Ashita no Anime

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Ashita no Anime Podcast 06 – Blue Exorcist with Eric

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Eric and I see eye to eye on a few things, but when we do it’s rarely 100%.  This is true with Blue Exorcist, a recent stand-out in the huge list of shounen action anime that I found to be a refreshing way to escape Naruto and Bleach, but which Eric felt very up then down about.

I’m always looking for new guest commentators, so leave a comment or send an email if you want to talk about any anime or anime-related topic.

Blue Exorcist (review)

Final impression – a blast of awesome (8/10)

Spring 2011 to summer 2011 (25 episodes) (Japanese title – Ao no Exorcist)

Rin Okumura, an orphan raised by a catholic priest, has a terrifying secret hidden in his past.  He’s actually the son of Satan.  His old man also has a secret – he’s the world’s strongest exorcist and works to keep the dark lord of hell from discerning the whereabouts of his lost son.  But few secrets this big can be kept hidden forever, as Rin accidentally uncovers the truth of his identity when he gets into a fight with a delinquent and subconciously releases a bit of his power.  Faced with the risk of being captured by Satan and dragged to hell as well as the loss of his adoptive, human father, Rin decides he’s going to use his demonic powers towards the goal of following in his old man’s footsteps.  He commits to becoming the world’s strongest exorcist in order to kill Satan with is own hands.

Blue Exorcist marks the triumphant revival of shounen anime.  With the unending, filler-saturated, steaming piles that Naruto and Bleach have become over the past several years, I’d pretty much all but given up on this subgenre.  But then Blue Exorcist arrived and helped clean things up.  It’s got action, comedy and story all in equal measures.  The cast is just the right size to provide a nice variety of roles without spreading everyone too thin; characters are likeable and their motivations are clear and concise.  I do have one complaint, and it’s that there are several “fooling around,” episodes whose existence completely ruins the flow of the plot at a few very crucial moments.  Besides that though, Blue Exorcist was a real treat to watch and I recommend it to anyone who misses the days when mainstream shounen anime were still good.

As an interesting little aside, I’m an English teacher in Japan and one of my students is named Yuuki Okumura (a coincidentally similar name to Rin’s brother, Yukio Okumura).

Summer 2011 Anime Summary

Having watched all the releases and ongoing shows for summer 2011, here’s my recommendations in order from most recommended to least recommended (or “best to worst” if you prefer I be direct).  Summer 2011 is a pretty average season in my opinion.  There’s nothing much that stands out but nothing terribly offensive, either.  But it is summer, so I think it’s understandable we’re not seeing any blockbusters.  For now, this will be my last word on many of these anime until they conclude in 10 more weeks.  Until then, please keep checking back as I begin to write my reviews of last season’s anime.  You can stay up to date with my new posts as they get released by following me on my Twitter account.  I’ll continue to move into the past reviewing anime with the eventual goal of having at least one post about every anime I’ve watched over the past eight years.

1. Kamisama no Memochou

1. Kamisama no Memochou – colorful (J.C. Staff)

2. No. 6

2. No. 6 – atmospheric (Bones)

3. Dantalian no Shoka

3. Dantalian no Shoka – dramatic (Gainax)

4. Mayo Chiki

4. Mayo Chiki! – best comedy of summer 2011

5. Blue Exorcist – awesome action

6. Hanasaku Iroha – mellow drama…melodrama?

7. Ikoku Meiro no Croisée – interesting development

8. Blood-C – fine action (CLAMP)

9. Kamisama Dolls – interesting concept

10. Yuru Yuri – moe comedy

11. Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi – romance

12. Ro-Kyu-Bu! – sports loli

13. The iDOLM@STER – variety

14. Usagi Drop – unsure (not bad)

15. Uta no Prince-sama – underdeveloped

16. Mawaru Penguindrum – confusing

17. R-15 – misplaced ecchi

18. Nekogami Yaoyorozu – simple

19. Sacred Seven – bland (Sunrise)

20. Manyuu Hikenchou – borderline hentai

21. Twin Angel: Twinkle Paradise – boring

Blue Exorcist (ongoing)

Impression – vigorous

Rin Okumura never had an inkling of the terrible secrets his past held.  Considering his foster father is the world’s greatest exorcist, it came as a total shock to find out he’s the spawn of Satan himself.  But he’s not fully demonic, because his mother was human.  When Satan possesses his old man during a moment of weakness, he must choose which side he’s going to fight for.  Knowing the love his adoptive father gave him is more than enough for him to decide to become an exorcist himself.  But there are those who doubt Rin’s resolve, as he’s constantly tempted to use his demon powers rather than rely on his own strength.  If he doesn’t keep himself under control, rather than worrying about Satan, Rin may end up being his own worst enemy.

The action sequences and demon-slaying theme of Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist in Japanese) compare and contrast nicely with the early days of Bleach.  Similar to Ichigo, Rin gets put into a tough situation where he’s forced to fight monsters or watch his friends die.  The plot grows as a strong support cast comes out to support the overzealous protagonist.  However, unlike Bleach, which just went willy-nilly wherever the winds carried it, Blue Exorcist seems to be planned out much better and is shaping itself up for a great ending come the conclusion at episode 25.  The fight sequences are well done and the comedic moments are well timed.  For now, this is 2011’s definitive shounen anime.

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