Thursday, March 24, 2016

Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen review

Previously, I've made a short review on the first season of Owari no Seraph, and complained on how mediocre it is despite its popularity. I was hoping that the second season will somehow become much, much better. But sadly, this was not the case at all. It continues to become a mediocre anime, with questionable plot and unsatisfying ending. Indeed, that the whole Owari no Seraph francise itself is the living proof that you need much more than just successful anime tropes and clich├ęs mashed together in order to make things actually work.

Yuuichirou has reunited with Mikaela at the Shinjuku Battle. But Mikaela was turned into a vampire... To save the "family," and to protect his fellow members, Yuuichirou needed to gain knowledge and power. He searched for ways to bring back vampire to human beings, and at the same time, trained hard working on the Cursed Gear. Meanwhile, Kureto calls Guren and tells him a shocking truth. That in one month, the main unit of the vampire will start attacking Tokyo. To get a head start against vampires, Kureto orders Guren to go to Nagoya. The noble extermination mission is about to open fire! (Source: Official website)

Again, a quick flashback of my previous review for Owari no Seraph; it is a mess that tries to bring up successful formulas and narrative devices all at once, in an attempt to pander to multiple demographics. You have an amalgamation of various setting; vampire, viruses, demon, angel, monsters all thrown into a post-apocalyptic world to fight against each other. It may looks cool on paper, but the lack of coherency and poor execution makes the plot to feel subpar even after 24 episodes in total. The second cour focuses on the climatic battle in Nagoya, hence the title. The story starts off  really fast, picking up from the conclusion  of previous season. There are main conflicts; both inner and outer between the characters and faction involved. Each characters had their own motivations to add in the story, but the execution is poorly done. Most of them either lost halfway through the story, never to be seen again or so ridiculously bad you can't even feel connected anymore. There are simply too many mysteries and plot holes in the story; with more keep coming up the longer you watch. With no answers to solve the past questions you just end up lost in what is going on. The ending are really cringeworthy; rushed, convoluted and just doesn't make sense anymore. In the end, the story simply end up as mindless human versus vampire action with elements like demon mixed up. Speaking about fight scene however, it is well executed with good looking choreograph and fairly smooth animation. While it is questionable most of the time, for example why can't vampires use regular firearms and bombs instead of swords and whips since it is impractical in modern setting especially during war; it does look cool if you can mindlessly enjoy it without thinking too much into it.

As for the characters, the anime features a huge, different varieties of cast from both the human and vampire factions. 90% of the cast however, are forgettable and mostly serve as a plot device. The only notable characters that are worth to mention are the protagonist, Yuichiro Hyakuya along with his 'family' member Mikaela Hyakuya, his comrade Shinoa Hiragi and his mentor Guren Ichinose. Yuichiro developed considerably in the new season, become a lot matured in a sense that he is less annoying and throw less tantrum. He cares a lot more towards his teammates, treating them like an actual human being and also shows respect towards his superior. However, in the season finale, everything about his development and progress as a character is crushed to the ground, once again. Mikaela, compared to previous season show some more screentime, but mostly to play the tragic role of a person who stuck in a dilemma of choosing between the two sides. His hesitation in spilling the beans about the dreaded 'Seraph of the End' experiment is probably one of the most annoying traits of his almost non-existent personality. The relationship between both Yuichiro and Mikaela stands between fujoshi bait and two 'family' members that trusted each other beyond saving. Shino stays a consistent character throughout the series, but there is no room for her to actually develop his background story which is really a shame. Guren, along with Shinya Hiragi are my favourite dynamic duo of the series; suffering from a blatant lack of good writing but their scenes were dynamic and they acted pragmatically most of the time. As for the other characters; Yuichiro and Shinoa group members shows less screentime and play less, important roles other than to add on to the action scene. Guren team members could also be said the same. Makoto Narumi and his crew is probably one of the most unnecessary additions to the cast and the plot overall, serving no other function other than to gives a third point of view towards the others. The vampires faction are less important, acting as one-sided antagonist; scheming but never shown what their ultimate goal really is. Overall, the characters in Owari no Seraph are mostly forgettable, mainly because the lack of characters development given the overwhelming amount of casts.

The art and animation are above average at best. The character design are decent, despite the fancy looking uniform that aids little to none in actual combat and over the top weapon design. The background used are hit and miss; while it is beautiful, with its watercolour like painting, it feels redundant at time and does not fit too much with the post-apocalyptic world setting. The animation are mostly good, especially when it is concerning the fast paced fight scene. The only notable problem however, is when the characters are far from the camera, their movements become funnily stationary and lose considerably amount of major details. As for the sound, the OP and ED sound are actually really decent, and the OST used are fairly good for the most part, albeit forgettable. It is mediocre to say the least.

Overall, the whole Owari no Seraph series serves nothing more than a jumbled up cliche with hollow story and its only saving grace is the decent action scene. Do I enjoy it? To some degree, I actually enjoyed it since it is genuinely fun. However, for one to actually enjoy it themselves is to not thinking too much into it and watch it for the sake of watching. I could not recommend it for people who had watched a lot of decent anime with great storyline, but it is a suitable choice for those who are still enjoying generic cliche and are in just for fun.

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