taken over, even imprisoning some of the children left behind.
One of those children is Yuichiro Hyakuya (Micah Solusod) who manages to escape after the vampires kill his family and joins the Moon Demon Company, an army squadron tasked with killing vampires. Yuichiro vows to not stop until every vampire is dead, but things get complicated when a person from his past returns as a vampire.
Season One: Part One of Seraph of the End covers the vampire takeover and the beginning of Yuichiro’s training with the Moon Demon Company. Yuichiro is a typical shonen hero: arrogant and angry with talent to back it all up. Also there is the fact that he seems to be carrying a dangerous secret about his past that will alter everything.
This is Solusod’s first turn as the angsty shonen hero, but he delivers the angry performance necessary to pull it off. He’s lucky though. Because Part One takes its time, Yuichiro begins a solid character arc of rediscovering what it means to have a family.
Yuichiro’s arc is facilitated by his supporting players: Guren (Dave Trosko), Yuichiro’s equally angsty commanding officer; Shinoa (Felecia Angelle), his sassy team leader; Yoichi (Chris Burnett), a gentle fellow trainee; Shiho (Ian Sinclair), Yuichiro’s rival in the company; and Mitsuba (Alex Moore), the angsty young woman reeling from past mistakes. While Guren pushes Yuichiro to abandon his lone wolf ways, the team snakes their way into his life.
On the villain side, we have the vampires, most notably Krul (Monica Rial), the vampire queen of Japan, and Rene Simm (Alex Organ), the vampire noble responsible for the death of Yuichiro’s family. Rial and Organ’s voice performances reveal lazily malicious characters. They are privileged, obnoxious and wholly evil, revealing no hint of gray in their character so far.
The vampires of Seraph of the End are flamboyant and unfeeling. While the more common vampires aren’t that intimidating, higher ranking vampires possess impressive power that gives Guren and his company a challenge seen in the final fight of Part One. This imbalance of power pairs nicely with the reveal of Yuichiro’s true power and dark secret.
In contrast to the reveal of Yuichiro’s powers, the twist of who from Yuichiro’s past was turned into a vampire is the worst kept secret of the show. It hardly even seems like spoilery to share it with you in this review, but I won’t. It comes early. It’s very predictable. You will see it coming, but because it comes early, there is plenty of build-up to the two finally meeting again, and that is where all the reward comes in.
The animation of Seraph of the End is reminiscent of anime from the ’90s in a good way. The fight scenes and backgrounds are particularly well done. All of this shines on the Blu-ray’s 1080p high definition visual presentation. Seraph of the End is an anime enhanced by its animation. The weapons the demon company uses are visually interesting. The fight scenes are fluid, and even the vampires’ fashions are detailed and elaborate. This is an anime where the high definition pays off.
The audio is presented in Dolby True HD English 5.1 and is well rounded and uses the surround sound very well.
Most notable of the special features on this Blu-ray are the three episode commentaries: two audio and one video. Most of these commentaries feature members of the English cast, particularly those playing the teenagers on Yuichiro’s team. The commentaries add to the enjoyment of the show as the actors are familiar with anime, having dubbed other animes for FUNimation before, and offer their analysis not only of their characters but also the show itself. It’s not all dry analysis though. It’s clear these actors enjoy each other’s company and there are plenty of good behind-the-scenes stories of dubbing Seraph of the End and working in voice acting in general.
Season One: Part One of Seraph of the End starts off what could be a classic in the shonen canon of anime. The story takes its time without feeling slow, but allows its audience to really get to know the characters and settle into the world and adventure. The Blu-ray is a great addition to any shonen fan’s collection.