[WARNING OF SPOILERS AHEAD. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON WATCHING THE ANIMES AND/OR READ THE MANGAS. OTHERWISE, ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN – THEY ARE NOT CORRECT, THEY ARE JUST MY OWN. THANK YOU]
So, after the anticipated second season of Attack on Titan finishing not too long ago, I didn’t really have any other anime to watch. Not until I went through my pile of DVDs my friends had bought me of recommended anime I should watch. One of them was Seraph of the End – this wasn’t recommended, but it was something I wanted to watch after I had seen a cosplay (that won the competition) at Hyper Japan last year, and was intrigued. My friend had actually bought it for me as a birthday present so with nothing new to watch, I decided to give it a go with not really knowing much of the story.
After watching the first two episodes, I updated my MyAnimeList page and scrolled through the reviews – they were mostly OK, but one really struck me. One review commented on how the first episode of Seraph of the End was a copy of the first episode of Attack on Titan. I immediately disagreed – they were similar, yes, but not the same. So, after watching both seasons of both animes and watching additional content, I’ve decided on something: I think Seraph and AOT are similar, but not the same.
Granted, they are made by the same studio (Wit Studio, who produced Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, which is another anime that is said to be a wannabe of AOT) and will be producing the new Laughing under the Clouds movie due out in December) but that’s because studios like to produce similar things – take book publishers for example, as they often publish books in the same or similar genre, but they’re done by different authors, meaning there may be similar ideas and such, but it does not necessarily mean that they are the same.
I will say this before we go any further – I really enjoyed both animes, however I do prefer AOT over Seraph, and I will explain those reasons in the following way:
Story, Characters, Art/Animation, Sound and Themes.
Both animes do a lot of things right, and a lot of another things wrong but it’s certain other elements that makes make AOT stand out for me. Hopefully I can explain it more throughout this article.
Let’s start with Attack on Titan first, because it was the anime that was released first AOT: 2013; Seraph: 2015) and the one I watched first.
Attack on Titan follows Eren Yeager – the son of a doctor who is stuck inside high walls to keep out the Titans – large humanoid creatures who eat people. Why they do this is unknown, but they nearly wiped out the entire human race. One day, a titan with armored skin knocks down the wall and kills a lot of Eren’s village – including his mother. Eren escapes with his adopted sister Mikasa and best friend Armin further into the walls. The trio join the Survey Corps – a group of military men and women who dedicate their lives to defeating the titans. The series follows them and other characters as they take on titans, witness death and deal with many hard situations.
Seraph of the End follows Yuichirou Hyakuya – a young boy who witnessed his father kill his mother and put into an orphanage, where he meets Mikaela and others who become his new family. One day, a deadly virus spreads across the globe, killing all humans above the age of 13. Vampires appear, and in turn for protecting the children who survived against the virus and monsters who have appeared, take them to a underground civilization and become livestock for the vampires. Yu and Mika live with the rest of the survivors of the orphanage – including a girl called Akane – until Mika is able to retrieve a gun and a map, thanks to his connection to a vampire noble named Ferid Bathory. The family attempt to escape, until Ferid shows up and slaughters everyone but Yu. Yu manages to escape into the human world and is taken in by Guren Ichinose – a lietuant in the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. Yu joins them in hoping to extract revenge for the death of his family.
As you can see, both stories are similar – both have terrible events that push the main character on a quest of revenge in a post-apocalyptic world with powerful enemies as a threat, as well as others, such as monsters and corrupted humans.
After first watching Seraph, I believe that their world is not quite as dangerous – I’ve always believed that zombies (titans) are much harder to deal with than vampires, simply because vampires can have a stake driven through their heart; are allergic to sunlight (unless you count Twilight vampires, who just sparkle – which I don’t count them as vampires) and don’t like garlic. Sadly, vampires in Seraph are different – thought it is never discussed, these vampires can do out in sunlight and even things like beheading don’t kill them – only weapons possessed by a demon can. These vampires do have superhuman strength, do drink blood and can turn humans into vampires, but they are not the typical vampires we are used to, making them a little bit scarier. But I would still be more frightened by a titan than a Seraph vampire if both were suddenly stood in front of me.
Eren and Yu are very similar characters – headstrong; driven by emotions and can be a little one dimensional (which is not a bad thing). They both have had bad experiences that driven them through their life and goals: Eren wants to kill all the titans; Yu wants to kill all the vampires. Both also have underlying powers that neither of them knew about that are the result of experiments (or at least can be assumed for Eren) and use them for good, even if they are seen as a possible enemy (and both lost control when using their powers). However, I would say I prefer Yu over Eren (until the second half of the second season for Yu) as he can be comedic at certain points and even logical, whereas Eren can be quite annoying in certain episodes. Both care for their friends a lot, but I feel this is more evident with Yu, especially in the episode where we first meet Shihou Kimizuki and Yu punches him for not being with his sister Mirai when she takes a turn for the worst). Plus, Yu is way cuter.
Mika in Seraph is easily the character I feel the most sorry for – after Yu escapes, Mika is turned into a vampire by Krul Tepes (the queen vampire of Japan) but chooses to drink only vampire blood (until episode 10 of season 2) so he does not become a full fledged vampire. Throughout season 2, Mika is shown to be lost control of his vampire side – the point where he captures a few humans but does not feed on them, yet is in terrible pain because he needs blood. Mika had no choice in becoming a vampire and all he wants to do is be with Yu – he is neither on the human side or the vampire side. In a way, he is very similar to Mikasa of AOT – both have a somewhat ‘obsession’ with the main character (you could argue for both because they are the last surviving member of their family, but for Mikasa it’s also because she has possible romantic feelings for Eren. In regards to Yu and Mika, many fans speculate a possible romantic relationship between the two) and have physical strength that they use to protect their friends.
During Yu’s time in the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, he befriends Yoichi Saotome – a boy with a strong desire to avenge his sister who sacrificed herself so he could live but is somewhat a bit of a coward. He is not strong and hates conflict (in the beginning, but he doesn’t exactly like it either when he puts his duty first). In a sense, he is very similar to Armin – Eren and Mikasa often come to his rescue (even in season 2) and does not have physical strength like his friends do. However, Armin’s intelligence makes him a vital character in AOT – he has shown that his mind is his most powerful weapon and is more of a supporter than a fighter. Yoichi does become more useful further in the story of Seraph thanks to his ranged bow weapon and doesn’t simply stand there and wait to get attacked – not that I’m saying Armin does all the time, but in episode 5 of season 1, he does simply witness his friends get killed and does nothing about it. I guess they are both the stereotypical coward, however they have other talents that come in useful in aiding their friends and comrades. I promise I’m not hating on Armin – I do really like Armin, but because of Yoichi’s weapon, he is potential more useful. Both have endangered their friends lives due to their weakness, but redeem themselves further down the line.
I would argue that Kimizuki in Seraph is a mixture of characters from AOT – he has strength like Mikasa does, however his relationship with Yu is similar to Eren and Jean‘s relationship. They have a rivalry with eachother than eventually develops into a bond of friendship (with that rivalry underlying and making itself known a few times, but I would argue this is more evident with Kimizuki and Yu’s relationship than Eren and Jean’s as Eren and Jean do eventually care about eachother with no real rivalry still showing).
While there is a large cast of characters in both series, Seraph‘s character are much more boring. A lot of the time, it feels like they are there to fill space then die to elicit some emotion from the viewer – this is especially evident with Yayoi Endo and Taro Kagiyama. But in AOT, the anime has a good knack for introducing characters, making us care for them, then killing them in the most unexpected way. In Seraph, there was one character I will they hadn’t killed – Shusaku Iwasaki – another member of Makoto Narumi‘s squad who seemed to be more willing to give Shinoa‘s squad a chance than the others, and he seemed like a much more cool character. That, and his death didn’t have a full explanation, leaving me sad because I wanted him to die (if he had to, which he did) for a good reason (morbid, I know). Other than that, I didn’t really care much for other characters in Seraph (apart from Mito Jujo, who I think is badass and would really like to see more of). This is the polar opposite in AOT – there are a lot of characters I care about, often get scared that they will dead, and of course get sad when they do die. This is evident (for me) with around four characters. My overall favourite character is Sasha Blouse, who had some screen time in the first season, but was further explored in season 2. I think had she died in season 2 (that point in the manga she was actually supposed to, however one of Hajime Isayama‘s editors cried when they saw the scene and decided to reverse it), I would be much more upset than had she died in season 1 (she did have a few close calls), but upset nonetheless. The same goes for many minor characters – Marco Bott, Petra Ral and Nanaba (season 2). I don’t think there has been a single death in AOT that I haven’t felt something for – whether it be sadness or shock – which I cannot say for Seraph. Even with the episode where Yu ‘dies’, I knew he wouldn’t stay dead for long (for various reasons that I will explain later on), which is not the feeling I had when Eren ‘died’. Seraph creates a lot of characters that just don’t hold a bond with the viewer, which is the complete opposite of AOT (for me, at least). Although, I do have a love-hate relationship with Guren, but let’s not get into that.
I’ll just say this straight out – the art and animation for AOT is way better than Seraph.
Granted, many people criticized on Isayama’s drawing skills in the first few issues of the AOT manga, but it was developed very well for the anime adaption. But it can be said differently for Seraph – the art style of the manga is very different to the anime, but the anime version isn’t great either. You know when anime fans post pictures taken from the show – usually of characters in the background – that look derpy and weird? Yeah, Seraph sadly is one of those animes.
However, one thing can be said for both anime adaptions – the season season’s art and animation is better compared to the previous season. There are particular examples of each – in AOT, the animation in episodes 7 and 8 of season 2 of Mikasa using her 3DMG gear is much clearer and agile compared to the previous season. In Seraph, the final fight in episode 12 of season 2 is much more detailed and the combat flows much better.
With my DVDs of the first season of Seraph, I got the Collector’s Edition, meaning I also got the artbook. Many of the settings, such as the ruined city of Tokyo, are beautifully illustrated and used well in the anime – maybe not as much as I would have liked.
For both animes, the art and animation is OK and has improved, but it isn’t the best I’ve seen. Probably because of my Studio Ghibli stained eyes.
I think it can be argued that the first opening of season 1 of AOT was the most hyped anime opening I have ever watched and/or listened to. The other opening and ending songs grew on me eventually and I know have all 4 of them on my iPod (I am not ashamed). However, for season 2, the opening was OK and eventually grow on me, but I really didn’t (and still don’t) like the ending song – it doesn’t feel like it fits in with it’s happy music and cathedral singing. But the rest of the song track is really good (proud to say that I do own it, and not illegally) – especially Call Your Name by mpi & CASG with haunting music and emotional lyrics (I actually plan of using the lyrics as an opening to one of my chapters for my upcoming Tekken fanfiction).
Seraph’s soundtrack is pretty good – I like both openings for both seasons, but the ending for season 2 is amazing. I really love the beginning part of the track that has no music and just hauntingly beautiful church-like singing with lyrics I don’t understand (and I don’t care that I don’t understand). The rest of the soundtrack is epic with guitars, weird sounds, pianos – everything that makes up a soundtrack for something that gets you pumped up for battle but can be emotional too – apart from one track (which I sadly can’t find the name of) that is more often than not used at the beginning of a comedic scene.
But soundtracks are great and I think it’s fair to say they are level-pegging, but for the song Call Your Name alone, AOT is better.
Both animes have the same themes – apocalypse world within walls; power; traitors; death; friends and family – the list could go on. But they display theme in different ways.
With AOT, it focuses on death, fear, treachery, friendship and power. It also relies on mystery and unexpected plot twists – some of which we would never think of. I could easily write a article on the amount of questions I have after season 2 of AOT due to suspense, cliffhangers and needing to know things like a character’s well being.
Seraph does this too, but I would argue that cliffhangers and such are much more prominent after season 2 – again, I would right an article on the amount of questions I have while waiting for the next season.
But, AOT does it better – I think this may be down to the characters and situations, as I mentioned previously. I care about more characters in AOT than I do in Seraph, which is probably the most frustrating part of being a fan of AOT (and yes, I do read the manga but only to certain points so I don’t spoil it for myself). With Seraph, it is much more predictable and doesn’t focus on characters the same way, meaning the many themes of the anime doesn’t have the same affect on me as AOT does.
As I said in the beginning of this article – I am much more favourable to Attack on Titan than I am with Seraph of the End, and I stick by that decision. I’m not saying that either anime is bad, because they’re not – I’ve enjoyed both of them, and I lot more than I thought I would.
Both series do a great job of setting the scene, creating great characters, developing plot twists and so on. But, AOT does a better job of being unpredictable and making us care about the characters.
That’s not to say Seraph doesn’t do this – it does to a certain extent, however due to anime spoiling itself a few times and being a bit predictable (apart from using Mirai as Seraph of the End at the end of season 2 – I really wasn’t expecting that), I wouldn’t put it up there with AOT.
Both series are similar – as I have stated many times during this article – but not the same. Yes, they both have big, unhuman threats; have to use special gear to defeat the threat; many characters get killed; their worlds are on the brink of extinction and both main characters have a power that can aid them in annihilating the threat and living in peace. But – for me at least – Seraph of the End is not on the same level as Attack on Titan. Maybe it’s because I watched AOT first and therefore a bit jaded, but I will say that AOT impacted me in such a way that Seraph didn’t – AOT even helped me to change my style of writing fiction and made me cry on several occasions, which no other movie, book or anime has done (apart from a few).
There is nothing wrong with two things being similar – as a creature of habit, when I enjoy something, I often reread or rewatch it for a while until I get tired of it. Then I want something that’s similar but not the same – I think this is way I enjoyed Seraph more than other people. I recommend both animes, especially if you’re open-minded when it comes to two things being similar.
I will argue another difference – for me, I enjoyed the first season of AOT than I did with season 2. This is most likely because I had never experienced anything like AOT – I was not used to so much death (especially of such important characters) and backstabbing. But I enjoyed season 2 of Seraph more than season 1 – most likely because a lot of my questions from the end of season 1 were answered, but there were certain points that I didn’t expect to happen (like when Shinoa protected Mika from the Demon Army so he could kidnap Yu).
I’m very much looking forward to third season of both animes, but I’ll probably have to wait a while for Seraph.
I hope that I have argued my case well and that you can see both sides of the argument. Or, maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough. Neither way, let me know – this is the first time I’ve written something like this, so I would really appreciate some feedback!
Until next time, take care!