Title: Blue Exorcist
Author: Kazue Kato
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump Advanced)
Volume: Volumes 7-8 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2011, 2012 by Shueisha; April and November 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Action, supernatural
Previously, while trying to prevent the theft of the Right Eye of the Impure King, Ryuji got into a confrontation with his father. Rin stepped in, but used his flame when his emotions got out of control, and he was sealed by Shura and tossed into solitary confinement. While he waits in his cell for news of his fate, Shura brings a letter from Tatsuma Suguro, leader of Myodha and guardian of the imprisoned Impure King. She and Yukio read the letter to Rin, and learn about the truth of the Impure King. Not only is the powerful demon not dead, it sleeps, sealed away, beneath Goma Hall, waiting the return of its eyes so it can awaken. The sword that supposedly defeated it while possessed by the demon Karura, is now in the hands of Rin, and is decidedly not possessed by any demons. Karura resides in the blood line of the high priest that first summoned it, which means Tatsuma…and Ryuji. Tatsuma himself discovered this shortly after meeting Father Fujimoto. Essentially this volume reveals the truth about the Myodha clan, and how it ties into Rin and his power. Fire can defeat the Impure King. Unfortunately, Rin has lost all of his confidence, and though Tatsuma has asked him to defeat the massive demon, Rin can’t do much of anything if he can’t draw his sword. He can’t do much in jail, either, but that is soon remedied when his friends come to his rescue. Everyone travels to the sight of the Impure King’s awakened form for a final showdown, and with Tatsuma down for the count, the only ones who really know the truth of what has occurred are a group of Exorcists in training. They’re also the only ones who stand a chance of defeating it – Ryuji by using Karura’s powers to shield the surrounding area from the Impure King’s poisons, and Rin by slicing into its heart with his sword. Unfortunately, Todo is still buzzing around with plans of his own, and he’s grown more powerful by absorbing a large portion of Karura’s powers. His ultimate goal, as well as his true identity, is still unknown.
In volume 8, it’s time for everyone to prove themselves. Things kick off as Yukio faces down a younger, more powerful Todo. Todo spouts a lot of nonsense at Yukio, trying to get him to give in to his jealousy and hatred for Rin. It’s a pretty brutal undressing, as Todo attempts to convince Yukio that Father Fujimoto raised and trained him for the sole purpose of protecting Rin (which suggests he loved Rin more, etc.). It takes all of Yukio’s skill, knowledge, and willpower to subdue Todo, and he even has to call on the Myodha clan for aid. Even then, the power of Karura helps Todo cling to life. Meanwhile, Renzo and Miwa hurry to inform Shura about Rin and Ryuji’s plan, and Shiemi and Izumo do their best to carry Tatsuma to safety. Their paths won’t be easy, however, as Rin and Ryuji fail to contain the Impure King or stop the spore sac from bursting. Even with the Impure King growing around them, and Ryuji’s life in danger, Rin still cannot unsheathe the Koma sword, forcing Ryuji to spend more energy to protect himself. Fans of Rin’s familiar, Kuro, will be happy to know that even he attempts to help in this fight. The Impure King is just too strong, however, but when Ryuji announces he has complete faith in Rin, it’s just the thing he needs to kick his ass in gear and draw out his sword for a real battle. Unfortunately, Ryuji just can’t hold out, and when he collapses, the barrier falls. A disappointed and unimpressed Ucchusma (a high level fire demon summoned by the Myodha to aid them in the battle) abandons the clan, and shows himself to Rin instead, offering to aid in defeating his worst enemy.
Normally a series like this isn’t my cup of tea (ie: action oriented; I have no problem with the supernatural elements), but I’ve really been enjoying Blue Exorcist. Easily one of my favorite action series, although admittedly there aren’t many of those I like. Still, this one has a lot of charm. It’s humorous, entertaining, serious when it needs to be, well drawn, well written, easy to read, and something I don’t have to beat myself with to sit down and read it already. The characters continue to grow throughout these two volumes, taking a lot of the world-saving stresses onto their very young shoulders. These teens, still fairly new to their exorcist powers, are proving themselves over and over again. They’re overcoming mental blocks, personal obstacles, and physical obstacles all largely on their own. The adults failed, but left these kids inspired with their efforts, particularly in Ryuji’s case, who finally gets to see what his dad has been working so hard for all these years that kept him out of his son’s life. Ryuji is so moved that he’s immediately ready to give up his life in order to take on his father’s duty and save everyone. Some people are capable of amazing feats when those they care about are in trouble, and these kids are no different. As Shiemi watches Tatsuma weaken and Izumo be engulfed by spores from the Impure King, she is finally able to summon her familiar once again, even more powerful than before, and proves that she isn’t as weak as she appears. Ryuji shows even more maturity in dealing with Rin, finally admitting he sees the son of Satan as a friend and ally, even putting his life in Rin’s hands. It’s kind of simple, that he loses access to his powers because his friends don’t trust in him, but recall how much Ryuji used to hate him, and it’s easy to see why it’s Ryuji’s affirmations that finally give him back his confidence. If you’re reading Blue Exorcist, keep reading because it’s still great; and if you’re not, you really should be.
Review copies provided by Viz Media,