Title: Blue Exorcist Volume 1
Written and Illustrated by: Kazue Kato
Published by: Viz Media
Distributed by: Madman Entertainment (Australia and New Zealand), Viz Media (US)
Classification: T+ – Older Teen
Previous Reviews: This is the first title in the series
Blurb: “The manga for an anime series that is starting in a few days in Japan. This series originally seems to have a generic storyline, however it quickly expands into something creative, with the protagonist being a demon who decides to fight against Satan (Aka. Father). Forced to attend a school that acts as a cover for exorcist training, he is in for a challenging time keeping his affliction secret whilst training to be one to go up against his enemies. The art and character designs are really good as well!
Special Thanks: Special thanks to the Madman PR team for providing me with a review copy of this title.
For those who read my Xam’d review last night, forgive me for saying I was going to be reviewing Blu-ray Ghibli, as I felt like doing a manga review in replacement of it. The review is on a title that will not be released until the 10th of May in Australia, however there is an anime coming out for this series on the 17th of this month in Japan (With Simulcasts I believe in some parts of the world). This was in a pile of three provided to me kindly from Madman, and this one caught my attention first, mainly because I thought the cover was quite epic. I am usually pretty good at judging books by their cover… so is this a title worth reading? Read on for my review of Blue Exorcist Volume 1.
FIGHT Hellfire with Hellfire
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 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.
This series has a few similarities to the old series Chrono Crusade. Both these series focus around a church group who work as exorcists, therefore act to abolish demons that plague the land. Of course, unlike Chrono Crusade, there isn’t as much (or any) of the churchy stuff as the majority of the storyline takes place in a school environment. The theory behind this series is that there are two parallel dimensions of our world, the first being Assiah which we reside in, and the other is Gehenna, where the demons roam. Whilst it is usually impossible to traverse between worlds, it is possible for some demons. Therefore, the True Cross Academy doubles as an organization to train people to become exorcists, in which Rin’s old carer, Father Fujimoto, used to be the top of.
As with most first volumes, the purpose of this volume was to set the plot and introduce the primary characters in the series. We are first introduced to Rin, a 15 year old troublemaker who is blissfully unaware of the trouble to come, and is being forced to look for a job at the start of the series until events unfold. We are also introduced to his twin brother Yukio, who is already an exorcist not having the same abilities as him, Mephisto the odd president of the academy who has marbles for brains and later on in the series, Shiemi, a younger looking girl who falls afoul of a demon when Rin runs into her. The characters have interesting personalities that cause the characters to clash with each other on a regular basis.
The storyline flows well and does not include filler content in this volume, with the only thing that could be perceived as filler being a storyline that adds a new character to the main cast and introducing the concept of demon possession. The most interesting element they added is the concept of Keys, where they can open to their correspondent area from every door…. wouldn’t mind that in real life personally….. Overall through, I enjoyed it and I don’t think anyone would find it generic or boring.
In terms of the graphics quality, I would first like to look at the character designs. The character designs were very well done. Whilst for the most part, the characters were wearing their school uniforms, the facial expressions, and with that the facial designs were very good. Rin in particular sported a number of creative facial expressions, some more realistic then others whilst Yukio also had some interesting expressions. Two characters that deviated from the norm were Shiemi and Mephisto. Shiemi retains a less diverse range of expressions, often opting for either the panicked or peaceful expressions, however her overall design, including the obligatory kimono she wears definately gives her the title of ‘moe’ or ‘loli’ character in the series. Mephisto however has the most creative everything out of the series. Whilst he remains in his human form very little during this volume, his appearance reminds me of a self-absorbed billionaire with the dressing sense of Chairman Kaga from the Iron Chef series (Which SBS finally aired the final episodes of a week ago).
Environment designs on the other hand are a mix and match, however overall they can be concluded as being excellent. Sadly, this series uses a fair amount of white room backgrounds with very little detail… … … okay now lets get into the good parts. The parts where they do have backdrops are absolutely stunning! The building that the True Cross Academy is based in consists of countless Japanese buildings all placed together which goes very well, and my personal favourite, the design of the Gehenna gate, which I am sure Kazue Kato had a lot of fun drawing. Other backdrops such as the flower garden of Shiemi’s or almost every other location is also well done. Just wish they included these backdrops for more pages.
In terms of extras, there is a little bit included. These include:
- Colour First Page
- Chapter Title Art
- True Cross Academy – Exorcism Cram School: Exorcists and Students No. #### section with character bios.
- Illustrated Guide to Demons
- The Earliest Sketches
- Thumbnail Sketches
- Message from Kazue Kato
- In the next volume…. text preview
- Advertising for Death Note: Black Edition, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (Review for that coming soon) and Shonen Jump.
Whilst they are only little bits and pieces each, for a volume of this size, I think it is appropriate.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this manga, and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fantasy based manga series and have had no luck for a while. Don’t forget to check for Simulcasts which I believe are available in the US (20th April start if memory serves me right). No news for an Australian Simulcast but keep your eyes out!
Character Development: B
Personal Opinion: A
Overall Score: A-