Kazue Kato’s Blue Exorcist (Ao no Ekusoshisuto) is an on-going supernatural manga series.
Father Fugimoto does his best to keep his adoptive son Rin Okumura on the straight and narrow. Alas, Rin has a talent for self-sabotage. He is a stark contrast with his fraternal twin Yukio, who exemplifies self-control and diligence. If they are twins, how is that they are so different?
A supernatural encounter forces Father Fugimoto tell Rin what makes him special. Rin is the literal Son of Satan1, a potential gateway through which the evil lord could enter our world. Any other mortal host, even the purest of souls, would quickly be destroyed if Satan possessed them. Only Rin can provide a long-term home.
The big reveal ends badly for Father Fugimoto. A momentary lapse of concentration during a heated discussion with Rin opens him to the big S. Father Fugimoto is briefly possessed, then dies.
The True Cross Order is well aware of Rin and his heritage. They also know that the easiest solution to the danger he represents is to shoot the boy before his father possesses him. But Rin has a plan. He will punish Satan for killing his mother and his adoptive father by becoming an exorcist. Rin somehow manages to convince the Order’s leader Mephisto Pheles to send him to True Cross Academy, there to study exorcism.
Rin is surprised to find that Yukio is one of the instructors. Yukio’s academic prowess has put him years ahead of his peers, let alone Rin. Yukio is grudgingly prepared to tolerate Rin despite Rin’s infernal nature and his role in Father Fugimoto’s death. But that does not mean Yukio will go easy on Rin. Nor will he go easy on the other students, all of whom will some day have to survive encountering real demons.
Despite Rin’s lack of social skills, he soon bonds with the other students in his class: Shiemi Moriyama, Ryuji “Bon” Suguro, Izumo Kamiki, Renzou Shima, Konekomaru Miwa, and Nemu Takara, each of whom has a different approach to exorcism and each of whom has their own reason for being at the school.
It’s a dangerous course of study. Not only is the school subject to demonic attack; not only is Rin’s brother rather draconian in his approach to teaching; it’s that quite a few of his fellow students would try to kill Rin if he let slip his true nature. Worse yet … some of the school’s staff may be themselves in league with the Father of Lies.
In one of those awkward coincidences that always seem to plague would-be heroes, classmates Bon and Rin turn out to be on essentially the same quest. Bon’s father was killed by Satan; the headstrong young man is determined to vanquish the demon. Now it would seem efficient for Bon and Rin to cooperate on their murderous project, but neither of them is especially good at cooperation. So the race is on: who will be the first to kill the devil?
The kids in this manga are an easily excited, shouty lot (except for the ones struggling quietly with self-doubt and a desperate need to belong). Par for the course, school-centered-manga-wise.
Rin opts to specialize in sword-based exorcism, which is kinda obvious because he just happens to have a supernatural sword. However, drawing the sword brings his demonic side to the fore, which may be a bad choice if he’s trying to hide that side. Teenagers.
They’re also kinda dumb. Nobody comments on the parallels between the design of the school building and Bruegel’s Tower of Babel. None of them grokked the significance of the school head’s name, Mephisto Pheles.
The two volumes I read seemed competent enough, if not particularly innovative. Since this is a comparatively long-running series, presumably there are a lot of twists to come. At least the volumes in hand delivered more or less what I expected. I may further volumes a chance at some point in 2018.
Blue Exorcist is available here (Amazon) and here (Chapters-Indigo).
1: Yukio isn’t a son of Satan, because supernatural heritage scoffs at mundane genetics. Yukio was too weak to survive contact with Satan’s essence, so Yukio got none of it and Rin got all of it. Perhaps this could be explained by midchlorians?