Sometimes reading a new manga, especially the first volume, can be somewhat difficult. This week’s release of Blue Exorcist (青の祓魔師 – Ao no Ekusoshisuto) by Kazue Kato almost became one of them. Thank goodness that the somewhat slow beginning led to some great characters and locations.
I’m not going to lie, reading the first chapter of this volume was tough. Not that it was paced wrong or anything, but instead of dropping you right into the universe as is the case with so many other manga out there. Kato-san decided to give us a bit of more exposition than I am used to seeing in a shonen manga which in retrospect, gave us a chance to see the characters of the story in their natural environment before turning the entire thing upside down.
But before I get into what happens this volume, let me introduce the main character of the series, 奥村 燐 (Okumura Rin). Rin is a troubled youth who has lived at an orphanage/monastery with his younger twin-brother Yukio as long as he can remember and is always in one form of trouble or another. He’s either getting into fights with his peers in school or he’s at odds with his de-facto father figure, the man who runs the monastery Father Fujimoto.
This might be spoilers, but it says it for the series synopsis and the sleeve of the book so if you want to walk into this one with nothing revealed to you, stop reading this now. For those of you still around…we come to find out that Rin is actually the son of Satan, the most powerful of all demons in the realm of Gehenna. Satan is so powerful that he cannot exist in our realm unless he has a vessel that can contain his spirit. Any human he embeds himself into, dies nearly instantly.
When Rin was a child, all of his demon powers were suppressed and placed into a sword until the events in the book force him to draw the sword and reclaim his demonic birthright. Unfortunately, he’s the only person alive that could potentially bring satan into the human realm, so there will always be other exorcists that are gunning for his death.
He decided to use his demonic powers as a force for good and becomes enrolled at the True Cross Academy where he’s quickly introduced to his new life and his roommate…his brother who has been training his whole life, unbeknownst to Rin, to be an exorcist as well. Whats funny is that Yukio (the younger of the twins) ends up becoming essentially kohai to Rin’s senpai.
The first volume seemed to get off to a stumbling start, but by the time one of the characters became possessed by Satan I found myself longing to get the next volume in order to learn more about what is to become of Rin, Yukio, and the mysterious chairman of True Cross Academy…Mephisto Pheles.
The artwork for the series is very well done, as is the case for most manga, but if I had to find fault with anything it would be how the action scenes are drawn. I get that when something is supposed to be jarring and somewhat blurry when depicting action in manga, but there were a few instances where the action became somewhat distorted and following what was happening in the panels became hard to follow.
The story on the other hand, while having a bit of slowness in some scenes, is really well written and has me emotionally invested in the characters by the end of the third chapter. The best bits being when you finish a chapter and immediately following the end chapter page, you get a one panel follow-up to what happened. Say a girl found Yukio cool in the last panel of the chapter, the follow-up panel would be Rin tsking to himself. It’s pretty damned funny, which I see as necessary in a book dealing with possession.
Great read, but I can see why it might not be for everyone. I sincerely hope that the next volume hits the ground running now that we don’t have to get too much exposition out of the way.