By Andy Hanley.
As its WIT Studio anime adaptation picks up the pace with an eye towards its return for a second batch of episodes in the autumn, this seems like a opportunity as any to discuss the source material for Seraph of the End, available in print in English from Viz Media.
A look through the four volumes currently available in English shows how close an adaptation of the manga WIT Studio’s animated effort is – it manages to bring over the frenetic pacing and frequently shifting setting of the early part of the story perfectly, and captures the main cast of characters with just as much assured confidence in terms of voice, mannerisms and character design.
Perhaps the biggest change in the source material so far comes in the opening scenes of the first episode – while the anime puts its full focus onto the apocalyptic events which kick off the story, evoking the sheer horror of the virus that wipes out huge swathes of humanity, Seraph of the End’s original manga prefers to look at this event from a more personal perspective, spending most of its time with Yu, the new arrival at an orphanage. It’s a change that makes sense given the increased visual impact of which animation can be capable, but it does mean that the manga grants a better sense of why Yu’s drive for revenge against the vampires overwhelms every other facet of his character.
That aside, the manga and anime iterations of the series make for fine bedfellows, both offering the entertainment, action and occasional moments of humour, while the manga also allows us a glimpse of events yet to come in the anime. In fact it has to be said that the artist for the manga, Yamato Yamamoto (whose previous major work was illustrating both the light novel and manga versions of Kure-nai), does a stand-up job of breathing life into Seraph of the End’s intense bursts of action in particular – many a manga has turned into a confusing mess when things get “busy” on the page, but this series manages to remain clear, concise yet kinetic when swords or axes clash with the terrifying speed and power of high-ranked vampires. It might not be able to match the intense presentation of a TV anime series, but it has plenty going for it. Indeed, you could probably argue that ink and paper has the advantage when it comes to illustrating the dark magnificence of the demon-infused Cursed Gear, the usage of which often serves as one of the visual centrepieces of the series.
If you can’t get enough of the setting of Seraph of the End, then both its manga and anime outings will keep you equally sated, while this December will also see the prequel story to Vampire Reign – named Guren Ichinose’s Catastrophe at 16 – arriving in English courtesy of Vertical Comics. This story, also penned by author of the main story Takaya Kagami, is set nine years before the manga and focuses upon the formative years of Moon Demon Company leader Guren Ichinose to provide further insight into the events which shape Seraph of the End’s world and characters. All in all, this should provide plenty for you to get your teeth into, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Andy Hanley is editor-in-chief of the UK Anime Network. Seraph of the End –Vampire Reign– can be viewed in streaming form on Viewster. The Seraph of the End manga is available in print from Viz Media, and prequel light novel series Guren Ichinose’s Catastrophe at 16 is being published by Vertical Comics from December 2015.