Review: Seraph of the End – Battle in Nagoya


The second half of the first season of Seraph of the End was one of the most anticipated shows of the Fall anime season. When 24 episode seasons are split into two halves over different seasons there is often a tendency to expect more from the second half than the first, if only because we know the characters and by this point expect some plot development. In this respect, Battle in Nagoya does well, fleshing out the characters further while pushing the plot forward using a single event as the main process: a battle in Nagoya. The big problem though is the lack of new ideas in terms of the main characters.

There is still a good amount of comedy in this season - especially given its not exactly a light hearted subject.
There is still a good amount of comedy in this season – which is great given its not exactly a light hearted subject.

Plot Overview

After recovering from their previous encounter with the vampires, Shinoa squad spend some time honing their skills and becoming more tuned with their demons. Though this seemingly only serves to show off some new powers Yu and Kimizuki have gained, the development of the relationship between Yu and Asharumaru does prove to be the real point of the opening couple of episodes.

The first few episodes were a bit slow, but I guess that's to be expected after 3 months out.
The first few episodes were a bit slow, but I guess that’s to be expected after 3 months out.

For the majority of the remaining episodes, the show focuses on the battle between the Moon Demon Company and vampire nobles in Nagoya. This central part of the season serves to develop the relationships between the main characters much more than give us all that much extra plot, which although appreciated for the character aspect probably could have been achieved through a more effective plot arc or even a series of shorter plot arcs. It isn’t until the final two episodes that the plot really progresses with the introduction of another type of being (no spoilers here).

Things start to get complicated for Shinya towards the end of the season.
Things start to get complicated for Shinya towards the end of the season.

Characters

On the whole, the second cour of Seraph of the End is home to much of the same cast as we saw in the first 12 episodes back in Spring. Yuu, Shinoa and team return with their mentor/angsty commander Guren while Mika, Krul and Ferid lead the group of vampires intent on killing them. Notable introductions include Shinoa’s older brother Kureto and their step-brother Shinya who between them create at least one more faction in the show’s dystopian setting.

Kureto Hiragi is a nasty piece work. But I suppose someone has to be.
Kureto Hiragi is a nasty piece work. But I suppose someone has to be.

The strength of the Battle in Nagoya once again does not come from Yuu or either of the two male ‘leads’ within his team. Yuu, Kimizuku and Yoichi are bland shounen characters who fit into various stereotypes: for example both Yuu and Kimizuki appear to be driven only by revenge and a need to protect others around them. Now there are only so many things that can motivate a anime character, however having two characters in one show that are essentially the same does not become easier to understand even after the second time around.

Yuu and Kimizuki are as typical shonen characters as they come.
Yuu and Kimizuki are as typical shonen characters as they come.

Instead the best characters in show are the ones that show a bit of intrigue – dare I say even a little depth (yes, they are there). Shinoa sits as the most obvious, the leader of the team, her surname immediately raises questions of her upbringing and her relationship with the rest of the Hiragi family, a point that is tested the most in one of the final episodes and Kureto makes his move against the vampires. The two other characters that really stand out for me are Guren and Shinya – friends since school, sharing the same tragic love interest, Guren’s sarcasm and Shinya’s wit make them an entertaining pair to watch. Shinya’s loyalty to Guren is intriguing to say the least, while Guren is by far and away the most interesting character in the show as we see another side to him as the season goes on.

Shinoa and Guren. The two best characters on screen together in first minute - someone must agree with me.
Shinoa and Guren. The two best characters on screen together in first minute – someone must agree with me.

As for the vampire sect, it does seem to be a little underdeveloped this time around. Mika continues on as he was, desperately trying to find Yuu and rescue him from the humans while desperately trying to avoid becoming a full vampire himself. There’s no reason to say there couldn’t have been interesting vampires: Krul has a lot going on that we don’t see in this cour and Ferid is up to something with rather hazy motivations – it’s just unfortunate we didn’t get to see too much behind any of it.

Mika is entirely wasted as a character and not enough attention is given to Krul. Disappointing.
Mika is entirely wasted as a character and not enough attention is given to Krul. Disappointing.

Sound, Animation and Artwork

Once again the soundtrack was written by the fantastic Sawano Hiroyuki, who really manages to create an atmosphere of hopelessness and desperation throughout the season. The art and animation is once again very good, with plenty of attention given to the combat sequences with several imaginative and exciting combat styles to boot.

Both the Japanese and English dubs are reasonably good and it’s probably worth watching the first episode of both just to see what you think personally – I’d have to go with the Japanese based on Shinoa – I just felt the English VA doesn’t quite get the right tone unfortunately.

The action scenes are typical of WIT Studio. Brilliant.
The action scenes are typical of WIT Studio. Brilliant.

Favourite Episode

Episode 12: Seraph of the End (Owari no Seraph)

All too often it’s better to try and avoid saying that the final episode of a season is the best episode simply because of the suspect looks you get across the internet and choosing the climax of a show. In the case of Seraph of the End though it’s impossible not to choose the last episode. I can’t really say why without giving out massive spoilers, but yeah, it was good. Really good.

This gets intense.
This gets intense.

Overall

Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya is to all intents and purposes a run of the mill seasonal shonen series that doesn’t really give us any particularly imaginative characters or even a new premise. In so many respects Seraph of the End is a series that is doomed to die a death of mediocrity. That said, if you’re prepared to look past those surface details, appreciate the production values, supporting characters and long game story you’ll probably find that Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya is a show you’ll enjoy, and though can’t praise it for it’s technical brilliance it’s up there as one of the shows I’ve enjoyed most.

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