Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Vol. 1 was my first manga review that I got directly from Viz Media back in June 2014. After reading that book, I actually didn’t really continue with the series, since I wasn’t sent anymore copies and I didn’t have much drive to buy the next volume. However, when a big manga sale started not too long ago, I bought the remaining volumes and caught up on the series. Just in time I must say, since the fourth volume has been sent to me. Let’s see what this manga has to offer a few volumes later.
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Vol. 4 (Viz Media)
Written By: Takaya Kagami
Drawn By: Yamato Yamamoto
Translated By: Adrienne Beck
Shinoa Squad has arrived in Shinjuku and are ready [sort of] to help the Japanese Imperial Demon Army take down a massive vampire attack—one that even has a few incredibly powerful vampire nobles in on the action. Yuichiro is ready to kill a bunch of bloodsuckers, but he has a big surprise in store for him. His old friend-turned-vampire Mika is on the battlefield as well and is assisting the vampires. What will happen when these two cross paths with each other after so many years?
After reading every volume of the series, including this one now, I feel I can make a good judgment call on this. Seraph of End: Vampire Reign, including volume four, is decent, but problematic and the flaws have become more evident as time has gone by. However, let’s focus slowly on this outing. The story here, as a whole, is the anticipated meet up between these the two leads. It has big surprises and mysteries that come from it and will lead to big changes for this series going forward. All of these elements, in theory, are good and really give this series a nice needed push. Up until now, we’ve been dealing with mostly just setup, world building, and meeting new characters. Nothing too serious or too game changing. This volume offers potentially great payoff to what has been building and even touches on a couple of subtle things we’ve heard mentioned at points, like what the whole title of “Seraph of the End” means exactly.
Ah drugs, the only solution to fight vampires!
Now, I say all of this with hesitation. While the story itself isn’t bad, the execution is what hurts this volume, and the series in general, the most so far. The story here is not told that well for a variety of reasons. The foremost is that the pacing is bad here. The manga really doesn’t let moments or new ideas happen or settle in. It doesn’t really allow the reader to get the most out of something, before rushing through it like some of the fight scenes or other moments. Take for instance the Seraph of the End concept again. We get an idea of what it is and see how dangerous it is (seems like some unstable weapon against the vampires), but the whole plot point is barely in the book before it’s quickly swept under the rug. Then there is the whole idea of these supplemental drugs that are just now introduced, that sound rather interesting. It seems like there was a lot of thought put into how they work, but they are almost quickly forgotten about and dropped after they’re introduced.
The second problem are the characters themselves. Much like the story, none of these characters are bad in theory. Sure, some of them are a bit typical and been seen and done before in manga, but they are all potentially fine and have some interesting backgrounds (like Mitsuba and her guilt for causing her previous team to get slaughtered). However, the characterization and development with them is really sped through or just appear out of nowhere. Like Shinoa Hiragi, the female lead for the book, where we learn she might have feelings for Yuichiro. It’s an idea and direction with her that I don’t mind, but it hasn’t been built up well at all over these past few volumes. Sure, you can get the idea she likes him maybe as friend that she likes to poke fun of, but nothing more than that. Then we randomly get to see Asuramaru, Yuichiro’s Demon Weapon, in a more human form, but with no buildup or fanfare to it. Finally, there’s also the fact that Mika aligns himself with the vampires and looks down on humanity now, thinking that Yuichiro’s new friends are just using him. Not built up why he would think or what gave him this new outlook on life. It could possibly have something to do with his time living among the vampires, but that’s something yet to be really seen.
Both Mika and Yuichiro have some potentially interesting development now that they have come across one another. This gives both of them new motivation and drive from here on out, which could be a good change of pace for the two of them. Mika has just been kind of floating around with the vampires aimlessly (and for some unexplained reason, working with the guy that killed all of his family), while Yuichiro has just been a stubborn guy completely obsessed with murdering vampires and getting revenge. We’ll see though, since the pacing was still very rushed here.
Oh crap! The guy has just been hit with receipt! The most deadly of all paper weapons.
But besides those two, the only other person who got any form of development was Shinoa. While she acted like herself (teasing Yuichiro and having some fun while also being serious), things changed for her halfway through the book. After seeing Yuichiro become possessed with this dangerous and brutal power, her tune changed about him and the organization she worked for. She started becoming suspicious of her commanding officers and started investigating what was going on, while also toning down a bit of her teasing of the guy. Heck, we even got a bit of her backstory (if a bit rushed like usual) that could add some more dimensions to her. Shinoa is still the best character in the book and hopefully, the pacing will slow down enough in the future to let the rest of cast have a chance to shine as well.
The writing is good, but again, troublesome. The pacing is terrible in this book, just going way too fast and not allowing for anything to be properly developed or focused on (though previous volumes were worse). The story structure and flow are fine, allowing for the book to be easily read without any poor scene transition or awkwardness. The dialogue and narration are decent, but there are some oddball and rather silly sounding lines at some points. There are some missed opportunities here in the volume and questionable moments displayed by some characters (though one I’m going to give a pass on considering the ending), like, again, the whole drug angle and also getting to see our characters work together as a team.
The artwork, on the flipside, I found to be pretty solid. While slightly generic in some ways, the characters are drawn fairly well and show a decent enough range of emotion. The action (which the book, believe it or not, was actually light on) was drawn capably and looked rather intense at points. The layouts are well put together and easy to read, while there is some nice detail in some areas. I mean, there’s not much to comment on regarding the artwork, but the book does look good regardless.
Well of course she is going to train you right now! It’s not like she would have had time in some sort of school for fighting vampires, right… oh wait.
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Vol. 4 is an alright book, but one that could be so much better than it is. It has the potential for a decent and engaging story and cast of characters, especially with some of the big revelations we got this time. However, the execution in this volume as well as past ones is terrible; way too rushed and not allowing for things to be properly built up. It’s the kind of manga that needs to take its time and allow for things to progress naturally. Honestly, while it’s not terrible and there are good features here, it’s hard to recommend when there are better action manga series going on right now.
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign is available on Amazon from Viz Media. The fifth volume of the series is scheduled to drop in early June, so get ready for that. An anime adaption is scheduled to start airing this coming April. You can also read Seraph of the End‘s brand new chapters in their Japan debut in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, as long as you get a subscription to it.