This fourth volume concludes the first story arc of Seraph of the End. Up to this point, we were given background information and a study of the characters. But with this book, the darker side of the story comes to bear and the ambiguity of just who really is the evil of the story – the vampires or the humans – emerges.
Story: The Japanese Imperial Army is making a stand at Shinjuku – hoping to hold off the vampires and not lose territory. But as Guren and then the others go down, all hope appears to be lost. But Guren has a bigger plan – and what appears to be a loss might actually be a huge set back for the vampires. For Yuichiro is more than just a cursed blade wielder; he is the ultimate experiment known as the seraph of the end.
Differing greatly from the light novels, which featured a lot more of the apocalyptic earlier history side of the story, the manga continues the action but with a focus on the characters. Before setting off a chain of events that will take the story to a very dark place, we’ve had a ‘breather’ period to get to know Yuichiro’s friends and why he wants to protect them. As well, Mika’s side and that he hasn’t been turned into a mindless evil bloodsucker; rather, he’s caught in the middle of the vampire/human war, burdened by the knowledge of the evil happening on both sides. Where Yuichiro is the muscle, Mika is the heart. And it looks like it will take the talents of both in order to make the world right again.
Several very-needed nuances were added to the story this volume. Going into the book, I was getting a bit bored – endless battles with a fairly superficial and obvious plot. But that ended midway when Mika finally encountered Yuichiro. Suddenly, we have special-sauce pills, experimentation, and a romance (with Shinoa). As well, we are given many hints, both by Mika and by the other vampires, that the real evil might actually be the desperation (read: greed) of the humans and not the vampires themselves. It will be interesting to see where the author takes it from here.
The art remains somewhat simplistic and is perhaps the thing I like least about the story. Everyone looks around 10 years old, including the demons. But this is a minor quibble as the story intensifies.
Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.