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Blue Exorcist devil-man

Saturday 18th August 2012

Matt Kamen on anime’s latest devil-man

Blue ExorcistIs it nature or nurture that defines who you are? It’s a deeply philosophical question, and one that Rin Okumura will be asking himself a lot in Blue Exorcist – he’s just learned that he’s one of the sons of Satan. Can this potential Antichrist defy his birthright and become a hero?

Raised by a priest and displaying unusual levels of strength and resilience since infancy, Rin’s upbringing was far from normal. It was actually his good-hearted nature that got him in trouble more often than not, always willing to leap to the defence of an underdog, even if it meant handing out or taking a beating. However, his younger brother Yukio was the complete opposite – frail, shy and studious. Shortly after Yukio leaves on a scholarship to the mysterious True Cross Academy, Rin’s life starts taking a turn for the even stranger. He starts seeing things, impossible creatures that no-one else notices, and soon becomes the target of a powerful demon. Rescued by his adoptive father, Shiro Fujimoto – revealing that his role as priest is largely a cover for his actions as a powerful exorcist – Rin is told the truth of his lineage and presented with the Kurikara, a forbidden blade that seals away his demonic side. When Satan himself tries to manifest on Earth, killing Shiro in the process, Rin draws the blade, awakening his dark powers in full for the first time.

Now permanently marked as a demon, complete with fanged teeth, pointed ears and even a tail, Rin is recruited by the mysterious Mephisto Pheles to become an exorcist to honour Shiro. Charged with protecting the human realm, Assiah, from incursions by the demon world, Gehenna, Rin enrols in the True Cross Academy and is reunited with his brother – now an instructor at the school, after years of secret training in the mystic arts. Overcoming the friction caused by the secrets between them is only the first step the Okumura boys will take on the path to their ultimate goal: destroying Satan and his evil breed forever.

Rin’s struggle to control his new-found powers and dark impulses comes from the twisted mind of manga creator Kazue Kato, her second series following sci-fi action series Robo and Usakichi. Blue Exorcist began development as a planned gothic fairy tale, with a focus on brothers fighting dark monsters. Eventually, Kato dropped the Brothers Grimm elements and reimagined the premise around Christian imagery and mythology. The end result is a series that takes inspiration equally from religious texts and fantasy folklore but puts a modern, horror film spin on both.

Although Kato’s manga is still running in the pages of Shueisha’s monthly Jump Square magazine, the story of the 25-episode anime adaptation closely follows the print version, with early episodes each based on a single chapter. Directed by Tensai Okamura, creator of Darker Than Black, the series blends dark and unsettling moments of crawling terror with brighter high school drama, and plenty of frantic devil-slaying action between.

See Rin and Yukio take their battle to the pit itself in the first half of Blue Exorcist, available in the UK from Manga Entertainment.

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Blue Exorcist devil-man


Blue Exorcist Part 1 Episodes 1-13

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The Devil's Son Fights Back!
Raised by Father Fujimoto, a famous exorcist, Rin Okumura never knew his real father. One day a fateful argument with Father Fujimoto forces Rin to face a terrible truth, the blood of the demon lord Satan runs in Rin's veins! Rin swears to defeat Satan, but doing that means entering the mysterious True Cross Academy and becoming an exorcist himself. Can Rin fight demons and keep his infernal bloodline a secret? It won't be easy, especially when drawing his father's sword releases the demonic power within him!




Jeremy Graves dispels the demons of doubt
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Blue Exorcist

Andrew Osmond has a devil of a time explaining this one
Mouthy, shouty Rin Okamura is the blue exorcist of the title. He’s so-called because he burns with blue fire when he unleashes his powers… because he’s Satan’s son! Luckily he’s had a sound upbringing, raised by a kindly priest-cum-exorcist warrior. Traumatised to learn he’s a real demon child, Rin angrily spurns his human “father,” and inadvertently… Well, we won’t give it away, but it’s not good. Horrified by what he’s done, Rin barges into the mountain-sized True Cross Academy to learn exorcism and “Kick Satan’s ass!” His teacher, he’s amazed to find, is his studious, gifted and non-demonic twin brother Yukio. We meet Rin’s fellow students, all ignorant of his nature, and he and we start getting to know them.

Blue Exorcist versus Buso Renkin

If you liked that... you might like this
One advantage of Blue Exorcist over some other supernatural/fight anime is that it doesn’t run for hundreds of episodes. Instead, it accommodates plenty of twists and transformations in just 26 parts (including one video). The same is true of Buso Renkin, an older show in a similar vein, available from Manga Entertainment in a single box set.

Blue Exorcist: the Movie

Melissa Francis on the hell-spawn creature-feature
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Paul Jacques conjures up the best anime costumes
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Sword Art Online Music: LiSa

Tom Smith on Sword Art Online's LiSa
Salarymen to the left of me, shoppers to the right. And here I am, stuck in the middle with otaku. Well, more accurately I’m frolicking with them, in Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall, a concrete amphitheatre that’s dwarfed by the towering skyscrapers of Tokyo’s business district to the west, and high-end retail haven Ginza to the east. Between the two is the venue, hidden in the peaceful Hibiya Park. Peaceful, that is, until 3,000 anime fans descend en masse, clutching chunky glow batons, wearing identical shirts and all waiting for the latest lady-singer that tickles the tastes of otaku to hit the stage; LiSA.

The Decline of the Japanese X Museum

Stephen Turnbull plays whack-a-mole with willies
The word hihokan is usually translated as ‘sex museum’, although most are best described as indoor sexual theme parks. Imagine that an anthropological collection has been bought by the London Dungeon and put on show there by the owner of a strip club with a degree in engineering and a penchant for voyeurism. The result would be the hihokan: a garish combination of serious museum and soft pornography in a bizarre and often haphazard blend.

Princess Mononoke

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