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Blue Exorcist Vol. #4 Anime DVD Review

9 min read

Satan wants to merge the worlds, the Pope wants to destroy theirs. There isn’t any middle ground here.

What They Say:
Amidst all the turmoil in True Cross Academy, an elderly man named Ernst appears, saying he is the grandfather of Yukio and Rin. Mephisto is dismissed from his post as director of True Cross Academy and the Grigori, are ousted as well, paving the way for Ernst to become Pope. As Ernst schemes to invoke the Gehenna Gate by sacrificing Rin, hordes of demons are spilling out of the gate. Yukio and Rin head towards the gate to protect their beloved friends and the world!

Contains episodes 20-25 plus a double-sided poster.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release contains only the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The show has a pretty active mix to it both with the dialogue and the action scenes so it’s pretty lively overall. The dialogue side of it has a fair bit of nuance at times as it deals with both the quiet and big scenes equally well. The softer dialogue moments aren’t as often as one might hope, but when they hit the big scenes it works very well. There’s a good variety to the action here, made more intense from when Rin gets all his blue flame on, and between the different types of weapons and more, it covers a pretty good range without any problems. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2011, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The set contains six episodes from the series spread across just a single disc. The show has some strong animation from A-1 Pictures that comes across well here but isn’t problem free. The series has some strong, vibrant colors to it that deal with a range of situations, from the flames that Rin has to the more natural colors that come from Shiemi and her love of plants, flowers and gardens. With six episodes here, the show does work a middling level of compression for the most part and it does come across well, but some areas show off some line noise and a touch of cross coloration in a couple of very minor instances in small spots. It’s nowhere near hugely distracting but if you’re paying attention you’ll see it.

Packaging:
Aniplex has put together a very good looking release here as it’s released with a clear single sized keepcase that has an O-card around it. The card and the cover for the keepcase are the same design so there’s not additional artwork to be had there. The front has a really good image that pairs August and Noihaus together with Noihaus in the background side of it where it’s not as strong compared to August. It’s got a great gold border for the O-Card and it all ties together very well. The back cover lets one of the more interesting a shot of Yuri that has an idyllic feeling about it that’s pretty nice. There’s a good small strip of shots from the show as well. The summary covers things fairly well while not going into too much detail. They do break down the discs episode numbers and titles clearly as well as the discs extras. The packaging extras are a little unusual since you usually don’t mention the O-card itself, though mentioning the reversible cover and poster insert isn’t bad. The reverse side covers are just as good as the main on too. The included poster thankfully avoids going for fanservice stuff that’s not warranted as it features a pairing of the two brothers on one side and has them again on the other with the core class group themselves together.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is pretty slick and definitely sets the mood as it uses a lot of blues for the background with active animation to it that gives it a great life. It moves different things around there while the foreground has a fun image of Auguste from the front cover. The logo is similarly done as it’s along the lower left and the combination of all three pieces comes together in a strong way that sets the mood well with the instrumental music. The navigation along the bottom is simple but it moves quickly and submenus load fast and problem free. Due to it being a monolingual release, there’s no language submenu and it defaults to subtitles on.

Extras:
The extras for this release are pretty cute and definitely the kinds of things that help a show be just a little bit more. The big one for me are the bonus episodes of which there are a few. They’re good shorts that basically go for the humor and wackiness in a way that makes you grin stupidly and just like it. While there’s humor in the show, these are just gag bits and great to see. In addition to that, we get some of the web previews for the next episodes as done by the various spirits and the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final collection for Blue Exorcist, events do run pretty quickly towards what’s intended here as the show goes big. But it’s not a smooth transition as it feels kind of awkward as it carries over from the previous set. The background story with Noihaus from the series overall has had its curious moments, but it’s with this set that we do finally get a look at his background and what happened. The problem that I ran into with it is that while it does have a tangent into the present storyline, it feels kind of extraneous overall. It’s not a bad storyline, but it’s one that left me feeling a little hollow.

The first few episodes starts initially with the carryover storyline of someone hunting after the brothers as their friends back at the church have been wrapped up in some unnatural goop that keeps them alive but otherwise incapacitated as the mystery man waits to draw out the two. There’s a plan to it, but it’s pretty pointless in the end as it all turns around into something else as they discover the Noihaus is involved and he himself is being hunted by the Vatican due to his own past that has come to light where he was involved with reanimating people. A taboo practice to be sure, but it gets into what has had him so off key for so long as we understand what had happened to him. It’s an interesting angle to see what happened to his wife all that time ago and how it impacts the present as it brings the hunt directly to everyone and makes it clear that the Vatican certainly plays by its own rules.

And one of the big things that comes from it is that Yukio gets to meet his grandfather,s omeone that he didn’t know had existed nor that he was so key to the organization. Being brought into that while Rin finishes out events with Noihaus leads to Yukio really finding the world different as his grandfather has been working a project that’s epic in scale and devastation but key to doing what he himself wants. With Yukio succumbing to his demon side more and more in recent episodes and the concern he has for his older brother, as he always plays the older brother even though he’s younger, has him seeing the potential of the plan without thinking about the real ramifications. The idea of dropping a massive bomb into the demon realm through a temporary gate and destroying everything over there is impressive, but the moral side seemingly escapes everything.

This sets the stage for quite the war to brew but it’s one that takes an unusual turn because of what’s needed to power everything. Sending every exorcist, including many trainees, out into the world to take down as many demons as possible with a special weapon that essentially sucks up their essence to power the bomb, a bomb that nobody else knows about, is disturbing. But it also requires a sacrifice to open the gate, which puts a strain between the brothers as one of the must be used in order to power it. A lot of things come together at this point as the demons are starting to burst through, the bomb is ready to go and Satan himself is ready to take advantage of everything.

The final few episodes focuses a lot of on the action side of things, which is definitely well done overall because it’s largely kept personal, but it also expands the large story with the core cast of characters by dealing with things that don’t even involve them directly. The exploration of how the brothers were conceived is glossed over a little, but we see a lot about how their mother Yuri was, how their adoptive Father took care of them for so long and the truth about how she died. It definitely colors some of what you think about what happened, and makes Father even far more interesting than he was before, but it’s an awkward placement overall because it happens just before the final episode. It throws off the dynamic a bit but in the end it does help to tie a lot of thigns together.

In Summary:
Blue Exorcist brings things to a solid conclusion here as they go big with events but also flesh out the characters and their pasts a lot. It’s not a direct connection in some way, as we don’t see Rin and Yukio actively involved in it, but their parentage is made clear and it definitely alters perceptions a bit about what Satan wants out of things, even if the path he’s taking is less than optimal. The show plays well with the big moments as I love the Messiah bomb and how the whole sacrifice unfolds, but it also loses some of the characters along the way. The show has a good supporting cast, from Shura and the classmates and others from the True Cross Academy, but they’re given minimal roles here which doesn’t help. The focus is obvious on Rin and Yukio and they get a lot of attention, but I wish it was more of an ensemble ending, as good as what we get here is. This is definitely a fun show and it worked much better for me in this form than it did in simulcast form. Aniplex put together a good release here that captures the show well, has some good extras and looks solid.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, “Ura-Ex” Animation (B-side Exorcist), Textless Opening & Ending, Next Episode Previews (Web Versions)

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade:

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: June 29th, 2012
MSRP: $37.48
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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