Hello all, and welcome to the latest musical bonus post! Today I will be talking about the first Blue Exorcist closing theme. Beware of minor spoilers ahead (and by that, I mean I’ll be discussing episode 2 and maybe a few vague details). Without further ado, let’s get to it. This’ll be an interesting one…
Now that the school semester is winding down for me, I am finally able to spend time with various endeavors I have put on the backburner, and wow have I been putting a lot of things off, especially in terms of musical bonus posts. There’s a certain show that would have thematically fit in more last month that I want to discuss, there’s a three season show that I wish to analyze in parts, and maybe, just maybe, I will finally talk about the Angel Beats closer to go with my very first post about the opening.
I’ve also been wanting to talk about Blue Exorcist for a long time. This show has amazing soundtrack work all around, from the openings and closings to the ost itself. Even though season 2 has already concluded (which is another thing on my To Do List), I want to go back to the beginning, episode 2 to be exact.
I’m not gonna lie, this episode was pretty terrifying to me the first time through. Terrifying and tragic. The terrifying part was seeing Fujimoto possessed by Satan. I’ve always had a fear of demonic possession, and the very idea of it can really make me feel rather uneasy. The depiction of the possession in this episode really emphasized the terrible nature of such an event, completely with some rather creepy imagery. Blue Exorcist isn’t a horror anime, but it definitely has its moments like this one…
The tragic part was seeing the eventual demise of Fujimoto. It was only two episodes in, but the show did an amazing job at establishing the emotional weight of the situation. Fujimoto was funny, cool, and you could tell how much he cared for Rin and Yukio. I loved his character, which made seeing him go in such a way even more heartbreaking. Rin’s reaction sold it even more. Blue Exorcist for me, alongside all of the cool demon exorcism stuff, is all about growing up and coming of age. Seeing Rin go through not only realizing what he truly is (something he will have to accept and learn to control in the future), but also seeing his father figure die in front of him, really fits in with the theme. This was a very memorable way to start a series, and I nearly teared up when watching it. Between the terror and sadness, I was a complete mess of emotions at the end of the episode.
So, after all of that had happened, what came next? Well, this came next…
The Song: “Take Off” by 2Pm
Yep, a South Korean boy band. Talk about a buzzkill… This wasn’t the first time I had heard this closing (since this was episode 2), but I had honestly forgotten that this song was it. I was too busy thinking about the episode itself. This is admittedly an issue with a lot of shows, but it felt especially jarring here to have this type of closing follow such an emotional episode. Needless to say, I hated this closing. It had already rubbed me the wrong way with that episode, but the song itself was also easy to dislike for me. I mean, it was a boy band song. A cheesy boy band song that I have been conditioned over the years to despise. “This type of music is all flash and no soul. It’s just shallow stuff meant to take money from teenagers” I thought to myself. “My musical tastes are far too refined for such simpleton filth”. Okay, so I didn’t think that exactly, but in hindsight, I do see some music snob characteristics in my initial reaction.
But then… The episodes continued, and that closing kept playing.
It happened in 3 stages, which slightly remind me of a tsundere character arc.
I openly despised the song. I’m pretty sure I even ranted to RishRaff about my feelings toward it. However, even though I supposedly hated it, I never bothered skipping the closing theme whenever it played in subsequent episodes. Maybe I saw it as too much effort to do, maybe I wanted to make fun of it more. Or maybe…
Eventually, the song was getting stuck in my head, and I wasn’t completely against it doing such. The show itself started showing more emotional depth and variety beyond the tragically dark second episode, making the closer fit in more. The show also introduced the characters seen in the closer, making the visuals of them dancing during it much more humorous and endearing (especially once Mephisto was given more of his funnier moments in the show). The closer as a whole does have really good visuals that feature a cool point of view of driving down the highway, through the city, and eventually into a field. I also started noticing the cool arpeggiated keyboard and infectious beat. Maybe it’s not such a bad song after all?
I started listening to the full song, and actually gave it quite a few listens despite all of the cheese. Each listen brought on equal parts enjoyment, laughter, and embarrassment. I had no choice but to acknowledge that I actually liked the song.
That’s right, I actually quite like “Take Off”. Though there are still parts that I kind of laugh at. The backing vocals in the prechorus are an odd choice, and the chorus feels pretty cliché (though catchy all the same). That call and response part before the rap in the full song makes me cringe a decent amount, and the rap itself is… well… it’s not that bad. Having a rap insert is about par for the course with pop songs like these, and the way the rap flows fits with the song quite well. There are certainly worse raps hidden in full versions of anime theme and insert songs (ahem, “Before My Body’s Dry” ahem).
Look, no matter how much I nitpick aspects of the song, it is still at its core a fun and likable pop tune. It’s a corny pop song with a specific audience and purpose, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy aspects of it as an outsider to said audience. It’s a guilty pleasure if you will, though I do dislike using that term. I enjoy the instrumental quite a bit with its aforementioned driving beat and apregiated keyboard, and the melodies cause an ear worm that I am surprisingly okay with. For whatever reason, I like having this song stuck in my head. I just cannot hum it loud enough out of fear of someone hearing and asking what song it is. It’s just not a conversation I would wish to have.
Yes, I do feel a slight embarrassment for liking this song. Even listening to it now, I made absolutely sure that my headphones were plugged in before playing it. See, I have always felt this inner conflict between wanting to be proud of what music I like, and not wanting to deal with potential social situations that result from being too open about it (maybe I’ll discuss this subject someday on the LowKev blog that hasn’t been touched in months). This song certainly falls into that conflict, hence why I am writing about how I enjoy it while simultaneously being afraid of having to explain it to people in person.
The song is also very foreign compared to what I usually listen to. I mean, I shouldn’t like this song, right? I’m clearly not in the target audience for a boy band, and I actually dislike how formulaic and over produced this style of music can be (a complaint that does still apply to “Take Off”). And yet I still like the song. Maybe these social pressures and assumptive barriers that make me dislike certain music are just that: empty barriers, and I should learn to broaden my horizons. Yeah, I didn’t even think that I would like this song in the first place, let alone have it teach me a life lesson about trying new things and being more open minded… Life certainly works in strange ways sometimes.
My musical tastes up until rather recently were very set in stone, and honestly a bit snobby at times. For example, around six years ago, I had a deep seeded hatred of all things electronic, thinking that only Rock & Roll could be considered real music (and thank God that’s over). I know that’s an example from a relatively long time ago, but I could still feel the reverberations of that actively selective taste even today. But thankfully, my taste has been diversifying. I’ve given more pop music a fair shot and have learned to appreciate good pop songwriting. I’ve also delved into other genres like ambient music, hip hop, even vaporwave, and I’m pretty happy with the results. I feel that anime music has helped a lot in this, as I’ve been able to get into a lot of unusual music because of it. “Take Off” was the first song I ran into when watching anime that I know for a fact that I never would have enjoyed if I hadn’t seen Blue Exorcist, and that’s why I felt such a desire to write about it.
But this brings on more questions. Do I only like “Take Off” because it is the Blue Exorcist closer? Why do I like some songs from anime themes but do not enjoy other music by the original artists? Does a show make people biased towards its featured music? There’s a bit more of a deeper discussion here, and I wish to dive into it in a part 2 coming soon!
For now though, thanks for reading! What do you think of “Take Off”? Do you think that people only like certain things because of their association with other media? I’d love to read what you think.
(I would like to also note that when writing this, Blue Exorcist season 1 was ranked at number 666 on My Anime List…. It’s currently at 665, but you just can’t make this stuff up…)