In the endless abyss of possible TV shows to watch, it’s hard not to find something you kinda like. Kinda like is fine, but don’t we deserve more? This series of articles tells you what I think is worth watching. All of these shows might not score 100% on Rotten Tomatoes or win an Emmy, but who cares?
Anime can be tricky. If you love it, there are thousands of shows to pick from, and everyone has an opinion of what’s a must see, and conversely, what’s just trash Weebo bait (if you don’t know what that means… well you’re probably better off). Most of us have seen a Miyazaki film, but outside of DBZ or Pokémon, most people have little to no interest in Anime, and if they’re not laissez-faire about the whole thing, then they might just think it’s weirdo pervy trash.
But I love Anime, some of my top 10 favorite shows are anime, and I think there’s at least one true love anime out there for everyone. Blue Exorcist is not in my top 10, but I think this show is super dope and worth the watch. Let’s get into it.
First off, this show is all about Heaven, Hell, Demons, The Devil, and Exorcism. If you’re into that stuff, congrats! There’s a lot of goodness there, the battles are awesome, the occult stuff is fun and interesting, and the world is well thought out.
It’s not as heavy and melodramatic as a show like Full Metal Alchemist, but what I like about this show is that it’s a complexly built supernatural world with a deep history and a lot of danger, yet it’s also a funny and uplifting coming of age story.
I know, I know, those of you who have seen just a handful of anime know a “funny and uplifting coming of age story” is about as trite as you can get. Most super popular manga and anime take place in high school and star teens, since well, that’s the target demo. On paper Blue Exorcist seems pretty par for the course, let me write a synopsis –
“15-year-old Rin is just a normal highschool boy, until all of a sudden his world turns upside down when he finds out he’s the son of the SATAN! If that isn’t bad enough, his dad and his twin brother are part of a secret order of exorcists dedicated to one mission, defeating Satan and his minions! Can Rin survive his family, Satan’s Army and High School? Find out on the new anime Blue-Naruto-Bleach-Soul Eater-Full Metal-Harry Potter-Every Shonen Anime Ever Exorcist!”
So there it is, it’s not a super shockingly different anime, it’s not Attack on Titan, Death Note or Death Parade, but what I found really interesting about this anime isn’t the Naruto-esque character of Rin, or the cool Full Metal Alchemist/Fate like occult battles. What I really love about the show is the relationship between RIn and his twin brother Yukio.
Rin is the ultimate hackneyed anime hero, a teenage, street smart, tough, loyal, misunderstood good-guy-with-an-attitude altruistic underdog, standing up for the weak and teaching people lessons in between ninja magic battles (he’s practically doing his best not to run around yelling “someday I’ll be Hokage”). His brother Yukio is his polar opposite, he’s cold, calculating and a clear prodigy, being both a student and instructor at True Cross Academy, a cram school for Exorcists. Yukio might be Rin’s twin brother, but he didn’t inherit Satan’s power like Rin (along with all kinds of strength and agility Rin gets deadly and stylish Blue Flames that cloak his body, and a dope magic sword that lets him slice demons into bits), thus Yukio is not implicitly hated and misunderstood like Rin is.
So at this point, if you have any experience watching anime, you’ve rolled your eyes into the back of your skull. You know this sounds even more hackneyed, oh it’s Naruto and Sauske, or Sakuragi and Rukawa. Been there done that.
The difference is in Blue Exorcist the relationship between the brothers is not so simple. Both see each other the way they were before Rin’s demonic powers are awakened. Rin finds out he’s the Son of the Devil while at the same time realizing his brother Yukio and their adopted father are themselves extremely powerful exorcists. Even after this new reality comes to pass, Rin continues to try and protect his badass demon killing brother, still seeing him as the meek little brother he defended when they were children. Yukio on the other hand is trying to maintain authority as a full fledged exorcist/instructor while also trying to protect his brother from a school full of people that want to exterminate him out of fear and an army of demons constantly in the shadows.
There’s a lot of shifts going on in this relationship and many episodes end with you liking one brother over the other at any given time. Their relationship is the stuff of great TV, it’s contentious, warm, spiteful, violent, cruel, and funny. You get a lot feels at times when you least expect them and more than a few twists and turns along the way. It’s what centers the narrative of the show and offers a kind of verisimilitude to the animated world we’re witnessing.
I originally wanted to entitle this article, “If you love Supernatural, watch Blue Exorcist!”. because there are obvious parallels between the 2 shows. 2 brothers fighting against supernatural forces in the real world, one has mystical powers and rages against their father, while the other is the loyal son who works hard to inherit the family legacy. They are very similar, though I feel like Supernatural is a much more cynical nihilistic show (a statement that seems completely unfair considering Blue Exorcist has had one full season and Supernatural is now in it’s mind boggling 12th season).
Blue Exorcist isn’t the best anime out there (there’s only one full season, with the 2nd season finally starting after a 6 year gap), and there are a lot of other anime I love more, but I wanted to write about this show specifically because it accomplished something a lot of other shows haven’t, it completely hooked me. I was never planning on watching more than the first episode. It was too Shonen, too trite, but it lured me in with a strangely unique and fulfilling story about family. Rin and Yukio, how they interact in this deadly world, how they fight against and for each other, their relationship with their adopted father, it propels the story beyond the norm and this, in part, alters the more commonplace themes of the show and makes it all in all a really enjoyable watch.
You guys might love it, you might hate it, but I really really enjoyed Season 1 of Blue Exorcist, and since it’s only 25 episodes it’s an easy watch, unlike something like seemingly insurmountable like One-Piece or Naruto.
Was this helpful? Stupid? Great? Let us Know!
— David Lacey (Geek World/ Former Contributor for Anime Vice)