Blue Exorcist, Volume 1 – DVD Review

Review by: Felicia Day

Publisher: Aniplex of America
MSRP: $37.48 US
Running Time: 175 minutes
Genre: Action/Supernatural
Rating: 13+
Release Date: October 18, 2011

So no father-son picnics for this family.

On the surface, Rin Okumura might seem like your average high school student with all the problems a boy his age would normally suffer throughout but looks can be deceiving as we find out in a series about demons, exorcists and the spawn of Satan. Volume 1 of Blue Exorcist introduces us to a young man who holds a very interesting secret that will have him go up against a great evil connected to him.

Covering the first seven episodes of the series, Volume 1 introduces us to Rin who just so happens to live in a monastery with his twin brother named Yukio. The boys were practically raised there by Father Fujimoto who happens to be in charge of the monastery. We find out that Rin is the polar opposite of his brother who not only is a lot calmer but has good enough grades that he just got into the prestigious True Cross Academy. Rin, on the other hand, has a hair-trigger temper and hardly even shows up to class. When we first see him he’s actually beating up a tough kid.

However, Rin isn’t a total bad seed as we find out that the reason he got into said fight was to stop this bully from killing pigeons with a crossbow. The kid even goes out to an interview, tackling a job at a local supermarket with lively enthusiasm. Sure, he’s awful at it but he also demonstrates something he’s really good at … cooking. However, Rin Okumura’s life takes a most interesting detour when he witnesses a demon tormenting a little girl.

It is right there and then that Rin also realizes that he has a most unusual power that revolves around a powerful blue flame that is connected to a strange transformation within him. Just what this means is beyond the boy.

As it turns out, Father Fujimoto performs exorcisms and Rin is suddenly thrust into a world new to him as he begins to see demons everywhere. Seeing no other choice, the Father tells Rin the truth about him and the two worlds that make up the material world (Assiah) and the demon realm (Gehenna). He even shows him the Koma Sword, a legendary demon-slaying sword from ancient times that he was destined to wield against Satan himself. Oh yeah, and in case you didn’t see this coming, Rin just so happens to be Satan’s son.

In a tragic confrontation in the monastery, Rin manages to survive an attack by dad but others are not so fortunate. As a result, Rin swears to destroy Satan. It won’t be an easy feat, of course, but a friend of Father Fujimoto that goes by the unusual name of Mephisto Pheles invites Rin to attend True Cross Academy to become an exorcist for the Japanese branch of the Knights of the True Cross.

As Rin finds out, the school is a fantastical place surrounded by supernatural magic as the young boy becomes a student in the art of exorcism. Meanwhile, Rin makes a surprising discovery about his brother’s role in the school that goes beyond just being a student. Yukio knows Rin’s secret but, to him, he is still his older brother. They even share an empty dorm together that, they later find out, is not quite as alone as they initially thought.

Not surprisingly, Rin isn’t exactly a good student in this school as well and finds out that his brother is quite popular in a school filled with student serious about becoming exorcists. Rin does make friends in school such as the shy Shiemi who tends to his grandmother’s garden and dreams of one day finding the Garden of Amahara. While Shiemi has a crush on Yukio, it is Rin who helps the girl when they figure out that her affliction is of the supernatural variety.

Through Rin we also meet the rest of his classmates that include Suguro; a sullen youth who is very much like Rin to the point that the other boy recognizes that and competes against him. Meanwhile, we also get to see more of Shiemi who joins the class as well and yearns to make friends with the mean-spirited Kamiki. Sure, the action that the manga version displays has yet to really become a part of the story but its good to see a series that spends time developing the characters and setting up the threat. It even has a good sense of humor, such as Rin’s cook-off battle against a demon called Ukobachi or Rin’s awkward friendship with Shiemi.

Volume 1 of Blue Exorcist doesn’t bring anything new to the table but if you give it a chance it will certainly know how to show you a really good time. Rin is actually a likeable enough fellow that getting to know him is half the fun of these first seven episodes. While we have yet to dive into the heart of the story, you will find yourself enjoying a series about a different kind of exorcist and his quest to take a boot to the devil’s backside. We are so definitely looking forward to Volume 2 of this series.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
Rin and his brother Yukio have been living in a monastery but when the world of demons and exorcists is introduced to him it suddenly makes Rin face a startling secret about himself. As fate would have it, Rin is given the opportunity to attend a school for potential exorcists with Yukio in a surprising role. Meanwhile, the young exorcist-in-training participates in an exorcism and come to meet his classmates.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
The animation is true to the manga and that’s not a bad thing at all and seeing the gorgeous visual effects and detailed backgrounds come to life makes the series easy on the eyes and even more so on DVD.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
There’s no English dub option to be found but the original Japanese voice cast is excellent and Hiroyuki Sawano’s score is score is awesome. On top of that, the opening theme song by UVERworld is a new favorite of ours as is “Take Off” by 2PM.

EXTRAS: B+
The DVD extras include the textless opening and closing theme song as well as the collection of web previews of the series but the best feature comes in the form of “VRA-EX that contain bonus scenes such as one of Yukio counting all his moles and finding out that a series of them form the Big Dipper on his chest. The bonus scenes are actually quite hilarious and definitely worth a look. Oh, this DVD release even includes a two-sided poster and a two-sided reversible cover as well as Aniplex trailers.

OVERALL: B+
While the premise is far from original, Volume 1 of Blue Exorcist manages to be an entertaining and high-energy series that makes this a blast to watch. While the series has yet to really jump to the real action, getting to known Rin and the world of the exorcists in this first volume is fun enough to make you look forward to the next volume.

Review copy provided by Aniplex of America

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