Seraph of the End: Guren Ichinose Resurrection at Nineteen Volume 1
Light Novel Review
Japanese Title: 終わりのセラフ 一瀬グレン、19歳の世界再誕 “Owari no Serafu – Ichinose Guren, 19-sai no Sekai Ressurection”
Author: Takaya Kagami — 鏡 貴也
Illustrator: Yo Asami — 浅見 よう
Translator: James Balzer
English Publisher: Vertical
Despite the three-year time skip in the title, Seraph of the End: Guren Ichinose: Resurrection at Nineteen picks up immediately after the events of its prequel light novel series, Guren Ichinose: Catastrophe at Sixteen. It also continues to be a prequel to the original Seraph of the End manga. The light novels are actually written by the manga’s author, so these are canon and consistent with the events of the manga.
This volume deals with the outcome of Guren’s choice at the end of Catastrophe where he resurrected his friends, despite knowing it would trigger the apocalypse.
The book has three narrative sections: Guren trying to keep his friends in the dark regarding their deaths (there is a reason, but I won’t spoil it), two boys from Guren’s clan witnessing the onset of the apocalypse first hand, and Guren and his friends rejoining the Imperial Demon Army.
I was glad to see this one avoided an immediate time skip. First off, it would cheapen the build-up of the previous series to not see what the promised apocalypse looked like. Also, it allowed the reader to experience Guren’s emotional state, knowing what his decision caused. It shows his growth from the loner at the start of Catastrophe to someone who cares and values his friends above all else. But it also starts a new emotional journey for the character–the question of whether he deserves to exist in this new world. It’s interesting to watch a character struggle with the idea of whether they have the right to fix a world they helped destroy.
Perhaps my favorite part of the book was the journey of the two boys from Guren’s clan, Makoto and Shusaku. Initially, they are up in the mountains training. When they see planes falling from the sky (I mean this literally), they make their way home. It’s their journey that shows the brutal “wrath of God.” Kagami uses a clever way to let the boys view the apocalypse as it occurs, while allowing them to maintain some distance from its immediate dangers. And the small, localized view they glimpse not only reveals the horror, but makes it personal enough to give emotional weight.
The third arc of the book reveals multiple levels of duplicity on the part of the Imperial Demon Army, but also of Mahiru’s brother, Kureto. This final section is obviously the setup for much of the rest of the series and the new world order seen in the Seraph of the End manga. It also reintroduces us to a changed Mahiru, and I can’t help but be curious about her new relationship with Guren and whether this still somehow is part of her plan.
Like Catastrophe’s volumes, the pace of this one is fast. Not only is the volume relatively short, but with action sequence immediately following action sequence, there is little time to take a breath. This mostly works in the book’s favor as it heightens the tension. Though some sections, most notably part of Makoto’s and Shusaku’s journey, felt rushed, or I guess existed as throwaways to shout-out fans of the manga.
Aside from these minimal pacing issues, my only other small gripe with this volume was the jarring “we’re still horny teenagers” moments. While the author plays this off as the characters lightening the mood, it just felt out of place with most of the book. But thankfully, these are few.
Fans of both the Catastrophe light novels and Seraph of the End manga will find they enjoy Seraph of the End: Guren Ichinose: Resurrection at Nineteen volume 1. While Catastrophe raced toward disaster, this volume begins a new journey to find a worthy life in a changed and frightening world.
You can pick this book up at the following retailers: