Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
Episode 16

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 16 of
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign ?

This week's Seraph of the End has united two of my favorite things – action and character development. As a prelude to the upcoming BATTLE IN NAGOYA, Guren prepares an exercise to teach the Shinoa squad about teamwork. Her five men need to take out Guren, the tiger-sniper Shinya, and the hand-to-hand brawler Mito. They get totally schooled, and Guren assigns them to Seargeant Makoto Narumi for further training. Yu is amicable, but Narumi looks none too happy to babysit a crew of teenagers.

Yu has actually seen some fairly significant character development recently. He's still an incurable idiot, but he's learned not to fly into pointless rages all the time. It's a far cry from Yu in the first season, who tried to assault Guren and Kimizuki at every possible opportunity. He's formed attachments with the Shinoa squad and proved himself a kind friend. His response to losing to Guren was quite mature, tempered, and even patient. I never thought I'd use those three words to describe Yu, but here we are. Maybe he'll even do something clever next time! The vampires don't know what they have coming.

Shinoa's haughty, careless demeanor has been challenged lately by her growing attachment to her squad. For once in her life, there are consequences to failure that Shinoa's status as a Hiiragi won't let her bypass – namely, the emotional trauma of losing people she cares about. She can't be frivolous about her responsibilities as a commander anymore, but she's also hesitant to fully cast off her devil-may-care attitude. It's a defense mechanism she developed as a response to her harsh and loveless upbringing. Giving that up would give her the opportunity for happiness with her friends, but it also yields the possibility of getting hurt. Shinoa is hardly a unique character in the landscape of shounen, but Seraph of the End has given her a distinct personality and adequate development. Seraph treats its female characters well, which goes a long way for me. When the “Shinoa develops feelings for Yu” subplot was first brought up, I wasn't on board with it. It seemed like they were pushing the romance onto a character who should be totally disinterested. Surprisingly, they've managed to make it work. They're both fairly layered and likable people.

I'm also glad that they don't just let the newbie squad plow through the opposition. They're a talented bunch of kids, but they're still just kids, and they can't stand up against experienced combatants. This isn't the type of shounen anime where the main character and his team of super special awesome friends can just charge through their enemies like toilet paper. Battle has serious consequences, and they're likely to lose people. That gives this story a sense of suspense and confinement that isn't present in most of its genre contemporaries. It's more Attack on Titan than Naruto, since I apparently need to point out Seraph of the End's debt to that series in every single review.

Four episodes into the new season, the budget still hasn't tanked. It's nice to get some slick action out of Guren's squad. They initially appeared in the last few episodes of the first season, but by that point the production had pretty much become a slide show. It's nice to see them when there's still tons of fun staging, gorgeous backgrounds, and interesting motion to spread around. Also, Mr. Tiger Sniper rides into the episode in a hot rod while pulling off the late-for-school toast-mouth. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Meanwhile in the vampire plot, Mika is only getting thirstier and thirstier. Krul isn't cutting it anymore, so Mika needs to find Yu before he loses control and ruins himself permanently. He also needs to drink some human blood before he goes crazy and turns into a demon. He almost kills a little girl, which indicates that Mika is becoming the monster he fights. Like in the first season, our long-lost BFFs probably won't reunite until the drawn-out conclusion, so prepare yourself for many more episodes of anguished, thirsty Mika before then. At least next episode looks to have the stupidest vampire design yet. What are you doing here, Marilyn Manson?

Grade: B+

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign is currently streaming on Funimation.

Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.

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