Yet another eventful season of the popular anime Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End). Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen (Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya) was released almost a year ago and since the first season was very popular on the AVO Forum a review of the second season was to be expected. The first season was reviewed by fellow AVO-blogger Shizu and can be found here.
Broken homes, a raging war and dirty politics, again!
This season centers around Yuichiro’s search for the strength and skill level he needs in order to ‘save’ Mikaela from the vampires. At the same time Mikaela yearns to ‘save’ Yuichiro from the humans that are using him. Both Mika and Yu find out more about the dirty politics behind this war, that is still raging between vampires and humans, and their own background. Yuichiro has learned the importance of ‘family’ once more as he vows to not only protect Mikaela, but also his comrades in the Moon Demon Company.
What makes the story interesting, in my opinion, is that there is no way of telling which side is ‘good’. Both vampires and humans have their flaws and, although the vampires seem to care less about their fallen comrades, have their own way of forming meaningful relationships. I always enjoy it when a series allows the viewer to decide which side is worse or better, rather than spelling it out for you.
This season is packed full of unexpected twists and turns. Just when you think you’ve got the story figured out, something surprising happens. Although some people might be better at speculating than me, I am sure there were at least some surprising moments for all viewers, who didn’t read the manga.
Once more we watch Yuichiro grow stronger. Not only when it comes to his sword fighting skills and strengthening his bond with his demon, but also when it comes to letting other people in. Even when someone he’s come to trust and love betrays him, he remains loyal to them and vows to protect them, regardless of their motives towards him. He has made the resolve to never turn his back on his ‘family’. The bond between Yu and his ‘new family’ grows stronger with the day.
Mikaela, who was previously only interested in running away with Yu, also learns to trust others a little more over the course of this season. Although he does have a hard time accepting other people’s help and letting go of the idea that people will betray him in the end. After all he’s been through it is only logical he wouldn’t instantly trust a stranger, which makes it more believable.
There are many other fun and interesting characters in this series, some of who we met in season one. And those characters we get to know even more in the course of this season. There are a few surprises when it comes to their backgrounds and what they are willing to do to achieve their desires.
Shounen or shounen ai?
Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen is full of action, drama and funny moments, just like the first season. The comedic interactions between certain characters help lighten the mood of this generally serious anime. The entire series is based on the eponymous manga by Yamato Yamamoto, who does the art for this manga, and Takaya Kagami, who writes the story. Wit Studio, the studio that produced both seasons, is also known for Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan), among others.
I agree with Shizu that the shounen genre doesn’t quite fit this anime, as the style seems more shoujo than shounen. I feel this way because it is filled with drama and romantic suggestions. Aside from that the drawing style itself often seems similar to other shoujo anime.
Perhaps they made a mistake and meant to say shounen ai, instead of shounen! Since the show is filled with teasing hints towards romantic relationships between several male characters. There are also some hints regarding straight relationships and crushes, but the main focus seems to be on something that feels very close to shounen ai.
The drawing style itself was very appealing to me, I loved the details in the outfits of all the characters, their eyes, their hairstyles and the coloring scheme. However this season did disappoint me in some ways. Although the backgrounds seemed to fit with the characters better this season, sometimes they were still a bit off and looked too much like a painting, in my opinion. This made the characters seem like they were pasted onto a flat surface rather than a three dimensional world. Whenever the view was more zoomed out the quality of the drawing style decreased a lot and it didn’t look entirely right.
Unfortunately they chose to add a 3d animated car in one episode, which was luckily also destroyed in the same episode. It looked out of place and ugly. It would’ve probably looked better if they’d made a 3d model first, animated that and had traced it well later on. On top of this animals are clearly not the animators’ strong suit. The birds looked off, especially the white ones. And so did, what turned out to be, a dog in one of the episodes.
Another problem, for me, were the fighting scenes, in more than just one aspect. Too often they still consisted of still images that were being shaken or at least the characters in the background standing still. On top of that they didn’t seem realistic: enemies in the midst of a war tend not to stand around waiting for someone to finish up their conversation. And when five people attacked one vampire, you would only see that one vampire and one other person at a time. I understand that the vampire was good at defending itself, but it looked very much like they were playing ‘Tag, you’re it’. You rarely got to see what happened to the other four people that weren’t fighting.
The large amount of fighting and walking scenes got a bit annoying for me near the end. I felt the need to skip through conversations, which the characters tended to have about possible strategies and such things, when they kept these conversations going for a long time.
The intro music I preferred over the song from the previous season. The lyrics of the song Two Souls -toward the truth- by fripSide fit the anime well. The animation that went with it accompanied it well and showed what the story was about without revealing too much. I was not as big of a fan of the outro. The song, Orarion by Yanagi Nagi, didn’t seem to fit with the images entirely. The images shown with it are just that: still images, pretty ones at that. The song speeds up at one point while nothing happens in the images and there’s no animation. This doesn’t seem to fit with the mood the song is bringing across at this point. One other thing that bothered me about the outro was the fact that near the end there was an animated part which didn’t seem to flow quite right.
Great storyline and characters, slightly flawed animation
The main thing I love about this anime were the story, characters and the, almost romantic, relationships between these characters. Aside from that there are a few flaws in the animation and drawing style, but these are easily forgiven once you get into the story itself. The series could do with a little less talking at unrealistic moments. The songs fit the series well, but unfortunately the outro music didn’t quite fit the images, that were shown with the music, at one point.
Overall I think this series is definitely worth watching! Although you might want to refrain from watching it if you dislike, hints of, shounen ai. The story is gripping, as are the characters.
I’m hoping for a season three, but if you can’t wait for that: the manga is still ongoing. There are also two novels and a game.
Studios: Wit Studio
Started airing: 10th of October 2015
Number of Episodes: 12