“Everybody is a Sinner”
The Owari no Seraph we Deserve:
The past two episodes of Owari no Seraph were much better than what we’d been getting for a while, and this final episode of the cour was yet another hit. It was moody and sombre, completely without action, quiet and and slow, yet it was one of the best of the series thus far. The penultimate episode of the cour was brimming with action and despair, with characters screaming in emotional rage. This one was the complete opposite – like waking up after a really horrible, drunk night out and reflecting one what went down.
Shinoa is still a great character, even if I think the anime enjoys putting her down far too much. She’s strong and funny at her peak, but when it matters most she seems to regress into someone much less deserving of her position. I don’t blame any of her decisions as a character, mind you, mainly how the anime has treated her. Still, seeing her control the direction of the first half of this episode was very refreshing. It would be a very different series if she was the main character, focusing on her life as a solider, learning about the secrets beneath this human and vampire war. We may yet see glimmers of that, but I appreciated her point of view this week. More of this going forward, please!
Yuu and Mika’s Promise:
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy Yuu as a main character. He’s stubborn, but all his negatives have built up to him meeting Mika again, and I feel this may be his chance to develop into someone much more rounded. He had nice interactions with all of his team this week, especially Shinoa (that scandalous neck touch!). Kimizuki is clearly tsundere for him, and Mitsuba is just plain tsundere. If Mika didn’t exist, I’d probably enjoy Yoichi’s moments with him a lot more, since they feel sweet and sincere, but he almost feels like a placeholder for his real friend (and family).
More than anything, this episode made it obvious how powerless Yuu and Mika are in their own stories. I love fiction that follows characters that have to overcome the systems that are put in place against them, that forbid them from flourishing until that moment comes. Yuu and Mika are both being used by their respective sides, and neither has much understanding why that is, or has enough agency to make a difference. Both are suffering, but both promise to break each other from their bonds. But do they see their situations as a form of imprisonment? Mika’s reflection in the window was a smart move, and cements the bond that these two have. They may have found themselves in a horrible situation last week, but I have no doubt that if – and when – they meet again, they will both do everything within their power to be back together and happy again. Obviously, it’s never going to be that easy. Especially when you’re a human experiment or the Vampire Queen’s pet.
Guren’s Shadiness & Vampire’s Partner:
It’s official: I don’t like Guren. That the intention here, and I feel there’s a slither of a chance that all his shadiness might be a red herring for the greater good. But going by the episode title (and everything else that we’ve seen from Guren so far), I think the simple fact is that he is not a good guy. Maybe his intentions are just, but his motives are brutal, and in my opinion, corrupt. We learn about the true meaning behind ‘Seraph of the End’, and clearly Yuu has a massive part to play in all this. Guren (and the other higher-ups) are using him for something twisted, and he doesn’t even realise it yet. Guren’s a very easy man to hate at this point, even before that final scene.
I should have saw it coming, but there’s a human allying with the Vampires. Ferid meets with this unknown individual and has a one-sided discussion about their meeting. Clearly, both sides of this battle are in the wrong here, even if each of them feels they are doing the right thing in the end. It’s fascinating, and I’m desperate to find out who that person was at the end. All signs seem to point to Guren, since he signed his name on the ‘Seraph of the End’ document a moment before it. But is it too obvious? Owari no Seraph manages to be both predictable with its cliches, yet ingenious whenever it dares to do something original. I can’t say for certain with this one…
First-Cour Impressions – What’s Next?:
Owari no Seraph has been an interesting one so far. At first, I thought we’d struck gold. The first episode had the pace of an action-thriller, with cinema-style credits as a bonus. But things started to stagnate after that. The art dipped in quality here and there, and the story even more so. We stayed in the school setting for far too long, and we had some disappointing moments of action when the battles actually started. However, the final three episodes of this season were a complete turn around. It once again felt like the we were channelling what made the first episode so thrilling.
I feel like Owari no Seraph would be a better series if it didn’t embrace shonen cliches. Most battle anime/manga do just that, and it works out wonderfully for them. Boku no Hero Academia is a recent example that ticks all the boxes you’d expect from the genre, yet it never feels forced or uncharacteristic. In fact, it does them with such passion that whenever it does those tournament arcs or power-ups, it gives you that same feeling you got from your very first battle anime (Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach… whatever it was). I feel a Hunter x Hunter approach to the genre would have turned out better in the long run. Saying that, I don’t think it would ever have reached the same peaks as Hunter x Hunter – I just wish it embraced its moments of originality and stuck with them.
As for the second-cour, obviously I’ll still be watching. However, I don’t know whether or not I’ll be blogging it. I can’t say how I’ll feel once October comes around, but for now I feel I’d like to just sit back and experience the show when it starts up again. But these past few episodes have relit my interest, so never say never. I may have been harsh on Owari no Seraph when it was disappointing me, but I don’t think it was without good reason. Off the gate, it proved it could be daring and different, and even when things got stale and predictable, I held out hope that things would improve. And thankfully, I was right to be hopeful. Things did get better, and I know for sure that Owari no Seraph can been a great series when it really tries. I hope that continues into its second-cour.