The final summer title and only two months after it finished! Note to self, don't watch so much anime in one season again, overall this summer was a pretty good season with a number of great shows, good shows and average shows. It also had a number of not-so-good shows but thankfully Blue Exorcist wasn't one of those, although it wasn't one of the great shows either.
Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist)
Summary: Rin only recently discovered that he’s the son of Satan and found out when Satan killed his foster father while protecting him. Rin has now sworn revenge on Satan and is studying to become an exorcist in order to defeat him while trying to master his own demonic heritage.
The Good: Blue Exorcist is a good example of solid and alright shonen, the fights don't take too long, the villains aren't too overpowered, the lead, who might not be the most interesting character, is likable enough and so is the rest of the cast. Rin, while hotheaded, at times seems a lot more street savvy than many shonen heroes which was a nice change and all of the (main cast) characters had their good points, their bad points and some character development. For the first half or two thirds of the show it was an enjoyable shonen series which, while predictable at a lot of points, I enjoyed watching.
The Bad: Due to a need to pad out the series the later half is different from the manga and one thing I didn't like is how the other characters reacted to the news that Rin is a demon. In the manga this was all handled quite well, some characters accepted him sooner than others and it felt natural. Here things got odd because of fillers so at first they were okay with it, then they weren't, and then they became okay with it again? While the story doesn't fall apart in the final arc, all filler, it just didn't make quite as much sense as the previous arcs and made it impossible to continue based on later manga material*. Honestly, as many fans of the series have already said, this anime was made just a bit too earlier since there just wasn't enough material for a two cour anime. Personally I really didn't like the last arc, it felt like a stupid conflict, like the characters suddenly stopped using part of their brains and yet like nothing was really happening.
The Audio: The background music for this series was solid and worked well but the opening and ending song were, strange. The first OP had both very active bits and very slow bits (which were reflected in the animation, it was a wide variety for only a minute and a half and felt jarring), the first ED was just strange (it was by the Korean band 2pm and, when I showed it to friends who were familiar with the band, they were also confused by it) and the second set were just average. I was a bit miffed that Aniplex was going to distribute the title themselves, were doing the subtitling themselves and were the Japanese license holders yet didn't bother to sub any of the songs.
The Visuals: Animated by A-1 (Aniplex’s studio which has gotten much bigger in the past few years) the series looked pretty nice overall, although whenever I would pause while watching in HD on crunchyroll I usually ended up with a very strange looking frame. Provided you didn’t pause the video however the art looked good, the animation seemed to move well, none of the many action scenes looked off and very rarely was a scene just shots of talking heads. It’s a shame that the series is only getting a DVD release in the US, I imagine it would look quite nice on Blu-Ray.
While I do mean to start buying the manga soon, I don't think I'll get the anime for this series anytime soon. It's a really expensive, sub only, DVD only set, two sets actually, and I just don't like the series enough for that. I also feel like Aniplex is hurting themselves by not dubbing it, I can see this working quite well on Cartoon Network and they've already put Durarara!! there, I feel like Aniplex is trying to rush this release as if they're worried that the fans will forget if the series isn't put out right now.
*funny enough, it's biggest twist might happen soon in the manga after all but even with that it would be hard to have a second season, they would have to rewrite the next arc very heavily.