Thursday, September 18, 2014

Seraph of the End, Vol. 1: Vampire Reign by Takaya Kagami

This review was written by: B and C
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: June 2014
Pages: 200
Stars: (5/5)

"Lt. Colonel Guren told me something.  He said that when you were a child, your entire family was slaughtered by vampires.  And that is why you refuse to get close to anyone.  You're afraid to lose someone again.  So you don't look for friends or romance...because you're too scared."
               -Shinoa Hiragi

Yuichiro, or Yu, was almost killed by his father, and his mother went crazy, calling him "demon spawn." The woman who was supposed to devoutly love him eventually committed suicide, and his father attempted to murder him, the person who was supposed to always protect him in life.  As a result of this messed up situation between his parents, he is sent to an orphanage.  It is here that all of the children quickly take to him like they do to all of the new arrivals and immediately consider him part of their nonbiological yet true family.  Yu is then approached by the charismatic and "big brother" of the group, Mikaela.  Seeing as they are both eight, the oldest of all the boys and girls in the orphanage, they are looked up to by all.  While Mikaela stresses that they are all family, Yu states that he "doesn't want some stupid family."  This simple word that is so full of meaning proves to be of absolutely no significance to him.  However, he soon finds out that all of the children have had horrible family lives previous to their current situation, just like he did.  That is why they always stick together.  Shocked and now deepened by a bond, Yu is slightly less hardened to them, but he never lets this show.  At the same time, Mikaela sees right through his tough exterior.

Almost as soon as the previously mentioned events occur, vampires suddenly and unexpectedly rise to the surface of the earth in the dead of night.  Adults suddenly fall ill and die in seconds.  Children are left all alone.  Mikaela and Yu try to protect the kids and themselves but are taken underground by the evil inhuman creatures that rule in twilight.  It is here that they live among the creatures of darkness, never to know the sweet kiss of the sun again.  The children grow up a little, and we see them viewed as nothing more than human livestock for the vampires to feed off of as they wish.  They are told that all of the adults died and that now the vampires run as rampant as they wish, as long as it is during the evening hours.  Yu and Mikaela still try to protect their "family" and look over everyone with love and sacrifice.  Freely giving his blood to a noble vampire, Mikaela goes to the demon's house and, during the feeding sessions, slowly steals several items.  One of these includes a very important map that shows all of the tunnels that lead in and out of the underground fortress/city that they are kept in.  This place is a maze, but with the map, the gang has a strong chance to get out and taste freedom once more.            

After returning from a feeding session with the noble vampire, Mikaela wakes everyone up so that they can make their escape.  Following and trusting this new found possession to be accurate, they finally make it to the end of the line.  A huge archway marks their freedom from the underground prison up to the real world that they were born into, but everything goes wrong.  That very same noble vampire is their, waiting eagerly for the young faces to spot him.  From here, he admits that he was planning this out from the very beginning so that he could see the terror on their little faces.  Slaughter quickly ensues and child after child is viciously fed upon until each one is drained of blood for the purpose of a fun game that one vampire concocted.  Helpless to do anything against the vampire's strength and speed, they see countless loved ones fall every second while they still continue to run to the archway.  Finally, only Yu is left.  (Mikaela sacrificed himself so that Yu may live.)  Tired, stricken with guilt, and in utter shock, Yu eventually reaches the surface, a single survivor out of all that tried to escape the grasps that bound them.  However, it is not what he expected.  He is greeted by a young man who claims to kill the blood suckers that come up to his turf during the night.  Yu promises that he wants to be like them, that he will fight with them and kill those who hurt him and took his loved ones away. Yu is out for revenge.

As a surprise to Yuichiro, adults still roam the earth.  Not all of them died in the sudden epidemic and are still active in today's society.  Now that humanity has fallen, it is trying to get back on its feet and take a stand.  Yu wants to be a part of this by killing every single vampire he encounters.  To do so, he must first join to Moon Demon Company, an elite assassination/extermination group.  However, in order to do so, he is told that he must learn to work in a group.  Yu is horrible at this.  To him, he alone must get revenge.  In doing so, the orders that he is given by those in the company mean nothing to him.  He does what he wants without listening to anyone or with regards to authority.  This is the story of his journey to making his one dream a reality.

Yu is struggling to this day.  He continues to think about that night when he made it to the surface while everybody else perished before his very eyes.  They were together and then suddenly they weren't.  Being the lone survivor in this experience makes it so much harder.  No one  went through what he did because he couldn't save those with him.  His drive is what makes him live on.  One would hate to think about what he would do if he didn't have a cause.

What many people do not realize is that we are secret anime and manga junkies. (Now that that is out in the open, cue the shy glance towards the floor.) Seraph of the End, Vol. 1: Vampire Reign was the embodiment of why we love them.  Takaya Kagami wrote an amazing story full of action, loss, love, friendship, revenge, hints of humor, and ultimately heartbreak verses redemption.  Every second of the plot added more and more enrichment to the story.  We were never bored, not even for a second.  Yu and Mikaela were so easily loved and felt for while the vampires were so easy to hate.  The characters were all unique and had such diverse personalities that you just had to love them.  We were really tempted to go up and hug little Mikaela through the pages.  How could you even resist?  The art by Yamato Yamamoto was stunning.  Beautiful and capturing the story perfectly, it's definitely not a secret that everyone would envy his drawing skills.  We felt the pain that Yu did through Kagami and Yamamoto's collaborative work.  Together, they're one big genius!  It's impossible to describe how amazing this manga was or how much we loved it.  There are no words to possibly say what we thought about it.

Yu was complex and full of baggage right from the start.  The instant he was introduced, you realized how great his character was.  The switch between his past and present in the beginning of the book was brilliant and well done.  The love we felt for this book almost made us want to keep it even though it was from the library.  Of course, we didn't, but maybe we'll get the chance to buy it someday.  It's definitely rereading material.  The only thing about Seraph of the End was that we easily predicted the  ending of the book before we were even halfway through it.  However, this didn't stop us from devouring the rest of it.  The ending was still amazing and left us ranting about how we needed the next one for days on end.  We are definitely looking forward to how the author is going to deal with this predictable scenario and make it his own through various and unique creative directions.  If you're a manga addict like us, especially if it's in the vampire area, read it!!!!!  If you love vampires, read it!!!!  You just have have to pick it up!!!!!!!!

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