I have never been on the Attack on Titan thing. I’ll probably get into it at one point, but it’s just something that I have no interest in when its such a red-hot thing. However like with many anime, there are shows that are similar. Does that mean they are better? Or are things too similar for anything to work? Well after the cut let’s take a dive into the series: Seraph of the End and find out!
I wasn’t kidding about the similarities to Attack on Titan. On the base, much of Seraph runs the same gambit. There is a giant wall, there are a mysterious group of monsters, an organization of soldiers, and there is a lead character who has a stick up his ass the size of west Texas. While I don’t think this show was made in response to anything Attack on Titan did, the similar plot points and the fact that this show was also animated by Studio WiT made me raise more than an eyebrow.
In terms of the show itself, we follow Yu Hyakuya, a young slave of the Vampire empire who, after being the sole survivor of a desperate attempt at freedom, comes into contact with the Imperial Demon Army. Under the command of (the very Roy Mustang) Guren Ichinose, we follow Yu as he forms bonds with his fellow soldiers, amasses new power for himself and discovers that things aren’t as cut and try as they should be. By the time the end of the second season comes along, things have escalated so much, that even Ron Burgundy would need a second beer.
In terms of the characters, I was happy to see that main lead Yu was able to evolve beyond the initial version we see at the start. Unlike Eren Yeager, his most recognizable counterpart, Yu does not remain in his angry state for the entire duration. While present for the first season, his bonds with his friends, and the changing nature of the story help him evolve beyond this initial view. By the time the second season rolls around Yu is more mature, friendlier, calmer, and even able to crack jokes. It was a surprising and welcome transformation, and one that made the series better for it. These types of characters have always been my least favorite, the young boys who are constantly angry and never gets over it, and Seraph is a good example of taking it, making it work and moving beyond it. The less can be said however about the constant use of ‘family’ as a theme. While it is an interesting theme and played with well, you do believe that Yu and the other characters are a ‘found family’, it is also dragged out. I mean REALLY dragged out. They bring up family so many times, you’d be be mistaken to think it was a Fast and Furious film. Is it a crippling part of the series? Not really, but something that will stick out the more you pay attention to it.
For everything else, Seraph is a stellar piece of work. The animation is very well done, with great action scenes that maintain a level of quality throughout. The support cast is diverse and interesting, with special mention going to Yoichi and Shinoa who are fun and interesting characters. Guren as well is a miasma wrapped in a mystery, with you wondering who side he is on right until the end. The battle system, while borrowing a bit from Bleach was also interesting, with swords transforming into cool objects that keep the fighting fresh. There is a little bit of power creep in the second season which can cripple a bit of the suspense, but at that point you’ll be so invested in what’s going on that it won’t matter much.
Seraph of the End was a surprising find for me, but one I am glad I did. This is a fun, more anime version of Attack on Titan, that while never having that series ‘gravitas’, always kept me watching and invested. There were rumors of a third season, but it was cancelled due to lack of manga chapters to adapt. That was a few years ago, so things might be changing soon. I hope it does, because this is a show I would absolutely watch more of, and if you are in the market, then this is a show you should absolutely check out.