Series Review – Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of A-1 Pictures
I suppose I should address the elephant in the room here. I apologize for my absence and the lack of reviews. It’s been about 4 months since my last review. Admittedly, I ended up being a little burnt out from maintaining a mostly weekly review schedule. On top of this, my Youtube channel has been fighting the good copyright fight with regards to my video versions of these reviews. Fighting the Youtube copyright system made me really not want to do reviews anymore, but I’m back and I hope to publish at least two reviews a month. We will see if I stick to a nice schedule, but I will release reviews as I see fit. I’ve been watching a ton of anime that I have a lot to say about. It should hopefully be easier because I am pretty much done with making video reviews and will solely be focusing on this as a blog. With that said, let’s get to the review.
Six years ago, the first season of Blue Exorcist managed to impress the anime community. Despite the great premise, this first season deviated from the source material and presented an anime-original ending which was met with criticism. It took forever, but Blue Exorcist finally received a second season that flat-out ignored the anime-only events and this resulted in a perfect story arc. I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth Anime Review.
Story and Characters
The second season opens up immediately after the events of the Forest Training Arc and does away with the events that characterized the latter half of the first season. Rin’s status as the son of Satan is finally exposed to his classmates and he immediately suffers the fallout of this revelation. However, the exorcists-in-training are quickly assigned to a mission regarding a conspiracy that seeks to revive the Impure King, a high-level demon that devastated Japan hundreds of years ago. The audience is also introduced to Ryuji’s family, who are part of a religious sect that seeks to prevent the resurrection of the Impure King. That is the basic plot premise of this 13 episode season.
I would characterize the Kyoto arc as the first major arc in Blue Exorcist. Before this, most of the story was largely delegated to standalone episodes, but the Kyoto arc marks a turning point in the series. The story largely focuses on two characters: Rin and Ryuji. The focus on these characters makes for a compelling plot. Both of these characters are facing their biggest hurdles to date. Rin loses his friends and his never ending optimism as a result of the Order learning of his parentage. Similarly, Ryuji must also address his issues regarding his perception of his father. At its base level, the Kyoto arc provides an excellent character study of these two characters which makes the escalation of events much more interesting.
The Kyoto Arc also marks the introduction of antagonists other than Satan. This results in a significant amount of world-building that really adds to the character of the series. This season provides a bevy of information regarding Exorcist abilities, demons and even backstories on a few of the side characters. From start to finish, this arc enthralls the viewer. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more to watch.
Animation and Sound Design
Blue Exorcist once again showcases its animation pedigree and even improves on the animation of the first season. The characters maintain their amazing level of expressiveness which is significant given the more serious nature of the arc compared to the episodic nature of the first season. However, the animation shines in the action scenes. There are some impressive action sequences located in the latter half of the season. I also believe that this is one of the best examples of an anime that animates fire extremely well. Fire is present in a large amount of the action scenes to the point where I was impressed anytime Rin used his blue flames.
Once again, the sound design has no flaws. The voice acting remains impeccable. The actors for Rin and Ryuji capture the new-found dramatic cadence with such perfection that it really adds on to the quality of the story of this season. In what is a Blue Exorcist tradition by this point, the opening remains one of the finest that can be offered by anime. Hiroyuki Sawano returns and creates a dramatic and action-packed score. There is one scene toward the end of the series that uses music to such perfection that I had chills the first time I watched the scene. Overall, the animation and sound design are nothing short of perfect.
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga is a fine example of a shonen anime. The Kyoto arc presents an arc filled with drama and excellent character growth, while also expanding upon the world. The animation and sound design maintains the excellent quality of the series. I give Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval. It really is one of the best offerings of the year. I’ll be back next week with another review and thanks for checking this one out.