Blue Exorcist Season 1 Series Review

Okay it occurred to me now that the second season of this show has started that I hadn’t review season 1.

Overview:

Rin Okumura and his twin brother Yukio have been raised by Shiro Fujimoto, an eminent priest, so it comes as a shock when Rin discovers their biological father is actually Satan.

– From AnimeLab

Review:

I remember this was huge when it came out. Not quite Attack On Titan huge but still it was a pretty big deal. And when you watch the first episode which is wonderfully dramatic and Rin learns the truth about his parentage and his actions get Shiro, who has acted as his father, killed and all of the other things that happen in that action packed introduction, it is pretty amazing.

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Then there’s most of the rest of the series.

Not that Blue Exorcist is actually bad at any point. It’s quite well animated, there’s a series of zany characters who are learning about the world of exorcists and gaining powers while facing a diverse range of challenges. Probably the biggest issue is rather than just have a training group learning exorcism is that they decide to base it in a school with all the usual school setting tropes and to be honest the classroom scenes really drag the pace and serve no purpose in any of the story. Okay, Rin is bad at book studying. We get it. It was funny for about three seconds. Can we please move on and see an exorcist fight a demon now?

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And this is probably why I’ve never reviewed this show even though its been sitting on my list of reviews to write. For every moment of amazing over-the-top action/adventure with its mish-mash of religious tropes and ideas, there’s the sitting in the classroom, studying for an exam, inner-class rivalry, friendship games and all sorts of other things that just aren’t as interesting.

Shiemi is a good example of this. When she’s first introduced she’ a ridiculously shy character but Rin, being Rin, brings her out of her shell and after Rin and Yukio save her from a demon she ends up enrolling in the class. What follows is some of the lamest attempts at bullying and friendship making I’ve ever seen in a school based anime and that’s probably because Blue Exorcist is good at fighting things, cutting things down, strong emotional moments when facing more or less unbeatable odds. It isn’t good at being nuanced in social interactions. The fact that this sub-plot with Shiemi goes on for far too long before it is finally resolved in a ‘you helped us defend ourselves from a demon so you must be kind of cool so just forget all the mean things we did prior’ kind of way, only makes it worse. And after this, Shiemi pretty much ceases to be anything other than someone in the class. That close connection with Rin, the playful is she just a fan because he helped or does she have feelings for him moments just disappear and she literally becomes just another one of the group.

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And all of the students suffer more or less the same fate. They get a moment to shine, they get a moment that makes you want to roll your eyes and then they fade back into the crowd. It’s a shame because some of these characters actually have interesting stories (or seem like they might) to tell but ultimately they are there so that Rin has someone to bounce off.

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What this leaves is a reliance on Yukio and Rin to carry the characterisation of the story and that is definitely a mistake. These characters are good at what they do. They have opposite approaches to pretty much everything, they both have an inferiority complex toward the other, but they both lost their ‘father’ and they have both had to deal with keeping Rin’s secret. They should be interesting characters and yet Yukio is insufferable in his ‘woe-is-me’ attitude holding the fate of the world on his shoulders and refusing to actually talk about what is on his mind. His weak personality is actually exploited which is how we get to the finale so at least it served some narrative purpose but still wasn’t particularly compelling. Rin is just a charge in and hit everything kind of guy. That can work and when the show focusses on action it does work in this, but unfortunately watching this kind of character go about the day to day isn’t very fun. Trying to contrast his rough and ready attitude with a sickly sweet side doesn’t do much to balance him as a character and merely makes the tone of the show even less consistent.

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Okay, now it sounds like I hate the show which isn’t true. It actually is a fun ride with some great visual spectacles. I love the ending of this series (though I know a lot of people will disagree with that) and to be honest I’d have been happy with the show ending there but then there’s the movie and now a second season.

So, should you watch Blue Exorcist (assuming you haven’t)? If you like action with a bit of silly visual comedy, then you will probably enjoy most of what’s on offer here. Plus, Kuro, once he comes into the story, is the one of my favourite anime pets or mascots so he’s a lot of fun. If you are looking for something with a bit more character depth and a narrative that goes beyond ‘beat Satan’ then maybe you should look elsewhere.

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Blue Exorist Episode 30

Review:

While I can appreciate a story that takes its time getting to a point, that’s kind of only if I’m finding the set up and opening moves interesting, and Blue Exorcist season 2 is suffering from a severe lack of interesting developments. After barely getting any story so far and wading through a lot of teen angst, we’re now flashing back while reading a letter from the head priest to Rin, which of course Rin can’t read because of how its written so Yukio is reading out loud.

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It isn’t that Fujimoto and learning more about him isn’t interesting and it isn’t that I think this won’t be relevant later, it’s just we’re now 5 episodes into this season and other than two eyes being stolen and people apparently trying to retrieve them, this plot is seriously not moving. I guess if you like the characters more, Rin’s struggle to control his powers and the potential of him becoming a target might be enough to engage you, but to be honest for me that’s just background noise and at the moment most of these episodes feel like background noise.

Blue Exorcist is available on AnimeLab.


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Blue Exorcist Episode 29

Review:

After three episodes of mostly teen angst, we finally get back to the whole someone stealing the eye thing and of course it’s the girl who got told one thing one time and decides it is an absolute regardless of evidence of lack of it. It’s amazing how easy it is to convince yourself of something when you perceive every event through the lens that what you think is true and you find a way to distort all the facts to fit that truth. I mean, she might be right, it isn’t like I think the superiors in the church are actually trustworthy given they all seem to have their own agendas, but it just seems that trusting Todo is a terrible idea.

Rin of course finaly figures out some basic flame control (thank goodness because I’m sick of sitting on the roof with him watching him destroy candles).

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And then of course loses control when confronting Bon about his father issues. It’s great that we’re reminded that Fujimoto was important to Rin and Rin is still harbouring guilt around his death, but when he interprets everyone else’s relationship through that lens it becomes irritating. Just because you’ve been through trauma does not give you the right to dictate the actions of others and while superficially the circumstances between Bon and his father seem similar, Rin is seriously butting in where he’s not needed. This is one of my pet hate character traits when watching anime. In honesty, I was happy when he got knocked out cold.

Blue Exorcist is available on AnimeLab.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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Blue Exorcist Episode 28

Review:

I shouldn’t be surprised that very little is happening at the moment in this show. Season 1 did the exact same thing. Big opening with lots of supernatural menace and action and then highschool playtime and teens figuring out who they are only occasionally broken up by action sequences.

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Its a weird choice for a show that most people would call an action. The problem is, Blue Exorcist doesn’t really do characters that can pull off emotional nuances so mostly we’re left with lame jokes and obvious emotional fumbling, meanwhile we know there’s this whole conspiracy and demons and amazing things we could be watching and instead we see Shiemi get comforted by being called a weed.

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Not mocking Shiemi too much. She’s my favourite character in this show but as I said the characters aren’t exactly amazing. All and all this is watchable to those who watched season 1 but hasn’t improved at all so won’t be winning any new fans.

Blue Exorcist is available on AnimeLab.

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 8

Review:

So not Reiko’s past but Matoba and Natori’s which was kind of interesting but just left me wanting to know more about how they grew as exorcists and why their relationship seems so fractured in the present. Natsume is conspicuously absent for the duration of this episode and most likely that’s because Natori is a very Natsume-like character as a child (though just a little bit more bitter). And this is something we already knew. Natori wanted the life Natsume has but wasn’t strong enough to fight for it and ultimately gave up on it. He chose the path of an exorcist and that’s a path Natsume has so far resisted though Natsume has come to the conclusion that occasionally an exorcism is needed for some yokai. Ultimately this episode brings to life what we already knew and that is that both Natori and Matoba have struggled with their ability to see yokai and we clearly see why they are both drawn to Natsume. As usual, any episode with Matoba or Natori is one of my favourites and these two were the focus this week so I absolutely loved this.

 

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 4

Review:

Part two of Natsume dealing with Matoba was great but as always when Matoba gets involved we get a lot of questions without answers and I wonder just what was in the letter. Both Natori and Matoba know and Natsume is in the dark as always and given the overall theme this season of finding out about Natsume’s grandmother, I’m super curious if there is some connection. That said, even the episode itself acknowledged the similarities between this situation and a previous season’s episode and it almost felt as if dealing with the yokai was merely an excuse to bring these characters together. Plus, how foolish are the rest of the exorcists. They seem to exist only to make ridiculous exclamations and to get in the way. Not complaining overall, mind you, because it was as interesting a watch as ever and I’m glad Matoba was only wearing the suit for a meeting because it just doesn’t suit his character. But, I just felt that they could have pushed this storyline a bit further. Looking forward to the next episode.

 

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 3

Review:

The exorcists being involved always makes this usually sweet show just that little bit dark. Not actually dark because then it wouldn’t be Natsume, but just enough tension to really make an impact in an otherwise very relaxing story. Matoba is a character I just love hating and his appearance is always welcome and this episode was no exception. Even a letter with his name on it was enough to get things moving. I’m trying to recall if we’ve ever seen Matoba wearing a suit before because that was a bit odd. Also, threatening Natsume with revealing the truth to his guardians is just kind of cruel (and so typical of the way Matoba does things). The fact that we also got Natori in this episode just makes it even better and then of course we get a part 2 next week. Also, we find out that Reiko may have been involved in something forbidden when she collected the Yokai names so we’re continuing this trend of learning a bit more about her even if indirectly. Then we have the fact that Taki’s grandfather was also doing something apparently forbidden and I’m wondering now if there is a link but I’m guessing even if there is we won’t find out anytime soon. Loving this season of Natsume.

 

Twin Star Exorcists Episodes 16 – 18

Review:

I picked this up again and watched another three episodes. It really is better in blocks than watching week to week. That said, I did find myself watching the clock at times feeling like the episodes were taking forever. And that’s kind of odd given so much happened in these three episodes.

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Episode 16 decides to hit us hard with Mayura being corrupted. I kind of thought this show was taking a turn for the seriously dark but they pulled out an amazing new superpower just in time to not kill Rokuro’s childhood friend and the one person in the show who isn’t asking to die. That said, as a Kegare, she kind of rocks. If it wasn’t for the absolute tragedy of the situation it would be kind of cool.

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Episode 17 has Seigen fighting Yuto and that is a battle worth watching. Incidentally, up until now I hadn’t really cared about Yuto. Yeah, I know he was behind the whole tragedy that sent Rokuro over the edge and blah, blah, blah, but he hasn’t really had that much of an emotional impact on anything up until now. He’s just been talked about a lot and one time beat up Rokuro. This episode ‘fixes’ that and while I don’t like Seigen (and don’t really buy his whole cruel to be kind facade) watching him getting trashed in this episode kind of makes Yuto seem like a far more serious threat.

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Then we get to episode 18. Twin Star Exorcists just cannot maintain a tone. Every time the fight against the Kegare looks like it is getting interesting, we go back to these two playing house. Admittedly, I kind of saw the need this time and at least they spent most of this time looking for practical solutions to the fight they are about to face and dealing with their personal baggage. This wasn’t a cooking episode diversion or the like. As a result, some actual characterisation took place and while I would have preferred to just get on with the confrontation with Yuto this wasn’t a terrible episode.

So there we go. Another three episodes watched. I’ll pick this up again in a bit and review where I’m up to.

Twin Star Exorcists is available on Crunchyroll.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 6

Review:

100 words, not even close this week.

It must be the week for flashback episodes because D Gray Man sees us spending almost the entire episode inside Kanda’s memories. This episode is particularly affective because the audience have always known the the dark order were not exactly the white knights of the world and that they have been up to some pretty despicable things, however seeing it from the viewpoint of 2 children, with Allen thrown into the mix, really hits home and makes you wonder who the villain of the story really is.

That said, I am going to criticise the constant over the top expressions this week. Seriously, at times you could have mistaken Allen Walker for Atsushi from Bungo Stray Dogs from the way his face was twisting around. While the comedy elements of D Gray Man usually hit home and make a nice relief from the otherwise overwhelming darkness, this week it just interfered with what was in all other respects a pretty compelling episode. Kanda also suffered from some really ridiculous facial contortions this week which just felt out of character, even for a younger, test subject Kanda.

Alma is an interesting character and while we mostly see him from young Kanda’s viewpoint, seeing him toward the end from Allen’s point of view just adds to the many mysteries surrounding him. While at first he seems like the annoying little brother character found anywhere, he actually has surprising depth for a character we’ve only just met.

Road is back. She was always one of my favourite among the Noah and she doesn’t disappoint in her few moments of flirtation with Allen. While I’m not sold on this voice for Road, her playful tone undercut with a whole lot of malice is still well in effect and as always you just have to wonder whether she likes Allen or wants to kill him or both.

Lastly, Wisely gave us an excellent line early in the episode prior to getting buried in the flashback when one of the exorcists asked him to leave Alma alone. “We’re the Noah. We have no mercy to show you guys.” This kind of sums up why the Millenium Earl and the Noah are among my favourite villains ever. Yeah, they are kind of trying to destroy the world which on the surface seems like a stupid goal, but unlike so many other self-proclaimed super villains on a mission to the destroy the world, you kind of believe that the Noah are actually committed to the goal and have the power to back it up. There’s an absolute callousness about their characters that tells you that they can and will cross any and all lines. In the original 103 episodes, there are a lot of events with the Noah that back this up. They aren’t all talk. They aren’t the gloaty villains sending their minions out while they criticise their efforts. These guys bring pain with them.

So that’s my overblown thoughts on episode 6. Clearly I’m still very attached to this series and even with the idiotic facial animations this episode still dragged me into the story and didn’t let up until the credits rolled.

D Gray Man Hallow is available on AnimeLab.

Twin Star Exorcists Episodes 13 – 15

So, I dropped this. Really, I did. And then I was looking for a distraction to avoid doing work and thought I’d just check out one more episode and ended up watching all three of the episodes that I hadn’t seen. I don’t know if it got better or if taking a break was what I needed, or maybe it is just that this show works better in chunks than in single episodes, but I had a lot more fun with it than I remembered.

That said, there are still a lot things I don’t like about this show. So 3 episodes means 300 words, I’m sure that’s how it works.

Episode 13 finishes the fight that Benio started with that really strong guy (apparently a Basara, whatever). Rokuro and Benio combine their powers and summon a really big sword that doesn’t actually kill the thing but amuses him enough that he decided to walk away and pick up the fight once they’re stronger.

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Episode 14 you could probably pass on entirely as it is a flash back filled episode with limited new content. However, given I’d taken a few weeks away from this show I actually appreciated some of the reminders here.

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The episode 15 starts out fairly frivolously before deciding to remind us once again that exorcism is dangerous (oh, and that everyone in the higher chain of command is a complete and utter jerk).  I did however like the break from Benio and Rokuro’s love life as we instead got to watch Ryougo maybe get a life.

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The show also got a new opeing sequence and the images are definitely playing up the trauma for the characters and Benio’s companion thing is just as irritating as ever.

All things considered, not as bad as I remember it being when I decided to drop it, but still not rushing to pick this back up again. I may wait until there’s another group of episodes for me to binge watch as that definitely seems to work better for me.

Twin Star Exoricsts is available on Crunchyroll.