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|
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.
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.