Servamp is the summer anime adaptation of Strike Tanakas supernatural shojo battle manga by the same name. The manga has run from 2011 and has so far been collected into 9 tankobon volumes. The adaptation is handled by studios Brain’s Base and Platinum Vision and backed by 10 producer companies ( as listed by MAL ). Platinum Vision is a studio who’ve consistently churned out popular shoujo so their involvement in this high selling IP is expected , for Brain’s Base however Servamp is their first ever credited anime and I assume the future of the studio will be riding on the ratings of Servamp.
So is this a show worthy of a double studio involvement and the money of 10 different producers ? Well it’s not an exact split.
“The story revolves around a 16-year-old boy (15 at the beginning of the story) named Mahiru Shirota who likes simple things and dislikes difficult things. One day, he picks up a stray black cat he finds in the middle of the road and gives it the name Kuro (which literally translates into "black"). From this moment on, a contract between the servamp Sleepy Ash and Mahiru is formed, and Mahiru is pulled into the Servamp war between the seven deadly Servamps and their eighth sibling Tsubaki.”
Vampires certainly aren’t a new concept , in hollywood or anime , they’ve been done over and over. But using the tried and trusted isn’t inherently a weakness , Servamp takes this established lore that people are already comfortable and applies its own rules to the world thus differing it from the vastness of vampire media.
Another thing I think Servamp did well was the scale of the story, in a 12 episode run trying to fit in an ambitious battle between worlds , a la , Attack on Titan ( for example) would have resulted in a mess of conflicts and rushed characters. While I understand this is linked to how the source manga ran and how the author intended the story to go , the studio keeping with a story that can be summed up in one paragraph keeps the viewer focused and Servamp easy to digest allowing for a good handful of villains and fights.
The pacing is also suited perfectly for the episode span that Servamp has , the story keeps moving continually ahead with very little in the way of detours and hardly an ounce of filler. The first episode itself encapsulates the world , sets up our main characters and villains and also has time for a adrenaline pumping fight-scene. Does that sound like a lot ? Well it is , most medicore anime set all that up with their OP and spend the first five minutes dumping exposition on the viewer before actually starting. Servamp handles all those elements while still giving the viewer time to breathe and think.
This leads into my third point on what Servamps writing and planning teams did to sell me on the show , most supernatural anime open up on a scene of narration that in five minutes beats us over the head with exposition. Servamp spaces out all explanation and lets it occur naturally when the world requires it , allowing for intrigue on how the world works and also providing the necessary answers.
The humour however has been sacrificed to allow for these positivities , it’s hollow and horribly “ anime “ resorting to cliches and coloured panels with little relation to the characters.
As for the story itself ? It’s not horrible the villains and problems encountered are entertaining but it’s also not a literary accomplishment either , it’s rather small scale and allows for all the character arcs it requires.
The OP is very reminiscent of death notes second op “ What’s Up People “ with a heavy metal/screamo song that breaks the usual J-pop monotony , I take it as a breath of fresh air but I feel it marginalizes the viewers who’ll be able to enjoy it since it’s a rather broad audience show. It’s visually tame but compensates with a interesting blue-red overlay with livens up the imagery.
The OST has no real concrete style and hops from genre to genre but the sound director made the wise choice to keep it out of the way and serve as a backdrop for the action rather than the main focus.
The backgrounds have a horrible habit of being completely over-saturated and drowned out in cheap sun-light lens flares. Which is a shame since the lighting and shadow are quite good and the geography results in a lot of cool shots. Because of how the lens flaring acts on the environments never completely implement into the scene , outside of fight scenes , and look like paper puppets on a computer drawing.
Talking about fight scenes, they’re the main draw that Servamp had on me , with choreography that constantly moves with the slick camera work and the wide range of angles and shots. Zooming in and out while the characters flip and swerve around each other in elaborate dances. Usually done with heavy stylized backdrops of bold red and black where the high quality particle effects and neon colours can truly shine.
This sections of high quality animation only last for a few minutes at best before Servamp has to shove in a sub-par chibi comedy segment both in terms of humour and visuals. It’s horribly jarring and the chibi models are some of the least detailed I’ve seen.
The character designs are very anime , their shoujo origin has been some-what muted and they fit comfortably into the category of both shounen and shoujo equally. Nevertheless they’re still very “ anime “ with over the top colours and insane hair colours that don’t really serve to distinguish them from other characters in the same camp. The MC and his pet vampire are both stock characters with one dimensional personalities and the irritating cliche of having a saying they repeat once an episode ( at least ). The side characters also aren’t much to speak off , in truth you’ll find far more enjoyment in the villains who are the correct mix of threatening and completely over the top.
Is Servamp worth a watch ? If you’re a fan of the manga , then yes obviously I think you’ll be satisfied with how the manga has been converted from paper to frame. If you’ve never touched a volume of Servamp before ? It’s not the worse pick of this season , it’s engaging , has good villians and great animation ( in select moments ) and the 12 episode run means you won’t have to invest too many hours of your life into
As for a season 2 ? It’s not a yes or no issue , for me, the anime is good enough on it’s own to guarantee at least a follow up OVA but it all comes back to manga sales and BD sales , personally I’d like to see Servamp move away from the source material and try their hand at an OC arc but since that depends on the manga I feel they might not have the chance to.