By Meredith Caudle
Warning: This review contains lots of spoilers. Read on at your own risk.
Last time on Blue Exorcist!
We are introduced to Rin Okumura, local bad-ass who finds out that he and his younger twin, Yukio, are the sons of Satan and much to Rin’s horror, he is the twin who has inherited all the demon powers of his demonic father. When Satan tries to take his son back, Rin’s foster father, Father Fujimoto, jumps and makes the ultimate sacrifice for the boy but with the Father gone, Rin is faced with two options; either be killed or be hunted and killed. Rin choses neither and instead decided to attend Blue Cross Academy with his brother in order to become the world’s best Exorcist. What he didn’t expect however is that his brother is his TEACHER and that people are still hunting him down!
What adventures shall Rin and the others face in volume two? Read and find out!
Volume two opens up with Rin being his usual goofy self as he nods in and out of class which makes one wonder just how serious he is about becoming the greatest Exorcist the world has ever known. By his side is the shrinking-violet Shiemi who as we know from the last volume joined Rin at Blue Cross after he and his brother saved her from a parasitic demon. Now comes another cross-road for Rin in his journey at Blue Cross; trying to get along with his OTHER classmates. Of course, you can’t have a shonen series without your backup band so who shall Rin be making an aquantance with?
I have my Shonen Series checklist, so let’s see!
Ryuji Suguro! Your typical hothead who is always pissed off at something, mostly Rin!
Renzo Shima! The ladies’ man who is always cracking jokes that makes Ryuji even more pissed!
Konekomaru Miwa! The shy li’l guy with glasses who is there to fill in the nerd spot and thankfully, doesn’t make Ryuji pissed!
Basically, it’s easy to see where this is going from the very start; even though these guys have a sort of animosity towards Rin, you KNOW they will become his allies and friends later, even if Ryuji treats him like utter trash. Those feelings will have to wait however since in part one, we are flung headlong into the first test of the second volume…which has to deal with Rin and Ryuji fighting against a giant frog (in this case, a Reaper) while the others look on in confusing and it’s at this point, I share that confusion with them. Just what in the heck is going on? Apparently, its ‘basic training’ for our boys but since they are so hard-headed and determined to outdo each other, the training basically becomes a free-for-all of who can ice who the fastest. From the midst of the fighting, we get a little backstory on Ryuji who, as it turns out, is the son of monks and has his own goals in defeating Satan himself and since Rin is the SON of Satan….yeah, we can see where this is going. Being so blind through his anger however, Ryjui doesn’t even notice the ENORMOUS FROG leaping towards him but in the nick of time, Rin comes and saves the guy, jumping right into the things mouth. Luckily for Rin, bastard children of Satan is not on the Reaper’s menu and he easily gets out but not before telling Ryuji that HE is going to defeat Satan but the exchange more or less feels like;
Rin: I’m gonna defeat Satan!
Ryuji: Nuh-uh! I AM!
Rin: NO ME!
Ryuji: No butthole! ME!
Can’t you tell they’re going to be GREAT FRIENDS later on?
Elsewhere, Mephistos is having some ‘family’ time with his little brother Amaimon, another demon, who says something about ‘Father’ accepting some plans. Who is this FATHER and what in the world does Mephistos mean by ‘brother’? He has already established that Amaimon is his younger brother so are there more and….
Moving onto to part two, Shiemi comes into view with plans of her own; She wants to make friends. Now, if I were a shrinking violet, who would be the first person I would go to? Someone who was supportive and actually had feelings for me, like Rin and Yukio…or would I go for the total opposite and find myself in the hands of a person who would use my personal fears as a way of wrapping me around their little finger?
I’ll give you ONE guess as to what happens.
So Shiemi is trying to make herself more familiar with the students at Blue Cross and the first girl who catches her eyes is one Izumo Kamiki, an apparent ace student who has two white Kitsunes (foxes) as her familiars. Everyone is impressed with her so of course Shiemi jumps in, but not before getting her own little familiar, a baby Greenman or as I like to call him ‘Something cute that will be made into tons of toys for the fans.’
Come on people, how could you NOT see this?
Anyway, Izumo is apparently not that impressed and makes a few backhand comments about the li’l booger but being the person that she is, Shiemi takes it as something POSITIVE. Things go from bad to worse when Shiemi more or less throws herself on Izumo, even though it is obvious that Izumo wants NOTHING to do with the lass, especially when the girl is more or less screaming for Izumo to be her friend.
Um, sweetie. You’re doing it wrong. Gaining friends doesn’t work that way but as we will see, Shiemi will (not) learn.
Izumo seems to accept Shiemi as her friend but we can all see where this is going. How can I best describe Izumo? Well, she IS intelligent and she IS powerful but her biggest downfall is that she is a bossy and she is also a user. She knows about the venerability that Shiemi has and she uses that to her advantage, making the poor girl a gofer rather than a friend. While I do find this wrong on Izumo’s part, I can’t help but just GROAN at how accepting Shiemi is towards his and how oblivious she is to how she is being treated. I know, it’s part of the entire naivety that she is supposed to have but come on, this is just pushing it. Seeing Izumo willing allow this girl to do this and seeing Shiemi willing smile as if she is HAPPY (wait, she IS.) to be a lackey towards Izumo is just…PAINFUL. I actually want to yell at them BOTH; Izumo for being so mean (okay, BOSSY since there is something to Izumo’s behavior that we find out later on) and Shiemi for being such a freaking DOORMAT.
But as they say, what goes around comes around and it comes and bites Izumo pretty hard.
When Izumo takes another one of her friends, Paku, to a bath Paku lays out the news; she doesn’t want to attend Cross Academy anymore and she doesn’t like the way Izumo treats people. As we find out, Izumo herself was friendless because other kids were apparently intimidated by her power and attitude so in stepped Paku and a friendship was formed…but over time, something happened and it became apparent that Izumo was putting on a face in order to seem more powerful but at the cost of allowing others to become close to her. Sadly, this entire scene is broken up with, guess what, ANOTHER monster! Wow, are we going to see Izumo fight and use those foxes of hers? Well, she tries…but since they can feel the weakness in her, they ignore her demands and retreat.
Izumo is left without any sort of defense but who should come into the rescues? Well, the guys of course but from the way the story wants us to feel, we should feel that Shiemi played the biggest role in helping Izumo and Paku…except she DIDN’T.
Okay, let’s break this down a bit; Izumo tries to use her fox spirits to defeat the demon but since they feel she is not worthy, they retreat which leaves she and Paku defenseless. Rin storms in and gives the first blow to the monsters, and he is quickly followed by Shiemi who tries to help Paku. Now mind you, Rin is still getting his butt kicked by the monster in the back and Shiemi is floundering about trying to get her Greenman to create the right plant…which she DOESN’T. So in the end, Rin still did the most damage, Yukio laid the killing bullet and Shiemi DID help but she was only able to do so when Izumo relayed her the right information about the type of wound Paku had and also correcting her before she gave her the wrong plant, which I found odd in of itself. I thought that Shiemi was rather knowledgeable about plants but of all the times NOT to know what plant to use, it’s THIS?! So in the end, all of Shiemi’s accomplishments felt hollow to me, if only because it didn’t feel like she did anything. Thing would have been different if Izumo was scared stiff and couldn’t do anything and Shiemi figured out what to do on her own but she DIDN’T. The entire ‘but she’s a new student!’ excuse can go so far, especially when she still messed up the flowers in the end, one that she SHOULD have known whether she was a student at Blue Cross or not!
Once the battle is over, Izumo says her final good-byes to Paku who turns out is only quitting because she can’t take the academic pressure of the school, not because she felt that Izumo was too pushy. Nonetheless, this still effects Izumo as during class, she flubs a passage which only bothers her more when Ryuji recites it perfectly. The two get into a little spat which results in Ryuji grabbing Izumo by her collar and Izumo slapping Ryuji…but the blow lands on Rin instead. The punishment; EVERYONE HAS TO BE SENT TO DETENTION WHERE THEY ARE FORCED TO PLACE ROCKS ON THEIR LAPS.
All of them!? That’s a little unfair!
As if mass punishment were not bad enough, the monster that appeared earlier reemerges and its up to EVERYONE to lend a hand and fight this thing. Izumo is still shaken from the last battle and she only gets even more upset when Shiemi, who gets knocked out, still shows that she is more concerned with the others than her own safety. Something then snaps in Izumo and she takes charge, summoning her kitsunes again but this time letting them know that if they don’t follow her orders, they will face something much WORSE than the monster they are fighting. To say the least, seeing two powerful fox demons coward before Izumo was pretty funny. So as you can expect, the team works together and defeats the thing but as it turns out, all this pain, all this fear, was just a TEST thanks in part to Mephistos.
Yes, all of this pain was for a TEST.
I’ll let that sink in for a bit.
Granted, with stories such as this, we’re given the low down on the exact reason as to why people are throwing kids into situations like this and we’re given the after-battle guilt trip everyone has about how they didn’t work together and all of that good stuff. On the sidelines however, there seems to be a bigger problem going on aside form a few kids not being able to cooperate; it seems that there are still a few people around who want to hang Rin’s head on the wall and Yukio has once again been uniformed on these plans. It is at this point I realized just how much of a pit that Yukio is in; not only does he have the responsibility of his position at Blue Cross on him, there is also how he feels about his own twin brother. Ever since the death of Father Fujimoto, people have wanted to kill Rin and as we find out, there were times when Yukio didn’t think rather positively of his own brother but what does this mean in the long run and who should Yukio side with; the Exorcist or his own flesh and blood, no matter how much of a demon he is?
As the story concludes, we find out that Yukio and Shiemi actually had a bit of a past together as children as well as another battle that reveals that one of the Exorcist, a man by the name of Neuhaus, is REALLY desperate to get Rin out of the picture. So desperate in fact that he turns on his own promise to Yukio and sends a monster to consume Rin. Thanks in part to his demon blood, Rin makes quick work of the beast and sends Neuhaus packing but much to Neuhaus’ surprise, Rin does not kill him on the spot which seems to make the man even more upset. Rin and Yukio share a moment and we are quickly reminded that Rin has kept his true from Shiemi out of fear that she might reject him.
You know, at this point I’m surprised that with all the drama that happens at this freaking school, no one has let it slip to ANYONE else that Rin is Satan’s child.
So in the end, how did volume two fare from the first? Well, things DID get moving and it was nice to see some more established characters in the series but if I were to complain about anything in this book, it was the entire Izumo/Shiemi friendship thing. I already stated why I disliked the entire arch and the results from it but I still really feel annoyed by it, if only because Shiemi has shown herself to be pretty much your typical Shonen series cute girl and Izumo is your typical hard girl we’re supposed to hate because she’s not all cute or fluffy. That still doesn’t excuse the way she treated Shiemi but I still can’t find myself totally on Shiemi’s side if only because she’s still a trope and even in the part where she tried to help Izumo and Paku, Izumo still had to instruct her through the entire thing so the only thought that was going through my mind was ‘AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND THIS HEARTWARMING!?’
But then again, maybe I wasn’t supposed to find it heartwarming and I’m looking at the story wrong. Maybe I’m looking too hard in the tropes that most of the characters are filling in and that’s distracting me. Whatever the reason, I think this story served its purpose, if only to show that Shiemi WANTS to do more things and that Izumo, despite her exterior, is still a freaking human being underneath.
The other revelations in the story were pretty okay but even by the second book, I’m used to having people pop and declare their hatred for Rin. This kid has a giant bull-eyes right between the eyes so I should get used to people trying to use him for power, kill him or do other beastly things. Since this is just book TWO, I can only assume that things get worse for Rin as well as those who are around him. So in the end while this book was kind of slow, if only for the purpose of introducing the new characters, I would have to say it still has me interested because I want to see just how far people are willing to bust in and kill Rin, even when he’s doing nothing but minding his own business. I mean, geeze, Neuhaus was going to kill Rin while he slept. Give the kid a freaking break.
Remember kiddies, Blue Exorcist is brought to you in part by Kazue Kato and published by VIZ/SHONEN JUMP ADVANCED! Pick up all seven volumes now!
Next time, moving onto volume three…
- More characters are introduced so YEA! More people to root for!
- Several new characters can be a bit GRATING.
- Some of their intro stories were…kind of cliché.