Nice little time killer which you need to see the series to understand the characters…yet maybe not need to see the series to understand the story…
What They Say:
When his adopted father, Shiro Fujimoto, was killed by his biological father, Satan, Rin Okumura swore to become an exorcist to avenge Shiro’s death declaring war on his own blood-relatives of the underworld. Everyone is in the midst of preparing for a festival which is celebrated once every 11 years in True Cross Academy Town. However, behind the scenes in the shadows, a Phantom Train goes berserk while the barriers protecting the town from demon intrusions are under repair. Rin, Yukio, and Shiemi are sent to exorcise the Phantom Train, but as usual Rin complicates the situation. Amidst the chaos, Rin meets a demon in the form of a young boy. Meanwhile, Cheng-Long Liu, a Senior Exorcist First Class from the Taiwan Branch joins Shura in the repair operation and the story takes an unexpected turn as all their fates cross.
Set in a 5.1 English audio and Japanese Dolby Surround, this is an excellent release from Manga Entertainment as it showcases the quality of what audiences would have expected in Japan and any potential releases in the US. No issues with the audio regarding timing in either language (though one minor issue at the beginning when the subtitles went too fast for the audio, this only happened at the start though), it is a quality audio release where had to actually lower the sound on my default settings.
An aspect ratio of 16:9 – 1.78:1, it actually has more of a full screen effect than I expected from a cinematic release, yet still has a good TV/monitor display with no issues with quality and resolution apart from the aforementioned subtitled issue. Colours clear, no picture issues when pausing, and no slowdown at any point – a clear picture in a good format and whilst more full than widescreen, was still more than acceptable.
The menu image is of the mysterious building in the movie on the right on a sky like background, on the left has the selections of Play, Scenes (scene selection 1-17 – movies only seem to be the ones with scene selections compared to TV Series), Set Up (English and Japanese 5.1) and Extras. No issues with selection via the main menu or returning to the menu but surprisingly uninteresting in its set up or its images.
The extras contains the following; NEWS (Japanese Trailers) TRAILERS (with dates) PROMO VIDEO (almost all the same thing) CM (as above) and US TRAILER (just with dub). So basically all the extras are just reworked trailers of some format. To say this is disappointing for a movie release is an understatement and was mostly a repeat of the same thing 5 times.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It has been a while since I reviewed Blue Exorcist, a surprisingly deep shounen jump style series about Rin Okumura, an adopted demon son of a priest wanting to live as a human but then decides to become an exorcist despite his demon heritage. He meets friends, deals with issues with his brother, fighting monster and Rin having to deal with literally being the spawn of Satan. The movie was something I needed to remind myself of the cast but also see if this required prior viewing of the series before watching it.
The answer was basically yes…and no. The plot is very easy to follow and to enjoy, but the fact it doesn’t really explain even briefly much about Rin’s past, his relationships and even some of the characters names, means that knowing who they are (especially as it never touches on Rin being a demon, so those into this new would wonder what Rin’s energy and sword ‘magic’ are) will definitely help you get through this with more understanding.
We open up with a plot point/flashback of Rin and Yukio’s adopted priest father telling the story of a demon and a village…which of course is the set up for the main plot of the movie, whilst the Academy gets ready to celebrate a festival called the Hiyumu Festival. However, the academy students are still on the job along with the teacher, as Yukio, Rin’s brother, and Shiemi, childhood friend/potential love interest wait for Rin for an exorcism of what is this universe’ equivalent of a ghost train. However Yukio’s stoic plan doesn’t work as the more kinder Shiemi is concerned for the ghosts inside the train which Rin agrees with – unfortunately curiosity doesn’t kill a demon but it makes it arrive early, forcing the mission to be abandoned as the train is separated, whilst Rin saves a kid…who is later discovered to be a demon himself, which Rin is forced to take responsibility for.
The movie then basically turns into a classic them or us mentality as Rin actually begins to bond with this kid demon which he names Usamaro, whilst Yukio wants the demon exorcised. There isn’t really much more in terms of plot at least until we discover the demons powers, which is one of the main faults of the movie – with the exception of Rin and Yukio along with Usamaro, everyone else from the original series is shafted as after thoughts or jokes (Rin and Shiemi’s friends Ryuji, Izumo, Konekomaru and Renzo all appear but more as a running joke especially for the guys having to clean up demon goo…they aren’t even named throughout the movie so anyone who hasn’t seen the series would wonder who these guys are) – Usamaro becomes the focal point as we see he has some sort of power which at first seems to be of granting wishes (like seems to make Rin’s homework complete) but in actuality it is removing the memories of the cast of anything that hinders them, which leads to problems later on the movie.
There is plenty of fun moments – the baseball bonding, Rin’s excellent cooking helping break the ice and the initial festival shenanigans but the introduction of a character named Cheng Long Liu who is a no nonsense exorcist who has concerns over Rin being one takes things into his own hands, and when patrollers and teachers are also forgetting stuff, Rin realises that his memories are actually being eaten by Usamaro as he wonders if he needs to forget about his father, as forgetting the sad stuff would help him which brings a good Aesop for the movie that the sad memories doesn’t want to forget as by doing so would forget things and people important to his life. It leads to the finale battle when the original demon resurfaces and Usamaro has to make a choice if he has to use his powers one more time…
The movie is a very well animated filler episode with a good message basically. There isn’t much to recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen Blue Exorcist and even then it is just something that is there. Rin and Usamaro are the only characters that you real focus on – Yukio is there as a minor antagonist and Cheng appears to add drama to the situation, but aside from how strong the animation is and the fact the Rin/Usamaro bonding is genuinely touching, it is hard to recommend. The fact pretty much everyone else is barely touched upon (Chiemi’s role at the start immediately fades once Usamaro hits the scene) means it is hard to recommend to fans of the show because the story doesn’t affect the main canon in any way, and to those who haven’t seen the show, it doesn’t delve with the back-story of Rin at all (in fact, it is only mentioned by Cheng casually that he is a demon who is an exorcist which is the main plot of the show in the first place) means people are wondering about the main character alone, never mind any of the other characters and their relationships.
That said, it isn’t a total waste. As mentioned, the actual tale between Rin and Usamaro – comparing to the original story that Rin’s foster father told is actually a nice parallel and links quite well within the movie, especially with the choices and decisions Rin has to make. Usamaro is a nice character and does develop as he has to learn to trust his surroundings, and he pleases those he cares about in his own way, just has to learn it may not be the way everyone wants. It is quite sweet how Rin and Usamaro care for each other, despite the concerns of Yukio and others. However whilst the story is nice enough, there isn’t enough substances for the average movie goer or Blue Exorcist fan to fully recommend.
Blue Exorcist The Movie seems like a wasted opportunity. Whilst gorgeous to look at, and a decent story involving two demons and having to bond whilst outsiders threaten the friendship, it suffers from both not appealing to fans of the show due to its lack of development for characters not named Rin, and not appealing to the casual viewer either due to not enough information about the characters in the first place. In short, a movie length filler episode that whilst enjoyable, will be watched once maybe and forgot about as the story, whilst nice and Usamaro an enjoyable character, is not one that is needed or hasn’t been done before better.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, NEWS (Japanese Trailers) TRAILERS (with dates) PROMO VIDEO (almost all the same thing) CM (as above) US TRAILER (with dub)
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: May 26th, 2014
Running Time: 88 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.