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DVD Review

DVD cover

Blue Exorcist
Part 2
Episodes 14-25


Starring (voice): Nobuhiko Okamoto, Jun Fukuyama and Kana Hanazawa
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 22 October 2012

During a three-day drill to prepare Rin and fellow Ex-Wires for actual combat, Amaimon suddenly appears and takes Shiemi as a hostage to lure Rin. Angry, Rin fights Amaimon and he ends up going berserk! He regains control of himself only to be captured by the current Paladin, Angel, and sent to the Vatican for trial. As the hearing drags on, the Order finds itself unable to decide on Rin's fate, as Mephisto has proclaimed him to be “a weapon for counter-attacking Satan”. Rin is now forced to obey the Vatican's order or face execution...!

While the first part of Blue Exorcist seemed to lack confidence and spent far more time treading water with formulaic one-off episodes than it did developing its plot, the second half presented on this release seems stronger and more sure of its direction. As the central plot - young Satanic half-breed Rin Okumura's efforts to control his infernal abilities and the conspiracy brewing within the anti-occult division of the Vatican to either destroy, or make use of him - takes hold, the tension builds. Even a side plot involving an ambiguously nefarious character from the first scene, which seems a pointless diversion at first, plays into the main storyline surprisingly well.

The show's main problem, a lack of originality resulting from too many elements borrowed from other series, is still apparent and sadly undermines the highly professional production and direction on display. While Rin's cool, tough new mentor Shura is a welcome addition to the somewhat weak female cast, her appearance and characterisation - a flagrant hybrid of Black Lagoon's Revy and Gurren-Lagann's Yoko - are so clichéd it feels like an indictment of the series' dearth of new ideas.

It's a pity, as the show's strengths come into play in its second half: the revelations of Rin and Yukio's late mother's hidden past and her paradoxical relationship with their father Satan, shed a different light on the demon-busting antics hitherto on display, and the brothers' enduring bond is the show's strongest emotional element. Over a longer run and with a better script, as seen in Blue Exorcist's obvious antecedent Fullmetal Alchemist, this series could really have shone.

As a TV anime Blue Exorcist is still of superior quality, the animation and music far better than usually seen on series this length, although some shortcuts become apparent over time - Shura's sword-drawing power-up is recycled often enough to become an annoyance. As for the finished product, Manga's choice of a subtitle-only release for both volumes is a bold one and with the only bonus features being a set of comedic short extras, together with online next-episode clips and the requisite opening and ending songs, it's clear they're counting on anime fans to take to the show itself rather than require the sweetener of an English dub. With its quantity of eye- and ear-candy and curious fusion of pop Christian demonology and Shinto supernatural lore, Blue Exorcist is certainly a potential hit - it's to be hoped producers A-1 will bankroll its success into something stronger and more original.


Richard Hunt

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