Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blue Exorcist - My thoughts upon finishing it

I just finished watching Blue Exorcist. It was an interesting anime. I came away with a few thoughts, from a religious point of view, from a critical point of view, and about things I liked. It's about time for another anime post, so here we go.

Blue Exorcist in a nutshell:
This anime is about a teen, Okumura Rin, and his twin, Yukio. They're the sons of Satan and a young human woman. At the beginning, Rin has no clue about his heritage - they were raised by Fujimoto Shiro, a kind priest and exorcist. Then a few unfortunate things happen, Rin's demon powers are revealed, and he finds out the truth. Suddenly, he has a new goal in life: to become a great exorcist and take down Satan. He makes friends, learns more about his power, and fights demons.

Basically, it's a classic shounen anime that follows a route similar to other popular shounen anime. It's just about demons and exorcists, rather than martial artists or soul reapers.

From a religious point of view...
*Please note that, unless otherwise specified, the demons I compare Blue Exorcist demons to are those found in the Bible, not the ones found in other religions or legends. Also note that I take the Bible as truth, so I won't bother with hesitant phrases such as "I believe..." or "in my faith..."

I first noticed Blue Exorcist around Crunchyroll and Hulu when it came out back in the spring. It looked somewhat interesting. However, I had definite reservations about it. I'm a Christian. To me, Satan and his fellow demons aren't just interesting creatures to write stories about, nor are they to be taken lightly. They're fallen, evil angels who defied God. I'm not paranoid about them - God is ultimately in control, and has the power to overcome and prevent anything demons may try. There's a reason Satan doesn't have free reign on earth. Still, he is real, and the idea of defeating him without God is ludicrous to me. It might make for an interesting storyline, but it's still ludicrous.

Thus, I planned to avoid Blue Exorcist and enjoy anime that wouldn't bother my serious, conservative side. However, someone on Wattpad recommended that I try it out, so I did. I decided that I wouldn't get offended. I'm used to anime borrowing from customs, theology, and text associated with Christianity. Worst case scenario, I'd decide Blue Exorcist delved too deeply into things I hold as serious, and I'd have to drop the show partway through.

I didn't drop the show. However, I did raise my eyebrows at several things, and I wouldn't recommend Blue Exorcist  to any Christian who is easily offended. I'm not condemning this anime... but the religious aspects did hinder my enjoyment.

Okamura Rin in 2nd ep, displaying his powers
To begin with, the creators (or more specifically, Katou Kazue, who came up with the original story and manga), misrepresented what demons are. I think Katou crossed Biblical facts about demons with Japanese culture and myths, along with her imagination. Depending on the presentation, I don't usually care about this. For some reason, I did this time. Demons were portrayed as their own type of creature. Most of them were bad, but some of them were good and sided with the exorcists as "familiars." Satan, who was still portrayed as evil, even fell in love with a human.

Katou took the parts from Christianity that were found useful to her story and ignored the rest. She took Satan and demons, but ignored the good angels, not to mention God. She took the priests and Bible excerpts, but ignored the One who inspired the Bible and Whom the priests serve. Then she borrowed a few things from Buddhism and Shintoism. These, along with her imagination, all contributed to the exorcists and demons in the original manga, and then the show.

I don't blame Katou for incorporating parts of the Christian religion and beliefs into Blue Exorcist. They spurred her imagination and turned out quite the fantastical story and characters. Yet my mind was on guard as I watched the anime, always identifying references to Christianity, as well as fictional takes on demons.

From a just plain critical point of view...
Between watching anime, blogging about it, and writing a few reviews, I've naturally developed a more critical eye. So there were a few things about Blue Exorcist that bugged me.

If you've watched much anime, especially in the shoujo and shounen veins, the following scene should sound familiar:

"We're your friends. We're all in this together. So we're going to stick with you until the end."
Hero(ine): overly touched, humbled, completely shocked at friends' declaration, likely speechless. May say "Thanks, everyone!"

Sound familiar? Guess what? Blue Exorcist has a couple of scenes like that. Of course, at least one of the same super loyal friends had been predictably suspicious of the main character only an episode before, but let's not dwell on that, shall we?

Okay. Moving on... I'm a sucker for good family relationships, especially between siblings. So I appreciated Rin and his twin, Yukio's, support for each other. Yet there were times when their support went from sweet and cool to watch to mushy and over done, like the friend scene above.

Overall, the characters weren't much. Sure, Okumura Rin was pretty cool. And some of the other characters put up enjoyable shows. I particularly liked Rin's adoptive father, Fujimoto Shirou. But, for the most part, the characters and their stories were neither original nor deep (though deepness was attempted). There was the sweet, shy, beautiful girl, Moriyama Shiemi. She had her uses, but she was mostly just sweet and shy. And by sweet, I mean sweet and selfless in the way only fictional characters can be. The kind who happily lets her "friends" take advantage of her. Ugh. Then came the tough guy, the hopeless wimp, the tsundere (correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Kamiki Izumo qualifies as tsundere), the scantily-clad warrior, and so on.
The Okumura twins.

The things I liked...
There had to be some reason I watched the entire series, right? I mean, I did enjoy it most of the time.

The first thing Blue Exorcist had going for it was the relationship between the twin brothers. Like I said, I'm a sucker for things like that. I also loved their adoptive father and the monastery they grew up in. Okumura Rin was a fun character to watch nearly 100% of the time, even if he was pretty predictable and threw me no curveballs.

What else? There was action, which I always love. The animation was smooth, and the character designs generally pleasant to look at.

Basically, Blue Exorcist kept me interested by pure entertainment value.

In Sum:
Despite my misgivings, I ended up enjoying Blue Exorcist. Sure, the religious aspects sometimes rubbed me the wrong way, and there were a couple cheesy, overused moments. I wouldn't recommend it to any Christian who is easily offended. Still, I think most fans of shounen anime would like Blue Exorcist. 

*All pictures are from the anime Blue Exorcist and, obviously, do not belong to me.


  1. My brothers got me into this series because they thought it was extremely hilarious. But, like you, I was apprehensive to the series, especially the name [you probably know I'm a Christian as well, from my profile]. But I agree, the concept is new and it was, indeed, entertaining. But I stopped immediately once the big-busted girl came in. I could tolerate the demons, the ignoring of God and angels, and the blood [sort of], but the show just had to add a scantily-clad warrior girl for their own perverted reasons... My brothers kept watching, claiming that its hilarity trumped all its bad points, but apparently it ended in an anti-climatic way, which upset them. So, in conclusion and agreement with you again, it was a nice show to watch when bored, but not something I would recommend to my friends.

  2. Yep, I know from your profile, and I think we went to the same Bible camp back in 2007 (so did Firecat057, if you know her, but she hasn't blogged in years). I think you found my blog years ago, when I still went by Liliannalissa, but I've changed my online name, my blog's name, and my blog's url since then. :)

    Yeah, that girl's design irritated me. As my dad would say, the poor thing couldn't afford the fabric for a full outfit. Maybe some nice fellow exorcist will give her some proper clothes some day.

  3. "To me, Satan and his fellow demons aren't just interesting creatures to write stories abou" - and to this, I must ask, why aren't they? A large number of Christian writings are based on or around Satan and his minions and how they work, and how they do it, which means that there has to be something fascinating about him- otherwise people woudn't write about him.

    Then again, there's something in human nature that just seems to be fascinated by darkness, and I completely admit that the darker the story, the more I enjoy it. And what's darker than Satan?

  4. Wow, really? You know, we probably did... but I'm terrible with trying to remember people from camp, so sorry!

    Full outfit? Heavens no! She only got the underwear. I bet she's still looking for that sweatshirt and jeans that she threw away so stupidly! But I doubt a nice fellow exorcist would give her any clothes, or even start a clothes drive just for her, because 1. all boys are dirtbags ;) and 2. all girls would be so awkward around her... I know I would be.

    1. ALL boys are dirtbags? that's quite the stereotype...

  5. @Sweatpea,
    I said that they weren't " just interesting creatures to write stories about." :)

    I agree with your comment - they are fascinating (dangerously so at times). And I've read and enjoyed a several Christian fictions about demons (Screwtape Letters, Lord Falgorn's letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and This Present Darkness are all on my shelf). The difference is that, in these fictions, God, His angels, and Christians all played key roles in these books, too.

    Honestly, I'm amazed at how much I remember myself - I'm usually just plain horrible at remember people, especially if I only knew them for a week at camp.

    Ah, but you forget: Blue Exorcist is an anime. Which means it's not to weird to forget to wear clothes. So some girls will be perfectly comfortable around her. And only 90% of anime boys are dirtbags (often the ones who have blood exploding out their noses, though that didn't happen in Blue Exorcist). :)

  6. You do realise that the author, Katou Kazue, is a female, not male right?

    1. Thank you. I have corrected that oversight.

  7. Ignoring God? I don't know. Lots of the characters pray, they attended a Bible class, and they obviously believe in Christianity to an extent.Just because God didn't descend from the heavens and start fighting doesn't mean he wasn't there at all.

    I agree with the weird religious elements. The Buddhism and familiar summoning was freaky and could not be reconciled with Christianity at all, but I do feel that there were more good religious elements that you didn't give it credit for.

    I mean, How many times do you get to see a demon vanquished by, "and if they were all written down, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written," in an anime written by a non-Christian Japanese person? You did mention the Scripture and the priests, but I do actually remember a lot of references to God, and if priests are there and the Bible is there I think God is implied at the least!

    Anyway nice review and God bless!

    1. It's been a while since I wrote this review or watched an episode of Blue Exorcist. So I can't comment much on any references to God I didn't mention in this review. I think the biggest thing for me was that those who used things from Christianity to combat demons seemed to rely more on those things and rituals than on God. His sovereignty wasn't shown (not that I expected it to me - this is fantasy). But it's been a while, so my thoughts on the matter are a little hazy.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  8. I have seen Blue Exorcist, but I do have it on my hard drive. Religion is always a tricky thing to include in any sort of story; it's incredibly easy to offend people by doing so. I don't have strong feelings about the subject myself (though I do cringe whenever a show makes an obvious misstep), but taking into account that this is a work of fiction it doesn't have to play by the rules of, or in fact be entirely consistent with, the real world. It's a cop-out excuse, but I still think it applies.
    To join in more with the discussion at hand though: Going with the statement you made at the start of the article "God is ultimately in control...", one could interpret His lack of intervention a sign that He knew His subjects could overcome whatever was going on - the lack of any mention of that side of the coin just shows that everyone had faith that His agents would succeed. Of course, I haven't seen the show so I don't know how relevant my idea is (and I apologize if I have misunderstood something somewhere).

    1. The above is meant to read "I haven't seen Blue Exorcist" >.<

    2. And this post is a whole lot older than I originally thought it was!

    3. Oops, didn't see this comment until just now. Thanks for responding so much! If I gave out prizes for appreciated commenter of the week (or month... or, let's face it, year), it would go to you.

      Yup, I try not to get offended with religion in fiction, especially when it comes to anime. Just like with other content, if I still can't respond well, I can always drop it.

      That's a great idea about God's lack of intervention. It's been a while since I wrote this, but I don't remember even God's existence being mentioned much in Blue Exorcist. But His distance makes sense in this case. In some people's eyes, especially, I'd guess, in a place like Japan with such a small Christian population, Christianity is mainly about symbols, traditions, and rites (and rules), not about a relationship with a loving, personal, powerful God. If I were in Katou's shoes, I'd have a field day taking all those traditions and putting them in a fantasy story.

  9. I'm new on this site, but I'm a huge fan of blue exorcist, and frankly I don't give a crap if it's about this or that in the bible or blah, blah, blah. I don't really believe in any religion, including Christianity, if it was up to me Christianity wouldn't be on my number one thing to worship. So when watching this I don't even bat an eyelash at anything to do with god, I just enjoy the show. You people do know this to that it was made from someone that believes in a completely different religion, and doesn't have to go by your standards which is god. To me god doesn't exist, although I like dark things like the devil or satin, nor do I believe in a heaven or a hell, so in all how could I go to a place I have to no belief in at all. I'll just have to see for when I do pass away, maybe my predictions will come true and I'll walk the earth as a ghost or come back as someone or something else!


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