Blu-ray Review: Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 2
02/12/2016 1 Comment
Universal Pictures UK continue to produce high-quality Collector’s Edition content for their anime releases and the trend continues with this Blu-ray release of Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 2, otherwise known as Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya. This aside does this release remain consistent with the previous release? Well let’s find out!
A man-made virus has devastated Earth, leaving only the youth of society to fight the undead who have emerged to enslave those who remain. Yuichiro (voice of Miyu Irino) manages to escape vampire clutches and trains to become part of the elite ‘Moon Demon Company’. Along with his companions, he must fight to save the human race and rescue his friend Mikaela (Kensho Ono), who has been captured and turned into a vampire.
The second instalment into Seraph of the End, otherwise known as Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya, continues to provide a dramatic experience that is only enhanced with superb voice-over work (in both English and Japanese) and an amazing soundtrack provided by Hiroyuki Sawano. From my perspective Seraph of the End is only one of few anime series that manage to combine the four elements (Story-telling, Soundtrack, Voice-over and Animation) to provide a truly entertaining experience that will leave you engaged and wanting more; even in the most narrative driven elements of the series.
For me Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya, alternative known as Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 2 for this UK home-video release, deserves high praise in its production and presentation but in terms of episodic content and progression then something ‘a bit more’ would have been better. The twelve episodes contained with this set fortell the events which see the Imperial Demon Army, as well as our Moon Demon Company, attempt an all-out-attack on the vampires for a swift victory and as such each episode is a continuation of that single mission with minor breaks inbetween for minor character development; such as the relationship between Yui and Mika. That’s not to say that the episodic content is boring, as each episode tends to move at a swift pace, it just feels like more ground could have been covered; especially when the series tends to end in a rather adrupt fashion with more questions being raised on what just happened and more importantly what will happen next.
In any event Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 2 begins with a summary of what happened in the previous instalment; it’s a simple addition, and one that is greatly overlooked in the anime industry, but it helps viewers become reacquainted with the characters on screen. Suffice to say it’s been several days since the event of the previous instalment and we now see our cast of characters introduced to a new selection of characters from the Imperial Demon Army and the plans they have for future salvation. It’s an event which sees loyalty tested and Yui put under fierce scrutiny from the higher ups, namely Kureto Hiragi, and his ties with the Orphanage that Yui grew-up with. It’s an important intergoation as it lays down some ‘foundations’ of future events and the real objective behind the Imperial Demon Army; a fact which won’t make itself apparent until the closing episodes of this set.
It’s not long after this, as well as a training-session with Yui and Kimizuki to strength their demonic bonds, that we see the Moon Demon Company whisked into the centre of battle to attack the Vampire nobles head-on in Nagoya. It’s an all out battle which will see a large number of nobles defeated but in turn sees the stronger Nobles come out of hiding for a stronger sense of duty and survival. Of course these battles, albeit entertaining to watch, are just a prelude to the final events which see the Queen of Vampires, and a large number of nobles, arrive at a location to see the birth of true power; the Seraph of the End. Potential spoilers aside the Seraph of the End is a demonic power that is said to restore balance to the world, and one that Kureto Hiragi plans to use, and as such sets the world apart in one giant conflict between morals of survival and morals of right and wrong. The rules have changed; vampires are not entirely the enemy and the world (once again) is on the brink of destruction. Sure enough important elements of the story may not be explained, and numerous characters die in rather uninteresting ways, but it paves the way for an entertaining viewing experience that doesn’t let up until the ending credits have been shown.
This Collector’s Edition of Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 2 remains consistent with the contents of the previous Season 1 Part 1 release in terms of both physical and on-disc content. To start with not only do all Collector’s Edition releases of this set contain an artbook, poster, and character art cards but on disc content will include preview clips, textless songs and a selection of bonus anime episodes all of which is presented in the same manner as the previous instalment into the series.
The first disc features original Japanese promotional trailers and TV spots alongside textless opening and closing songs, which are incorrectly titled as music clips. Once again subtitles for the opening and closing songs – which act as translations for what is being sung – are displayed but they are not displayed during the episodes themselves.
The second disc on the other hand features the 12 mini-episodes compiled together as one twenty minute feature known as Seraph of the Endless; all of which feature removable subtitles and are presented in Japanese with your preferred subtitle format (English, French, German etc). This ‘Seraph of the Endless’ segment is rather amusing as it takes key moments from the anime series and presents them in a slightly different, more comical, manner that’s completely left-field of the atmosphere the series is trying to create.
Once again the Seraph of the Endless Mini Episodes would have worked out better if the twelve episodes were listed individually rather than as one big option on the menu. This being said each episode does feature chapter markers so you could easily skip to the next one if needed.
Media: BD50 x2
Running Time: 2:22:06 (Disc 1), 2:22:08 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Japanese, French, German)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Netherlands (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
From the moment I first started watching the remaining twelve episodes of Seraph of the End I was absorbed into the twisted world of conflict and deceit between vampires and humans; and thanks to the ‘summary’ at the first episode it is easy to become reacquainted with my favourite characters. It’s been several days since the events of the previous instalment and we now see our favourite group of students/soldiers under fierce scrutiny of higher-up members. The rules have changed and Shinoa, Yui and the rest of the gang are not as ’protected’ as they once thought. It’s a quick refresh, and mission debriefing, before the events of the series begin to start – a final deceptive battle with the vampires in Nagoya and as such endless conflict, and a few surprise reveals, is what is in store for viewers of this half of the series. Yes i am being vague; but that’s mostly because the episodes fortell one long mission of luring the vampires to their demise; unfortunately things don’t go as planned and deep secrets are revealed to both the vampires and humans – secrets which lead into a rather half-hearted ending that promises a second season; and as such the wait begins.
Universal Pictures UK continues the trend set out by it’s debut anime series, Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 1, and as per usual the product is superb but some minor flaws and niggles can be found. Visual and Audio quality is as you would expect it to be, with a superb English Dub provided by FUNimation in 5.1 DTS Surround; but it’s menu layout and subtitles which can cause some confusion and disappointment. It’s an issue which I have mentioned in other Universal Pictures UK products, namely Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 1 and The Heroic Legend of Arslan – Season 1 Part 1, but basically the menu uses buttons rather than text (like on traditional anime releases) and as such can be confusing for those that don’t use Universal Picture products. To me it’s not an issue; but for first time users it can be daunting.
Another potential issue is the subtitles as the subtitle option on the menu is strictly for dialogue and subtitles for signs/translations can only be accessed using the subtitle button on your remote. Additionally subtitles for the opening and closing songs do not appear during episodes but they do in the bonus features; which I find slightly bizarre. Once again these are not big issues, nor will it affect my view on the series and overall quality of these discs; but it is worth mentioning as it is different to the normal anime release.
Overall Universal Pictures UK have brought us another exceptional release of Seraph of the End and this second instalment into the franchise is just as action packed and emotionally driven as the previous half. The combination of its intense storyline, with high quality visuals and impressive vocal tracks, makes this another one of the best anime releases of the year – and that is before you consider the exceptional packaging and presentation that comes along with the Collectors Edition. Put simply you will need Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 2 in your anime collection; especially if you have the previous instalment but just because it is that good of a product.
Seraph of the End – Season 1 Part 2 will be available within the UK as a Collectors Edition DVD and Collectors Edition Blu-ray release on the 5th December 2016.