I have such mixed reactions when I watched the new show Owari no Serafu/Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign. First, what a silly title. Move past that, the art on Hulu and for the show in general contains spoilers (for a couple eps in, but still). Get past that and watch the show, and you’re confronted with a super fast action packed sequence that established the premise and rockets plot off, and YAY for that! I was pretty excited to watch this show but a few minutes into it! And then an interesting and kinda classic gothic vampire world, but with really interesting backgrounds and setting details, but sadly REALLY stock characters. There’s the “we must fight them from within!” kid, the “I rebel against control” kid, and an assortment of adorable young’uns that immediately practically have “FUTURE VICTIMS” written on their foreheads. And as always on TV, fighting from within never works.
This was where I ran into my first, Wait, is this show just going to rehash Code Geass’s main conflict between within/without system main character arguments? Then lots of awful things DID happen, I was like “CALLED IT” but was pleasantly surprised when what was the cliche had some minor shocking and interesting twists and the fight scenes were really well done.
And then some more cliches, then a pointless school things that felt yoinked from Aoi Exorcist but not at all as well done. (It didn’t help there was voice actor similarities). Then exactly the beginning of every story ever happened (seriously, all of them. At least Deadman Wonderland killed-ish him! That had an interesting play on the school-attack-monster trope). Then We’re yanking the conflict from Devilman AND still running around as if being Aoi Excorcist/D.Gray-man versions 2.0…
I wanted to enjoy this show, but it just feels constantly derivative to me. It’ll do something in the details or execution I enjoy, but goes right back to cliches and I’m left disgruntled. Finally, I was like OMG it’s a REMIX! it’s got all of these things yanked right from other things! IT IS SUPER DERIVATIVE! But trying to be just different and interesting enough that people will like it, while still using all the main notes from these other shows.
And frankly, I think that it will be popular and lots of people will super enjoy watching it. Anyone who is super fond of this kind of shounen show is probably going to love it. It’s reminiscent of a lot of big hits that people would love more of, and here it is! More of that thing you enjoyed before! So hey, you like those things, maybe this will be a fun entertainment time for you, yay! Let’s all enjoy it (I’m certainly still watching it as it is released).
But is it good? So far I’m going with no. It’s almost completely unoriginal, and the three setting changes it’s gone through in the first few episodes abandons a lot of the details I think could make it standout and be awesome. It’s sticking so close to tropes it’s insanely predictable, sans minor “Oh he DID get one punch in before going down” ways, and that’s just not the kind of show I think is good. Passable and decent? Oh totally. So am I damning this show with faint praise? Yes. Unless it’s the exact kind of thing you’re into, don’t bother with it. Otherwise, it’s upon Hulu for north America free watching, happy viewings!
P.S. It’s got little in the way of positive or non-status-quo representation. This is not a show with interesting or unique female/gender diversity, racially diverse, ability or neurodiversity. I’m 10 eps in and zilcho, so… yeah. Don’t expect that.