Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign (vols. 1-2) by Takaya Kagami, illustrated by Yamato Yamamoto, storyboards by Daisuke Furuya, translated by Adrienne Beck
Here’s an intriguing blend of vampiric dystopia: “One day … an unknown virus brought the world to a sudden end.” The virus, however, didn’t affect children under the age of 13. They were, instead, trapped in an underground world ruled by vampires, who kept their young charges alive to ensure a fresh food supply.
In the year 2016 by the Vampire Calendar, Yuichiro and Mikaela Hyakuya are regularly being drained. They’re brothers, although not by their precious blood, but by circumstance. They were part of the Hyakuya Orphanage, where four years earlier they lived together as one big family, until the world as they knew it was destroyed. Since their capture, Yuichiro is convinced that developing his brawn will set them free; Mikaela argues that relying on brains is the better route. When they finally attempt their escape with their Hyakuya family, neither plan is successful and slaughter ensues. Only Yuichiro survives.
What he finds above ground is a shocking surprise: yes, the human population has been significantly depleted, but they haven’t been completely destroyed. “All of it … was just vampire lies …!” Yuichiro is immediately presented with an opportunity to seek revenge by exterminating vampires. His reply is immediate: “It it means I get to kill those blood-suckers, I’ll do anything,” he vows. “And so began … the battle at the end of the world … between vampires … angels … demons … and us.”
Four years later, and Yu remains continuously haunted by nightmares of his loss; those searing images continue to fuel his determination for revenge. He’s a gifted soldier, but he can’t seem to understand the importance of teamwork, something he must learn before he can even hope to be considered to be part of the most elite Moon Demon Company. But he’s lost his precious family once before; he’s not willing to risk such attachment again.
At the request of Lieutenant Colonel Guren Ichinose who first discovered Yu fresh from the slaughter, Shinoa Hiragi, an army surveillance officer, is assigned to shadow Yu and monitor any blatantly uncooperative, violent behavior. In spite of his solo act, Yu can’t walk away when classmate Yoichi Saotome is being roughly bullied – and like that, he’s made a friend. And if has one, he might as well take on another, even if Shiho Kimizuki is “a telephone pole with nasty, squinty eyes.”
As Yu, Yoichi, and Kimizuki prepare to face the unholy dead, the underworld’s latest quest for domination is well underway. Within their ranks, flying straight for Tokyo, is a newly-turned member who has unwillingly risen from the dead …
The secrets are many, the motivations varied, but the goal remains the same: wipe out the vampires and save the world. The narrative shocks – some hinted, some blatant – are ingeniously layered, from lab rats to inhuman percentages to demonic possessions. The illustrations are gorgeously energetic, with every page capturing action and reaction, whether merely the swish of a lock of hair, the drop of a heavy tear, the withdrawal of a fatal sword, the projectile of a flying fist, and more. Original and inspiring, this vampire tale promises to be a heart-thumping, blood-pumping thrill ride for sure.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2012 (Japan), 2014 (United States)
Owari no Seraph © Takaya Kagumi, Yamato Yamamoto, Daisuke Furuya
Original Japanese edition published by Shueisha, Inc.