The first episode of this show is something I highly encourage people to try out – and preferably blind before maybe waiting a day or two before continuing. The first minute is probably the most accidentally hilarious thing I’ve seen in awhile, but after that it legitimately becomes really fucking good. The atmosphere is superb, it’s extremely tense and that’s only made worse by the fact the cast is made up of very young children in a situation where even a group of adults or teens wouldn’t stand a chance. The characters are likable and you already feel a sense of some sort of connection with each one of the members of this makeshift family of orphans. What really matters though is the ending of that episode which was incredibly well done and very powerfully presented – it brought about memories of Aldnoah’s first episode (before it turned to total shit) and Attack on Titan as a whole.
There will be some spoilers, but they are only things spoiled RIGHT IN THE OP STARTING EPISODE 2. I also want to point out I very much enjoy this show, but a lot of this will sound like complaining – so I know it gives off the wrong idea. The show is great, I just have a lot of things to nitpick about is all.
The one warning I do think everyone should have going into this show is that this is a shounen and it’s also published in Shounen Jump. The first episode will make you expect a very serious action-drama like Attack on Titan, and if you aren’t aware of what’s to come you may be very disappointed. Luckily there was a next ep preview at the end of the first episode, and also I did a little research (not into spoilers, just checking where the manga was from) and yeah. It’d be pretty shitty go see episode one and then go into episode two without any idea what was coming – and have it be turned from that extremely tense drama into a highschool setting with comedy. I still think the change was a bit awkward, but I get where they’re coming from and it didn’t feel poorly done either, just surprising.
Basically if you’ve ever seen the first ~26 episodes of Bleach, Seraph reminds me a lot of that after the first episode. Not Bleach as a whole, fuck no, but when Bleach was actually admittedly pretty good with a mix of exciting action, fun characters, light comedy, and an oppressive and foreboding atmosphere hovering over it. While Seraph is far darker and more serious overall, it’s also mixing in things like making friends as a primary component of the story along with comedy. This is also only 26 episodes total (as far as we currently know, though the manga is still ongoing) and split into two half-seasons, which helps avoid “filler” style content. For all the cliches and such we’re actually moving pretty fast instead of wasting several episodes on any one singular thing – it seems like each episode so far presents one issue and that issue is completely finished within that same 24 minutes.
The main character in this is surprisingly a fucking great revenge style protagonist, especially for coming from a Shounen Jump series. Usually people bent on revenge that are protagonists in anime and manga or even JRPGs and such, have this “heart of gold” ideology where they refuse to hurt anyone unless they have to and who refuse to become bloodthirsty or hurt innocents. Here? No. Yuuichiro gives absolutely no shits about anyone or anything aside murdering the shit out of some vampires. That’s all that matters. I don’t mean he’s just a dick or an edgelord or something either – he shows SERIOUS INTENT to murder anyone if it’d help him get to killing vampires sooner or if they get in his way.
For example he straight up is about to try and kill Shinoa, a high school girl in the military who was assigned to watch over him while at school as well as help him in his training. He wants to kill her because he finds out she has a special weapon that can kill vampires, while all he has is a normal weapon that won’t do permanent damage – so his first reaction is “then I’ll just kill you and take that from you” because they tell him he’s not allowed one yet. This is a kid who will stop at nothing to get his revenge, he only doesn’t kill her because she explains he can’t use one of those weapons if it’s bound to someone else, and so he opts to try and beat the shit out of her instead – subtly flipping his blade over to the blunt side moments prior.
On top of that, he’s incredibly capable. One of the main and most annoying story elements in this is that Gurin, one of the highest ranking men in the military (seems like he runs it entirely, maybe he does) tells Yuu that he can’t have one of these special weapons OR go fighting vampires until he’s made friends. Yup, gotta make friends to fight – and the logic is that nobody can handle this on their own, you need to use teamwork and value each other so you have each others backs. That’s great and all except YUUICHIRO PROVES TIME AND TIME AGAIN MULTIPLE TIMES AN EPISODE THAT HE DOESN’T NEED ANYONE ELSE. It’s not just words, he’s incredibly overpowered and so it makes this idea of “showing him he needs to rely on a team” a fairly silly plot device when the show keeps showcasing him as this super talented kid who has more skill in combat than anyone in the special military unit already, including the adults, and proving he doesn’t need any help as he’s never had any.
He’s fought vampires alone and he would have killed them had he been using a proper weapon – while the special anti-vampire unit has a hard time taking on a single one with like 6 party members. Hell, they even think this “not being taken in by the demon” thing is near impossible without a group of friends to support you, yet he does it in about 3 minutes without a problem. The fact Gurin CONTINUES to push this idea of NO HE CAN’T DO ANYTHING UNTIL HE MAKES FRIENDS just comes off as comedic at this point. Make Yuuichiro less capable if you want to make that type of story, as right now he’s clearly more capable than the entirety of the military combined – especially on his own with nothing holding him back. However, complaints aside, I actually enjoy that he’s this crazy good, it makes Gurin’s bullshit seem stupid but at the same time it makes the story feel a bit unique for what it is while also making the MC more likable and makes his massive frustration seem far more relatable. He too is pissed about having to play these stupid games when he doesn’t need to.
Speaking of Gurin…he makes me a bit uncomfortable. The fact is he’s one of the only adults in this society and he’s also handpicked only young children to be in the military and in his unit (and keeps the girls in short skirts and as officers who would talk to him often – rather than field soldiers), and from what we’re told he also advocated plenty of sex for kids and adults alike. When you mix that with the fact he’s surrounded by little girls who treat him ‘special’ and who he also treats ‘special’, it comes off as something it HOPEFULLY isn’t but definitely seems like it is – even the OP makes him seem a little dangerous in that way given he’s shown with the only two main females by his side looking like they are his little ‘pets’. Whenever Gurin is around any young girl in this it seems more like he’s grooming them rather than training them for combat. I doubt that’s a plot point and is just bad writing on the mangaka’s part (or maybe self inserting without realizing it), but really they should have rewritten this guy to seem less like this for the show at least (unless it is an actual plot element).
On top of that, the army kind of blows ass. Gurin is clearly an incompetent shitter when everyone he trains comes out barely capable of doing anything yet a little boy can outdo all of them. His “training” is also incredibly slow and stupid, such as fighting ugly doll monsters while handcuffed together. It feels more and more like he just used to read a lot of shounen manga before the virus and monsters came and truly believes the power of friendship is the key to victory in battle. However, just like earlier – I actually LIKE this aspect, because it makes sense. The military is being primarily (if not entirely) run by college-aged guys and young teens, of course it’s mostly retarded.
Aside that stuff, there are a pretty large amount of animation and continuity errors in this show, which is probably the closest to a “real problem” the show has – albeit none of them matter enough to mess up the show, honestly. The closest to one that matters would be that Yuuichiro has the gun he used in episode 1 yet it was very clearly (I’ve quadruple checked) dropped by him before he fled at the end of the episode and was still way back there the entire time, yet he suddenly has it in his locker in the next episode. Another much smaller one would be a blatant fuck-up in regards to the blood on a certain vampire in episode 4, which just with a change in camera angle moves from a big splotch in the front portions of hair to that being totally clean and the blood only being around his ear.
Actually, there is something I’d say is more of a problem than just little errors – and that is that the author doesn’t seem to think ahead at all and so neither do the characters or the ‘lore’ of the show. For example he has Shinoa give this short little speech about how sex is highly encouraged because the government wants to boost birth rates given only 10% of humanity is left – however given the fact they have little to no resources and absolutely no land to live on outside of a school that would be the stupidest thing they could possibly do. They’d be severly cutting out of their military, they’d be producing pure stress, probably ending up with a lot of dead younger girls trying to give birth alone (not exactly hospitals around), they’d be wasting so many resources like food and water on children that they simply do not have, they’d be all cramped into a tiny space because nowhere else is safe which would spread disease and just be shitty, and they’d also be fucked in terms of doctors given they probably only have a couple – if any – available. Having children in the situation they’re in would be the worst thing they could do when they’re barely making it by. It feels like it was shoved in by the mangaka to make doujins increase in number by giving them easy fuel to work with, and thus work as a form of advertisement.
Or two other issues, the special anti-vampire unit picks recruits based on “those in the school who are not affected by the demon’s powers” – and they test this by keeping demons directly under the school. This would make some “sense” however EVERYONE IS FUCKING NORMAL (awkwardly so, given the circumstances) so the plan is a goddamn failure yet is treated like it’s working. Then the other issue is from episode 4 wherein the MC, his friend, and Shinoa go to a special training with a bunch of other recruits – training that will determine if you get to be in the special unit and get a special weapon or not. The recruits are forced to get one partner and fight some ugly dolls, and when MC goes to team up with his friend, Shinoa has already taken him. The problem is why the fuck is Shinoa even here? She passed this, she’s ALREADY IN THE SPECIAL UNIT and ALREADY HAS A SPECIAL WEAPON. She’s not a trainee, why is she allowed to take part in this? And not only that, it makes the test unfair – as it will end up with whoever she partners with having a higher score as she is already a professional and has already passed this.
None of these really mess it up though, and as long as you keep in mind it’s an SJ title everything feels a lot easier to forgive and none of this is meaningful enough to actually matter. This has a lot of small problems but luckily the overall show is good enough that aside a little complaint about it then moving on, none of the issues are relevant enough to really adversely affects the experience or make it a bad show. It’s mostly stuff that just makes for good silly trivia at worst, and even the not-so-well thought out things I mentioned earlier were just throwaway lines the show had, not something focused on at all or important to the story or characters.
Seraph is a case where I sound like I’m bitching a lot, but honestly this is a really great show so far and I highly recommend checking it out while keeping an open mind towards what it turns into after the first episode. I hope it continues being this great and, with us now by episode 4 having almost the full “party” that’s shown in the opening, I can’t wait to see what direction this takes in the future.