Anime Review - Blue Exorcist Collection 1

Based upon the smash hit manga series of the same name by Kazue Kato, Blue Exorcist (青の祓魔師) became the absolute sleeper hit of 2009 and has continued to sell its proverbial socks off.

"Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Normally, these two dimensions would never intersect, but having possessed all material substances, the demons are now intruding on the material world. But among the human race, there are those who can exorcise such demons."
- the Exorcists

Rin Okumura and his twin brother Yukio have been raised by Shiro Fujimoto, an eminent priest, so it comes as a shock when Rin discovers their biological father is actually Satan! As the border between "Assiah" (the human world) and "Gehenna" (the demon world) is crossed by evil, Rin vows to become the ultimate exorcist and defeat his own father. To hone his raw skills, Rin enters True Cross Academy to train with other exorcist candidates.
About halfway through last year I read the first volume of the Blue Exorcist manga and was immediately blown away by how much of a complete package this story is. The first thing that popped out was the art, Kazue Kato created a wonderful cast of unique and quirky characters and injected them into a series of vastly different scenarios, from churches to schools and forests. Once the glamour of all things visual subsided I was struck by how much I had grown to enjoy these characters in the space of around 100 pages. My initial reaction was to absorb as much information as I could possibly find on the series and to my surprise and elation, it had been given the anime treatment.

Animated by A-1 Pictures (Black Butler, Birdy the Mighty: Decode), Blue Exorcist does a great job of mirroring the source material both in terms of quality and design. Everything, right down to the design of school uniforms and various demons are taken straight from the page and lovingly transformed into some of the most exciting animation in recent memory. Undoubtedly due to its success on the page, the Blue Exorcist team obviously had a reasonable amount of money at their disposal, and it shows. As this series is firmly planted in the shonen arena, fight sequences abound and are handled perfectly. At times, small amounts of CGI are used but never to an extent that is obtrusive or overly noticeable.

In terms of story there are a number of minor differences that take place as the first 13 episodes unfold, this is to be expected as rarely do anime series exactly mirror the source material. The most noticeable and disappointing difference is the dynamic between our main character Rin and his brother Yukio. What's lost is the strong bond between the boys, a point that is strongly explored in the manga. Sadly in the anime, it almost feels as though Rin is struggling through his troubles all but alone, which also detracts from the overall cohesiveness of the broader cast of characters. That said, there is a perfect balance of drama, action, suspense and comedy (and fan-service) which, while falling just short of brilliance, is still incredibly fun and utterly absorbing. 

Not only are the story and animation wonderful but the score, by Hiroyuki Sawano (Gundam UnicornSengoku Basara), is the perfect fit and almost feels as though it is the score that was delivered subconsciously into my brain when reading the manga. How could it possibly be better? In short, it couldn't. On the opposite side of the audio coin is the Japanese voice work. This release of Blue Exorcist is in the Japanese dub only which marks a new era for Madman who have generally shied away from series' without an English dub - thank goodness they took a chance on Blue Exorcist.

Overall, Blue Exorcist is one of the best series currently on shelves and provides the total package and guaranteed bang for your buck. The Japanese only/subtitled release may lose a small percentage of potential customers but should not be missed just for this minor detail. Blue Exorcist is a sure-fire, grade A winner and I can't wait for the next collection.

Blue Exorcist collection 1 is available now from Madman and collection 2 will be available from the 1st of August 2012.

1 comments :

Once it hit the second cour and followed its own path, since the manga was mid-arc at that point, the anime took a noticeable quality drop. Save yourself some coin and watch the episodes somehow before buying them to determine for yourself whether it's actually worth it.

11 July 2012 at 22:07 comment-delete

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