What They Say :
Rin Okumura never knew his real father and was raised by Father Fujimoto, a famous exorcist. Rin soon discovers that the blood of the demon lord Satan runs through his veins. Rin makes it his mission to defeat Satan and becomes and exorcist himself. Includes episodes 14-25
The Review :
The video is better in terms of the issues I had in the first set as there was no accounts of any missing subtitle lines here, however the issue of the subtitles when there are songs or multiple conversations still exists (as in the fact it was hard to work out who was speaking as they were on the same area, no different colour or anything to see which was which). Also the release is in Japanese Stereo 2.0 only and whilst the audio is still good (and in terms of the actual quality of the video there was no issues regarding transition, format or pausing) it still feels disappointing, then again without an English dub which seems to be the pre-requisite for a 5.1 release, it was expected.
Set on a blue background, the menu is shown vertically on the left with a picture of Rin with a thumbs up on disc on and a smiling but worried Yukio on disc 2. Play All, Episodes and Set Up are the menu selections on Disc 1, with the same for Disc 2 but with the inclusion of Extras. Easily accessible, no problems with selection (though no scene selection for the episodes) on either disc (with only the one language choice unless you want subtitles off the set up selections aren’t really required) making it a standard but solid release.
We get a few extras for the release, first of all we get another URA-EX section which here we have 5 short (just over a minute) comic moments involving the cast. We get what appears to be Shima dying in the desert…but turns out he’s just under the son outside his house afraid of an insect, a moment with Izumo as she tries to hide her love for cats away from her classmates, Mephisto literally having a dog’s day out, Yukio facing his greatest challenge yet…cockroaches…and Reiji returning…only for Rin to complete forget about him.
We also get some web previews, which were alternate takings of the end of episode narratives, again told by the demons and familiars of the series, all the way down to Satan himself (as well as one for the OVA which was on the last release oddly rather than this one). They are all very short (about 30 seconds long) and are just alternative takes of the post-episode trailers.
Lastly, we’ve got the textless opening and the second textless ending. It feels a little less because of the OVA episode on the first part, but they are short and sweet, and should be able to raise a smile.
Blue Exorcist was a genuine surprise for me as I found myself enjoying it more than I expected, whilst a general take on the shounen scene it was able to get its act together quite quickly mainly as being 25 episodes it didn’t have the time to get through all the clichés you would normally associate with the shounen genre. The second half of the series manages to actually do a tense finale but it builds it up surprisingly well, and whilst a few episodes may seem pointless, it mostly all connected to a surprisingly decent conclusion.
The first few episodes for example, does a good combination of two things. Bringing Rin closer together to his comrades in a training camp, but also have to deal with the consequences when his demon form is finally showcased in front of them. Whilst the group have to work together for a drill, they are eventually attacked by one of the demons that Mephisto has along with him from the last arc, Amaimon. Here, Rin finally showcases his powers in front of his friends, which causes problems as he doesn’t have full power over them as of yet, and with a group of exorcists realizing he has demon powers, to say they are conflicted is an understatement. In fact, most of them tend to shun him at first (ironically, outside of Shiemi and Yukio, the only one who seems OK with it is Izumo) but mostly come round to help him when he’s about to get convicted by the Vatican. However, Amaimon attacks again, only for Rin to defeat him completely which convinces the Vatican to give him a chance and become an exorcist. This leads to everyone mostly coming to his side, although we get a small arc where Konekamaru is resentful of him as now he knows he’s the son of Satan, he does have distaste because of what Satan did to his parents, and whilst some of the others have similar issues, they all know Rin himself is innocent, but that feeling of doubt gets Konekamaru in trouble, and he is taken over by a demon. It is wrapped up quickly though and it does give a good idea of the friendship and how Rin doesn’t take his issues too seriously (a kind of filler episode involving Izumo’s birthday is light hearted, especially as Konekamaru is nervous after what happened yet he’s teamed up with Rin, but Rin doesn’t even mention it and the two work their butts off to…make cake.) – he is quite an interesting protagonist that he is so light hearted and despite basically being the son of Satan, he is very energetic and doesn’t take heed, and taking the unusual option to be an exorcist almost is his way of defying the impossible odds.
But interestingly, a lot of the focus in the second half is involving Rin’s brother Yukio, and his own concerns that his brother needs to focus on his powers whilst he wonders if being the son of Satan is also affecting him. We see marks on his body as the plotline slowly develops, it all starts by going back to the monastery where their adopted father was, and people are being attacked by demons that use spider like webs. It leads to a couple of sub plots which in turn leads to the main finale – the fact that Mephisto, the headmaster, was already shown as being an older half-brother of Rin’s and therefore also a spawn of Satan, to be involved in DNA modifying which leads to his arrest and in turn, the school being temporary shutdown. This is shown as one of the teachers and earlier enemies Neuhaus’ wife was one of the experimented, and is the killer of the people involved. Thanks to Shiemi, she does get a moment of respite as we see her past, but with the Vatican only concerned about all demons being killed, this brings conflict for Yukio who has that mentality, but also has his brother to worry about because of this. He is promoted to Paladin and with an influx of demons now attacking, people are worried the return of Satan is upon them. Yukio and the others are now hunting them down but Yukio is a lot more distant and cold than normal…which leads to the obvious plot that he too has his own demonic powers. The Vatican bring the idea to crush the entire demon energies in the world by opening the gate to the demon world Gehenna and crushing it completely…but it doesn’t exactly go to plan.
The finale is a nice mix of action and storytelling, with Rin and Yukio having to fight each other as Yukio is controlled by Satan, we see flashbacks, the connection between the two brothers, some decent fight sequences, and a predictable but still surefire ending when the battle reaches its climax. I will confess that the ending was predictable but the energy and the battles were very interesting – the character of Shura for example who was introduced at the end of the first part was a good part of everything involved, whether discipline, fighting friends or enemies, you never knew what she was up to as she was a goofy, drunkish teacher, but always had the badass credentials, and she was rare that she never felt directly involved in the plot, but was always there to hurry it along and was actually enjoyable to watch. Pretty much all the other exorcists were pretty much relegated in this half though Shiemi got a few good moments in with the Michelle mini-arc and even managing to hold off Yukio/Satan for a bit, meaning she did develop to a much braver character. Most of the rest was comic relief though Konekomaru’s torment was a surprise for a minor character, it was quickly resolved. Sadly, the rival character Bon was not used as much which was a shame as whilst he had funny moments he looked to be set up as the rival but was overshadowed by Rin throughout the arcs, and Izumo also looked set to be a rival character but again, outside of a few snarky moments, barely did anything – which again, had good potential but was never used.
Whilst a lot of the characters were put to the backburner, on the plus side it did manage to get some good storylines resolved in the episodes it was given and flow into the arcs quite well. The slight jealousy of Yukio was always hinted at in the earlier episodes but as he gets his chance to show what he can do, he gets consumed by power and the need to win, which makes him far more complex and interesting than I was expected. The relationship between Rin and Yukio really takes a turn for the shocking after Yukio is taken over, and whilst it was predictable how he would get back to being normal, it was still good to watch. Rin himself has developed throughout the season and is the main reason to watch – he’s oxymoronic being a demon who wants to be an exorcist and despite his powers, he wants to control them for his own reasons and not to become another Satan. There are episodes which show that he is learning to control his powers and it does go through the series as he gets better at doing so.
In terms of the story, it solidified quite well. It was all about Rin wanting to be an exorcist but the fact he was a demon would cause problems. They raised the problems well early on and in the end it was an Aesop of looking beyond the reputation and just look at the man himself, and despite a few upsets, it worked well. It leads to the final arc well and wraps up strongly which makes this for me a surprisingly good series. Whilst it won’t bring too much new to the table, there is enough to at least enjoy the battle sequences and raise an eye or two.
A pleasant surprise, Blue Exorcist wraps up the series by managing to do its best in 12 episodes to get to the final plot whilst wrapping up loose ends, and mostly does it well. Whilst it sacrifices a few of the fun characters which were developing well in the first part, it does manage to finish well with the main cause of the show, Rin wanting revenge on Satan. On that part it does it well, but also adds to the fact it has just enough originality to make it intriguing to any action fans, and not just shounen fans. Rin himself is an excellent lead but the complexity of his character combined with his relationship with his brother makes this worth a watch. Nowhere near perfect, but a genuine surprise. Guilty pleasure.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Ura-Ex (Bonus Short Movies), Web Previews, Textless Opening/Ending
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Release Date: October 22nd, 2012
Running Time: 300 minutes
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.