Thursday, June 30, 2016

Seraph of the End Review

Seraph of the End Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the first season of Seraph of the End. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

In some cases when anime is concerned, a new studio will occasionally emerge among the many popular ones, cementing themselves as a force to be reckoned with for their first big project. A prime example for this would be Wit Studio, who become well known for Attack on Titan once it premiered in 2013. Though I haven't seen the show (and won't), I have heard a lot of praise come forth for the series having great animation, and from what I've seen, I would agree to that, as the anime has a unique style that I typically don't see elsewhere.

When news about this show first came out, I was immediately curious to see what my experience would be when watching it. For one thing, reception for this show was mixed when it was coming out, with some fans loving it and others dismissing it as cliched. The story for this also sounded interesting, but I think that mainly had to do with the vampires. And no, not the ones that sparkle in the sunlight (Twilight) or just ones that love their power and would eat it as their cake too (Dance with Devils). I'm talking about the vampires who have depth, character, and actual personalities. INTRIGUE!

Plus, some of the characters looked pretty cool, and it was a split cour anime, which meant that the second half was going to air down the road. So I knew that I would come to this show eventually, especially with a studio that's established itself so quickly, and for a shonen that seemed to actually pay attention to the small details.

So, we find ourselves a year later, having finished the first cour in a week. Did this anime make those expectations that I had set?

For the most part, yes. Seraph of the End isn't perfect (but I wasn't expecting it to be), due to its slow beginning, some of the characters not being as interesting or unlikable (f**k you Guren), and the score being stale. But as it goes on, the development that some of the leads get is excellent, and the fact that the war between humans and vampires is so complicated that the line between evil and pure begins to blur is incredibly powerful, which leads to the unexpected question that I haven't seen in any shonen: Is the good side actually worse than the bad side?

Plus, this show put me in a emotional whirlwind towards the end, and by Episode 12, I'm all:

The story becomes so engrossing once the battles start happening, and there were various moments where I winced, dropped my jaw, almost started crying, or muttered, "Oh my god." There is great potential for the 2nd cour to completely blow me out of the water, or perhaps stay the same, but I'm honestly really curious to find out.

Oh, and the animation is just as good as you'd think for the most part.

Let's first start off with the premise:


In an alternate 2012, humanity falls under a virus that is claimed to be started by them, which causes the entire population of the world except for children under the age of 13 to perish. It is during this time when vampires emerge as the world's leaders, followed by mysterious monsters known as The Four Horsemen of John. The vampires allow the children/teenagers still alive to live underground or in secluded areas, but at the price of having to donate their own blood for their protection. 

Four years later in Japan, Yuichiro Hyakuya lives with his friend, Mikaela Hyakuya (they're orphans and their last name is a reference to the orphanage's name where they live), as well as a group of younger kids that are also fellow orphans. They struggle to survive while following the rules day by day, but Mikaela has a plan to escape from the vampires so the family of orphans can go above ground, even though the vampires have claimed that Earth is a barren wasteland.

After finding a map in the home of one of the Progenitor Vampires named Ferid Bathory, which clearly labels the exit as to which they can flee, the group takes a chance one night to run away. However, Ferid catches them, letting Mikaela put his faith in him in order to betray his trust at the very last second, Ferid then kills the other children aside from Yuichiro and Mikaela when they are told to escape, and Mikaela sacrifices himself in order for Yuichiro to make it out alive. Yu takes this chance and runs into the hands of Guren Ichinose, the Lieutenant Colonel of the Moon Demon Company, a branch of the Japanese Imperial Army that exterminates vampires. Fueled by his desire to take revenge against the vampires as a whole for the death of his family, Yuichiro decides to join the soldiers in order to accomplish that.

Flash forward another four years, and while Yu is now a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, he still isn't satisfied with what branch he's in (not the Moon Demon Company) and hasn't seen a vampire since Ferid. Plus, his reckless behavior when jumping ahead of his unit to kill a Four Horseman gets him suspended. During a day of his boring school life, a girl named Shinoa Hiragi tries to befriend him by convincing him to take advice from a letter Guren gave to her, in which she gives to Yu. Shinoa is actually a part of the Moon Demon Company under Guren and sees potential that Guren also acknowledges. But let's be real: Yu needs to get his act together.

After meeting Yoichi Saotome, a very meek student who is a delivery boy for a group of bullies, and hearing about his drive for also wanting to become a solider in the Moon Demon Company, a vampire escapes from a biological research facility, which makes Yu get fired up enough to attempt to defeat it (although he's incredibly confident he can). Though he comes close, the female vamp is killed by Guren, as vampires also aren't killed by ordinary weapons, but by Cursed Gears. Cured Gears are only controlled by soldiers who have the knack to handle them, as in order to make a contract with one, you have to also make it with a demon that lives inside the weapon.

Guren decides that Yu did a good job protecting his "friend", and thus invites him to join the MDC and go to their training classes for a little while while also helping one of the bullies escape from the Forbidden Room (but Yu also heard about a potential contract, so you know, a way to be able to get enough strength to kill the vampires. Alas, we never see the bullies again. So, bye bye!). After being introduced to another potential recruit, Shiho Kimizuki, the tests for the Cursed Gears begins! All the boys pass, but Yoichi has some struggle when the demon who he eventually forms the contract with takes over his body, as his desire for revenge is too soft.

After being introduced to one more member, Mitsuba Sangu, an experienced soldier, the new Moon Demon Company squad is complete. With Shinoa as appointed leader, how will the missions go? And what's going on on the vampire side?

Well, Yu thinks Mikaela is dead. He's actually not. You see, he's a vampire now. and was turned into one by Krul Tepes, a vampire queen of Japan and the Third Progenitor of all vampires. Though he isn't a full fledged vampire, as he only drinks Krul's blood in order to stay alive, he's now desperate to find Yu and rescue him, but will they finally come face to face when threats of war hang in the balance? And are there secrets lurking in the shadows of the Japanese Imperial Army that may make them look not as pure as they hope to be?

As a whole, the premise for this series is incredibly strong. An alternate present scenario hasn't been seen in quite a lot of shonen for me, and I also like how instead of normal human villains, we get vampire ones. The first episode of this show serves as a prologue for the story, and it's needed to develop the connection between Yu and Mika, illustrate the vampires as the villains, and to show how Yu becomes involved with the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, even with commentary of "Why are you talking so loud?" and "You could have tried harder to carry him, Yu. You idiot." After this, the show gets a bit slow, as we don't actually get involved with squad duties until Episode 7, which does makes this show feel like it's going about as fast as a car during a traffic jam. Once the Moon Demon Company's newest recruits gather together, though, the pacing becomes faster, and the show in turn becomes much more interesting.

For example, the conflict between the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the vampires. The show at first gives many good reasons as to why the vampires are evil, seeing as they treat humans as livestock and just use their blood for more power. However, it turns out that the JIDA isn't all sparkles and rainbows as once thought to be. For example, the fact that the Seraph of the End (a gene?) has been mentioned twice and how the vampires think that the army is trying to resurrect it (possibly in Yu, since special snowflake reasons). But the main reason as to why I caught on to it was the dopamine pills that the soldiers use when they are in a pinch that gives them 2 to 3 minutes of a power trip that allows them to become stronger and more agile.

This seemed absolutely stupid to me, because why would a top ranking company even use these tablets even though they wield Cursed Gears, which are the strongest weapons to fight against a vampire? I get that there's stronger vampires outside of the background ones, but it seems incredibly reckless, as well as dangerous, especially since taking two could possibly kill you. And the reveal that the army is experimenting on humans only smears the line that divides both sides, making you think: Which side is actually more "pure" in the end? Asuramaru (Yu's contacted demon from his Cursed Gear) does mention to Yu when their contract is being made that Yu should trust humans the least aside from vampires and demons, and I'm very excited to find out more about why this is so, aside from the tablets, the fact that Yu's "non-human side" goes berserk in the final fight of the cour, and the supposed experiments on humans.

But the last 3 episodes easily take the cake as the best of the cour. Yuichiro and Mikaela reunite on the battlefield after Guren is shortly defeated in the battle when the vampires attack Shinjuku, where the scene builds and builds until it comes crashing down when Mika realizes that the human charging for him is not some other human that he despises. It's actually his childhood friend and family member in a sense. It is then followed by Yu impaling Mika with his sword, before realizing that the vampire he stabbed is none other than the one he assumed to be dead like the rest: Mikaela. This moment is easily the best among the series, as it has so much tension until it snaps, leading to probably one of the best episode cliffhangers.

The writing between these two establishes their strong connection that in fact, why does the rest of the dead family matter? It's clear that Yu and Mika have a bond that the writers only hinted at earlier on, but it is shown even more as Mikaela asks Yuichiro to run away with him, away from the bloodshed and loss of life, and away from the humans who he feels are manipulating him, and the vampires who just want Yu to become one of them. 

During this confrontation, the vampires get the upper hand on the Moon Demon Company, and Shinoa's squad almost dies because of it this. This scene is incredibly hard to watch, not just because all of the suffering is hard to bear, Yu is too far away for them to help, and following this, the inner demon awakens. But because the writing displays how Yu thinks of his friends and his family as one in the same, even if the evolution on the friendship between his comrades is a little rushed, it's pretty powerful and heartbreaking and easily makes room for more development between the two in the future.

My feels during these final 3 episodes though. Oh boy:

My emotions were all over the place. From joyful on seeing great battles, to worried about the destined reunion, to horrified by Yu's demon form and the fact that Guren was actually happy about it (f**k you Guren), to scared about Shinoa's fate when she is forced to be the one who stops Yu's rampage. It seemed like they were going through the water cycle just thinking back on it. It's an extremely good thing when an anime can make you feel like your heart's about to burst open. I haven't felt this in a long time.

So despite the fact that this show is really slow in the first half of its first season, the pacing does get better, even with the skipping over some of the building blocks into establishing some concrete friendships with the squad (which might not develop further in Season 2 anyway). The story does live up to its interesting premise once vampire Mika is added back into the mix, and when the fierce battles come underway. It is also helped by the fact that the standard shonen tropes of black and white good and evil don't exist, and the corrupted line possibly getting more investigation makes me even more thrilled with how Season 2 could possibly turn out, if it manages to meet my expectations.

Let's move on to the characters now.


Seraph of the End also has some fascinating characters. Well, not all of them are fascinating per say, but most of them are. It could range from their looks, to their personality, and their development. And I think we're going to have more coming our way despite brief appearances, such as Krul and Shinya. 

I'm not doing a good job at hiding my fangirl side, am I? Oh well.

Yuichiro is up first:

Yu is the lone human survivor (since Mika's now a vampire) of the Hyakuya Orphanage, who managed to escape after immobilizing Ferid by shooting him in the head (he's fine, of course. We'll talk about him later). Now 16, Yuichiro is a part of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, though he wishes to actually go out on the field in order to get revenge on the vampires for his family's death. 

At first, Yu is very brash, impulsive, and stubborn, often putting himself in accidental situations of danger because of his dedication to exacting revenge. He's also very cocky, thinking he is one of the best members of the JIDA of all time and over-confident in what he can do, even without proper training. But he still has a soft spot for his eventual comrades, and doesn't like seeing them get hurt. Over time, he grows to having actual friends, and seems to have now matured more after finding out that Mikaela's still alive. More development seems to be in the cards for the relationship between Yu and his squad mates, as well as for himself, so it's going to be exciting to see how he further develops his compassionate side without being as self-confident.

His Cursed Gear is made in contract with the demon Asuramaru, and it's in the form of his katana. Outside of his fighting abilities, he seems to have something dark and deadly inside him, and it may as well be a demon. Or could it be the Seraph of the End? After all, Asuramaru is a special Cursed Gear, or so we've been told, and Yu needed different dopamine pills regardless. Could the power be triggered by the pills? Or is it triggered by seeing his friends or family in great distress? Either way, still not smart to take the pills, children.

Overall, Yu is a stronger shonen protagonist compared to Meliodas, because while Nanatsu no Taizai constantly goes back to Meliodas groping Elizabeth's breasts from time to time, Seraph of the End doesn't let Yuichiro stay as an incredibly cocky bastard for long. He still annoyed me back when he was more impulsive and so dang confident in himself, but I think it would have been more unbearable had I not been warned beforehand (thanks ShadowACS). But Yu grows as the series goes on, and even though he still makes some reckless decisions in battle, it's for a good reason. I can also easily see the care he has for Mika and for his comrades, and how they've become a family to him. Like I mentioned earlier, the developmental stage for Yu's comrades is a little wonky (that might have to do with the Japanese Imperial Demon Army themselves rather than the pacing), but I could still see why he doesn't want them in danger.

Though he is a little bit of a special snowflake because of the fact that there's demon power inside of him (and the slight sob story of his birth parents), but I've seen worse.

Mikaela's up next:

Once human, Mikaela was kind and sweet and definitely the leader out of the orphanage kids. It wasn't just because he was the oldest, but because of his courageous spirit and willingness to get his hands dirty in order to plan the family's escape. After being forcefully turned into a vampire by Krul, his emotions manage to dull, causing him to become self-loathing and apathetic. Only his care for Yu still remains. Aside from that, he has the typical yearning for human blood, but doesn't drink any blood aside from Krul's in order to remain a half vampire and not turn into a full one.

He is also in an interesting position, finding himself both hating humans and vampires. The vampires due to his complicated history with them, and the humans for using Yu for their own personal gain. He is also described by Ferid as more arrogant than he used to be, as well as extremely powerful due to Krul's blood giving him Third Progenitor-like powers. Despite this, he prefers to shelter himself from the vampires as much as possible to avoid conversation with them, except for Krul and Ferid, where the latter mainly comes on the battlefield. His sword, much like the other vampires, takes some of his own blood in order to fight with it, though his is probably on a lesser level.

Overall, I'm really interested into seeing more of Mika's growth. I liked having him be a vampire, but refusing to become one in order to rescue Yu, as well as hating both sides of the war divide. His connection with Yu also becomes really heavy on the shipping, as he typically refersto Yu as "Yu-chan" in the original Japanese and wants to save him from the fate he's putting himself in. It's incredibly strong, and one can't help but start to picture them as a couple. I do a little as well to be honest, so hopefully I'm able to see more moments with them together that take place away from a serious battle. I'm also hoping that he comes to trust Yu's new family. Maybe not all the way, but at least in some part so he doesn't get angry and hurts himself again because Shinoa was forced to figure out a solution to taking Yu out of his berserk demon mode. That wouldn't be good, but I can see Mika doing more reckless things to protect Yuichiro. It's in his nature.

Though I'm honestly curious as to if Yu and Mika will become a couple or not. I mean, all the potential is there in dialogue, and how much they care for one another, so I totally see it happening.

Let's move on to Guren:

This is awkward. This is the second mentor type character that I've seen Yuichi Nakamura voice, and he's the second one that I hate as well.

But I actually have good reasons to hate him rather than Arthur from Divine Gate, who was just written terribly from the start anyways. I don't want to punch Guren every single time I see him after Episode 11 (and probably won't in Season 2 unless he acts differently than normal or does something out of line), but I can't help but feel betrayed by him because on the surface, he seems like a really lax and chill leader. But the fact that he seems to have darker desires, as well as not seeming to care what happens to Yu, makes me second guess him.

But moving on to his character (but seriously, f**k you Guren). Guren is a Lieutenant Colonel Squad leader of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, as well as the leader of the Moon Demon Company. He values dedication to being a solider and teamwork above everything else, often reprimanding Yu when he goes against that in the beginning. He also acts very laidback, but is actually quite serious about his job, since his family name of Ichinose is given a bad rep by many of the higher up families involved in the JIDA, such as the Hiragi's. Maybe that's also why he thinks current family/comrades are more important than actual birth family. It's a good guess. For his Cursed Gear, he wields a kantana that's named Mahiru-no-Yo, which we don't know the background of yet. But I'm pretty sure we'll get to know, considering that Shinoa's older sister was also named Mahiru.

But there is a bad side to Guren that rears its ugly head towards the end of the cour. There's the fact that he seems to be keeping secrets about himself (such as his past) and about Yu's purpose during the battle in Shinjuku, and add to that all of the new Moon Demon Company recruits not receiving enough time to properly train with their Cursed Gears before being rushed out to the battlefield. Something seems strange about all of this, and is it related to the fact of his bad reputation and his past? Only time will tell.

In all honesty, I don't see the Moon Demon Company trusting Guren for long. Though he does seem dedicated to his job and serious about preserving humanity, all of the bad qualities instantly came to mind for Guren towards the end of the first cour. The fact that he has a lot of baggage, seems to be using Yu for an ulterior motive, and the fact that he forced Shinoa to stop Yu's demon rampage, I want to know how far Guren can go in order to get what he wants in the end. I've already found out a couple of things about him via spoilers, and my suspicions of him are only getting stronger. He's the character that I love to hate mainly because he's a good example of why the Japanese Imperial Demon Army aren't as holy and pure as they're made out to be. I like antiheroes/villains who display these traits due to the fact that it makes them more than just "They're bad because they are" like I've seen in other shows.

On a random side note, did you notice Guren's slicked back hair in the screenshot? I've noticed that Guren and Shinya (and possibly others) seems to slick their hair away from the face while in battle. I guess its main purpose is for hair to not get in their eyes, but really, we're going onto a battlefield in the middle of a nearly dead city and there's going to be bloodshed. Might as well look fierce while doing it, am I right or am I right?

Let's move things to the vampire side for now. It's time to talk about Ferid:

Meet the reason why Yu wants to take revenge against the vampires. Ferid Bathory is a Seventh Progenitor vampire who killed the children of the Hyakuya Orphanage when they all tried to escape the underground city. Ferid is typically very cheerful in terms of mood, often taking to irritating Krul and Mikaela to dangerous levels. He can also be very unpredictable. As much as he may act all kind and polite, he will occasionally say things to the point of irritating his fellow vampires before brushing it off with a "Just kidding." He is also quite sadistic, and enjoys seeing children in despair alongside manipulating others.

But he's also hiding several things, much like Guren. And if the final scene of the first cour serves any indication, it appears that he's working with someone on the opposite side of the war. But for what exactly? I hope that's going to be in the cards to find out for next cour.

Overall, I'd say Ferid is probably the most antagonistic character out of the vampires, but he isn't the most interesting one from them. Most of his actions read to me as very stereotypical (such as being the "guardian" of vamp Mikaela, much to the latter's chagrin), and him being unpredictable doesn't really add as much intrigue to his character as one would hope it would. His personality feels plastered from several other existing shonen villain tropes, and it's only going to be a matter of time where we might find ourselves a stronger vampire in Japan somewhere who might as well eliminate him.

But I do like how he's able to admit the faults in his own race, such as their arrogance. It might come back and bite him in the ass, though.

Last up is Shinoa:

Out of the Shinoa Squad, Shinoa is the most interesting character, as well as the most fun. She is Guren's sergeant as well as the leader of the squad that eventually forms, and is tasked with helping Yuichiro make friends at the beginning of the series. She is often very sarcastic and loves to tease people, especially Yu. Despite this, she still cares about her friends, and is able to turn off her very playful side when battle comes knocking.

Despite being a part of the Hiragi family, it seems that she doesn't really care about her status, feeling fine for staying at the sergeant rank as she feels it fits her, being very loyal to Guren because of it. However, it seems like even she's beginning to doubt him herself after the battle in Shinjuku, and that could potentially grow. She's also starting to develop feelings for Yu, which she also seems to struggle to admit to herself. Her Cursed Gear is Shikama Doji, which takes the form of a large scythe, but comes in the form of a key-like object before being summoned.

The reason as to why I like Shinoa as much as I do is that despite the fact that we haven't seen a lot of her past (like the others), we still are given examples of how well-rounded she is. Her teasing and playful side is very hilarious and fun to watch, especially with her narrating the tales of Mitsuba's crush on Yu or just playing things up for kicks. But seeing how she can easily stow it away when she has the chance, as well as knowing that she has moments of weakness, make her more human as a character because of the fact her emotions never seem fake to me. They're real, and I honestly felt really bad for her when she was forced to stop Yu's rampage to the point where she was almost killed. I'm always happy when I'm able to connect to a character in a tense moment of crisis, and Shinoa does just that.

I'm also sensing that she doesn't feel accepted in her own family, because when Mika and Yu reunite, she makes a remark about them being family. It could relate back what happened to her sister, Mahiru, or it could be because of the high ranking families having their own problems. Either way, I hope to find out why in the 2nd season.

The other members of the Shinoa squad are Yoichi, Shiho, and Mitsuba, who aren't really as interesting or developed as strongly compared to Shinoa and Yu. Shiho's probably the most developed out of the three, as he wants to be a part of the Moon Demon Company in order to get money for his young sister's treatments, as she is currently ill with an unknown sickness. But at the same time, he's also the stereotypical rival character that I'm getting tired of seeing in shonen in general.

Yoichi is the stereotypical wimp-like character who wants to fight because of his older sister protecting him from a vampire, causing her to die. He is pretty kind and the most levelheaded of the group, but at the same time, I can't get help but be bored with him. I'd like to see some of his struggles in order to become stronger, such as with Gekkoin, his contracted demon, but I really doubt I'm going to see that.

Mitsuba is the last member introduced who's a part of the Sangu family, and she has been a member of the Vampire Extermination Unit for quite some time. Despite being the most experienced member, Shinoa is still the leader of the group most likely because of her higher status. She's the typical tsundere character who likes to follow the rules in battle after a mistake caused one of her former battle partners to die protecting her. Plus, she also develops feelings for Yuichiro after he manages to save her a couple of times, and yet she still tries to deny them. I'm curious to see if we'll hear more about her family, since we know that the Hiragis are the highest ranked and perhaps the ones to fear the most.

Other characters from the Japanese Imperial Demon Army outside of Shinoa's unit include Sayuri, the Second Lieutenant of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, Shigure, another Second Lieutenant, Norito, a Colonel, and Mito, who was born from the Jujo family. All of them make up Guren's squad of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, with Sayuri often stepping into Guren's teaching duties when he is not there. We also have seen a couple of members from the Hiragi family at this point, them being Shinya, Seishiro, and Tenri, the last being the highest ranking General in the JIDA, and the head of the Hiragi family.

On the vampire side of things, there's Krul, the vampire queen of Japan with Third Progenitor powers, Crowley, a Thirteenth Progenitor who serves under Ferid's faction, along with his servants Chess and Horn, and finally, Lacus and Rene, two members in charge of the vampire's city guards.

Other than that, we have the kids from the Hyakuya Orphanage, Asuramaru, a demon who resides in Yuichiro's Cursed Gear, Shiho's younger sister Mirai, and Tomoe, Yoichi's older sister.

We'll definitely be seeing some of the characters more next season, including the two I mentioned at the start of this section. And I think we'll also be meeting some new people as well. Looks like I'll have to stay tuned.


The animation for this series was produced by Wit Studio, who are also known for the aforementioned Attack on Titan, The Rolling Girls, and Hozuki no Reitetsu.

As a whole, I'm really impressed with the animation of the series. The colors of the characters are all pretty vibrant, the landscape during the Shinjuku battle looked absolutely amazing as the sun sets in the background, the fight scenes are all very fluid and characters stay on model during most of them, and I really like some of the attention to detail, most specifically the eyes between the humans and the vampires.

Besides the vampire eyes being red, they have a different style of pupil compared to the human character, as they are vertical slits. The human characters have horizontal slits, and it isn't actually that noticeable at first until you see it more closely in detail, which is pretty cool and reminds me of a character from Ai Tenchi Muyo whose glasses communicated some of her emotions like eyes. Mikaela's fangs are also pretty well hidden until the right moments.

If there's one complaint I have with the show's animation, it'd be that sometimes character movement as a whole is either too stiff or too loose, which I noticed in Episodes 5 and 12 especially. It just looks jarring compared to the fight scenes, which are probably the best out of the show entirely for reasons mentioned above. But that's kind of a nitpick when I think about it (Episode 11 probably had a different animation director, so I can't really fault the whole show for that episode, even though it did probably have the worst moments), because as a whole, I didn't think the animation was that bad, and I really liked it in general.


The score for this series was composed by 4 people, though I think Hiroyuki Sawano is the head of the OST composing (Blue Exorcist, Nanatsu no Taizai), and Asami Tachibana (Aoharu x Machinegun, Soul Eater Not!), Megumi Shirashi (no other credited score works), and Takafumi Wada (Highschool of the Dead, Terraformers Revenge) contributed to it.

After a wonky score and an almost rip-off score, I was really hoping that Hiroyuki Sawano would be able to produce an actual winner this time. I mean, after all, third time's the charm as the saying goes. But unfortunately, Seraph of the End didn't deliver, and instead, all I got was a really boring musical score.

The majority of the pieces are too similar, and only a few tracks manage to stand out (some may have been composed by the other composers other than Sawano). There's one instance in the recap episode where a track that has a Gothic choir comes in during the reunion that completely makes the scene lose its momentum, and aside from that, I don't think it's going to be one that I remember down the road. 

It's a shame, because Hiroyuki Sawano has done a lot of work on popular titles, and I really want to actually like something from him. But that hasn't happened yet, and I'm not sure when it will.

The voice acting, on the other hand, is actually fairly good. The original Japanese has a pretty talented voice cast, and I couldn't help but notice that the two leads gender wise on the human side are played by the seiyuus of Yui and Apollon from Kamigami no Asobi (Saori Hayami and Miyu Irino), which I think is absolutely hilarious. Some of the seiyuus have a different tone to their voices that I haven't typically seen from them (mainly Aoi Yuki and Kensho Ono), and I just typically liked the voices of most of the characters in general. I haven't seen enough of the English dub yet to gain an impression on it yet, but I do have two voices that I already don't like from what I've heard. But I do hope to watch it as soon as I can when it's legally free for me to watch.

Highlights in the original Japanese include Miyu Irino, Kensho Ono, Saori Hayami, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Kaito Ishikawa, Yuichi Nakamura, Takahiro Sakurai, Daisuke Ono, Yu Shimamura (as both young Yu and Mito), Haruka Chisuga, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Keiji Fujiwara, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Yoko Hikasa (as Horn and Gekkoin possessing Yoichi's older sister Tomoe), Aoi Yuki, Kenichi Suzumara, Nozomi Furuki, Takuma Nagatsuka, Yuichiro Umehara, and Hibiku Yamamura.


I did have expectations for this series that I was worried the show wasn't going to hit, but in the end, I'd say the show managed to hit the expectations that I wanted it to hit. It's not terribly cliche, and it's pretty entertaining for what it offers. I do wish the story, character development, and the score were stronger, but I managed to find myself get emotionally affected by some of the moments towards the end (MY HEART), and the animation was very fluid when it came to fight scenes. I'm definitely interested to see if the 2nd cour will be able to improve on the weak spots that the 1st cour had, but I also want to see if the show will make the stronger points even better (such as the development of Yu and Mika and the good vs. evil conflict being blurred).

Overall, I'd say this is a perfect recommendation for shonen anime fans, as well as people who like vampires, shows with great action, and if you're curious to see if you'll actually ship Mikalea and Yu as much as this show's fanbase might. I'm sure you'll will.

Onto the next season!

Score: 8/10


Story's premise is really interesting.

The ending episodes are very emotional.

The exploration of the balance between good and evil is fantastic.

Yu x Mika ship is sailing.

Lead development is super strong.


Animation is very colorful and fluid.

Good voice acting.


Story in the first half moves pretty slowly.

Character development between the squad isn't developed strongly.

Score is boring.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Spring 2016 Anime Season Wrap-up

Spring 2016 Anime Season Wrap-up

Warning: The following post may contain spoilers from the shows I watched from the Summer Spring 2016 anime season (since I've been calling it that far too many times then I've liked to. I'm catching an early wind). If you wish not to know some plot details in the stories, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series that are mentioned, please exit the tab, and come join me once you've watched the first few episodes. But than again, if you don't mind spoilers, feel free to stay put.

Also, the pictures for my special posts are chosen at random. I'm still obsessed with Rangetsu's fanart for C.C. (that's never going to change), and this photo looked super cute when I was browsing through my collection, so I chose it.

So with that said, let's get started:

The Spring season got busy for me again. Not only due to Mary Poppins at school for the musical this year (I was involved in it on props) plus other school work to wind down the year, I decided to tackle most of the shows that I was immediately interested in that were airing this season. It was a risk that I've been interested in taking for a while now, and I think it managed to pay off.

Overall, there were 4 shows that I followed this anime season (half were followed as they aired, and 2 were mainly caught up with before starting to go week by week), and there's still a couple left that I could potentially check out in the future.

For the 3rd season in a row, I didn't drop any shows that were currently airing, nor check out a show to find out that it was exactly what I thought it was going to be or worse. I'm really hoping that this trend continues, considering how crazy it's gone for me in the past (winter 2015 comes to mind).

Before we move on though, I'll note like I typically do that the following opinions of these anime are my own. I don't mind if you have a different opinion, and if you disagree with me on them, please don't be rude if you decide to comment. I'd prefer discussions rather than arguments.

Much like with last season (Winter 2016), I managed to watch a show from the previous season after it was finished airing. That being Divine Gate:


A link to the Divine Gate review will be linked following this text:

But to make a long story short, despite the fact that I was well hyped for this anime series, it did not live up to it entirely. The story and characters were the main reasons why this show fell apart, but as to why, well, you're just going to have to see the review for yourself. ;)

Let's now discuss the 4 shows that I managed to watch while they were airing this season:

Bungo Stray Dogs, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk's 2nd season, Kiznavier, and the 3rd arc of Sailor Moon Crystal (technically its 3rd season).

I was able to get both Sailor Moon Crystal's season 3 and Gakusen Toshi Asterisk's 2nd cour caught up with after a few weeks (one I'm already done with, since it finished airing recently at the time of this post), but I was able to follow both Bungo Stray Dogs and Kiznaiver as new episodes were coming out week by week. I'm going to go over each show very briefly.

Bungo Stray Dogs reminded me of Karneval when I first heard about it, and is based off of a manga where the characters are named after famous Japanese writers, and later, authors from overseas come into the mix as well. Though the show's tonal shifts aren't always the best, and the OPness that seems to come out of nowhere for our main character that ends up going away an episode later is pointless, the show itself is actually very fun and exciting, and I really enjoyed most of the show. I'm also excited to talk about Atsushi Nakajima, the main protagonist, otherwise known as:

So yeah, basically like Nai, but he can become badass when he needs to be. ;)

Asterisk's 2nd season wasn't as good as the first, mainly due to animation inconsistencies and the Phoenix Festa taking too long that I ended up losing interest in it halfway through the show, but it's still one of the better "entity" animes that I've seen. Most of the standards from its last cour are still in place, and some of the world building is improved upon. Yes, some with info-dumps, but hey! They still took time to at least do something.

Kiznavier is a very interesting series coming from the mind of Mari Okada, a writer most known for writing some very dramatic anime and for pissing a lot of anime viewers off. This show was my first anime original project from her (Black Butler's first season doesn't count), and it did go fairly well. The story may be disjointed, but the show itself is interesting enough, even if the characters aren't properly developed equally and the animation becomes something akin to stick figures on paper at points, but still has an amazing budget overall. It's also running away as of right now with Best Score of the Year, because OMG!

Being one of the few people who actually liked Sailor Moon Crystal's first 2 story arcs as a whole, I was really interested to see if Season 3 would be up to par, or better, especially with new staff announcements. And good news was that it was better than the first 2 seasons, but also SO. MUCH. BETTER.

The animation improves, the story becomes more interesting (even though I liked both of the previous seasons), the Inner Senshi have more depth to them now, and the intense feelings are all real when battles occur. I can't really talk about it coherently without bursting into a puddle of fanboying, because this is what the viewers who weren't big fans of Crystal at the beginning wanted from the get go, so I'm happy to see that coming true for the people who wanted to still continue onward.

Reviews on all 4 of these anime series will be coming within the next few weeks/months, so make sure to keep an eye open for them!

Let's move on to the shows I'm interested in watching in the future:

Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto!

I first heard about this series when the anime adaptation was confirmed right when the manga was announced to be ending, and the summary instantly intrigued me. Wouldn't you just love to be someone who can put up with no crap, no matter how much it's handed to you? That's what Sakamoto seems to do, And from what I've seen from clips, the show looks to be hysterical. Hopefully once the final episode manages to come out on DVD in Japan, I'll be able to start this series and manage to finish it, as it seems right up my alley.

Super Lovers.

Though some of the anime this season seems to be calling for me to see them, I don't think I have as much of an attachment to them as I do to this one. However, I think that's because for some reason, I have this feeling that I'm going to hate this anime.

From the premise that sounds somewhat incestuous, to the leading man sounding like a sleaze at various moments (though he's voiced by Tomoaki Maeno, who I've grown to like despite starting off on bad footing in Karneval), to the insta-love, and the fact that the director for this series directed Fairy Tail. I don't know why, but I feel like these could be the perfect ingredients for a recipe called disaster. I'm looking forward to see how well this show fails at being a yaoi, even though yaoi can be a big guilty pleasure of mine.

Now moving to the Broadcast Dubs FUNimation produced this season. And what a surprise! All of them are for shows that I'm uninterested in! Which is kind of a shame, since I'm definitely not touching 3 out of the 5 new ones, but the other 2 could have a chance in the future. But you'll just have to wait and see for yourselves.

That's a wrap on the second wrap-up this year in terms of new anime. What shows did you guys like out of this season, and which ones were you not so fond of? Any shared opinions with mine that I gave?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation Review

Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the show Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

When I heard that an anime adaptation of this was greenlit, I wasn't particularly surprised. When my friend first showed me the trailer of the first game back in early 2013, I figured that an anime series would be coming sooner or later. After all, this game series has been said to be super popular, and looking at it, I can see why. The RPG games have had several editions in the main series along with some spin-offs, and it's very rare to find first editions of the earlier games anymore in the U.S. 

So when the anime series found its way over here state-side from FUNimation in the Summer 2013 season, I knew that I had to watch it down the road. And my friend managed to join me for about 8 episodes before throwing in the towel when I picked it up recently. I was still wondering whether the anime series had as much spunk as the games had to offer from footage I've seen, and to see how the characters would come alive in anime form.

In the end, how did it turn out?

Well, not as good as I expected it to be, but I still found the show to be mildly entertaining. It has a good premise, likable characters, decent animation, and a pretty good score. However, the story does stall out at various points during the show (as well as being too ambitious), and the main character (AKA the goddesses) don't really grow as the series goes on, instead just staying exactly the same. But beyond that, there's still some things that one could like in this show, but it's far from hitting the bulls-eye.

Let's start off with the story:


We set our stage in the world Gamindustri, a world that is governed in four regions (Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee, and Leanbox) by four different goddesses (Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert). Each region is remarkably different in terms of appearance, and the leads are all based off of gaming systems in terms of their design. After having fought over many centuries over Share energy in the Console War, all of the goddesses sign a treaty that forbids them from taking any Shares by force, which is then followed by peace in Gamindustri.

Of course, it isn't until a month later that Neptune, the CPU from Planeptune who is a natural born slacker, starts to get reprimanded for being lazy, considering that her nation's Share energy is starting to drop. As such, she decides that the best way to get help with this is to ask her goddess friends for advice on how to get her Share energy up and what to exactly do after the Console War was ended.

But sinister plots are starting to brew in the wild, and the CPU's are all targeted by them. What are our villains planning, and will it cause the younger sisters of the 4 (Blanc has 2) to get involved? Or better yet, have them develop their own powers?

At the beginning of this series, the story has the sense that it seems like it doesn't know where to go. While it does do a good job at providing occasional appearances from game characters and being pretty engaging at parts, it doesn't really get its act together as a whole until the last half, where it manages to tell more of a jointed story involving 2 other girls/CPU's from another dimension, and the drama surrounding the younger of the two named Peashy when she is targeted. This part of the anime is probably the best one story wise (along with a boss battle at the very end), even though in between those some of the episodes tend to progress less of the actual plot.

Another surprising thing that the story does is actually give time for the younger sisters to develop over the main 4 during the plotline with Arfoire. We get to see more of their emotions, as well as see them get stronger in themselves and as characters. On the other hand, the story seems to work less with the actual CPU's, seeing as they don't really change in personality or face development as a whole except for Neptune, which in turn makes the side characters more compelling than our leads are.

Also, the comedy aspect to this series starts out fine, but also loses its punch when the show is trying to be funny later on in its run. This is mainly because similar jokes are getting repeated, but with a different context, or they just don't hit the comedic side of me all too well. I found most of these jokes to be stronger in the OVA rather then in the actual series, considering that they were repeated a fair amount of times, but maybe that's just me.

So overall, the story is a little disjointed towards the beginning before finally constructing itself in a reasonable fashion. Though it doesn't do its best with the 4 main CPU's, it does give some unexpected development to the younger sisters and their beliefs. But when the show is more comical, it doesn't always work, especially in its middle.

I'd say it's time to move on and go to the characters now.


The best news about this show is that the all of the characters are pretty diverse in terms of looks and personalities. But like I said earlier, most of these characters don't change as the series goes on, which is a shame, seeing as some of them would do better with that. But whatever. I'm wishing for too much here.

First up on the platter, Neptune/Purple Heart:

Neptune is the goddess of the nation Planeptune and represents the Sega Neptune, which was planned to be released in 1995 before eventually being scrapped after getting delayed to the next year. She typically acts very lazy and spazzy, despite being the leader of a country in which she has to run. But underneath that, she is very energetic and optimistic.

When she turns into Purple Heart though, her personality manages to mature, being more serious and leader like, often leading the missions that the CPU's typically go on. Purple Heart is also very strong-willed, typically not backing down in a fight easily except when she is forced to.

Overall, out of the main 4, I'd say Neptune's my favorite out of them. Though she can be rather slow to act and a bit immature, she kind of manages to replicate some aspects of me, especially in the morning or when I'm really tired. But when she becomes Purple Heart to show the full extent of her power, the switch has clearly been flipped, because she becomes much more interesting. The goddesses typically have a change in their personality when they transform, but Neptune's is the most drastic change, outside of Plutia and Iris Heart.

Also, I think she has the most development out of the main 4, especially with Peashy, even though some of it did manage to come out of nowhere, considering that they squabble a lot. But it still was nice to see Neptune put her focus on someone outside of our core unit. She's just a great character overall, and I'm interested to seeing where more of the games take her.

Noire/Black Heart's next:

Noire is the goddess of the nation Lastation and represents the Playstation 3, which was first released in November 2006. She is hardworking, polite (though acts very hostile towards Neptune), yet tries too hard at various points in time, causing Neptune to paint her as the "friendless" character a couple of times in the show (even the other dimension's Noire remarks about this towards the end of the OVA). 

She also displays a love for cosplay, as shown in episode 6 when her country's security system gets hacked and someone gets a hold of several photos of her obsession, which causes embarrassment on her part. When she turns into Black Heart, her personality doesn't really change all that much, much like Vert, except she becomes more mature and dedicated.

As a whole, Noire's pretty decent as a character. She can get pretty humorous when she is poked fun at for being very stern, which causes people to shy away from her. Though she does become more accepting of her sister's powers and of herself, she doesn't seem to show any other sides of her personality, which I would have liked to see, considering that that there's so much one could possibly do with this character. But ah well.

Blanc/White Heart is up to bat now:

Blanc is the goddess of the nation Lowee and represents the Wii, which first came out onto the scene in November 2006 as well.  Though she's typically very shy and bottles her emotions, she is prone to having very violent outbursts, so don't piss her off or cause her distress, because you will get what's coming for you. This is especially true in her goddess form White Heart, where she is more brash and crass, though also typically shows little emotional range. She is also a heavy worker, coming up with several plans for her country typically alone, as she likes to debate over things alone.

Compared to the past two, Blanc isn't as developed, but she isn't a bad character whatsoever. I found her anger outbursts absolutely entertaining, especially in Episode 8 when she breaks the guard check on R18 Island. Her care for her sisters also changes over time, since at first she is prone to get more angry with them. I stil liked her though, but I wanted her to be more well-rounded in the games, as she's my second favorite out of the whole entire franchise.

Vert/Green Heart's the last main goddess on the list:

Vert is the goddess of the country Leanbox and represents the Xbox 360, which was first launched in November 2005. She is the most well endowed out of the CPU's (which makes for a lot of breast bounce gags, which are actually funny every single time), and is well respected among her people. However, when gaming, she goes all out and can get super competitive. Onto other topics, it is hinted that she is a passionate yaoi fan, as various posters are seen around her house that feature some sparks flying between two men. Her personality doesn't really change when she is Green Heart, aside from her becoming more laid-back.

And welcome to the least developed character out of the bunch! The anime doesn't really try to develop Vert outside from the fact that she's a potential yaoi fangirl and a pretty serious gamer. She also gets a couple of "big sister" jokes that all fall flat on their faces, and that's all there is to her character, which is a bit of a shame. Though Vert's always been my least favorite character out of the leads, the anime doesn't really help change that for me. There seems to be untapped potential here, and I'd like to see it.

The last character I'm going to discuss is Nepgear/Purple Sister:

The younger sister of Neptune, Nepgear represents the Sega Game Gear, which first came out in April 1991. She is more responsible than her older sibling and is more serious when it comes to fights outside of her Goddess form. Her main gripe is always following in Neptune's footsteps and relying on her when situations get dire. So when her sister gets kidnapped along with the other 3 by a villain named Arfoire (named Magiquone in the original Japanese, though the English subtitles refer to her by the former name), she can't help but feel responsible, seeing as she sensed a sign before that something was up. She gets over that pothole though, and is able to turn into her CPU form.

Nepgear's little journey towards becoming more confident in herself was a joy to see, and seeing her transform was absolutely awesome and easily put a smile of my face. Aside from that, Nepgear is the best sister out of the bunch, and probably one of the best characters out of the anime. Though she can be a little dense, she never seems to lose hope that often, and has a very strong relationship with Neptune, which is great to see. I always hate it when I see the trope of sister who aren't able to get along, especially if they're twins, so I'm glad to see that that isn't the case here.

The other younger sister characters are Uni/Black Sister (based on the Playstation Portable/PSP), the younger sister of Noire, and Rom and Ram/the White Sisters (based on the DS), the younger sisters of Blanc. The other CPU's are Plutia/Iris Heart (based off of the Sega Mega Drive), and Peashy/Yellow Heart.

Other characters beyond that include Compa, a nurse-in-training, and IF, a Guild member. The two of them make up Neptune's comrades, who typically hang out at her place and discuss important matters with her, as well as getting involved with the major events of the story. We also have 5pb., a famous pop idol from Leanbox, Historie, who is Neptune's adviser, Arfoire, the show's first antagonist who wants to take over Gamindustri, Pirachu, a mouse who is Arfoire's assistant, Underling, who works on various missions as the "underling," much like her name, Anonoydeath, a master hacker who's a pink robot and very flamboyant, and finally, Rei Ryghts, the main antagonist of the last arc, who used to be the leader of a nation called Tari (she is also based off of the Atari 2600).


The animation for this series was produced by David Production, who are also known for Ben-To, the Dogs: Bullets & Carnage OVA, and Inu x Boku SS.

As a whole, the animation for this series maintains what makes the games really appealing: the bright colors. Whether it's from landscapes or the characters themselves, it helped put me in a better mood to see the colors be as vivid and poignant as they are. The animation itself is also really solid, with characters typically staying on-model and fight scenes looking fluid and full of motion. And the play censoring wasn't that bad either!

There are a couple of minor problems with it, but none that I can't really name off the top of my head. It's obvious that David Production puts more of their budget towards the new Jojo series that have come out these past few seasons, but the staff in charge did try their hardest to live up to the games, and that's all that matters.

So overall, another solid animation effort, and I'm interested to see other David Production series outside of Jojo that maintain the fluidity of both Inu x Boku SS and Hyperdimension Neptunia. Ben-To perhaps?


The score for this series was a 3 person effort between Hiroaki Tsutsumi (Blue Spring Ride), Kenji Kaneko (Mars of Destruction (the infamous "trash" OVA)), and Masaru Yokoyama (the Freezing franchise).

Aside from some game pieces popping up now and then (at least 2), the score for this series is nice and does what it sets out to do. When I was watching the series, I originally thought that only Hiroaki Tsutsumi was in charge of composition of the OST, so finding out that it was 3 different males actually makes it interesting. I think each one did a good job with blending their styles together, which makes the score for this series very cohesive, and bringing out their potential to the best of their ability. Some pieces also managed to stand out, though I probably wouldn't know exactly which composer did a particular one, aside from 2 tracks.

The topic of both Japanese and English is an interesting one, considering that I'm more familiar with the English voices for the characters from gameplay videos on Youtube. So the anime was quite literally my first taste at the majority of the Japanese seiyuus outside of the lead 4. And I have to say, almost all of them did a really great job, may it be the CPU's with their vocal ranges in between normal and goddess forms, to some of the villains who gave craziness a whole other meaning. The only voice that didn't work for me was Kanako Sakai as Compa, whose high pitched delivery sounded incredibly unnatural, and her "desu"'s made me want to claw my hair out.

The English vocal cast from LA does return, aside from a few people (possibly due to union negotiations or not being available), which shows some great effort from Mike McFarland, the ADR director of the dub. But the dub itself is not one of FUNimation's better ones. Though it managed to escape the slump that occurred with a few dubs for a period of time, some of the vocal cast seems to struggle from what I've seen thus far. The only voice out of the new Texas voices that I have a problem with is Megan Shipman, whose voice as IF sounds really clipped and lacks the spunk that Kana Ueda and Kate Higgins have. But the main 4 themselves also have their problems, with their voices either sounding too flat (mainly with Noire and Vert), or their emotions aren't as strong (Melissa Fahn's Purple Heart seems to miss the mark when it comes to showing anguish, while Wendee Lee's emotions as Blanc/White Heart are limited compared to her delivery in the games). It just leads to a mixed effort, and more time probably needed to be given to the dub, since some parts feel like there were rushed through from what I've seen.

Highlights in the original Japanese are Rie Tanaka, Asami Imai, Kana Asumi, Rina Sato, Yui Hoire, Eri Kitamura, Kaori Ishihara, Yui Ogura, Kana Hanazawa, Aoi Yuki, Kana Ueda, nao, Mika Kanai, Niko, Junko Minagawa, Yuki Fujiwara, Yu Kobayashi, Yoji Ueda, and Aya Endo

Highlights so far in the English dub are Melissa Fahn (Neptune only), Erin Fitzgerald (Noire only), Christine Marie Cabanos, Sarah Williams, Cherami Leigh (Iris Heart only), Tia Ballard, Cristina Vee, Stephanie Sheh, Sara Ragsdale, Morgan Berry, David Vincent, Morgan Garrett, Josh Grelle, and Whitney Rodgers.


This could have been better than what it was in terms of adaptation, but as a whole, it wasn't horrible. I still liked it in terms of its setup, the personalities of its characters, animation, and score. But the fact that the story wanders almost to the very end and the character development being pretty weak are what downgrade this anime to what it is.

With that said, I was still entertained by this anime and what it had to offer as various points, so I'd still recommend it for fans of the game franchise. Other than that, I could also see this working for fans of video games in general, lovers of game to anime adaptations, and the morbidly curious.

Score: 7/10


Premise is pretty cool.

Characters all have great personalities.

Great animation.

Good score.

The younger sisters get some nice development.


Story doesn't really get going until the last 4 episodes.

Comedy isn't as funny for various jokes.

Main characters don't have proper development.

English dub is an average effort from FUNimation.