Seraph of the End and the Family

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Seraph of the End besides its scenario–a post-apocalyptic world with man vs. vampire (Well, that was done in Trinity Blood, but this setting feels different.)–is its emphasis on human relationships.  Our hero, Yuuichiro, loses his parents to join another family in an orphanage.  He loses this family while leaving the vampire held city were he was taken following the plague which broke out.  The head of the anti-vampire unit, Colonel Guren, demands that Yuuichiro gain a friend or a lover before he may join this unit.  In the last episode, Yuuichiro is forced to pair with another person having trouble forming human relationships.  One might list more examples of how this show focuses on the importance of relationships.

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However, a few remarks of Shinoa’s I found particularly fascinating: “Virginity is evil” and the above comments.  (Just seeing the words on screen does not do justice to Saori Hayami’s delivery.)  In another article, it might be worthwhile to compare the idea of virginity and loneliness, but I want to focus on her hearty exclamation above.  It seems to me that Shinoa states two mutually opposed ideas: breeding and illicit sexual realtions.  It is important for the decimated human population to repopulate the world, but that can in no way be accomplished through illicit sexual relations.

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Illicit sexual relations are sought for the sake of pleasure rather than for the sake of children.  Children are unwanted where adults unite for pleasure rather than out of love.  This can easily be seen in modern society by the prevalence of contraception and abortion, which number among the factors for population decline in America and most of Europe.  “Well, what if you eliminated the above two factors and still had illicit affairs?”  One would have thousands of single mothers relying on government aid and children growing up without their fathers–which is the case in the West now.  Also, many parents might still resort to exposure or turning their children to orphanages (better than the former solution, but not ideal)–as we saw in the past.  There is no substitute for the family and the union of one man and one woman as a building block of society: “The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together,” as St. John Chrysostom says.

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Actually, the simplest manner of reducing the population is by reducing incentives to marry and stay married–as we see in modern society.  The vampires in Seraph of the End waging direct war against free humans and enslaving the rest is no where near as effective.  How many fathers and mothers with more than three children are sneered at these days?  How many are compared to animals?  A professor once told my old classmates and me that, while shopping with his four children, he heard this disdainful comment from a clerk: “I guess someone never heard of birth control.”  As if the existence of one or two of his children were aberrations!  It is not uncommon for mothers of many children to be looked at with disgust also!  Are we on the brink of forming the kind of society present in A Brave New World?

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What produces so many to hate the mere existence of their fellow men?  Are certain people seen to actually hold the level of livestock while others are more noble existences–as we see in the dichotomy between human and vampire in Seraph of the End?  The world seems to speak out of both sides of its mouth when it speaks about the unlimited potential of each individual and that the world has too many people.  Perhaps, it derives from the doctrine of limited goods, i.e. that the world holds a finite amount of goods and that one person having property means that another is perforce denied property.  Therefore, population reduction, sine dubio, increases one’s potential to have more property!  (And what horrible logic that is except that people really believe it’s true.)  At any rate, how far are the above two conceptions from the idea that there is a Supreme Ruler of the Universe who assigns everyone a specific place–that all men are useful and that Providence will provide for each.  I look forward to seeing how the upcoming  episodes work with these ideas.

Shinoa's pretty much my favorite character at the moment.

Shinoa’s pretty much my favorite character at the moment.

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12 comments on “Seraph of the End and the Family

  1. a991807 says:

    While I agree with you on the family being the foundation of any functional society, I don’t think this show will satisfyingly address any of the issues you’ve brought up in this article. Maybe this is just a cynicism built up over years of watching Japanese anime being on the brink of actually providing good commentary on the human condition only to watch it descend into the depths of popular culture just as it is about to reach its epiphany, preferring the comfortable to the challenging. I’m sure there are examples of anime in the past that actually deal with serious issues (I’ve heard good things about Trigun, for example) but today most anime just sticks to the cultural narrative. For example, while I loved the anime Tiger and Bunny for its positive portrayal of the traditional hero (who, shockingly, puts saving people over his own popularity) and the ideological clashes between more “modern” heroes, who are in it for the glory, and “washed-up” heroes, who still cling to ideals, when it came time for it to address a serious issue it cowardly stuck to the narrative. The issue I am talking about, in particular, is the homosexual life-style and gender-identity disorder of “Fire Emblem”. In the epilogue film to the series Fire Emblem’s backstory is fleshed out and it is shown that he had a emotionally unstable upbringing where he first wanted to be a woman (even going to the point of dressing in drag in public) before deciding to be a flamboyant homosexual. But rather than discuss the serious problems in Fire Emblem’s life brought on by his refusal to seriously consider the negative repercussions of his sexual perversity it merely ends the self-reflection with the tired platitude of modern culture that “he’s a good person so who cares if he is indulging himself in a way that is detrimental to his growth as a human being?” It lionizes homosexuality in a, in my opinion, shameless capitulation to the popular narrative. Another example is the manga and anime series Hellsing. I know you have seen it before since you have written about its characters before on this blog so I’ll just cut to the chase. It makes no serious attempt to look at the position of the Catholic Church. As a Catholic I agree with Father Anderson in that series that the undead, being abominations against God and nature, should be annihilated. But rather than give the Catholic position a fair shot, Hellsing paints the Church as the bad guys while lionizing the Hellsing organization (which is essentially a puppet of the Anglican Church, one of the most morally bankrupt organizations I have ever seen that takes cues from the secular culture at every turn). Even Anderson, who the series generally portrays positively (although it does make him seem a little unhinged in fights and adds dialogue in the OVA that makes him seem more vicious than he actually) as a loyal, pious, soldier of God with an unwavering faith who puts what’s right over even the will of his superior officer, LOSES against Alucard (a monster who has consumed the lives of countless victims, admits he IS a monster, and who would most likely be the greatest threat to mankind if he wasn’t bound to serve Integra). The series’ creator adds insult to injury by having Anderson lose even when equipped with Helena’s Nail (A relic of incredible holiness taken from the true cross itself). The series essentially says that the use of evil (vampires) to fight evil (vampires) is justified by the ends (which makes no sense because THERE ARE STILL VAMPIRES), and that those who unwaveringly side with a transcendental standard and put their faith in God are nothing more than ineffective fools who, in the end, will be ground into the dust (as Anderson was so unceremoniously ground into the pavement by Walter only moments after death). Maybe I’m wrong, maybe Seraph of the End will actually come out better, I’ll keep watching to see what happens. However, a series where the good guys use DEMONS to fight vampires (talk about driving out demons by invoking Beelzebub) and where the main character (who I admittedly like as a character) is surrounded by people with HIGHLY questionable philosophies (ex: Shinoa) doesn’t give me much hope. But at least I’ll get some cool fight scenes out of it.

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    • David A says:

      Wow… can’t believe it. Someone else that noticed these problems in hellsing, and criticizes them.

      I didn’t finished the ova series after the Anderson vs Alucard fight. It was absurd, with the use of a Holy Relic like the Nail, he could have killed the vampire easily. Another thing I disliked, besides the very anticatholic way of portraying the Church, was the misuse of the Crusaders… fighting civil people? and then killed easily by the horde of zombies? argh.

      The author of that manga seems to have an above common (for manga writers) knowledge of Catholicism. I mean, he included details like the names of the Military Orders, except the Order of Malta, the other three are relatively unknown.

      And, the gore, and the vulgar scenes of the first anime. That series has lots of problems.

      Tiger and Bunny… I only watched two episodes I think, I was reading about that character you mentioned and didn’t continued the series.

      Regarding the series discussed in the article, after reading that they are used demons, to fight vampires, it was a reason for not watching it.

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    • That’s a great comment! There are many anime which stick to the politically correct narrative in discussing ideas. If they do wish to challenge that message, they can only manage to do so indirectly. It reminds me of Dostoyevsky writing to a friend about how Notes from the Underground was supposed to show how salvation can only be found in Christ, but the censors–whoever they were in Tsarist Russia–refused to let Dostoyevsky write plainly about that.

      That feature of Tiger and Bunny sounds very interesting. I have a friend who tells me that I should watch it. Homosexuality is one issue many people don’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole. Of course, we should pity homosexuals, but then to say that this pity should take the form of permission to continue with that lifestyle is actually wicked–the same as if we told a glutton, drunkard, bully, or thief that they were born that way and just need to continue as they are doing. But, when Catholics try to explain: “We want you to realize that this is a vice, and that you need to overcome it through grace–like any other sinner,” they hear: “We hate you, and you’re damned.” People find it so much easier to take an extreme view than the truth!

      Too many anime accept the idea that only evil can defeat evil. And it’s senseless for the very reasons Our Lord gave. With Hellsing, I never got so far as to see Father Anderson’s demise–my favorite character in the series with Victoria coming a close second. Part of the reason for that heresy, no doubt, lies in many people not understanding good and evil. They imagine good in a pacifist and emasculated sense, while evil includes all power to destroy or coerce. That’s what Kisara got wrong at the end of Black Bullet. And Hellsing gets it wrong on so many levels!

      Trigun is a great show which features many Catholic messages. Sadly, I think it’s mangaka went on to claim that he has no religion–as TWWK of Beneath the Tangles told me. For all that, his Trigun and Gungrave are brilliant works, and the latter still feels somewhat Catholic for all its weirdness. If you want a positive vision of the Catholic Church, you need to watch Trinity Blood or Blassreiter. Ashita no Joe stands as a work thoroughly imbued with Catholic sentiments and ideas, though it never references Catholicism directly. Then again, Arpeggio of Blue Steel and Wolf’s Rain pretty much parallel the Gospels in many regards; yet, they also decline to reference the Faith.

      As for Seraph of the End, even though it seems to fall into that heresy of believing only evil can conquer evil, it also makes the salient point about the cursed blades that love prevents the demon inside from taking over the wielder’s soul. And love must certainly be on the side of good. I’m also interested to see whether Seraph of the End comes out as more orthodox than Hellsing.

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  2. Your ethical, moral and philosophical disquisitions are most interesting.

    Here, this vampire war in a post-apocalyptic world reminded me of “I am Legend”, a book that also raises questions on this subject.

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    • Thank you! These topics have been weighing on my mind for a while, and Seraph of the End gave me a way to channel those ideas.

      The series does feel like it borrows some ideas from “I am Legend.” The early episodes give humanity the moral high ground, though I’m curious to see whether the vampires are shown in a more palatable light by the end. (It doesn’t seem likely, but we’ll see.) I should read that novella again.

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  3. David A says:

    Is surprising that how you can write very interesting articles based in sub-par and problematic series.

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    • Don’t call it sub-par just yet! The first episode had a lot of genius, and that may return in the next few episodes–even if the last four use an almost ordinary high school setting.

      Basically, every author writes from a particular worldview, and, once one discerns their ideas, one can express where one thinks that ideology is wrong and what it means for us human beings. Often, fiction is even better at convincing people of the truth of a particular worldview than a philosophical work, e.g. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged or Huxley’s A Brave New World. But, learning an author’s perception of the truth is one of the things which makes fiction so interesting.

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      • David A says:

        Maybe technically isn’t sub-par, but the evil vs. evil cliché cheapens it. Not even manichean systems are like that. Usually these miss what is evil (for example, an evil creator), but this… is absurd.

        Yes, I agree, and that goes with the topic of evaluating works, making warnings, etc.

        Everything is under the aegis of a faith, an idea, an ideology.

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  4. […] Owari no Seraph speaks to the value of the family, ironic in a series that looks at family unconventionally and perhaps at sex in a faulty way. [Medieval Otaku] […]

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  5. […] through seeking the aid and intercession of the Queen of Heaven, Mary the Mother of God.)  Unlike human society’s enthusiasm for childbirth, vampires don’t seem to be able to reproduce.  New vampires must come from human beings. […]

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  6. […] Owari no Seraph speaks to the value of the family, ironic in a series that looks at family unconventionally and perhaps at sex in a faulty way. [Medieval Otaku] […]

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  7. […] of this blog know how fond I was of the first season.  In artwork, the second season outdoes itself, striking me as a “wallpaper anime,” […]

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