The Good and the Bad of “The Blue Exorcist” Manga / Anime

The main characters of Blue Exorcist Clockwise from center front: Rin, Yukio, Konekomaru, Shura, Izumo, Suguro, Mephisto, Renzo and Shiemi.

To some of my readers, the title The Blue Exorcist conjures up all kinds of negative emotions. For others, not so much. As for me, I see pros and cons, both good and bad in this particular series. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the manga or anime (subtitled) series created by writer and illustrator Kazue Kato, here’s a recap of what it’s all about.

Basically, The Blue Exorcist is about a group of teenagers enrolled in the True Cross Academy who are studying to become exorcists through the use of quoting Scripture and using weapons (like holy water bombs) built specifically to combat demons and other evil creatures. The genre is Action, Supernatural, Comedy. Okay. So far so good. From what I hear, The Blue Exorcist is quite popular in Japan and has now made it’s way across the Pacific to the U.S.

The main character, Rin Okumura, was raised, along with his younger twin brother Yukio by Father Shiro Fujimoto. Soon after Yukio leaves to study at the True Cross Academy, Rin learns, much to his dismay, (ready for the big twist?) that he is the son of Satan. Then watching Shiro die trying to protect him, he does what he had promised his guardian never to do — draw the demon-slaying blade Kurikara. In doing so, he releases demonic features (including fangs and a tail) and powers that had been trapped in the sword, including the power to ignite himself into blue flames that can destroy anything they touch. Ironically, he uses these powers to battle evil, hence the title The Blue Exorcist.

The cover of 'Blue Exorcist' volume 1 as published by Shueisha

I can practically see some of you rolling your eyes about now, but stay with me for a bit. Like many popular stories, the key of the plot is the ultimate struggle of good versus evil, about people who are unwillingly pulled into situations not of their choosing. In Rin’s case, he doesn’t want to be the son of Satan, but he obviously has no choice. In exploring these aspects of the plot, writer and illustrator Kazue Kato has thoroughly explored — and accurately portrayed — the depths of human struggles and emotions.

In addition, there is no shortage of action and the artwork in the anime series (I haven’t seen the manga books but can only assume it’s similar) is top class. Also, there is a fair amount of humor, which really helps to break up the seriousness of the storyline. The occasional blue horns aside, Rin is really quite a funny guy and humorous moments and scenes abound.

That’s what I liked about it. However, there are some aspects of The Blue Exorcist that make me uncomfortable. In this physical world, and particularly in American culture, there is a definite demarcation between good and evil, with demons on one side of the fence and angels on the other. In The Blue Exorcist, there are good demons and bad demons. I suppose if the story was written by a Westerner, the good demons would be called by some other name, like brownies or mischievous fairies because that is actually how they appear in the manga series. Other things that make me uncomfortable are instances of strong language, some gore and one particular scantily clad female warrior, which I realize can be fairly common fair in manga.

However, the biggest thing I object to is that not only do the exorcists quote Scripture, but they also pray to Buddha for help and summon familiar demons to aid them in their quests. As a Christian, I must point out that it doesn’t work that way in the real world. I’m sorry if some of you consider me intolerant of other faiths, but as the Scriptures teach, there is only one way to God and that is through his son, Jesus Christ. No ifs, ands, or buts. I place my trust in Christ alone.

So there you have it — the good and the bad in The Blue Exorcist. My takeaway is that, as a writer, I hope that I can combine the basics of human emotion and struggle with action and humor as well as Kazue Kato has. I think that skill alone is the biggest reason for the popularity of The Blue Exorcist.

What do you think?

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