Ao no Exorcist Review: The Life of a Demon Exorcist
Finished watching Ao no Exorcist yesterday, and it was a pretty enjoyable series overall. I’ve always enjoyed action Shounen series and this is one I hadn’t gotten to for a while, so I enjoyed watching it at last. One of these days I’ll have to read the manga as well, but for now the anime will suffice, as there is a lot I have to finish this summer.
Ao no Exorcist revolves around the life of Rin Okumura, a hotheaded yet good-natured boy trying to find his way in life. However, a chain of disastrous events reveal that he is in fact the son of Satan and the peace of his average life is then shattered. With his life forever changed, Rin decides to become an Exorcist like his adoptive father and thus enrolls at True Cross Academy, where he takes classes to train his abilities as an Exorcist and meets many others who also wish to pursue this path.
Ao no Exorcist has the qualities of a typical action Shounen: an impulsive and kind-hearted protagonist, a world of supernatural abilities, and a lot of fighting. The two series that come to mind when I see Ao no Exorcist are D.Gray-man and Naruto, though ultimately I feel that I enjoyed Ao no Exorcist more than those two. While Ao no Exorcist may not be revolutionary and has many characteristics of series done before, it is very enjoyable and does its job as an action Shounen. Most of the fights are quite entertaining, character development is done well for a good deal of the characters, and the story developments are good enough to remain interested. The last stretch of the series reportedly takes a different direction from the manga, and this might make the idea of a continuation problematic depending on how the manga develops later on, but regardless I enjoyed what the anime had to offer all the way to the end.
Ao no Exorcist has a good share of characters, most of which I was fond of overall. Rin isn’t too different from many other Shounen protagonists, but this does make him one of the most likeable characters. Rin easily has some of the most badass moments in the series and grows a lot through the series. Though he seems like a hotheaded idiot at first, he can prove to be surprisingly thoughtful as well and this makes him quite respectable. His brother, Yukio, is also a good character and takes the role of the more level-headed, calm individual who works to make sure his brother doesn’t get into too much trouble. Yukio’s choices don’t always seem the best but he always keeps Rin in mind whenever taking action and does not have bad intentions. In this way I’m also reminded of Fullmetal Alchemist, as Ed is the more hotheaded, reckless individual while Alphonse tends to be more calm. Ao no Exorcist also has a number of good side characters, with my personal favorites being Shiemi Moriyama (a shy, gentle girl who takes care of plants) and Izumo Kamiki (a strong-willed, serious girl who could be described as a tsundere). Both of the two grow quite a bit during the series, with Shiemi having an emotional backstory but Izumo unfortunately not getting as much background development with only a brief view of her past.
Ao no Exorcist does have certain themes that make it stand out. One of the constant ideas floating around during the series is whether lineage truly exhibits inevitable darkness. Rin is haunted by the fact that he is Satan’s son and struggles to deal with this fact in many instances. In one scene near the end of the anime, Yukio asks Rin if it is truly alright that they, the accursed sons of the devil himself, are allowed to live. Rin’s response to Yukio indicates how he has come to deal with this fact and his focus on making the most out of his life in spite of the darkness surrounding his family. The story also explores the ideas of humans and demons living together in peace, and while demons often serve as the opposition to the main characters, this is not always the case and presents a moral dilemma in a sense. Sadly, the series ends before it has enough time to truly develop this issue, but it is an interesting notion nonetheless.
Ao no Exorcist was an enjoyable watch, and while I am glad that it was not one of those enormous long-running Shounens (at least the anime), I am still sad that it’s over with only 25 episodes and no idea if the anime will receive a continuation anytime soon. In any case, I would ultimately rate Ao no Exorcist an 8/10, though it was quite close to a 9/10. Ao no Exorcist is essentially an action Shounen at its core, but it’s certainly one that I feel is worth watching. The anime didn’t get to develop everything that it could have, though I have hope that the manga does more with the extended time it has and perhaps I can enjoy it even more than its anime adaptation.