Eat right, sleep well and get plenty of Exorcism to ward those Blues away.
One of the first things that ran through my mind during the first episode of Blue Exorcist was “wow, these character designs are ugly.” I was a little familiar with the manga by name and, not actually owning any volumes of the series myself, I figured I’d give this one a shot. I don’t think I’m extremely picky when it comes to being able to stomach certain anime series and their art styles, but when I do find the art direction to be bad, I have a lot of trouble getting past that. Blue Exorcist barely manages to scrape by in that regard; the characters are unattractive but the animation is seamless and the environments shown throughout the series are actually pretty detailed and interesting.
Okumura Rin is the delinquent son of a world-famous priest, Fujimoto Shiro and the older twin brother of Okumura Yukio. He frequently gets into fights, much to the dismay of his guardian, especially since he possesses unnatural strength and endurance. After getting into another random fight, Rin discovers that he can see tiny black creatures, which are actually devils from Gehennia, the demon realm. After Rin’s brother leaves to begin attending the prestigious True Cross Academy, Rin finds himself in mortal danger. Father Shiro bestows a mysterious sword to Rin and claims that it is more important than his very life, as the sword is actually a magical object that is sealing away Rin’s demonic powers. Turns out, Rin and Yukio are the sons of Satan, the most powerful demon in Gehhenia. Fortunately for Yukio, all the demon power was taken by Rin at birth. After Father Shiro is suddenly possessed by Satan, he ends his own life to save Rin, but not before Rin is able to draw the sword from the sheath and unleash his demonic powers. Yukio returns home, stunned, and it is revealed that both Yukio and Father Shiro are powerful exorcists who live to combat Gehennia.
If there’s a relationship that I felt was awkward in this series, it was between the two brothers, Rin and Yukio. Although Rin is older, Yukio is the mature one. It’s a pretty standard plot device, but it just seemed a little too out of left field for me. Yukio supposedly had been an exorcist for a several years and is now an instructor for the Academy’s exorcism classes, despite only being 15 years old. I know it’s not all that farfetched for a TV series, but this was probably the most mind-blowing thing for me. The series introduced Yukio in the first few minutes of the first episode as weak and nerdy, but to have it only be a ‘farce’ and suddenly transform him into a series cool-guy (while retaining his lame appearance with glasses and three moles) felt really forced. I didn’t like it.
The supporting cast is a bunch of haughty kids as expected, but they all band together when necessary to face demons and other trials set before them. Standard fare, but their antagonism towards each other (especially after a certain plot event) is a little unwarranted and overdone. They don’t really make much of an impact in the series and actually seem to serve as a hindrance for exorcist heavy-hitters like Yukio and Rin. They’re completely outclassed by the latter half of the series. Not quite like Dragonball Z or Naruto secondary characters, but you can see the futility of including them in fight scenes.
Did I mention the characters are ugly and unappealing? Really, I don’t think I’m that deep into the moe fandom — these characters were just painful to look at. The demon designs were interesting, but when the series tried to throw a few small curveballs and ‘subtly’ inform me that I was supposed to be looking at a handsome young man or a cute girl, I couldn’t help but shake my head at it. The best-looking characters are the demons, and they’re the ones with the weird eyes, ears, tails, moustaches and the like.
The series is still ongoing and only at 7 volumes for the time being, so I was surprised that Blue Exorcist got a full 24+ series run so soon. It ends at a decent, believable point that could serve as either an end to the whole thing or an opening for a second season. We’ll have to see, but I wouldn’t be all that excited if this series came back in the next year or two.
Blue Exorcist – Character Ranking
- Okumura Rin
- Mephisto Pheles
- Kirigakure Shira
- Moriyama Shiemi
- Fujimoto Shiro
- Okumura Yukio
- Kamiki Izumo
- Suguro Ryuuji