Welcome all to our next review. This time we will be doing Blue Exorcist. It is important for me to note that the anime deviates from the manga, but this deviation will not be factored into the review. I also want to note this review is solely for the anime series, not the movie. Beware of minor SPOILERS.
So without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: Humans live in the world of Assiah, demons in Gehenna. The two dimensions are not meant to interfere with each other, but demons still possess creatures in Assiah in spite of this. The humans who can fight these demons are known as exorcists. Rin Okumura is a boy who bears the curse of being Satan’s illegitimate son. His foster father sacrificed himself to save him from demons. To avenge his foster father’s death as well as to prove himself, Rin decides to follow the path of an exorcist. -Anime News Network
The plot of Blue Exorcist is pretty solid, starting off with an interesting premise and sticking to that premise throughout. It moves along at a nice pace, and reactions and events do not feel forced or natural. It also draws in lots of influences that are not strictly Japanese, most notably, the Catholic church. This is not too much of a surprise, as the story deals with the exorcist genre, and many cultures have a variety of ways to exorcise demons. As such, many of the demons also draw from various mythologies. This makes it easier for a Western audience to watch the show and still understand what is going on. The two biggest flaws in the plot are its cliffhanger ending and weakening of the overarching conflict. I will be focusing on the latter, as the former more or less speaks for itself. The start of the series clearly lays out that Rin wants to exorcise Satan. As quite the lofty goal, it is Rin’s primary motivation in everything he does. However, this conflict becomes fuzzier at the end series, and Satan really only “appears” in no more than three episodes of the entire series, and not ever as to fight against Rin. With the add in of some strange characterization to the primary antagonist, which will be discussed under characters, the conflict does not feel as serious as it once was at the beginning of the series. The conflict ultimately feels unfilled due to the cliffhanging nature of the ending and the seeming turning of the antagonist from demon to human. All in all, the plot is good and more or less original, but suffers due to the cliffhanger the show ends on.
Overall, the characters are a lot of fun to watch develop and grow. Most of the main group of characters from the exorcist cram school all go through some form of development, which helps to make them feel more real. However, the characters feel very cookie cutter, with a few exceptions, which makes them not memorable. Two of the most notable characters of exception, Rin and Mephisto, also have their own problems, with being severely overpowered in many ways. The main issue with characterization I have is the pity party for Satan, so much so it spans an entire episode. Now, it does not make much sense to make the audience feel bad for an antagonist you’ve spent the entire series building up, only to make it vulnerable and seemingly innocent. However, maybe that is just me, but it does hurt what one would think the overarching conflict was initially.
The animation is very solid and crisp. The fight scenes are especially well drawn, providing a clear view of the action, of which there is plenty. Not much more to say here.
The soundtrack for this series is particularly enjoyable, and pairs very well with what is happening in the story. The openings and endings are especially notable, and are probably among my favorites for the series. While this series is not one that needed the amazing soundtrack to further justify watching it, it is very good.
The themes of this show primarily reflect on oneself in relation to expectations and self improvement. Rin embodies these the best, defying the Church’s, and Satan’s, expectations of being evil, or a vessel for evil, and instead becoming a force for good. The other characters though are victims of expectations, and do nothing to defy what has been forced upon them, negating the Rin’s characteristics of defying expectations. This leaves the viewer confused as to how one should take expectations forced upon them, silently accepting or loudly fighting? Despite the confusion, defying expectations by being a lead in to themes of redemption. Rin is redeemed of being the son of Satan by being an extremely powerful force for good. However, while the theme of self improvement had a desire to be expressed, it more or less flopped. In terms of power, Rin needed zero improvement, taking on all enemies with ease. Other characters did show some development, but their powers were almost always insufficient without help from Rin. When it came to self improvement in other areas, it was not Rin who improved much, being considerably reckless throughout most of the show. Instead, Konekomaru shows the most self improvement by overcoming his fear of Rin. The theme is still weakly expressed in the anime, especially when the show is so focused on the self. However, friendship and family ties, both blood and extended, are also important themes, but are not as focused upon as Rin’s continual training of himself is. I feel these the friend and family themes would have been more worth the focus than on self improvement, considering the obvious influence of other people on Rin. The anime is very strong at staying to the action and supernatural genre it is labeled under, using such elements to the fullest extent.
Final Score: 8.8/10
Final Grade: B
Ao no Exorcist was an anime I really enjoyed. It had an amazing concept. The idea of one of the strongest demon fighting other demons was cool. I also like how the other characters did not trust Rin right away because he was the son of Satan. But with that said I found that none of the characters other than Rin really stood out. At the time of watching it the characters were likable but after I was done they were just forgotten. Another problem was you never felt like Rin was going to lose a battle. He was the son of Satan and all he had to do was open his sword and then he would win, with just a few exceptions. His biggest enemy was himself and his fear that he would lose control. It was still good but he was set up to be extremely over powered. The variety of demons was really cool though. They had many different kinds and you never felt like you have seen one kind of demon too much. Over all it was a good anime and I would give it a 7.5 out of 10. I would recommend this anime to new and old anime fans. – B-Ro
Blue Excorcist was all in all an amazing show for me. It took me to a lot of places emotionally. Demonic posesion is obviously a large component in the show, which is a concept that often terrifies me. This anime definitely shows the horror of it, but it’s not a horror anime by any means, and I wouldn’t let that be a turnoff if you are freaked out by the concept as well. The first couple of episodes (I won’t spoil anything) almost brought tears to my eyes. Then, once the school aspect of the show became a thing, the show’s tones diversified and got even better. I love the premise of this show. The way excorcists work and the way they fight demons are really cool ideas. I really loved all of the characters. There was a lot of diversity, and their interactions and developments were very interesting (especially as the plot thickened). The demon/spirit designs are also really cool, and helps create a world that is both scary/dangerous and one you want to live in. I really liked the themes as well. I feel that Blue Excorcist is largely a coming of age anime, though not directly enough to be cliché. The action gets really intense and is fun to watch, and the humor is extremely well done (many scenes left me in stitches). As for my obligatory rant on the soundtrack, it is absolutely excellent! I just listened to a few of the tracks earlier today for memory’s sake, and was instantly reminded of how beautiful and varied and fitting it is. The openings and closings are also incredible, especially with the accompanying animations. For example, the first closer is a boy band song, which at first I hated (mostly because the early episodes are so sad, only to cut to an upbeat closer), but the animation for it was so good, and the song itself is so catchy, that I now love to listen to it. Though the show is amazing, the ending kind of felt weird to me. I’m aware it deviates away from the manga, but (without spoiling it) it just felt a little random compared to the rest of the plot. It’s not too bad though, and the only real negative feeling you will have at the end is that there aren’t any new episodes. I really hope there is another season some day… Anyway, this show is amazing and offers a lot of good stuff. It’s a definite must see!
Final Comments: A well crafted anime when it starts out, and while it flounders at the end, still keeps itself well afloat with awesome animation and soundtrack. A strong recommendation for any action or supernatural fans.
Thanks for reading! The next review will be Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan.