Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga Review

It’s time to look at the next installment in Blue Exorcist. This is a pretty unique season two because for starters it completely ignores the second half of the first season. That’s because the first season diverged and ultimately went to filler. It’s a pretty interesting tactic but one that makes sense and more titles should give it a try. That said, I don’t mind series going all the way back to the starting point because it means more adaptions of hype fights. That said, one problem here is that most of the characters have slid way back in terms of character development. It’s a solid show but definitely one that has its flaws.

The show starts with Rin and Yukio stopping a kidnapper from getting away. The guy seems rather skilled though and was able to easily best Yukio before escaping. This compounds with Yukio’s inferiority complex over Rin getting all the power and friends which causes a bit of a rift between them although Rin is oblivious and Yukio tries not to show it. They each go their separate ways as Yukio is called to a mission in the mountains while Rin goes with his friends to a temple mission. The problem is that nobody likes Rin anymore after the events of the forest arc. Even the super nice childhood friend seems to have turned on him.

Rin does his best to cope with this though. At the temple things aren’t quite as they seem. The two main factions are feuding with each other and the leader always skips meeting. They suspect he may be a traitor now which would be devastating. See, the temple is in charge of protecting two eyes because should they ever be brought together then a giant monster would appear and end the planet. Rin wants to help but he is not allowed to do so on account of his devil powers. Will the heroes be able to get past all of their individual dramas in order to help save the day?

As you can see, this season does bring up a lot of plot points from the past and they are necessary to fully get what’s happening here. The show has a lot of flashbacks though so you’ll be up to speed real quick. Here’s why part of the season can feel like a retread though. In the first season once it turned to filler, the series decided to delve into Yukio’s character quite a bit. It makes sense because the manga had been building up this plot since the start and if the anime was doing its own thing anyway they may as well finish it right?

In the first show Yukio briefly turned evil due to mind control and such and he finally got to properly have a talk with Rin. They squared away their differences and vowed to get stronger in their own ways. While the filler arc wasn’t all that great (Trying to turn the Devil into a sympathetic guy who didn’t know any better is still pretty crazy) this plot was handled reasonably well. It’s about at the same level as how the real one went although Yukio not flat out turning evil here is a plus.

The other plot was about Rin’s friends not trusting him after he saved their lives in the forest. (By the way the friends are pretty awful about this in every possible context. If Rin didn’t step up and fight the guy then they all would have been murdered. The friends are so petty the whole time that it’s crazy) That one was handled in the first show as well so the got back to being on good terms. This show has to go through all of that again since they are back to square 1. It’s not that the show does any of this poorly though. Other shows also handle the same plots over and over again with changes like the Fate series as you go through the different paths. It’s rare that you see it in a classic Jump anime though.

All right, that’s enough about the similarities. The whole thing is pretty fun to look at though. Ultimately it makes sense why the series would ignore it and do things the canon way. The series is only 12 episodes so it definitely goes by you in a blast. It’s very nostalgic seeing the old characters and part of what helps seal that effect is they grabbed all of the classic themes. The Blue Exorcist series had a terrific OST so this was a smart play. I’d liked to have seen more of Rin’s theme as it only gets played once or twice but he doesn’t get to fight much here so I suppose that makes sense. I also like the 90’s techno/jazz theme that plays. It’s hard to describe that one but it’s always sounded pretty great and gets you pumped for what’s about to happen.

The animation is definitely on point as well. I always like how they draw the blue flames here. They pop out at you and the same goes for the fire blasts as well. All of the shots look crisp and modern so I’ve definitely got no qualms about this. On a technical level the show definitely holds its own and maintains a consistent quality throughout.

Rin’s still a pretty solid lead. That’s a good thing because at times it feels like he is holding the entire show on his shoulders as far as the cast is concerned. He’s definitely the most interesting character and always puts up a brave front. One subplot here is that Rin has lost a lot of his confidence after his friends undermining him the whole time but he tries to never let this show. To an extent I feel like it was also the sword trolling him or someone preventing him from using it though. I feel like he should have been able to use it sooner. Regardless, Rin always dives into action and definitely handles the situations pretty well.

Shiemi is the main heroine here but she doesn’t manage to stack up as well as most. The reason for this is even she is unable to stay by Rin’s side and is a big reason as to why he has lost confidence. Later on it’s played more like she was too nervous to talk to him but it was hard for her to rebound from this. In comparison Izumo handles things a lot better. She’s already mean to everyone and isn’t afraid to talk to Rin throughout the adventure. She treats him the same way as normal and at least that helps Rin’s experience feel a little more normal at times. Izumo is also portrayed as one of the most skilled exorcists here. She is quick to help heal the monks and also thinks fast during the invasion. From the supporting cast she was definitely the best one.

Ryuji is more of a mixed bag but I would definitely put him on the lower side. He mainly just gets in Rin’s way and gets the lead into trouble on quite a few occasions. It would help if he could fight a bit more or something but most of the main characters can’t really fight for beans. He had his big moments at the end of the season since this is his arc so I think he’ll be a much better character in the next season. At least he ended strong right?

Konekomaru is definitely the worst character though. He’s the one most actively afraid of Rin and getting everyone else to fear the lead as well. The guy never really minds his own business. Look, I would cut the characters a little more slack if I could see why they were scared of Rin but I’m not really buying it. He totally saved them all. Konekomaru just needs to remember that. He’s also one of the most reluctant to go and help Rin when it counted.

Shima is also pretty sketchy although not specifically for Rin. The guy just never wants to risk his life so he’ll run for safety even if it means that all of his friends will die. There’s no real way to support him after something like that. I did appreciate that he was a little quicker to start being cool with Rin again though.

Yukio is still pretty jealous of Rin’s abilities for most of the series. He covers It up by acting calm and collected but as Shura pointed out that makes it a lot easier for demons to manipulate him. Todo plays a ton of mind games with him for most of the series although Yukio ultimately stays strong. He looks better than his first series self in that respect. I liked the magic trap that he used near the end of the series. It was pretty well thought out and at least helped him start to make a comeback. Todo was a supremely difficult opponent to stop so any measure that slowed him down is solid.

So right now I don’t really care for Yukio but hopefully he’ll be on the upwards trend now. He is still keeping secrets from Rin though so I can’t see that ending well. Mainly Yukio’s worst scene here was leaving Rin to die and even trying to stop him from using the sword. For a proper redemption arc we need Yukio to step in and save Rin next time or at least defend him when the chips are down. That’ll go a long way to raising him up the ranks.

Then we have Todo who is the big villain of the arc. The guy definitely does pretty well here as he holds off multiple exorcists and even eats two different spirits. This gives him incredible powers in addition to what he already had. The heroes really had a hard time taking him on to the point where he probably should have crushed them almost instantly based on the speed we saw from him. The guy was just out of their league and when you mix in his regeneration abilities this makes the matter even worse. He was a fun villain. Ultimately I don’t think that guy will be super well remembered but this series hasn’t really had many good villains so almost by default he’s my favorite villain in the series right now.

The show does suffer from a bit of fan service at times. For the most part it’s nothing crazy but it seems like the mentor’s only role at times. Shura’s whole attack on Mephisto is one of those scenes because everyone knew the plan had 0 chance of success. If anything it just makes her look pretty terrible. Is she really so scared of this guy? Why even pick the fight if this was out it was going to end? She also doesn’t look too impressive considering she’s a mentor since Rin is able to shake her a few times and in the final fight she helps a bit, but not a ton.

It’s always a bit dicey to have a villain like Mephisto working with the heroes when he’s way stronger than them and they know it. I don’t see how they can all get along so well. I don’t think the dynamic works to be honest. He puts them into a ton of danger and helps the demons out a lot. Why is the guy still here? While the heroes are very weak compared to the villains, I wouldn’t yet call it a hopeless situation for them. The reason being that there isn’t really much of a villain group yet. The villains just do whatever they want and usually almost beat the heroes. This random monster (Well the Impure King is a pretty cool name and I guess he’s not totally random but there could be a lot of other monsters like this guy around) is apparently pretty strong but for one monster to basically have the whole order in check is a bad sign for them. Without Rin the heroes would be doomed and they should really start to realize that soon.

We get quite a few characters from the two sects over at the temple although most of them won’t stand out. Mamushi gets a big role since she gets involved in the conspiracy. She appears to be a bit gullible the whole time but is certainly dedicated to the cause. I do think she had good reason to doubt that Tatsuma was on the level though. She was a fun character. Then you have Juzo who was my favorite character from the group. He had some good fire abilities and took more of a leadership role compared to the others. That being said, I do think it was a bit odd that he tried to stop Mamushi from saving the eye. At that point nobody knew who the traitor was, but it was about to be burned in flames and the whole point is that they need to protect it right? Seemed like an odd moment in the show and the defense for doing that was real weak. Finally we also have Tatsuma as a character with a big role but he’s pretty terrible from start to finish. The guy was just impossible to redeem by the end and his actions still make no sense if you ask me. Stirring up trouble and getting the sects to suspect each other of treason was not the right way to handle this.

Overall, It’s nice to see Blue Exorcist back. The manga seemed to start diving off the deep end and going nowhere fast but anime is a solid medium that can make things more exciting. The directing here seems solid so I’m sure they could pull more seasons off. It seems a bit unlikely right now since this one came out a while ago, but there’s always a chance for another season. Considering that this one had to work with almost no fights and was still entertaining I think the next one should be in a good position.

Overall 6/10

Blue Exorcist Review

Blue Exorcist is a pretty short show and I can’t say that it ever became supremely popular, but it’s definitely a title that I was aware of for some time. The publicity that it did get was pretty good and the posters always looked fun. What can beat a fire swordsman as you main character? The premise itself definitely had a lot of potential and I love this kind of action show. Blue Exorcist isn’t an all star title and it can’t really claim to be the best at anything, but it’s a pretty fun ride from start to finish.

The plot involved a kid by the name of Rin Okumura. He is the son of Satan, but his life’s mission is to destroy all of the demons since Satan murdered his foster Dad and a lot of the monks. To do this, Rin must become a high ranked Exorcist so it’s time to get down on his studies. Meanwhile, he meets up with a bunch of other people who want to become Exorcists in one form or another. Their teacher is very shady though as he is a high ranking demon himself and nobody really seems to mind. It’s not as if the humans can really do anything about it, but it is rather odd. Will Rin be able to accomplish his goal or is he doomed? Well, if you’re familiar with Shonen titles like Naruto, (I wanna be Hokage) One Piece, (I want to be the Pirate King) or the other Journey manga, you’ll realize that the odds of this happening in 26 episodes are slim. Still, we gotta hope that Rin can make it to the end or at least get Satan to repent of his evil ways.

It’s easy to compare Rin to Kirito in many ways. They both use a blue color scheme during their battles (Animation wise anyway) and they’re both sword fighters. They actually managed to snag Kirito’s voice actor for Rin (Or vice versa) which was pretty cool. (He’s still the best voice actor in the business and it was a great time for viewers since Blue Exorcist, Sword Art Online, and Attack on Titan were airing at the same time) Kirito is typically a lot more humble and quiet while Rin certainly does not fall into those traits, but they still feel pretty similar personality wise. In a fight, I think Kirito would probably have the significant edge, but it’s possible that Rin ends up surpassing him in the manga. I would almost say that it’s likely, but the pacing for power ups can be slow.

Back on topic, Rin is a very good main character. He’s certainly a lot better than you may expect from the posters. He’s not afraid to get into a fight to stick up for his brother, Yukio, and he doesn’t back down from a fight. He just says what’s on his mind instead of thinking about it and his intentions are always good. He’s probably the most reasonable character in the whole series even if he’s quick to leap into any situation. Rin’s basically the kind of guy that you would want to be friends with. He’ll always stick up for you and help with any tricky situation. He’s just a good guy through and through.

Yukio is one of the main characters in the show and he had the potential to be a very good character. Unfortunately, his character development goes in a circle instead of occurring on a straight path. A running theme is that he is jealous of Rin’s personality and abilities. Other times, Yukio just admires those traits. While Rin can use his demonic abilities to fight, Yukio is stuck using bullets so it can be tough for him. You can certainly sympathize with Yukio’s plight at times, but he makes it difficult at other points. I think he crossed the line when he attacked Rin in one of the last episodes and then tried to destroy his demon cat. Yukio basically betrayed everyone at the end and I definitely didn’t agree with his reasoning. Part of the problem is also that Yukio is very gullible. It should be noted that many of Yukio’s worst moments occur in filler. So, he can be a good character at times, but he is usually too antagonistic to be likable.

Ryuji is the rival, but he is just too weak to be taken seriously. It doesn’t help that Rin is already hardcore enough to be the main character and the rival. Ryuji turns against Rin so many times that it’s scary. He sticks up for him at some points, but he is pretty unfair to Rin at several points. I was glad to see Rin show him up when Ryuji made his debut. Ryuji has his verses that he recites against the demons, but it is usually ineffective. I have to say that he isn’t a good character, but he beats some of the other supporting characters, which is pretty scary.

Shiemi is the main heroine. Unfortunately, she can’t really fight. She has a grass familiar with her who makes grass and vines appear to block other opponents. It is pretty useful, but this means that Shiemi is completely defenseless without it. She always wants to help out, but she ultimately ends up getting in the way a lot. She has company since the other characters besides Rin are pretty weak as well. Ultimately, she just isn’t as interesting as she could be. Her character was just not very developed and she was a little too desperate to make friends right til the very end.

Izumo is probably the toughest character from Rin’s main friends. She isn’t much of a fighter on her own, but she can summon a pair of cats/dogs who help her out in the tough times that she gets involved in. Naturally, they are helpless against all of the decent villIns, but at least she won’t have to ne afraid of the minions. She got a decent amount of character development and she managed not to betray Rin unlike some pf his other friends. I liked her more than the other supporting characters, which may not be saying much, but it’s a start.
A no E 3
Konekomaru is easily the worst friend of Rin’s. He was the first in line to betray Rin and he tries to turn everyone against him. Rin is the son of Satan after all and Satan destroyed a lot of people close to Konekomaru. It is pretty tragic and he should keep his beef against Satan, but Rin had been helping out for the whole series. I just can’t consider this guy to be a true friend and it was pretty tough to bounce back from that. Evidently, too tough for Konekomaru.

Shura joins the squad during the latter part of the anime. Technically, this may be slightly before the halfway mark, but she certainly feels like she was introduced late since everyone else was already established. Her introduction involves an intriguing plot twist and she looks good since she goes up against a powerful foe in the form of Amaimon. This is a Gamechanger. I already mentioned that none of the supporting characters could really do anything against the stronger demons. Well, that was until Shura came along. She is debatably stronger than Rin or at least a match for him. I would likely choose Rin in a no holds barred fight, but it would be a close fight. Shura works for the government, but she is still a pretty good character. She is openly rebellious to the corrupt figures although it can be frustrating to see her just accept their decisions. She talks tough, but she will rarely oppose the government openly. She is also used for fanservice at times, which isn’t cool. She is still a step up from the others though.

There is also a quiet kid with sock puppets and you have to wonder what was going on with him. He never really talks and he makes sure to disappear when the fighting starts. Maybe he is just a random classmate? That could be the case, but the anime gives him a lot of foreshadowing. He gets some ominous lines at the end and you get the feeling that he knows more than he is letting on. It is just one of the plot lines that goes nowhere. I don’t mind all that much since I dislike the character so far, but I’m sure that his true personality would have been a little more interesting.

Shiro is the man who raised Rin and Yukio. He was a very powerful Exorcist and he seemed like he had a bright future. It was literally bright since he was engulfed in blue flames, but that is not what he had in mind. He was a pretty good character. Shiro certainly wasn’t great, but he was fairly likable. He protected the heroes for quite a long time and he made the heroic choices when necessary. If only more of the old Shonen mentors could be like him instead if Jiraiya.

The Paladin is one of the characters who never got to really get any closure on his development. We don’t really know much about him other than the fact that he’s a very strong warrior. He took Rin down without a whole lot of effort and he basically just does whatever the government wants. He has a cool design and I actually like his character for the most part. He didn’t look good in the filler though so overall he would only be about average. He’s still someone to keep an eye out for since he is one of the few humans to be very powerful.

Mephisto Pheles is a character who is hard to understand. If this is intentional, then the anime did a good job. On the considerable chance that it was accidental, then it is not very impressive. Mephisto switches from hero to villain several times as the show goes on. We learn that he helped to save Rin a while back yet he repeatedly tries to destroy him. (I suppose that we can say that he knew Rin wouldn’t die, but this would be dicey to say the least) Does Mephisto want to destroy the human world or Hell? He doesn’t even attempt to stop one of the villains from his plan to destroy Hell so I guess he doesn’t feel any loyalty to his fellow demons. On the other hand, he keeps causing trouble for the human world so maybe he wants to rule it. His goals are not very clear cut so it is entirely possible that he just likes to cause chaos so that he can see what happens next. All villains should have some kind of understood goal by the end in my opinion. (There are probably some exceptions) He also has a good time operating as a hero though so maybe Mephisto flips a coin to decide how he will act on that day. It is heavily implied that he is much stronger than any of the heroes so he could probably end any resistance made by the Exorcists in an instant.

Amaimon doesn’t appear a whole lot, but he makes each appearance count. He gets a cliffhanger for his first appearance and his big three episodes each revolve around big fights with Rin. He is one of the strongest Demons since he is one of the 4(?) Kings. He is a hand to hand fighter, which works out great for us since those fights always tend to be fun. He seems like he just wants to enjoy the human world’s unique features (Like the food) as he finds some solid fights. There aren’t many fighters who really get him intrigued, but he likes to mess with Rin so that keeps him entertained for a while. While Amaimon adds a lot to the show thanks to his fight scenes, I don’t really care for his personality. He doesn’t have a lot of development as a villain and the voice probably prevents me from taking him seriously.

Igor is one of the characters who shows up and he also shifts from being a villain to a hero to a villain as the series goes on. He works for Mephisto Pheles so that makes sense. I definitely consider him to be a villain since he did attempt to murder Rin, but I would also call Mephisto Pheles a villain as well. I don’t trust guys who keep changing sides all of the time. Igor has a rather emotional subplot towards the end of the series, but he mostly tries to stay pretty detached. He has a grudge against demons due to a certain incident, which definitely changed how he acted. He’s a very interesting character and it’s always enjoyable to see him on screen.
The animation is pretty sharp. It doesn’t use any fancy animation techniques and there aren’t many scenes that will get a lot of buzz for this area, but you can instantly tell that this is a relatively new anime. I was sold on the animation right from the first episode and it really does the blue flames justice. This is the kind of show that could have been hurt by bad or average animation so it’s good that it was able to pull through. The fight scenes can look really great when they occur. They are fairly rare, but we get two big fights with Amaimon and a short sparring match with Shura. Rin and Yukio have a bit of a tussle, but I can’t really call it a fight. Anytime Rin enters his demon mode, you can be sure that something cool will happen. One fight that didn’t involve Rin, but was still cool was when Yukio fought Igor early on in the series. That was definitely pretty fun and the normal danger scenes can still be very entertaining. You’ll never find yourself bored in any of the canon episodes so I can safely say that the director did a great job with the pacing.

The openings are pretty good although the first one is significantly better than the second. I like the main theme a lot and there’s another one that’s pretty good for the battles. My favorite theme may actually be the one that seems to be inspired from the 90’s Xmen show. It’s hard to describe it, but it occasionally plays for a fight scene or for an emotional moment. One time where I remember it popping up is when Rin first meets the giant cat. On the whole, the soundtrack is pretty average, but having 2-3 really good songs is enough to give the whole soundtrack a much needed boost. It certainly won’t wreck any scenes like One Piece. (The big offender that always comes to mind when I think of battle music that takes away from a fight) If you think about it, having 2 terrific themes can make any soundtrack good since they will be popping up quite a lot as the show goes on.

The show didn’t have a whole lot of room for filler so I guess the writers felt that they needed to really remind us how dangerous it can be. The episode sees our heroes head to the beach to fight a Kraken type of opponent and it is a pretty terrible episode. It features a filler character who can’t fight, but he wants to avenge his Dad. His Dad was seemingly destroyed by the beast. Along the way we have a lot of not funny situations that will just make you dislike the kid even more. The ending is clever in a way, but the episode was already sunk by that point. The episode itself would definitely be counted as a negative for me. One bad episode (Within reason) may not affect a show like Naruto (Which can afford about 20-40 bad episodes) but for a 26 episode like Blue Exorcist, you’re probably not going to forget it anytime soon.

The show started to fall off the rails in the final episodes (Enough so that it’s noticeable, but the episodes weren’t downright cringeworthy so that it would really hurt the score) so I shall quickly talk about why it didn’t work. The set up is that a guy who claims to be Rin and Yukio’s uncle appears and he tells Yukio about how he can turn Rin into a normal human. (This is already impossible since he was born from a demon…but let’s keep going!) The casualties will only number a few trillion as he wants to destroy every demon in existence. (Will Rin really be spared?…..) Yukio quickly agrees, even if it means destroying Rin’s friend and hurting the familiars who have been helping the heroes the entire series. Yukio even turns against Rin during one critical juncture. Alas, Rin also gets kidnapped in a pretty sad moment where he couldn’t land a single hit on the Paladin. Then, the Paladin admits that he’s just a pawn of the government and he watches as they start to drain the power away from Rin. Rin has a healing factor, but it’s being exploited to gather the power needed to open the portal enough for the bomb to go through. I’ll stop there so you can watch to see how it goes, but the whole thing is pretty sad.

One character gets a power up out of this, but it’s hardly a good one. This also means that we don’t have a real final fight since the filler writers couldn’t think of a good one. One of the subplots in this arc was also not very good. The writers try to make Satan a sympathetic hero who is simply misunderstood. Remember all of the people that he murdered? He didn’t mean too…he was just trying to find the right vessel to allow him to stay in the human world. He did taunt them as he burned them to death, but maybe we misheard him. He gets like an episode or two just to show how much of a hero he is. He only wants peace and he believes in love at first sight. The problem is that most Earthly bodies begin to catch fire once he goes into them. Luckily, this is where Rin comes along! Any development that Satan has is quickly thrown out the window as he reverts to his villainous ways in the final seconds. Let’s face it, making Satan a likable hero is just not possible. Nobody can take that seriously and the only believable way to make a demon like that good is to help one from birth. (Like in Beelzebub) The writers were really grasping at straws here. As bad as that was, the whole Yukio subplot is what really drove this arc into the ground.

One reason why there is not a lot of hope for the heroes in the series is because the humans are simply outmatched by the demons. Rin, (Who is a demon anyway) Shura, Yukio, and the Paladin are the only capable fighters for the good side. Mephisto Pheles can potentially defeat all of them and he also has Amaimon and many other powerful demons to help him. Not to mention that most of the strong fighters in the demon world haven’t even bothered to appear yet. The heroes have a barrier to stop high level demons from appearing in the human world, but Mephisto likes to invite them for the lolz. (Villain move or simply a test for the heroes?) Normal demons can take down most of the humans and a simple cat was able to take on the Police squads. It seems like the demons are toying with the humans or they just don’t care about invading the human world. The filler episodes strongly point to the latter being the case. Most of the demons just want to either live in peace or just stay on their planet. The vocal minority are the ones who try to destroy the humans. Once again, it just makes the humans look bad since they tend to start a lot of the conflicts. It reminds me of how D.A.T.S. ran things for a little while.
Overall, Blue Exorcist is just a really fun show. Some episodes can be a little lighter on the action than we are used to, but the characters quickly become interesting enough to hold their own episodes without that element. The show does have some moments of fanservice here and there and the final episodes really cripple Yukio’s character development. Quite a few plot lines go unanswered as the show ends and you’re left waiting for a sequel. We also do get cheated out of the final boss fight, which wasn’t cool. I basically just threw in all of the negatives at the beginning of the paragraph so it may sound pretty negative, but they are still overpowered by the positives. The solid action and the great characters coupled with its fast moving plot still make Blue Exorcist a winner. It’s a very interesting series where you just enjoy seeing their day to day missions. After all, they’ll never actually destroy Satan right? I definitely recommend this title if you just want to watch something action packed and easy to get into. At 26 episodes, you’ll be finished with this title in a breeze and then you can compare it to Sword Art Online like me! Also, you should prepare yourself because the series ends with a cliffhanger that will likely never be resolved.

Overall 7/10