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Blue Exorcist: Season 1(TV) (2011)
"Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Normally, these two dimensions would never intersect, but having possessed all material substances, the demons are now intruding on the material world. But among the human race, there are those who can exorcise such demons." - the Exorcists.
For more about Blue Exorcist: Season 1 and the Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray release, see Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 19, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nobuhiko Okamoto, Jun Fukuyama, Kana Hanazawa, Kazuya Nakai, Kôji Yusa, Yûki Kaji
» See full cast & crew
Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray Review
Speak of the devil. . .
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 19, 2013
Spoiler alert: if you haven't read or seen the film version of Rosemary's Baby, you might want to skip the next few sentences. The shocking denouement to Ira Levin's classic novel was (of course) that Rosemary had been impregnated by none other than Satan himself. Levin's novel, and the Roman Polanski film which followed, were both prime examples of exploiting paranoia. Was Rosemary simply in the throes of a weird prenatal escalation of irrational fears? Or was something really nefarious going on? Both the original novel and the film let us in on the fact that there was obviously something evil going on, but both also left us at the veritable altar (Satanic or otherwise) after the baby had been born, leaving us to wonder what would become of Rosemary and her "half breed" offspring. Levin came back to his subject decades later with Son of Rosemary (the less said about Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, a made for television follow up, the better), detailing the exploits of the now grown child, except that Levin deliberately hedged his bets with a reference to a long ago film which lets knowledgeable readers in on the fact that the entire novel may in fact be a dream. Blue Exorcist takes the same basic premise of Levin's iconic piece and in a way even toys with one of the central conceits of Levin's sequel—namely, would the child of Satan and a human mother give in to his evil side or attempt to find a way to channel his tendencies toward good?
Blue Exorcist's main character is Rin Okumura, a seemingly more or less normal kid as the anime gets underway, one who means well but who tends to get in trouble sometimes, often for actually understandable reasons (the first episode has him encountering some street punks when Rin attempts to prevent them from misbehaving). Rin lives with his twin brother Yukio, a more studious, well behaved "version" of Rin. They have both been raised by an adoptive father, or in this case perhaps better termed an adoptive Father, a priest named Shiro Fujimoto. Shiro obviously wants the boys to stay on a straight and narrow path, a wish that frankly seems aimed more at Rin than at Yukio.
A series of cascading developments throws Rin's world into disorder. He becomes aware of some weird powers he evidently has, powers made manifest by a glowing blue flame which emanates from him, and soon the reason is divulged: Rin is actually the half breed scion of none other than Satan and a human woman. Almost as soon as he discovers this obviously unsettling fact, a tragedy occurs which takes Shiro from the boys but which at the same time convinces Rin that his true calling is to become an exorcist, in order to rid the world of the very demons that make up half of his own genetic imprint. To achieve that goal, Rin is accepted (grudgingly) at the True Cross Academy, a school which trains budding exorcists.
This first arc of episodes of Blue Exorcist does a largely laudable job of quickly and effortlessly introducing the main characters and efficiently establishing various interrelationships, especially the one between Rin and Yukio. While Rin is the ostensible focus of the show, Yukio is probably just as important and in fact once both boys are at the True Cross Academy, Yukio's back story becomes decidedly more relevant. Blue Exorcist becomes a tale of not just finding oneself, but of each individual's choice to foster their own course in life no matter what their genetic proclivities might be.
What may throw some viewers for a loop is the anime's emphasis on often kind of goofy humor. Rin tends to explode in anger a lot of the time and the two siblings get involved in rivalry that often escalates to silly levels. Perhaps unexpectedly, the series manages to balance the dramatic and comedic elements fairly well most of the time, though those wanting a "pure" supernatural series may be a bit annoyed at Blue Exorcist's frequent detours into more manic territory. Those with an interest in religious history may also question the "mixed metaphors" Blue Exorcist utilizes in its employment of various Hebrew words and/or ideas. The earthly realm is here referred to as Assiah, one of the symbolic "four worlds" of the Jewish Kabbalah, while the Demonic world is referred to as Gehenna, an actual physical location outside of Jerusalem.
Rin's background turns out to have both benefits and detriments as the series moves along, and in fact his parentage brings things to a sort of cliffhanger as this first set of episodes comes to a close. A school based on exorcising demons obviously might have some qualms about having the son of Satan as part of their student body, but even the fact that many are unaware of Rin's true bloodline doesn't end up protecting him for very long. Finding oneself gets to be a good deal more problematic when others are on a more dangerous hunt for that same self—in order to kill it.
Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Blue Exorcist is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This presentation from the A-1 Pictures production host boasts often nicely detailed animation, with some nice effects sequences when Rin transforms into his specially powered demonic self. Line detail is generally quite sharp and colors are nicely saturated, but the series sometimes tends to exploit what must be assumed is an intentionally softer look, one that's a bit reminiscent at times of another Hades-centric anime, Hellsing.
Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Blue Exorcist features uncompressed LPCM 2.0 tracks in both English and Japanese (the English dub is one of the big calling cards for this release). The tracks are pretty much indistinguishable aside from the voice work, with both offering excellent fidelity and a rather unexpectedly boisterous low end a lot of the time. Purists will no doubt want to stick with the original Japanese track, but the English voice cast is excellent, well modulated and presented very clearly and cleanly on this uncompressed track. The exceptional music is also very well rendered here.
Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This deluxe set from Aniplex comes housed in a rigid case illustrated by manga author Kazue Kato, which includes three Blu-ray discs, one DVD, and a soundtrack CD, as well as a lavishly illustrated 36 page booklet. The supplementary material is spread over the four discs:
Blu-ray Disc One
Normally I wouldn't even list this as a supplement, but in this case Hiroyuki Sawano's insanely diverse music merits special kudos. Everything from J-Pop to trance to techno to quasi-classical is included on this stellar CD, and there's some really elegant music to enjoy here.
Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Blue Exorcist is an unusually entertaining series. Many of its elements have been featured in other anime, at least in dribs and drabs, but this outing combines things in an unusually compelling manner. Some may have issues with the series' kind of weird swings in tone between pretty serious drama and then almost lunatic humor, but if you hold on tight for the ride, chances are you're going to enjoy most if not all of the journey. This deluxe set is on the pricey side, but it comes packed with supplements. The Blu-rays feature excellent video and audio and Blue Exorcist comes Recommended.
Blue Exorcist: Other Seasons
Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blue Exorcist: Sets I & II Blu-rays - May 29, 2013
Aniplex of America has announced the Blu-ray release of Blue Exorcist: Set I and Set II, due on July 9th and September 10th respectively. Each 5-disc box set includes 13 episodes of the supernatural anime series, an illustration booklet, an original soundtrack ...
Blue Exorcist: Season 1 Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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