Blue Exorcist, Volume 2 – 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: January 24, 2011

The power of good storytelling compels you!

Don’t you love it when a good series that started off good enough just keeps getting better and better until you find yourself not only loving the story but coming to have favorites among the interesting cast of characters? We found ourselves enjoying the first volume of a series about Satan’s son but Volume 2 of Blue Exorcist is where the series really takes off in the best way possible. Trust me when I say that if you were a fan with Volume 1 you will be with this second helping.

Rin Okumura might be the legitimate son of Satan himself but, having been raised by Father Fujimoto, he doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps. In fact, after the man who raised him was killed, Rin swears to kill Satan. Of course, first he must learn to control the power within him as well as learn how to wield the Koma Sword. So he joins his brother, Yukio, to the True Cross Academy where he will learn to become an exorcist along with other young people his age.

When we last left Rin, he and his classmates were sent away to a pre-summer boot camp before they return to class to take the ExWire Authorization Exam that will advance them to the next level of ExWire. However, the boot camp turns into a struggle for survival for the tiny-browed Izumo Kamiki and her only friend, Paku, because they are both attacked in the ladies’ room. Izumo is haunted by her inability to do something to avoid Paku from getting hurt and starts beating herself up over her failure as a potential Tamer (the ability to call up animal spirits called Familiars).

As it turns out, the demon makes its return only this time the others are prepared and take it on together as a team. Even after the demon splits in two, the others fight off the one half while Rin goes off to fight the other half. It is here that the shy girl Shiemi shows her stuff and even Izumo snaps out of her funk to lend a hand. Meanwhile, Rin discovers who summoned the demon and the identity is no surprise considering the fact he was hanging around not far from them.

Another surprising twist comes up and that is that the Academy’s director, Mephisto, reveals that the boot camp is actually a cover for the actual ExWire Authorization Exam. As a result, the students find themselves graduating from novice to ExWire where they will train in their specialty. Rin, thanks to his sword, falls under the Knight category. We also find out the talents of Rin’s fellow classmates like Suguro and Konekomaru who excel in incantations thus putting them in the Aria category. As for Izumo and Shiemi have the obvious talents of a Tamer.

Unfortunately for Rin, somebody is indeed targeting him as Yukio discovers that his brother is in danger by the very man responsible for summoning the demon during boot camp. We meet Mr. Noihaus, a man with an obvious grudge that he reveals during an assassination attempt on Rin’s life. Yukio confronts the man in a major battle that ends with Noihaus making a declaration that surprises both Yukio and Rin who came to aid his brother.

With that intriguing and dramatic turn of events out of the way, the series takes on a fun and often comical turn as Mephisto has his newly appointed ExWires take on missions geared towards training their talents as future exorcists. It’s a scorching summer day when a cute Cat Sidhe named Kuro overhears from the gate guards that his master is dead. In an instant, the cat turns monstrously huge and becomes way too aggressive that they must send Yukio to put it down for good. However, Rin tags along and overhears the Familiar’s thoughts and learns the truth behind the identity of Kuro’s master who happens to be connected to both brothers.

In another episode, Rin is joined by Izumo and the laid-back Shima out in the beach when Izumo is saved by a little boy named Yohei whose father was lost at sea after confronting a demon squid known as the Kraken. When the Kraken shows up near the shores of the beach, it is Rin and his two classmates work together to combat it … and make a surprising discovery about the demon. In the meantime, Mephisto is visited by his young brother, Amaimon, who happens to be a lot more quirky than Mephisto.

In a mission that will change everything for Rin, the students are taken to Mepphyland – an amusement park dedicated to Mephisto – in search of a mischievous ghost pulling pranks on the park’s guests. While Shiemi spends the day with the ghost (and revealing that’s she’s surprisingly busty), Rin runs into Amaimon, who steals the Kuro Sword and gives Rin quite a beating. Help comes in an unexpected way as a student they thought was a boy named Yamada turns out to be a busty sword-wielding exorcist named Shura Kirigakure who is a cross between Gurren Lagann’s Yoko and Bleach’s Rangiku.

It is Shura who grabs Rin and drags him into an “interrogation room” where they not only battle it out and pushing Rin’s powers to its limits but she also intends on training him in the art of the sword as requested by the only Paladin exorcist she ever trusted … Father Fujimoto. From what went down between Rin and Amaimon, it’s clear that Rin needs the training.

This second volume has no shortage of great fights and plenty of the humor (Izumo discovering the real reason why the boy found her cute is hilarious) that keeps the series fun. It’s also good to see the secondary characters not only getting more exposure but also actually playing a bigger role in Rin’s life. Shiemi’s relationship with Yukio is further explored and so is a key incident in Rin’s childhood. I even loved the touching moment when Rin managed to reach Kuro as the cat becomes his Familiar.

Volume 2 of Blue Exorcist is where the series truly takes off and ventures into a highly-energetic and thoroughly entertaining territory that makes this series even more fun to watch than the first seven episodes. With more emphasis on characterization as far as the secondary cast is concerned plus more insight on Rin, Blue Exorcist is quickly becoming a genuine fan favorite with more than enough to offer those who love this genre. We are so looking forward to Volume 3 if the series continues on this path.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A-
During the boot camp excursion, Rin and his classmates are attacked by the same demon once again only this time the students pool their resources together as a team. As a result of their performance, the class moves up to the next level as they see to interesting missions that involve a demon cat, a giant squid and a haunted amusement park. Meanwhile, Rin discovers that he is being targeted for assassination.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
The series is still visually stunning with gorgeous backgrounds and a cast of colorful characters that you can come to expect from an Aniplex production. The visual effects still don’t fail to surprise in this series.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
As far as the music is concerned, the score is just delightfully cinematic and you just have to love the new opening theme song, “In My World” by RookiEz is PUNK’D. Our heart still belongs to the awesome closing theme song by 2PM rather than the Ok “Wired Life” tune, though. The voice acting is still consistently decent.

EXTRAS: B+
Once again we find the Backstage Short Movies extra, or Ura-Ex, that has funny shorts such as Mephisto playing video games with Amaimon and a look into Suguro’s morning routine. You’ll also find the textless opening and closing theme song as well as a few Aniplex trailers. There’s even the Web Version Previews of each episode.

The best extra, however, comes in the unaired Special Episode called “Kuro Runs Away From Home” where Kuro runs off after Rin doesn’t give him any meat and Yukio tries to train him like an actual cat, which is so humiliating. Out in the streets, Kuro runs into Rin’s classmates as well as Shura and he even visits Father Fujimoto’s grave for a touching reunion of sorts.

OVERALL: A-
With a more established cast of characters and a more interesting threat introduced, Volume 2 of Blue Exorcist is quickly becoming one of those addictively fun shonen anime series you will find hard not to fall in love with enough to become a big fan. Here’s hoping the Volume 3 is just as good as this volume and that it comes soon.

Review copy provided by Aniplex of America

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