“The World of Blood Legacy”
‘Show, Don’t Tell’ Done Right:
I’m already familiar with the very beginning of Owari no Seraph’s story, so I went into this episode already understanding the foundations of the plot, and how things were going to play out. But for those going into this blind, I think it might be possible that you didn’t quite catch everything that was going on Why? Well, all the exposition from the manga was removed. The first chapter of Owari no Seraph presents some typical explanations to the audience at the beginning of the story, but this first episode dealt with it differently. Instead of information being force-fed to us, we saw the events unfold before our eyes; scenes followed one another the other, with no hint of an endgame until the last few minutes. It was a risky move to remove the exposition dump that set-up this first episode, but a fantastic one, as so many anime suffer from explaining the story to its audience. Owari no Seraph is letting us figure out this world bit by bit, not sitting us down and telling us what to expect before we even begin.
What we saw this episode were the troubles of Hyakuya Yuuichirou (Irino Miyu), a survivor of an apocalypse that caused the death of everyone over the age of thirteen. Yuuichirou, along with his close friends, Hyakuya Mikaela (Ono Kensho) and Hyakuya Akane, are orphans who were taken underground by an army of vampires, now being used for blood harvesting for the vampires’ needs. What was interesting was how differently Yuuichirou and Mikaela reacted and dealt with the vampires – Yuuchirou is clearly one who acts before he thinks, driven by his anger, lashing out even when it could mean danger to his life. Mikaela is much more careful around his enemies, doing his best to play up to them – they way he sees it, the closer he gets to them, the easier it is to get what he needs (like a map) to get everyone from the orphanage out of that underground prison. But what follows is an unforgiving bloodbath, children dying left and right for daring to defy their rulers. The whole sequence with the campy Vampire, Ferid Bathory (Sakurai Takahiro), was a painful yet superb kick in the gut – sleek animation and character death is a good combination, especially when it feel genuinely dangerous.
Living in a Painting:
A lot of this first episode had slow dialogue scenes, showing the little moments between the orphan survivors in this new underground world they are forced to inhabit. And what a world it is. I thought the painterly backgrounds were a refreshing change from the excess of 3D backdrops we see in anime nowadays. They were striking in design and composition, yet perfectly bleak and unsettling through the use of dark colours and gloomy lighting. The architecture here is also very interesting; I found myself wondering what it would be like to get lost in the alleys of this terrible blood-farm. But the engrossing scenery continued above ground (whether it be during or after the apocalypse). I know that just because these backgrounds are so different from what you see in most anime nowadays, they will attract a mix of praise and criticism, which comes down to personal taste in the end. Personally, I loved them – it felt like the characters were living in a series of paintings, moving from one framed artwork to another.
Eight Years in One Episode:
From the destruction of the world, to the underground living, to joining the Imperial Army, this episode spans across eight whole years, which is a lot. Was it rushed? At times, yes, but believe or not, this first episode actually improved on the pace of a rapid first chapter, adding in extra scenes that helped show (not tell!) what was happening, providing an easier transition through the years. It wasn’t done perfectly, mind you, but this whole episode was essentially Yuuichirou’s origin story. You could say the real ‘plot’ begins next week.
Overview – What’s Next?:
And… we’re going to school! I’ve heard mixed reactions on the shift in setting, though I’ve not read enough of the source material from this point on to form my own opinion. The preview certainly looked like a different series from this first episode, but I’m hopeful of the future of this series. This episode delivered everything I wanted it to, making a great first chapter an even better first episode. There were definitely some Shingeki no Kyojin vibes here, mixed with a style similar to Ao no Exorcist. A good combination, if you ask me. Is the next big shonen anime adaptation? Time will tell…. Let’s see where the Imperial Army storyline takes us next week.