Humans and demons are two sides of the same coin, as are Assiah and Gehenna, their respective worlds. The only way to travel between the realms is by the means of possession, like in ghost stories. However, Satan, the ruler of Gehenna, cannot find a suitable host to possess and therefore, remains imprisoned in his world. In a desperate attempt to conquer Assiah, he sends his son instead, intending for him to eventually grow into a vessel capable of possession by the demon king.
Ao no Exorcist follows Rin Okumura who appears to be an ordinary, somewhat troublesome teenager—that is until one day he is ambushed by demons. His world turns upside down when he discovers that he is in fact the very son of Satan and that his demon father wishes for him to return so they can conquer Assiah together. Not wanting to join the king of Gehenna, Rin decides to begin training to become an exorcist so that he can fight to defend Assiah alongside his brother Yukio.
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Spoiler Aleart: This review contains spoilers!
All I can say is the anime had an interesting premise which fell flat very fast.
Blue Exorcist, as you can see from the synopsis, relied heavily on elements of Christianity.
I’m not a Christian. For me, I don’t think it really matters whether or not a religion is portrayed positively in fiction. However, the main theme of this anime is Christianity, and if they made it lame, it becomes a big problem in the show.
You know how some people from the West take serious Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Shintoism, and change it into some kind of fantasy-spiritual-philosophy that those “cute oriental people” practice, and are #omgsospiritual? Well, this anime is kinda like the pay-back to that. The author of this anime probably have no knowledge of Christianity, but went ahead and made a story based on said religion anyways because it “looks cool”.
I can’t explain how weird the whole idea of reciting Bible verses to defeat demons is, it sounds disturbingly like an evangelical show “Bible Man”, and that was incredibly cringy.
I know I was supposed to feel tension when they yelled “Ghoul-type demons are mainly in the Gospel of John so we need to read the whole book to defeat them”, but I was just sitting there wondering “since when is Bible a magic book with incantations?” If you have read the Bible, you would realise why these verses don’t make good incantations.
Judging from how they had to “read the whole book”, I’m guessing that not part, but the whole Bible can act as an incantation to certain demons. Which means you would hear an exorcist chanting “And I will make them eat their flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and all shall eat the flesh of their neighbours in the siege, and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them” to a monster. Yea, awkward.
I know in Japan where Shintoism is more dominate, they are more acceptable to gods from other religions, but Christianity is a monotheistic religion. That means they believe that there is ONE god. It is impossible for a member of a monotheistic religion to be a member of another religion that believes in different gods. You can’t believe that there is only one god and more than one god at once. That’s just logically impossible.
A character whose family owned a Buddhist temple said his parents were killed when trying to battle Satan. Why in Hades is a Buddhist temple fighting with Satan in the first place? Also, since when do Buddhist monks have super powers?
The exorcists who were working under Vatican were also using Shintoism and Buddhism magics. That’s illogical even in a fictional setting. In Vatican school, you can summon white fox from Shintoist fulu, because why not?
If they wanted to include several religions, they might as well make up a whole new fictional religion that incorporate elements from all these religions. When they use real life references but are not faithful to what real life is like, the whole concept just became weird.
The Plot Took a nose-dive from epic to meh to WTF
The story was very cliche and predictable. I don’t mind cliches if they are done right, but Blue Exorcist didn’t.
The beginning of the story was actually good, the protagonist Rin found out that he is a son of Satan, his adoptive father promptly died to protect him. Rin accidentally unleashed his inner Satan power to send Satan back, and now he is going to a school where he would learn the skills required to avenge his adoptive father.
Then… then nothing.
The showed pretty much became a comedy. Did I mention the person who raised him burst into flame, became possessed by Satan and then died? Sorry if it seems like I don’t trust you to remember something that important, because our protagonist here certainly didn’t. He pretty much just forgot about the whole “my dad is actually Satan and he kinda burnt my adoptive father alive” thing, and when on with his happy school life where he made zero effort to become the exorcist he vowed to become. Oh, did I mention his father got possessed, burst into flame and then died for him, painfully?
The bonding sessions for him and his new, generic, archtype friends seemed so out of place. Each episode was like separate little stories, there is no continuity. Some of them focused on a character’s problem, while some others were about Rin gaining a new pet or getting to know who is cooking for him. Again, generic school comedy, nothing that lives up to its premise.
The ending was the worst. It happened out-of-no-where right in the middle of the school comedy bonding session.
Rin and Yukio’s grandfather who hated Satan decided to recruit Yukio to open the gate so he can what… destroy hell? Not a very good plan. And of course he hated Rin who is half demon, and of course, Yukio didn’t think about that. It’s not like they established him as a competent and careful character. What’s wrong with him doing something completely idiotic, getting his own brother captured and getting possessed at the very end?
That wasn’t even the weirdest part. Apparently, Satan was just misunderstood, all he wanted was demons and humans to live happily together by unleashing hell on earth! No one had become an exorcist yet, but Satan was defeated and there’s our happy ending… What?
I would say the only redeeming value of this anime is its animation. It was clean-cut but not overly simple. The visuals are colourful and the animation was smooth. The action scenes would get you pumped up like a shounen anime should.