Title: Blue Exorcist
Author: Kazue Kato
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump Advanced)
Volume: Volumes 5 and 6 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2010, 2011 by Shueisha, December 2011 and February 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Supernatural, action, comedy
The cat’s out of the bag. The Exwires (the advanced exorcist class Rin and company are part of) know that Rin is the son of Satan, and they’re understandably not thrilled about the revelation. In fact, to Rin’s dismay, the new knowledge erases the time he’s spent forging friendships with his classmates, as everyone begins avoiding him, and no one trusts him to control himself. Dismayed, but not deterred, as he’s not ready to abandon his first real friends. It all begins when the unthinkable happens – someone breaks into the Deep Keep, somehow bypassing its incredibly strong magical barriers, and steals the Left Eye of the Impure King right out from the Knights of the True Cross’s noses. One hundred and fifty years ago, a demon killed thousands of people with infectious diseases, and was stopped by an exorcist who plucked out the demon’s eyes. The eyes retain the demon’s power and release toxic gasses. As Yukio and Rin track down the culprit Saburota Todo, Warden of the Deep Keep, they learn that the eye they’ve been chasing is a fake, and that Todo himself is the traitor. Mephisto arrives to announce that not only has the real Left Eye been stolen, but that an attempt has also been made on the Right Eye. Mephisto sends the Exwires to Kyoto to investigate the attempt and protect the Right Eye. It turns out that three of the Exwires, Suguro, Shima, and Miwa, are involved in the Right Eye’s protection, belonging to three powerful families that help protect the Eye and keep its existence hidden. Suguro is the heir to the main family, Shima is the son of the Kyoto Field Office Director Yaozo, and Miwa…well, I’m not precisely sure, but he was sort of adopted in when his parents died. The kids get to work helping however they can, and Izumo and Shiemi have a nice heart to heart that encourages Shiemi to keep trying her best. When Shura accidentally gives the kids some beer instead of soft drinks, more heart to hearts occur, and Shima makes up with Rin, realizing the son of Satan has a good heart that separates him from his father. Throughout the volume, several flashbacks highlight Suguro’s childhood and his strong motivations for wanting to become an exorcist.
Volume six opens with a shocking revelation – there’s a traitor among the Myodha, someone who allowed the enemy to nearly steal the Right Eye. With the family head, Tatsuma (Suguro’s father) conspicuously (and frequently) absent, the blame is thrown even his way, but ultimately there is no conclusion and the investigation is postponed. As Rin continues with Shura’s training, trying to control his flame, Juzo Shima and Mamushi Hojo, the two young Buddhist Exorcists who were present when the Eye was nearly stolen, return to the Field Office where the Eye is being kept…with Suguro close behind. The obviously misguided Mamushi is revealed to be the traitor, though she believes she is doing the right thing in trying to protect the Right Eye. Especially since, as she reveals to Juzo, Mephisto has secretly raised the son of Satan. She believes only Todo can keep both Eyes safe, and has been helping him secure them. Realizing something’s gone horribly wrong, Rin and Shura rush to the Field Office, along with Tatsuma, Yaozo, Uwabami, and the others, but they are all too late as Todo and Mamushi escape with the Right Eye. Tatsuma tries to pursue them, but is stopped by Suguro who questions his father’s loyalty and demands answers. Sensing a familiar rift between father and son growing, Rin steps in to stop their fighting before they regret their words and actions. Rin loses his cool and activates his flame in front of everyone, forcing Shura to step in and subdue him before things get out of hand. Yukio and his team join shortly after, and it is revealed that both the Right and Left Eyes are likely in Todo’s control. With both Eyes together, Todo can create a powerful disease unlike any ever seen before. Tatsuma may have left some hope behind, however, in a letter to Rin that explains the history shared between Shiro Fujimoto and Tatsuma himself. Two bonus stories conclude the volume. One featuring Rin, Yukio, and Shiemi against a Phantom Train. As usual, Yukio seeks to do the job efficiently and quickly, while Rin insists on saving everyone possible despite the risks. The second bonus story features the rather amusing adventures of Kuro the cat demon.
Friendships are broken and repaired across these volumes. Or at least start to be repaired, and only some of them. Suguro still has his regular issues with Rin being the son of Satan, and recent events definitely aren’t helping. Neither is Rin’s inability to control his power or his temper. Shiemi’s problems are a little different. She wants to be friends with Rin (and Yukio), but finds herself too weak to stand beside him. She’s also frightened of Rin’s power, until she feels it for herself and realizes there’s nothing to be afraid of. So for now, she still just desires to be stronger so she can protect her friends and be a reliable friend and exorcist. A pep talk from Izumi gives her a bit of a push in the right direction. Izumi, oddly enough, doesn’t seem at all bothered by Rin’s parentage. Rin had already done a fairly solid job of winning her over before she learned his true nature, and she’s not one to back down from anything. Shima…well, he just can’t be bothered. Avoiding Rin requires more effort than being his friend, and he recognizes that Rin has a good heart despite his roots. He’s even able to instill some faith back in Miwa. Everyone seems to have gotten over the initial shock enough that they’re now considering rushing off to Rin’s rescue (he’s been imprisoned in solitary confinement). The flashbacks in both volumes are nice, providing good insight into Suguro’s character and his friendship with Miwa and Shima, as well as his clan’s history with the Eyes of the Impure King. It’s a very good example of how not everything is as it appears to be in this series, and how a family’s secret burden can tear it apart. Two more entertaining volumes from Viz Media and Kazue Kato.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.