Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga – Part 2 (Episodes 7-12) (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 145 minutes approx.
It’s been a frustrating wait due to the split-release imposed on Manga Entertainment by Sentai in the US, but the concluding half of Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga is finally here. Since this is a single cour season split in two, there are no recaps of the preceding material so either a very good memory is required or maybe a rewatch of the first half.
Just to get you up to speed, the rookie exorcists of True Cross Academy are in Kyoto to help Myoda Sect protect the Right Eye of the demonic being known as the Impure King, but a traitor in the ranks of the Myoda clan sees the mythical beast reawakened and ready to cause havoc.
We resume the story with nominal hero Rin Okumura having learned the truth about the Koma Sword which is now in his possession, but his nascent abilities prevent him from being able to draw the sword. However, despite Rin being the last hope of the Myoda Sect, he is currently imprisoned for running out of control with his blue flames, and worse still, he has been sentenced to death!
Luckily for Rin, he has friends willing to disobey the rules and help him out of a predicament and a concerted group effort sees Rin broken out of prison and onto the battlefield to stop the Impure King. But Rin can’t fight alone and it is all hands on deck as the Impure King’s zealots try to prevent any interference from occurring.
This really is a show of two halves, and in some ways the bifurcation of the Kyoto Saga works in its favour. The first six episodes set the groundwork for the Impure King to be awakened and established himself as a valid threat against the world, taking care of the plot developments, character introductions and the intrigue of the insider betrayal. The episodes in this collection are pretty much occupied with the wall-to-wall action of the good vs. evil showdown.
It’s not all mindless shonen bombast however – there is still room for character growth of Rin and his classmates as they find themselves tested as never before in the name of protecting the world against this humungous pungent beast. Essentially a gigantic blob of malevolent putrid pus, the Impure King plans to engulf Kyoto with a tidal wave of noxious miasma in revenge for being sealed up for centuries.
First to step up is Shiemi Moriyama, the timorous horticulturist and prospective love interest of Rin’s, undergoing perhaps the biggest personal growth in this arc. Forever seen as the weak link and most ineffectual of the exorcists because of her feeble plant like familiar, Shiemi not only puts herself at risk to help Rin regain his confidence but also saves the life of insular Izumo Kamiki, finally proving her worth.
Ryuji Suguru, the loutish rival to Rin and most vocal in his resentment towards the Son of Satan, is forced to swallow his pride and let go of his deep-rooted grudges to co-exist with Rin during the climactic battle against the Impure King. Some home truths from his father along with his usually detrimental stubbornness sees Ryuji play a major part in the protection of Kyoto and his home village.
One character that remains infuriatingly unchanged for the most part is Rin’s younger brother Yukio, the more mature and studious of the siblings. I say “for the most part”, as Yukio is still unable to let go of his anger towards Rin for their adopted father’s suicide and jealousy for the special attention Rin received from Satan. Although Yuki is forced to look deep inside himself and understand Rin’s position, he is still tries to enforce the rules of Rin’s arrest even after his efforts to thwart the Impure King.
Finally, Rin is thrown in the deep end with the burden of expectation on him, along with the responsibility of protecting thousands of lives. With his ability to control his flames still unsuccessful and being able to draw the Koma Sword remaining out of his reach, the odds are very much against Rin but we know he is a tenacious and passionate enough chap that he will die trying – and he may well do so.
Because of the multi-battle format, we find our attention is divided between different showdowns but with four of the six episodes dedicated to the action, these fights are not protracted to point of tedium. However the balance is often uneven so one fight may be given a lot of time then the focus shifts to another battle we forgot was still happening, but at least this issue is vastly scaled down compared to Dragonball Z or Naruto.
The final episode in this arc is essentially a comedown from the intense excitement that precedes it, taking a much lighter, humorous tone to tie up a few loose ends and leave the door open for a third season which has yet to materialise. The manga has any more volumes still to be adapted so there is no lack of material and it is evident there is so much more for the characters to achieve both personally and as exorcists.
A1 Pictures have done another superb job with the animation, making each of the battles bristle with energetic and visually appealing through the use of different coloured mood lighting. This makes each instance feel unique and reflects the variety of the exorcism powers on display. The Impure King is not the most exciting design for a villainous creature it has to be said but its grossness is well relayed.
As suggested at the start of this review, the best way to enjoy Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga is to watch all 12 episodes together as the break between sets doesn’t help do it justice with so much to remember. Overall, this is a hugely entertaining arc that will leave you wanting more from this fun, well written, and always eventful franchise.
English Language 2.0 Stereo
Japanese Language 2.0 Stereo
Disc 2 Only:
Episode 11 Textless Ending Scene
Rating – *** ½
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