Blue Exorcist Part 2 (Episodes 13-25) (Cert 15)
2 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 247 minutes approx.
Heading into the second volume of this supernatural action show and demon seed Rin Okumura has managed to keep the fact that he is the spawn of Satan a secret from his classmates at True Cross Academy – until now.
Kicking off this set Rin and his fellow exorcists-in-training are whisked off to a boot camp by Rin’s brother Yukio and busty battle babe Shura Kirigakure to strengthen their team work and put their skills to good use in preparation for the day when they are ready for fully fledged combat. Following a successful task that brought everyone together, bashful Shiemi Moriyama is kidnapped by Rin’s devilish half brother Amaimon, who doesn’t seem to have much love for his step-sibling, quickly proving to be too much for the rookies to handle.
Rin is forced to go for broke and release his own demonic powers, recklessly exposing his big secret to everyone and attracting the attention of the True Cross Order who send Paladin Arthur Auguste Ange to capture Rin and take him to the Vatican, as he is the prime piece of evidence in the trial of True Cross Academy principle Mephisto Pheles.
What trial is this you may ask? A good question because it appears completely out of the blue (ahem) just as the Rin vs Amaimon battle was getting good. However all is not lost as Mephisto not only worms his way out of any punishment but a manic and vengeful Amaimon disrupts the proceedings with the intent of finishing the job of destroying Rin, causing major havoc in the process.
For anyone who has been following the original manga the pacing issues of this adaptation will prove to be an annoyance; for anyone who hasn’t, they will be baffling to say the least. To say the trial of Mephisto literally comes out of nowhere would be an understatement – one minute he is watching Rin and Amaimon going at it in the forest, the next we learn he is under trial for keeping Rin alive, for an apparently good reason, if not quite as altruistic as it may seem.
The fallout from the revelation of Rin’s true lineage sees his classmates ostracise him through fear of being unable to trust the son of the being they are training to fight against, especially Ryuji Suguro whose personal grievance against Satan fuels his desire to become an exorcist. Again, this issue was said to have been given more time and depth while here it is dealt within the space of two episodes.
After some light hearted filler material, this volume and indeed the series, closes with a powerful and dramatic arc that finally reveals the truth behind the birth of Rin and Yukio while an evil masterplan exploiting Rin’s satanic heredity to bring about the merger of Gehenna and Assiah (the human and demon worlds) is put into action, with some surprising results.
For all the faults of the pacing and filler diversions present in this two disc set, the climax to this series is immensely satisfying, tying up many loose ends and delivering the vital bits of information and backstory en route to what is an action packed and emotionally testing denouement. The key revelation here is the tale of how the human mother of Rin and Yukio came to be impregnated by Satan and how her dreams became his mission, born out of tragic and preventable circumstances.
With the first disc feeling a little rushed and disjointed due the haphazard handling of the pacing, the second disc is a prime example of quality over quantity, as the closing arc is one of the strongest and most complete seen in along while in anime. A few little plot hole niggles still rear their ugly head – most of the main players in this thread appear for the first time in the story which, since they are integral to the conclusion, lessens the impact of their actions since there was no time to establish any connection or relevance with the audience.
As entertaining and riveting these episodes are, one can’t help but consider this a deus ex machina finale. On the plus side however the animation remains top notch and the battle scenes are as fluid and as spectacular as before. A word of advice though – be sure to keep the final episode playing after the end credits roll or you’ll miss out on the touching coda.
Bucking the trend of other shonen action shows by only being twenty five episodes long and not a never ending saga that quickly passes its sell by date, Blue Exorcist has, faults aside, earned its spot alongside some of the greats; its popularity and success has paved the way for a big screen spin-off which hits Japanese cinemas in December. Hopefully with a bigger budget and some new ideas for the story and script, this should be a spectacular event to look forward to.
For now though, take a moment to indulge in these great releases from Manga of this familiar but nonetheless hugely entertaining and eventful series.
Japanese Language 2.0 with English Subtitles
Disc 2 Only:
Ura-Ex 6-10 (Bonus Short Movies)
Ratings – ****
Man In Black