So I have a bit of a confession. I watched the entirety of the first season of Seraph of the End three times in two days. Meaning I watched it twice all the way through one day, and then the next day watched it all the way through again. I watched it on my own (at four in the morning, when I’m usually up watching TV), then again with Sam that day to show her, then the next day to show my friends who I thought would like it.
That’s a lot of anime.
Even having watched the show that many times in that short amount of time, I don’t think it’s the greatest anime ever seen. But it certainly wasn’t bad, and I thought it was an experience worth sharing with other people (unlike some other shows I’ve went over recently). Perhaps someone my benefit from some analysis. Thus I present some free thoughts on the first season of Seraph of the End.
Okay, let’s get the bad out of the way. There isn’t much, so it should be quick. As a warning to all of my progressives and fans out there, this is queer bait the anime. Yui and Mika are totally gay for each other and no one can tell me otherwise, and the anime is well aware of the attraction. They’re friends since childhood, they look like foils from one another (the dark and light hair), they’re always hanging on each other, and they’re seeking each other exclusively throughout the war once they know the other is alive. But, as is the anime industry, nothing ever comes of it. There’s a little love triangle between the girls in the squad and Yui, but it feels a little cheap and tacked on to what could be a really compelling dynamic if the show was brave enough to acknowledge it. Go the extra step and just let the two of them kiss. What’s the worse that could happen.
I didn’t think that the Christian undertones were necessarily bad; I’m not one of those types that complains about “Religion in my anime weh” (every anime has some Shinto influence, that’s just how it is, just like every American show has a Christian influence so shut up). But when I see it popping up in animes without there being a lot of explanation as to why they call it something, it feels more like the Studio thinks the idea of Christianity is cool rather than relevant to the story. I don’t really think it’s offensive, we do much worse over here (See Gods of Egypt), but it could be more relevant to the plot of the anime if it was expanded upon rather than just added because it sounds neat when you say things like “Seraph” and “All Sinners must die”. Evangelion did the same thing; a show that was supposed to have all this deep Christian imagery only added it because the animators thought it was neat. I don’t think they’re trying to take a bite out of Christians, but they could have incorporated it more closely to what was happening instead of just using names that sound cool.
A small mention to Krul Tepes, who although looks pretty cool, feels like she lifted her design straight from Blazblu’s Rachel Alucard. Do vampire women have to be loli-Lolita? I feel like there could have been a more inspired design for an obviously powerful character, but nothing that breaks the anime for me.
Because for all of that stuff, the show does a lot right. The rules of its universe are consistent, even when some really strange things get introduced(vampires and demonic contracts and whatever the monsters are? It’s a lot to take in). Everything has a nice flow, and the show has a good pace for a first season that obviously intends on moving toward more. The characters are interesting and memorable; they take time to develop them without beating a dead horse. What I really enjoyed was how the show educates the audience about the world. There’s no five minute opening in the first episode explaining “So vampires took over everything and these heroes from the resistance make pacts with demons for powers” and whatever. Instead, SOTE treats the audience as though they have a brain and can recognize patterns. It explains things quickly, then moves on to more character and plot, so it makes the episodes interesting while trusting the audience to follow along. It makes the first episode particularly compelling watching as the kids are taken below ground as cattle and how they escape. The animation style is really fun and keeps things interesting and the voice acting was pretty decent in English.
It’s not the perfect anime, but it was definitely good enough to keep me invested three different times watching all the way through. I give it four definitely gay anime characters out of five.