What They Say:
Rin’s anger towards Ryuji Suguro releases as blue flame in front of everyone, resulting in Rin being thrown into prison. While locked up, Shura delivers a letter to Rin from Tatsuma, Ryuji’s father and the head priest of Myohda Sect. From the letter they learn of the relationship between Tatsuma and Shiro Fujimoto, as well as the secret of the demon sword, Kurikara.
Meanwhile, Todo attempts to resurrect the Impure King and Tatsuma tries to disrupt his plans, but despite Tatsuma’s best efforts, Todo resurrects the Impure King!
Now Rin and his classmates must band together and defeat the Impure King!
The audio presentation for this release comes with the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the new English language dub that gets the 5.1 bump, both of which are presented in the uncompressed PCM format in at 2.3mbps each. The two mixes are very strong overall with what they do here as they work the forward soundstage as there’s a lot of clarity, placement and appropriate areas of depth when they come along. The show sounded decent on the DVD incarnation, but here everything feels warmer and richer and just generally stronger, though not overdone where it’s brash or obnoxious. The series works the forward soundstage well when it comes to using the dialogue among the characters but it shines more with the action sequences and all the sounds associated with it. The music is decent throughout but it’s the opening and closing sequences where it feels the riches and warmest. Dialogue is clean and clear through and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The six episodes for this release are spread evenly across two discs and pretty much sits at the top end of the bit rate around 39mbps. Animated by A-1 Pictures, Blue Exorcist is simply gorgeous. The visual presentation here has rich colors and the fluid animation is just a delight to watch. Detail is strong and clean and we didn’t have any issues with noise or other encoding defects or any issues with the source material across the thirteen episodes here. This is just gorgeous and feels very in line with the previous series while still coming across as feeling fresh and new at the same time, which isn’t always easy to do.
The packaging for this release comes in a soft slipcover that holds the clear Blu-ray case inside along with the extras. The slipcover artwork is quite nice with some very detailed pieces that has Rin and Yukio together but facing away from each other, yet still connected in a way that works well – especially with the background and the way the logo is put together. It’s the kind of piece that goes for something serious and elegant and largely captures it, albeit with a soft case. The case itself uses different artwork that puts Bon in the center of things all serious as he’s really going all out and it’s definitely a very good piece to use. The set does come with some pack-in material that includes a small selection of gorgeous art postcards of the character artwork as well as a fairly thick overall booklet that’s in color and shows off a lot of the character design work.
The menu design for the release is fairly traditional in a way as it provides for a simple but easy to use menu strip along the bottom that covers the basics that you need. The bulk of the menu though is just clips from the episodes themselves, which flashes the logo early on and then runs through a series of character pop-ups that look good and action backgrounds along the way. It has a good flow and everything is easy to navigate overall and works well. I do like that when I select the Japanese language, it automatically tags the proper subtitles for it. It’s a fairly flashy menu that stands out well in the sea of static simple flat color image menus that we’ve been getting from lots of publishers later..
The extras for this release are pretty slim as we essentially get just the clean ending for the eleventh episode, which is simply part of the show with credits playing over it but without the credits.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The half season split for Blue Exorcist was essentially a given with how Aniplex USA works its titles in general, especially ones like this where there was obviously a big budget to the show itself and it’s not a cheap on, but sometimes the structure of a show makes it problematic. I had enjoyed the first half that we had a few months ago well enough even though it bumped the adaptation past several volumes of material that wasn’t animated to get to this tale of the Impure King. It reconnected easily overall and what we got was a lot of good drama, some creative things put into motion with Rin, and some action that kept our attention. The back half of the season? It’s mostly just action, which is beautifully animated, don’t get me wrong, and Aniplex delivers it in striking form, but it feels a bit lighter with the distance between releases because all the foundations were there.
The initial events are certainly fun as the Impure King is starting to show itself outside the village on the mountain and we’ve got Rin all secured away, waiting judgment on whether he’ll eventually be executed or not. It’s an interesting sequence because we have Shura basically saying that he needs to decide for himself who he wants to be and gets his sword into his hands. The problem is that because of the way he’s been pushed by so many, he’s now fearful of actually using it and can’t remove it from the scabbard as he’s got one hell of a mental block. That doesn’t stop him from wanting to help with what’s coming and it’s the oh so timely arrival of Mephisto that helps to facilitate that. It’s a fun little bit with Pheles as he’s just got such a way about him but a lot of this is because he has a real interest in Rin and also simply enjoys a good show. He ends up providing some commentary over the course of it but the big key moment here is when Shura says that even if Rin gets an execution order that Pheles would protect him as there’s bigger wheels turning than what the Exorcists are doing.
What the bulk of this set ends up dealing with once past that is the Impure King itself, which for a decent chunk of it is just a sprawling mass of miasma spreading down the mountain. It does get creative as it progresses and there are buildings and other neat structures that allows the exorcists to play with in trying to push it back through supernaturally enhanced flamethrowers, but there’s also a more physical form of it as a massive creature that provides an opponent to rally against. It’s definitely fun and seeing how Rin deals with it for a while before realizing his true strength and working alongside Bon makes for some great moments. For Rin, however the big moment comes in finding some communion with the local spirit that the village engages with and he learns how to master his flames, giving him clarity of purpose in the long run as well with what path he wants to follow.
Though a shorter aspect of the arc, I really liked what we got for Yukio with it as he does a lot of defending the line work with the locals but gets caught up in a fight with Todo as Todo tries to get under his skin as part of the larger plan.There’s a lot going on with the relationship that exists between these two “brothers” and Todo’s attempted exploitation makes a lot of sense and reveals that Yukio really does have a lot of issues to contend with. It’s not all simple or done with and having Rin break out earlier didn’t help since he works so hard to be a proper Exorcist. This material, plus the last episode serving as an epilogue, does a lot of good stuff in setting the show in a proper place. Healing, reconnections being made, and a real bond made with the locals goes a long way toward making all of this feel like a fully realized event rather than just a quick cut and run. There’s obviously plenty more story but taking the time to touch base with a lot of them, especially after some fellow students turned on Rin a bit and others have now moved closer to the academy, it’s all good stuff that brings lots of smiles.
I really like Blue Exorcist as a property and am glad we got another season of it with a mostly self-contained arc that helps to put Rin in a new place moving forward. The season as a whole works well as it’s all about setup and then multiple episodes of payoff that really does deliver. There’s good growth for several characters, revelations for others, and lots that it can do in a moving forward kind of way. This set by itself is just action with the distance of the setup from several months ago so that made it a bit harder to connect with. But it works well because of the quality of the show and Aniplex USA put it together in a great way with the package as it’s a high quality looking work combined with a great thick book of material to sink your teeth into.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 5.1 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Ep. 11 Textless Ending Scene
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: February 13th, 2018
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray Player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.