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The Devil’s Own – Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga (Volume One) – Humble Opinions

A friend indeed

The devil is a bad guy; I don’t think I”m stepping on any toes with that statement. Since time when-somebody-wrote-stuff-down, this beacon of all things evil has plagued the good folk of the world and tempted them with sin. Now, whether you believe such things are literal or metaphorical, they make for some damn fine fiction. One particularly intriguing tale born of this symbolic evil focuses on the age old clash of nature and nurture. More simply put: Is one’s parentage a deciding factor in who they will grow to be? Also, do devil powers make you cool?

Welcome back to the realm of exorcists and demons, of cleanse or be killed. It’s been a while since the last animated jaunt through the averagely hellish streets of this particular Japan and no time is wasted jumping back into things. For clarification, watchers of the first anime series may notice a slight clash of plot with what is presented, in which you would be correct. It’s one of those we-changed-the-ending-of-the-story-so-we-could-wrap-everything-up-in-our-initial-run-and-weren’t-sure-if-we-would-get-a-second-season-to-follow-along-with-the-manga-plot situations, so don’t stress over it for too long. Also, as long as you remember that Rin is the son of Satan, you’ll be fine…not that anybody will let you forget that fact.

At both ends

Okay, so I get it, Satan is a bad guy, like, the worst guy, but boy was that not enough to quell the rage in my heart for the situation Rin now finds himself in. Though I completely understand his friends’ trepidation upon discovering his lineage, it is nothing but frustrating to see the majority of the students we have come to learn about turn their backs on him. True, he looked rather frightening when fighting with his demonic powers, but he did use them to save his friends. Even Shiemi avoids Rin for this initial burst of episodes and she’s a sweetheart. Hell, Izumo is the only one who shows him the time of day and she’s Izumo…which apparently means she’s a sweetheart too. Now, every character does receive their moment to express the emotions bouncing around their hearts and minds, lending credence to their stance on avoiding Rin, but it’s still a rough couple of episodes. It’s just all so sad and frustrating. These kids are friends, why should Rin’s absentee father drive a wedge between them? Arguably because he’s actually Satan, but you get my point. Heck, a few of the students spend their arrival into Kyoto emotionally guarding themselves from their embarrassing families, adding a light layer of hypocrisy to the proceedings and making me truly appreciate the upbeat attitude of Rin. Don’t let ’em get to you, champ.

One a more worldy scale, this arc introduces us to the legend of the Impure King, a demon of the past whose mere presence spreads plague and destruction. You know, typical demon stuff. Naturally, villains wish to utilise the remnants of this horrifying creature, plotting to steal its eyes and rain miasma down upon the world. This is of course a brilliant plan, seeing as how the infection of innocent humans leaves zero room for sympathising with the enemy. Now, between you and me and the series, there may be something else to this evil plan that lends itself better to an unfolding narrative, but you’ll have to wait six episodes to learn more about that. That being said, the overall plot remains vaguely menacing enough to not draw too much attention to itself, as the emotional clash of Rin and his friends(?) is where our attention is heavily directed. There is a slight spark of Yukio’s emotional state becoming relevant to both aspects of the series, however he holds a rather light presence for the bulk of this volume. Though said emotional issues are far from being resolved, the aforementioned plot regarding the Impure King seems to be butting in to focus, rather forcefully if I might add. If only there were a ragtag group of exorcists nearby, perhaps even one imbued with the innate powers of a powerful demon.

One hell of a priest

Hey, here’s something I just thought of, there’s a heck of a lot of exorcists who form pacts and summon demons in order to fight. So that only makes it more annoying that everybody treats Rin like garbage after they learn who his father is. Izumo even mentions that there are others out there with demonic lineage. It’s just…I know I’ve prattled on about this already, but boy howdy is it aggravating. Maybe that says more about me than the series, but it is a hard viewpoint to look around. Bunch of jerks, freaking out about Rin when your temple has a trio of sisters who can turn their arms into snakes. Nothing should phase you at this point. Also, why are people only now slightly suspicious of a man whose name is Mephisto Pheles? It’s not even a play on words, the guy just put a space in there. How does nobody notice that?

So, personal aggravation aside, this intro to the Kyoto Saga is a surprisingly small one. Though the threat of hellish disease remains present since the beginning, our attention is mostly granted to Rin and his attempts to talk to his friends and light candles. The candle thing is about controlling his blue flames, although I suppose that does also technically have to do with reconnecting with the rest of his class. Still, it isn’t exactly what one would imagine when the words Impure King are being thrown around. Yukio’s expedition also winds up adding nothing of import to the series and the villains continues his plan with a measured pace that appears more casual than methodical. He just sort of appears at inopportune moments and unleashes some small level of hell on whoever happens to be present, by which I mean he discusses philosophy and rhetoric before just leaving. Honestly, the villain lacks any real sense of maliciousness, despite his evil actions. Perhaps  his arc will lead to greater revelations in the coming volume, but for now he is a surprisingly bland existence within a world of demons and their slayers. Can’t argue with his results though.

He’s the baad guy

Half of a long story short, Blue Exorcist continues to be and interesting creature. Despite lopping of the tail end of its last incarnation, there’s really no room to rest before the emotional stakes are once more jammed into our hearts. Be it the sadness of watching friends fight, or the rage of witnessing people turn their backs on somebody undeserving of such treatment, chances are you’ll feel something. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll simply enjoy watching some guy with goat horns float around waxing philosophical and bemoaning his own past, whilst simultaneously unleashing poison upon a random city street. If neither of those tickle your fancy, then I’m not really sure what else to offer…Rin punches Bon at one point, that’s pretty therapeutic.


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