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.
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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