Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Vol 1

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 1 by Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, and Daisuke Furuya

I highly enjoy vampire manga, so I was looking forward to checking out Seraph of the End. I think this series is a manga spin-off of a light novel series set in the same world. I was expecting more detailed world building from this manga, and I wasn’t disappointed. The series starts off by introducing a dystopian society where a virus has destroyed adults, leaving behind vampires and the young children they use as a blood bank. Yuchiro Hyakuya is the brash young hero who spends most of his time researching vampire lore and attempting to make himself stronger so he can fight back against his captors. His best friend and adoptive brother Mikeala is a bit sneakier, outwardly appeasing his vampire masters in order to gather useful intelligence. When Mikeala finds a map indicating a pathway to the surface, the orphans band together and try to make a break for the outside, only to find out that it was all a set-up. Yuchiro’s siblings are killed by vampires, and Mikeala is mortally wounded and urges his brother to continue the escape attempt. Yuchiro makes it up to the surface of the earth only to discover that it looks vastly different from what he was taught to expect.

Yuchiro is promptly picked up by the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, a vampire fighting paramilitary organization, and enrolled in a school. Several years later he’s older but still in the same mental space – eager to fight vampires, not following orders, and not yet finding his place in the world. Guren Ichinose, a Lieutenant Commander in the Army says that Yuchiro can’t progress and function as a vampire hunter until he is actually able to demonstrate that he gets along with his classmates. Towards the end of the volume Yuchiro has made some progress in his number of vampires killed, as well as beginning to form some bonds of friendship with his monitor Shinoa and his classmate Yoichi. Overall, I was impressed with the amount of ground Seraph of the End managed to cover in one volume. Yuchiro’s world and back story were set up, we see his character progress a bit both in terms of fighting demons and gaining a tiny bit more emotional maturity.

The art is clear and easy to follow, except I thought the character designs for Yuchiro and Yoichi were a bit too similar. Sometimes I had to doublecheck and read back a bit to remind myself who was who. While Yuchiro is very much the typical shonen hero, his back story is filled in here and there with flashbacks, which helped a lot in terms of explaining his motivations. I found the supporting cast interesting too. Guren Ichinose (the main character in the light novels) shows up and demonstrates his badass vampire fighting abilities at key points, and Shinoa as the main female character is both snarky and weird. I also enjoyed the power imbalance between her and Yuchiro, since serves as a bit of an instructor and is keeping track of his behavior improvements to report back on to command. Overall, I found this first volume enjoyable and am looking forward to the second. I can see this series easily appealing to fans of Blue Exorcist, or even (a bit of a stretch) Full Metal Alchemist, since there are some similar plot elements and themes shared by all three series. Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a solid shonen vampire series to try!

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