Seraph of the End Guren Ichinose: Catastrophe at Sixteen Volume 2 Review

Volume 1 of Seraph of the End Guren Ichinose: Catastrophe at Sixteen saw a 15-year-old Guren join First Shibuya High School along with companions Shigure Yukimi and Sayuri Hanayori. But despite trying to hide his true strength, it didn’t take long for our protagonist to find himself in all kinds of trouble. Now let’s find out what’s next with Volume 2!

At the end of Volume 1, Guren’s school was attacked by the Hyakuya Sect and things went from bad to worse when Mahiru revealed she was working with the enemy and warned our protagonist that the world would end at Christmas before she swiftly fled the scene. In the aftermath of the fight, Guren has been taken captive by Kureto Hiragi who suspects Guren knows more than he’s letting on. 

Ultimately Guren has to choose to work directly under Kureto or he and all of the people he cares about will be murdered. Guren knows better than to call the bluff of a member of the Hiragi family, so obediently gives in. Now with Guren’s squad under his thumb, Kureto dispatches them on a dangerous mission to investigate an area the Hyakuya Sect has been using for research. 

The mission is almost certainly a death wish. The other squads sent to investigate were all wiped out and while Kureto believes Guren is strong enough to survive and come back with information, Guren isn’t so sure the rest of his companions will be able to make it out alive. And when faced with a mantis-shaped monster, Guren quickly fears the worst. Just in the nick of time, Mahiru turns up to intervene and offers our protagonist a cursed sword which will give him the power to protect those he loves and bring him one step closer to the future she desires. 

If you read the main series for Seraph of the End, then you’ll instantly recognise the sword, which is later referred to as ‘cursed gear’ and is the sword that protagonist Yuichiro Hyakuya and other members of his team wield. The gear has a demon entrapped inside, which asks for some of your desires in return for power beyond normal human means. Here in Catastrophe at Sixteen, these are still a work in progress and not as widely used in the army as they are by the time the main series takes place, so less is known about them. Guren is left to wonder what the price is for these weapons and why Mahiru has become so obsessed with them. 

When I reviewed the first volume of this series I criticised it for being overwhelming at times. Thankfully, now that we’re beyond the set-up stage this issue has more or less resolved itself. There is still a lot going on from chapter to chapter as Guren schemes to break free of the hold the Hiragi clan has on him, protect those he cares about, save the world – and figure out Mahiru’s game. But while there’s still plenty happening, it’s juggled better now, giving each storyline its time in the spotlight before rotating to something else. And they’re beginning to weave together relatively well, which helps. 

And now we’ve had more time to spend with the cast, I find myself growing more invested in the story on the whole. Of course, being a Seraph of the End spin-off about Guren, we were already familiar with many of the cast (depending on where you are in the main series), but there were still plenty of newcomers to get to know. 

I feel that the art has improved as well; it’s not quite as flat as in Volume 1 and there are a lot more action scenes here which is where mangaka Yo Asami’s strengths seem to lie, although Asami does still tend to fall back on drawing within small panels, which is a shame as some scenes would benefit from having more room. Still, this may improve as the series goes on and as these are in 2-in-1 omnibus format, we are getting to see improvements much quicker than if they were single-volume editions. And that has also helped prevent the story from feeling like it’s moving too slowly, as we get through quite a lot in these instalments! 

Seraph of the End Guren Ichinose: Catastrophe at Sixteen Volume 2 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha under their Vertical imprint. The series continues to be translated by Carl Vanstiphout with editing handled by Alexandria McCullough-Garcia. The release reads well with no issues to note. This edition includes colour pages, but instead of spread across the volume they’re all together at the front. I’m not sure if that’s because one of the two volumes didn’t have any in their original Japanese release or if this is just a change in direction for the English releases.

Volume 3 of the omnibus editions was released in English in January and #4 is currently scheduled for an English release in April. 

Overall, this second omnibus edition of Seraph of the End Guren Ichinose: Catastrophe at Sixteen improves the series in numerous ways. There’s a clearer picture of where the author Takaya Kagami is taking all this and now we’re done with the set-up we can enjoy the ride as the world slowly falls apart around the cast. One to keep reading if you enjoyed Volume 1! 

Our review copy from Kodansha (Vertical) was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).

8 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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