Anime Review #24: Owari no Seraph│The End Justify The Means Taken A Little Too Literally

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Seraph of The End is an anime I feel ultimately has a lot of great ideas and in the end of it all, it succeeds! Most thought that this anime would show a more serious side of what “vampires” truly are. And I really do think it succeeded in a fashion that showed vampires as legitimate threats…

Seraph had a cruel but great start. It sunk in quickly that the humans were endangered and the vampires ran things around here, for the most part. I felt for Yuu as he had just lost his only family he ever knew (hehe, that rhymes) and I did like him initially… But more on Yuu later, the first part that I admittedly had to roll my eyes at was when we got a high school setting in a post- apocalyptic world where Yuu and others around his age are trained to become soldiers to combat the blood- sucking enemy. Granted, I expected and followed the idea that Yuu would have to become a soldier that fought against the vampires because the apocalyptic war between humans and vampires is literally the whole plot. So, I wasn’t mad especially when it doesn’t really take up too much of the anime. It was just… “The end justifies the means”. The problem is that this motto seems to be a reoccuring theme.

What does “the end justifies the means” really mean? Well, it means that you’ll do anything to get to your planned destination and you don’t care if you need to take shortcuts in order to do so. Likewise, with Seraph. It has a good initial start and believe it or not, it ends exactly how I wanted it to end. I am not even saying I disliked the middle portion of the show; it did a decent job painting over black and white with gray which is, again, the intention of the show. By which I mean, it painted a picture that not all humans exactly have the same ideals and actually show us that humans can be just as inhumane as vampires. On the other hand, it also shows us that not all vampires are inherently evil and have goodness in the heart for those they care about, although it does this less so but I figured this was one of the things that was gonna get more exploration once a continuation came around…

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The main problem is.. I watched this anime not too soon after I finished Attack on Titan and I know the endless comparisons are kind of an outdated meme even though it’s stupid they would be compared so much, the comparison between Eren and Yuu is pretty dead on. Which, unfortunately, I did not want to deal with more of Eren’s bullshit in place of Yuu but the thing I loved about Seraph is that it’s a parallel story. You can follow Yuu or you can follow Mika and that’s kind of a difficult thing to pull off WELL. That said, I need to give credit where credit is due: Mika was an incredible character.(btw happy late birthday Mika) He was a great character and honestly an even better protagonist than Yuu will ever be, at least to me. The things that made Mika so great was that he was everything that Yuu was not. Although, I guess that is kind of funny considering they do look like they were inspired by the yin and yang symbols.

Regardless, Mika is basically a by-product of the vampires taking over and is essentially the bitch of the current vampire ruler of Japan, Tepes Krul, The Third Progenitor. (NOTE: Progenitor is basically a line of political power among the vampires; the fourth progenitor technically outranks the fifth progenitor and so on, so forth.) At least, that’s what lower ranking vampires generally think but the truth is their relationship is more like an older sister caring for her younger brother. This bond only happened because of the misunderstanding of zero communication between human and vampires and for that reason Krul believes that humans are lower beings; nothing more than food. But she ignores the fact that Mika WAS a human she grew fond of and turns him into a vampire because she didn’t wanna acknowledge that Mika was human. She just viewed him as someone she cared about, the inherent problem is that there are other humans that she can befriend just the same as Mika but she doesn’t think of it in that fashion because she’s only known humans to be livestock for vampires. Humans and vampires don’t see each other as individuals but as animals that just wanna kill each other. Even though the reason they fight is to protect the individuals they care about!

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As I stated, Mika is a by- product to this way of thinking. He’s lived with humans that he has genuinely cared for as family but his family was torn away from him by the vampires. So, even though he was raised by vampires, he never really got any closer to them than he had to, even with Krul treating him like family, he kept her mostly at arms length. But he was raised up as a vampire and was even turned into a fledgling and was fed the information about the “cruel” (FUCK! I’M SO FUNNY!) actions of the humans of how they were experimenting on other humans but mostly on how they were experimenting on Yuu. This led him to believe that humans, in this day and age, are more inhumane than even vampires. 

All of this makes his obsession with finding Yuu and running off into the sunset (kind of homo-erotic) completely justified because Mika only knows of the terrible things the terrible people are doing that he’s literally lost belief in humanity and vampire-nity. (Is that how it works?) Mika only trusts Yuu and believes that Yuu is brainwashed to serve under the humans. Of course, it takes a little convincing but Mika eventually accepts what Yuu considers to be family his own family as well and they end up running from both the vampires and humans which is the best possible ending to this season. At least, until someday there’s a continuation. (hopefully)

In my opinion, Mika’s part in the show was most of the reason to watch it. I even viewed Yuu mostly as a possession that I’d want Mika to have. It was weird but I could barely consider Yuu a character for this reason. But when Yuu was given screen time passed; his time training as a soldier, I just zoned out because it was more of the same thing with Eren: “I want vengeance upon all vampires for killing my family!” and you just run the broken record back. Even his “seraph” bullshit just felt unnatural altogether. The idea of human experimentation to create seraphs is a major plot that paints the whiteness of the humans black into a gray- ish color which is something I could appreciate because human experimentation on your own race is the literal definition of “inhumanity”. And yeah, it’s a simple way to go about things but ultimately it was executed very well.

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The problem is: despite Yuu being one of these experimented humans, I do not sympathize nor care that he was experimented on. Because it’s not something we are really driven to believe that it’s such a bad thing, not in his case. Because he’s the protagonist who was given a power that could be locked from deep within himself; that’s a story we’ve been told time and time again and I don’t believe I’ve ever been given a reason to believe that the protagonist is suffering from said power since Naruto and I don’t believe it here. Unfortunately, Yuu is most of the show’s driving force of the story. While there was a lot of times Mika and other characters could carry him through it, I still couldn’t enjoy a lot of the plot points involving Yuu and his seraph, demon shit because it was the same thing I’ve seen before but well… “The end justify the means”.

It’s obvious that Mika is by far my favorite character but there are more characters that I enjoy very much like Guren

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Guren is clearly a very gray character. From the perspective of the viewer who should be able to pick up the pieces, he appears as a slothful but inspiring figure who’s as strong as an ox. That said, it seems like he’s been one of the guys who knows about the experiments and works with Lieutenant General Kureto in creating the “Seraph of The End” in order to take back the world for the humans. This tells us that Guren has a pretty strong sense of justice, like Kureto, but more on over Guren isn’t as inhumane as Kureto. Guren has probably given up on life since his lover Mahiru Hiiragi died and became the demon that currently possesses his sword. Even with Shinya and the rest of his squad still alive and well, he’s probably never felt whole again. I say all this but it isn’t really explained all that well in the anime, it just did a good job on detailing Guren as an anti- hero esq kind of character. You can easily read all this from his connection with Yuu and the others he has forged a bond with when he clearly shows affection towards them even though behind their backs he is doing something he knows is unforgivable but believes it is the only option available to grant humanity the power to succeed in over throwing the vampires. There came a point where his demon, the previously human Mahiru, possessed him completely and started rampaging even on the people he loved. Despite Mahiru using Guren’s smile, Guren shed tears when he was forced to witness himself hurting Yuu. Guren was definitely a good character because while the plot kept running, he spoke for himself. He didn’t need a whole lot of investment to be a good character, he just was. But of course, like any good man, he ends up being possessed by his crazy ex girlfriend… What a sad life we live.

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His friendship with Shinya is clearly defined by their history as brothers in arms. Same goes for the others in his squad but they haven’t had as much screen time as Shinya. Shinya clearly knows Guren very well and because of that he follows Guren even to death if he has to. That said, he and the rest of the Guren squad are fully prepared to abandon each other if the situation calls for it as proven when Shinya, Guren’s closest friend, ordered Yuu to abandon Guren and retreat with him. I thought Shinya was a decent character as far as the goody two- shoes best friend goes because he wasn’t aware of what Guren was doing behind his back and I think the plan was that Shinya would and probably is one of people who rebels against the army and Guren for the inhumane experiments. Though, he’s likely locked up in a cell but you get the gist of it.

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I can’t say I like Mutsuba or Yoichi. They just don’t do anything for me. That’s not to say they are completely useless but as characters I don’t feel there’s any meaningful connection other than they fill roles. I think their character arcs were a waste of time in so far that nothing came out of them. And that’s really all I have to say on them, nothing personal against them.

Shihou was definitely the member of the Shinoa squad that, in my opinion, really kept this team together. He just had a natural flow of character development with his sister being on the brink of death and how much he cared about her that he would do anything to save her. We get fragments of information as time passes and while I can’t say I care for his sister, I end up caring about the fact that he cares for his sister and what would happen if he found out his sister died. Later on, it is revealed that she was the experimented human that successfully became the Seraph of The End Kureo so wished for and Shihou was pissed off when he saw the monster they made her become and honestly giving him the most legitimate reason to betray the humans and go rouge with Yuu, Mika and the others.

Shinoa is a huge 50/50 coin for me. On one hand, she was the one that managed to connect with Mika and convince him that Shinoa squad are just as close to Yuu as he is. But on the other hand, even if she appears as someone who is close to Yuu it feels like she is very distant because she’s such a secretive person and I don’t mean there’s “mystery” around her. She just comes off as someone who’s unwilling to give information if it isn’t for the sake of the narrative. She has chances to develop as a character but she chooses not to. Her only purpose was to be that slightly stronger friend that keeps everyone alive and brings people together and act as the obligatory love interest but annoyingly I understand that it’s just a bait, a wrongly used incentive to get us to care for her as someone close to Yuu but ultimately fails because I already played this ballgame many times before. But because she does do the job the narrative tells her to do, it’s another bad case of “the end justifies the means”. She’s also a brat, let’s be honest…

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I don’t think I really have to talk about the characters from the vampire side because they are all cool! They have, by far, the best designs like Crowley who is my favorite even though he’s oddly only the 13th progenitor but he looks so goddamn strong. He really nails that sense of strength that is very clear the vampires have over the humans. But besides the fact that they are total badasses (except for one Lucal Wesker who just jobbed the shit out of himself) I don’t need to go too in- depth on them.

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I almost overlooked Makoto Narumi who actually sees his entire squad die in battle because of the tyranny of the human military force and their obsession with awakening the Seraphim of the End. In the end, he joins the rogue Shinoa Squad and Mika on their escape which was was such a huge bonus in the end because this guy had nothing to work with and he ended up being a pretty decent character. His squad dying felt kind of pointless at the time but it gave him incentive to act on his own and I think that deserves some recognition especially with the little bit of screen time he was given. If there is ever another season, give this guy a character arc. He deserves it.

Now that we’re done with characters, I can talk about other things like the soundtrack which isn’t a long discussion. The soundtrack is boring, in it so far that it’s “there” and does nothing for the show. I wasn’t expecting it to use the soundtrack like Tokyo Ghoul does but it’s clear the music had no element in the story whatsoever.

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The art was decent. My only gripe with it was how it laid out the setting and you could partially blame the cinematography for that too. Nevertheless, it’s similar to the soundtrack where it “looked” like a post- apocalyptic world but it didn’t really try to divert it’s appearance from what every post- apocalyptic world looks like. It was just the barren modern wasteland that it was, granted that’s what a post- apocalyptic world is supposed to be but even in a world like this you can add a little touch to make it stand out like a serious barren land. Animation was also pretty good.

Oh yeah! One more little problem is.. Salt King? Really?.. Okay, fine.. I’m not salty about it.

I really like Seraph, I really do. It’s a solid anime that just takes a few shortcuts probably because they wanna show certain characters in certain ways. As a result, these characters just don’t match up to the quality of the other characters that weren’t forced to fit the narrative as much and naturally flow within it, like Mika and Shihou. I’d say it’s even worth giving it another season and hopefully it all comes together now that all the main characters are on the same page.

Wow… Long review. I’m dying inside. Thanks for reading if you actually made it all the way here!


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