This is review number one hundred and forty eight. It’s part of the Spring 2011 lineup. It’s Ao no Exorcist and it’s a twenty five episode anime about a kid who is actually the demon. It’s a really nice anime and I’m pretty impressed at the Spring 2011 lineup so far. There is a lot of awesome anime in this line up. I’m really amazed.
Anyways, Ao no Exorcist. It’s a Shounen anime and it’s awesome. Let’s read on.
The anime is about Rin Okumura. He is a problem child who always gets in trouble. Despite the purest of intentions, the guy’s short temper always gets the best of him. He always wishes that he was like his twin brother who is smart and straight laced. His father loves his rough side though and loves him equally despite his violent nature. His life was turned upside down one evening though when he discovered that he was the son of Satan born of a human mother. Satan wanted his son back but Rin’s father is willing to fight to the death to protect his son. Rin soon lost his father and now wants retribution.
He decided to seek the help of his father’s comrade to exact his revenge. He decided the only way to become strong enough to kick Satan’s ass was to become an Exorcist. They are people who beat up demons who cause trouble on Earth. Things a bit complicated though when the son of Satan wants to become part of a group that dedicates their life to eradicating Satan’s spawn. Rin is stubborn though and he is willing to take any hurdle head on.
Taking the Pants Off
Ao no Exorcist is a remarkable anime. It’s a different kind of Shounen where the story matters more than two characters beating each other silly. The way it emphasizes more on building the story is really amazing. I don’t see a lot of Shounen anime so intricately woven as this anime. There are so many elements to this anime that I’ve never seen so perfectly executed before. This may look like another run of the mill action type show at first glance but it’s really something more complex than that. I also finished this anime in a day. Now I recently learned that some people can’t grasp the idea that 25 episode anime can be finished in a day and thinks it’s moronic I can’t finish 110 episodes in a day. That’s alright, it’s their opinion and I respect that. For a twenty five below anime to captivate so much that I finish the anime in a day without me feeling bored or impatient tells a lot at how amazing that anime is. Just trust me. I’ve seen six hundred plus anime and not a lot can urge me to sit in my chair an entire day to make me watch it. I’ve been saying it a lot though in my reviews so it’s either a lot of good anime are being churned out or I’ve lowered my standards. Eh, enough who the hell cares? Ao no Exorcist is good. That’s the important thing here.
The anime has two main plot points that the show steadily builds at each episode. The first plot point is Rin being the son of Satan. He is trying to become an Exorcist while trying to control his demonic power. It’s not an easy task since he just recently learned of his powers and it’s going to take a while to get used to it. This power will make his life hard though because a lot of people are interested at the son of Satan. There are people out to kill him and people scheming to use him. Rin is more focused on controlling his powers though because he wants to use it for good and to protect his friends as oppose to wreaking havoc with it.
The second plot point is the group of friends Rin has as he tries to become an Exorcist. These are his classmates and comrades as he fights demons from all over. An exorcist cannot fight alone so there was a lot of focus given to the bonds the group forms. They start out as classmates, grow to become rivals and soon become comrades that have each other’s back. A lot of episodes are focused to how the individual characters learn to trust each other and fight for the common good.
These anime only has two plot points but it’s not as simple as that. Under these plot points are sub-plots that are also incorporated to the story. I call them sub plots under the main plot points because they aren’t really as vital to the plot and they only make up parts of the main plot points. They don’t stand alone but rather, adds depth to the main plot points. The story about Rin being a demon is more complicated than it looks.
First, there is a sub plot about his family dynamic. He grew up being protected by his father but the anime soon explored just how much the guy went through to ensure Rin grew up as a happy normal human being. He also has a very complicated relationship with his fraternal twin who has known all along that he was a demon but has taken up their father’s role of protecting Rin. Rin is a stubborn guy though that wants to protect others and not the other way around. As the anime progresses, we soon discover just how much the family sacrifices to make the other person happy.
There is also a sub plot about the inner working of the True Cross Order. There is the principal of True Cross Academy who has taken a liking towards Rin. He thinks of him as a very convenient weapon but the man is very much shrouded in mystery. He seems to love toying with Rin and seeing just how much he can push the guy before he starts pushing back. His intensions aren’t that simple though and the anime soon revealed just how Rin being a demon really fascinates this man. The principal is someone who wants to use Rin but there are also people who just want him dead. There are shady individuals who would go so far to make sure he drops dead and then there are others who would even hurt innocent people to see him dead. Majority of the people in True Cross doesn’t like the fact that the son of Satan is within their group and there was a very interesting power play that commences between the principal and the rest of the Order. This was a fascinating development of the anime because it involves a guy you seriously cannot read up against people far superior than him.
Lastly, there is the typical Shounen aspect of the anime. It’s the subplot about Rin trying to become strong. He faces a lot of adversity because of his demonic powers. There are some episodes that focus on his ties with other demons and there are also episodes focused on trying to control his powers. This wasn’t that heavily focused though but this is where Rin would do different kind of trainings to become strong. Some of them aren’t the conventional kind of training that requires some fighting though so it was pretty intriguing to see Rin try to become a better individual using these very unique kinds of training. I say it’s not heavily focused because there aren’t a lot of episodes where Rin would see progress. The anime had too much stuff to tackle other than the typical Shounen aspects.
These three stories are all bound together to the first main plot point about Rin being the son of Satan. It’s a simple plot point but so heavily detailed and intricately constructed, it’s pretty amazing. The second plot point also share the same kind of complexity.
Under the second plot of the class of Esquires trying to become Exorcists involve the following subplots. The first one is the basic run down of the supernatural aspects of the anime and the inner workings of becoming an Exorcist. There are a lot of explained about the Exorcist part like the different ranks and classes an Exorcist is in. This is a very technical aspect of the anime because it also explores the different abilities of an exorcist like summoning demons and reciting different chants to eradicate demons. There is nothing confusing though. After some explanation, the anime was kind of enough to put the thought into practice. You often see how cool it is to actually become an exorcist. The supernatural aspect of the anime is heavily focused here more though. I love this aspect of the anime because there is some smart background about different kinds of demons and monsters. It really makes the exorcism part of the anime very deep. The characters often encounter different kinds of demon from the harmful ones to the sealed ones to the docile ones. This is also where majority of the fights occur.
The second subplot is the basic interactions of the characters. As I said before, every character was given focus to and they all had a very decent transformation. They anime also explored some of their background story to really make characters very rounded. The character’s interaction with one another is often the focal point of this subplot. A lot of conflicts occur which would have some fruitful resolutions. There is also a strong showing of camaraderie among the characters that slowly develop as the anime progress. Their show of teamwork is also focused here. There is also some fluff moments for good measure. When the characters aren’t busy with their school work or missions, they often just hang and talk to each other. This is where typical episode like going to the beach or camping is often utilized. There is a smart balance here though between fighting and fluff that is really well done.
As you can see, the plot is very complex. The wonderful thing about this anime is that when the plot point about Rin being the son of Satan progresses then the other one gets a build up as well. They work hand in hand which is pretty hard to pull off. The two plot points had a decent balance to them and the anime made sure each of the subplots are woven together perfectly to really strengthen the story. I’ve never seen this done in Shounen anime before. It’s pretty remarkable and nicely done because it had all the potential to fail. It doesn’t. It really becomes more and more exciting as the anime progresses.
The characters of the anime are pretty impressive. They all had a pretty decent character development and they all had a nice personality to them. The best part is that each character was given a decent spotlight including the minor characters. Rin is the typical Shounen hero character who charges head on and often shows her inexperience. His determination is strong though even though he lacks proper training. He had a very steady growth in the anime that I find pretty impressive. He starts out as a total hot head with a heart of gold but he soon transform into a very impressive person. I also enjoy this relationship he had with his brother. His brother, Yukio, is good at everything he does and an overachiever than Rin often feels jealous of him. Yukio is born as a human and he looks up to his brother though and he also has a bit of envy towards him. It’s pretty sweet.
Then there is the class of exorcists Rin associates with. I love the interaction between them because it really brightens up the anime and they bring forth the classic Shounen theme of “Friendship”. The characters start out generic like the tsundere, the loud guy, the level headed guy and the airheaded girl but the anime was able to give them adequate time to really grow. Certain conflicts are presented to make these characters rounded and it strengthen the interaction among them. It’s really well done.
There are a lot of antagonists in the anime and they are all pretty impressive. There is the hard to gauge principal who seems to play both sides. One moment he helps the characters then the next you often feel like he is behind the incidents befalling the characters. The best part is that he has never once revealed his cards. He is really just in the grey instead of siding with the good guys. Of course, there is also Satan. He is portrayed pretty nicely in the anime. The super menacing guy that no one can beat with a pretty high level the characters can’t reach. He doesn’t appear much in the anime though because the anime wanted him to be an enigma until the later parts of the anime. There are also the people running the True Cross Order. I won’t spoil much because most of them are introduced at the later parts of the anime but a lot of them are really irritating. They hold power and they run the place so they’re order is absolute even if it harms others. They often just butt in without seeing the whole picture. They’re really nice antagonists but they aren’t really super evil like Satan.
There is a downside to the anime despite its smartly woven story. For a Shounen anime, it’s very timid with its action. There aren’t a lot of people beating each other and some fights often end early. The anime is mostly busy strengthening the plot which robs the anime of some good fight scenes. There aren’t a lot of fights with storytelling in them. The characters often just swing their weapon around and it lacks a deep rooted rivalry most Shounen anime builds and heavily focuses on. I’m a fan of an anime with a strong story though so I didn’t really miss the action much. There were some good scenes that involves some characters displaying their skills and that’s enough for me.
This is really an awesome anime. I was honestly expecting the worse from this anime but I was really surprised and the experience was worth the watch. I also love reviewing anime like this. There aren’t a lot of intricately devised anime like this that can balance its story, action and characters so perfectly and still keep you intrigued until the very end.
Sight and Sound
The character design is very much Shounen. There is a wide range in character type with different shapes, sizes and height that makes each character unique. They also some pretty flashy hair to them and of course, some standout outfits. Even the typical uniform looks really different across the board because each character’s look really compliments their personality. I also love the uniforms in the anime from the school uniform to the ones the soldiers of True Cross wear. There are also the flashy types of characters with bright colored outfits. The best one, for me, is Shiemi’s kimono with its colorful floral arrangement.
The demons in the anime are also nicely designed. There is the typical animal inspired kind of demons and there are some bug types. There are also some pretty unique ones that I’ve never seen before like the flying tar demons and the grotesque looking monster one of the teachers summoned. The anime pulled inspiration from a lot of things and I really appreciate that. There are demons that stems from folklores and there are ones that are pretty RPG inspired looking.
The animation is amazing. Some of the fight scenes are fast but they are very organic. It utilizes a lot of camera angles and there are some cool effects added to enhance the scenes. I love the one on one fight among characters because they all had different style and stances that looks really cool. Plus, the animation is so smooth that the battles are really easy to follow. The demon battles are also impressive in their own right. It’s paced well that both the demons and the characters had enough time to strut their stuff. The background is very much involve in these fights because a lot of things are destroyed and flying all over. There also some CG works in some fights scenes. The anime is dominantly normal animated though. This CG are just added to make some things more awesome looking like the gate at the beginning of the anime with some menacing looking faces rippling like water.
The anime had two OP. The first one is “CORE PRIDE” by UVERWorld. It’s a rock song with some rap that sounds nice. I had a hard time appreciating the lyrics though but I guess I just don’t like these kinds of songs. I do love the voices of the singers though. They blend nicely with the rough rap and the pleasant normal lyrics. The song is about determination and facing adversity even when things look tough. It nicely captures the essence of the anime. The OP sequence features all the characters but I really hate the spoilers in it. It features some characters that don’t appear until the end of the first half so you often get an idea how the episode about them would conclude. I don’t like spoilers but the OP nicely summarizes the events of the first half of the anime. The anime’s second OP is “IN MY WORLD” by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D. It’s another rock song but I like this one better. It has a nice rhythm and it really fits the anime. The song is about fighting for what you believe in and there is a serious tone in the song that fells really well. The chorus is also pretty awesome. The OP sequence, once again, features the characters and it also feels a bit more serious and gloomy than the first OP.
The anime also has two ED. The first one is “Take off” by 2PM. It’s a pop song but it’s has a very catchy tune to it. The singer’s voice is also pretty nice. Boy band songs are pretty gimmicky though and the dreamy voices don’t really do anything for me. The song is a romantic song but talks about seizing opportunities. It feels like an odd song for this kind of anime, imo. The ED sequence features a CG first person view where the camera is moving in a highway. There are scenes of different characters dancing like a boy band. It’s pretty weird. It’s not for me, I guess. The second ED is “Wired Life” by Meisa Kuroki. It’s a technopop song. It’s good, I guess. Meisa’s voice does sound good and the song does have a nice beat to it. It’s about facing adversity or something. I don’t listen much to it. Something about friendship and bonds, I guess. It’s a good song. The ED sequence features the different characters in still poses. Nothing fancy about it.
8/10 “It’s an impressive Shounen anime that impressively balances all of its element unlike any anime I’ve seen.”
The story is awesome, the characters are nicely rounded and there is enough action to keep you hooked. It’s a really well done anime that I urge everyone to try. I highly recommend it.