Manga Review: “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” Volume Seven

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 7 is set in a world where vampires rule the earth and have enslaved children to use as a food source. A boy named Yuichiro escapes from the vampire city and is found by Guren. Yuichiro is now 16 years old and serving in the Japanese Imperial Demon Army.

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 7
Written by: Takaya Kagami
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 1, 2015

Volume 7 opens with Shinoa Hiragi, along with the other members of her squad, heading for a rendezvous point for their upcoming mission. Unfortunately, Shinoa and Mitsuba decide to play pranks on Yuichiro and Shiho, and this causes them to arrive late at the rendezvous point. In addition, Yuichiro and Makoto Narumi, the leader of Narumi Squad, start off on the wrong foot.

Much of Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 7 focuses on Shinoa needing to learn to take her role as a squad leader seriously, and on Yuichiro having to gain the trust of Makoto and the other members of his squad. These are important lessons that both of these characters need to learn, since they’re about to embark on a very important mission that requires teamwork and seriousness.

Speaking of teamwork, Guren orders two of his squad members to help him take on Shinoa’s squad in a sparring match. By doing this, he’s trying to make a point to Shinoa that her squad currently lacks teamwork and coordination. Besides making this point, this scene helps to add some much needed action in a volume that focuses a lot more on characters talking to one another and setting the stage for the upcoming mission. Outside of this sparring match, the only other action in Volume 7 takes place right at the end.

This volume also gives the reader a scene featuring Mika and the vampires that he’s with. During this scene, we see Mika struggling with the fact that he doesn’t want to become a full-fledged vampire, yet struggling to keep himself from drinking the human blood that he’s starting to crave. I admit that I felt a little sorry for Mika in this volume. He’s been trying so hard to not drink human blood, since he himself used to be a human child that was enslaved by the vampires. As a reader, I could really feel Mika’s struggle coming through in both the writing and the art.

While I understand that time needed to be spent getting ready for the mission and imparting important lessons to some of the characters, there were still times that the story in Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 7 felt like it was bogging down. However, if you’re willing to read through the entire volume, you’ll be rewarded with some very important action right at the end of it. If you can go into it realizing that it’s more of an exposition volume than an action-oriented one, you’ll probably be able to better appreciate it.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” Volume Five

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 5 takes place in a world where vampires rule the earth and enslave children to serve as their food source. A boy named Yuichiro escapes from the vampire city, but only after seeing the other orphans he lived with killed in front of him. Unknown to Yuichiro, his friend Mikaela had been turned into a vampire, so Yuichiro was surprised to see him during the battle at Shinjuku.

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 5
Written by: Takaya Kagami
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 2, 2015

Volume 5 opens with Yuichiro being called in to the Shinjuku Central Army Headquarters First Office, which means he’s being summoned by the Hiragi family, the army’s highest-ranking officers. But on his way, he encounters Guren and learns about the animosity between Guren and the Hiragi family. Not surprisingly, this schism becomes important during Yuichiro’s meeting.

Yuichiro discovers that he’s suspected of having vampire ties because of his connection to Mikaela, and that the purpose of the meeting is for him to prove his loyalty to the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. It’s a grueling confrontation, especially when the higher-ups bring two of Yuichiro’s teammates into the interrogation to try to force him to talk. In the end, Yuichiro proves his loyalty to the army but that he will only serve under Guren. This had to be rough on Yuichiro, since his reason for joining the army is to be able to slaughter vampires in order to exact his revenge.

The remainder of Volume 5 focuses on Yuichiro, Kimizuki, and Yoichi being trained on how to use their Cursed Gear, since they never received the training before heading out to the front lines in Shinjuku. This includes learning about the two types of demons and how to summon them. Yuichiro does something rather foolish right at the end of the volume, which should end up serving as the starting point for Volume 6.

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 5 also shows the reader some more interactions between Yuichiro and Mitsuba, as well as between Yuichiro and Shinoa. Kimizuki also wonders if keeping what happened on the battlefield from Yuichiro is right or not. In addition, this volume also reveals the demon in Guren’s Cursed Gear and the connection that it has with Shinoa. While Kimizuki doesn’t consider himself to be Yuichiro’s friend, at least he’s willing to be concerned about him.

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign seems like it’s trying hard to reveal important information slowly. On one hand, it allows for revelations to be spread out throughout the series. But on the other hand, it can be a little frustrating to readers who may want to have some more information to help them better understand and appreciate the story that they’re following. But there’s an interesting enough story being presented that readers may be able to overlook the fact that important information may only come in small dribs and drabbles.

The artwork in Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign continues to look as if Yamamoto is trying to capture details, especially in the backgrounds. I can especially see the details when an emphasis is placed on the destroyed buildings that litter the landscape. When I read this series, I am thoroughly convinced that the characters inhabit a post-apocalyptic world.

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 5 is a strong continuation from where Volume 4 left off. It’s logical that the higher-ups want to interview Yuichiro after what happened during the battle in the previous volume. Readers who have read and enjoyed the previous four volumes of the series should enjoy and appreciate what they read and learn about in Volume 5.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” Volume Four

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 4 is set in a world where vampires arise to rule the earth after a disease spreads through humanity affecting everyone except children under the age of 13. The story focuses on a boy named Yuichiro, an orphan who lived at Hyakuya Orphanage and becomes friends with a boy named Mika. The disease hits the day he arrives and the kids are taken by the vampires to an underground city to use them as a source of blood to feed on. Four years later, the orphans try to escape, but Yuichiro appears to be the only one who managed to make it out. Yuichiro meets other humans and eventually becomes part of a Vampire Extermination Unit.

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 4
Written by: Takaya Kagami
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 3, 2015

Volume 4 sees Yuichiro and his squad mates headed for the front lines, and Shinoa explains to them about special pills that can increase their synchronization rate with their demons. Shinoa was given a unique supplement for Yuichiro because he has a black demon series weapon.

At the front lines, Lieutenant Colonel Guren Ichinose is battling a vampire. But just as it looks like the vampire will be defeated, he receives help from another vampire.  Guren and his squad take a bit of a beating before Yuichiro and his squad mates arrive. Yuichiro is surprised to discover that one of the vampires is his friend, Mika. Unfortunately, what should have been a touching reunion is anything but that.

As can be expected, Yuichiro is torn when he sees Mika. He had assumed that Mika had died during their escape and never expected to see him again as a vampire. Yuichiro finds he is unable to kill Mika, and this leads to Mika trying to persuade Yuichiro to leave the humans and to join him. Mika’s attempts to persuade Yuichiro to come with him lasts for about five pages, and the reader can see just how desperate and determined Mika is through his facial expressions. Artist Yamamoto drew several great panels that feature Mika’s desperate expression.

But when Yuichiro discovers the vampires are trying to feed on his friends, his demon weapon activates and causes Yuichiro to act very differently. But it appears Guren had expected this to happen. So far, I really haven’t liked Guren as a character because he comes across as someone who doesn’t seem to be entirely trustworthy. He appears to have his own ambitions and motivations that may not entirely mesh with the mission that the Vampire Extermination Units have. Later, we see Shinoa confronting Guren about what happened with Yuichiro since she has her own suspicions. In the process, the reader receives some brief backstory for Shinoa. Unfortunately, I thought the backstory was just a little too brief. I would have liked to have seen a little more here to flesh this part out.

Near the end of the volume, both Yuichiro and Mika recover from the battle, and each one vows to save the other. Right after this, it’s hinted that the vampires may be getting ready to face off against the humans again. In some respects I kind of wish that the volume had ended with Yuichiro and Mika’s vow because it feels like a stronger note to end on. But outside of that minor complaint, I thought that the overall storytelling in this volume progressed rather smoothly. The couple of small time skips that are included in the story don’t feel jarring to the reader.

When it comes to the artwork in Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 4, it looks rather decent. While it may not be anything groundbreaking, it doesn’t look as if Yamamoto tried to rush through the art and skimp on details. The look that the series has works well to complement the story that’s being told. It should also be noted that at the front of this volume, there’s a fold-out color picture of the title image for Chapter 14.

From what I’ve read of Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign, it’s pretty good for a series with such a strong focus on vampires. Manga readers who enjoy stories about vampires and humanity fighting against them will more than likely have an appreciation for the series. Readers who have been following the series from its first volume should appreciate the plot and character progressions that take place over the course of Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 4.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” Volume One

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume One is a manga written by Takaya Kagami and illustrated by Yamato Yamamoto. This volume was released in North America by Viz Media’s Shonen Jump imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T+” for older teens; after reading this first volume, I would agree with this rating.

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume 1
Written by: Takaya Kagami
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 3, 2014

In 2012, trumpets of the apocalypse proclaim the fall of humanity, and vampires arise to rule the earth. A disease spreads through humanity but children under the age of 13 aren’t affected.

The story focuses on a boy name Yuichiro, who becomes an orphan and goes to live at the Hyakuya Orphanage; there, he meets Mikaela. On the day he arrives at the orphanage is when the virus hits, and the vampires come and take the orphans to their underground city and use them as a source of blood to feed on.

In 2016, Mikaela (who Yuichiro refers to as Mika) has made an agreement with Lord Ferid to serve as his personal food source. Mika later reveals to Yuichiro that Mika’s been casing Ferid’s place and finds a gun and a map of how to escape to the human world. They decide that they and the other orphans will escape that night. Unfortunately, as they make it to the exit, they are caught by Lord Ferid. All of the other orphans are killed, and Mika tries to hold Ferid off enough to allow Yuichiro to escape. When Yuichiro leaves, he believes that Mika has died. After making his escape, Yuichiro is found by Guren Ichinose, who says he can give Yuichiro a chance to hunt down vampires.

Four years later, Yuichiro hasn’t made it into vampire extermination unit; instead, he is made to go to a high school and won’t be considered for the unit until he can make a friend and introduce them to Guren. Here, he meets Shinoa Hiragi and he rescues Yoichi when he’s being bullied. A vampire attacks the school, and Yuichiro takes it on himself to take on the vampire. He does his best, but its ultimately up to Guren to help him defeat the vampire.

After Guren sees Yoichi express his gratitude to Yuichiro for saving them from the vampire, Guren has no choice but to let Yuichiro join the vampire extermination unit. It then becomes Shinoa’s job to teach Yuichiro about Cursed Gear, which is a weapon with black magic to kill vampires. Near the end of the volume, Yuichiro and Shinoa have to go into the “forbidden chamber” and take care of a possessed student who wandered into it.

This volume of isn’t my first exposure to Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign; I first was exposed to this title when I started reading Viz Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital anthology in March of 2014. The first chapter of the series that I read was Chapter 12, which is later than when this volume ends. For me, the nice thing about getting to read Volume One of the manga is the fact that I now have the establishing backstory to better understand what I’m now reading in Weekly Shonen Jump. When I read the next chapter in the digital anthology, I expect that I might have a better appreciation for the series than I had previously.

With my knowledge of what’s coming ahead, I can say that Volume One did a good job of establishing not only the characters of the story, but the world that they inhabit and why and how the world of the story is the way it is.

Yuichiro is the hotheaded hero of the story, and it’s established early on that his goal is to kill all of the vampires. After he escapes, his desire to kill vampires doesn’t decrease and he remains very hotheaded. Yuichiro is very much a guy of action. Mika, on the other hand, is Yuichiro’s polar opposite. Mika tends to be more a thinker and is the one trying to use his brain to find a way out of their situation. At the end of Volume One, the reader learns something rather surprising about Mika.

Since I’m a bit further ahead in the story due to reading Weekly Shonen Jump, I’m afraid I might accidentally post “spoilers” if I say too much more about the story.

The artwork is rather decent, and there’s obviously a bit of blood since the story focuses on vampires. However, it’s not so overly gory that it requires a rating any higher than the series already has.

It should also be noted that at the front of Volume One there’s a fold-out color picture of Yuichiro, Shinoa, and Yoichi.

Between reading Volume One and seeing later chapter in Weekly Shonen Jump, I can truly say that Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign is a decent manga series, especially one with such a focus on vampires. If you enjoy reading stories about vampires and humanity fighting against vampires, then you might enjoy Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign.

I wrote this review after reading a review copy of Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Volume One that was provided to me by Viz Media.

Viz’s Weekly Shonen Jump Adds Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign

Viz Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital anthology has added the Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign manga to its lineup in the October 7, 2013 issue. This manga is by Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, and Daisuke Furuya.

Viz started the manga with its first chapter, and then will include two chapters each month in the publication until it catches up with the Japanese release next summer.