And here's the first in my little manga reviews for the month of November (which again will be a lot less formal than my regular reviews, think back to my webcomic reviews vs my regular manga reviews). Going alphabetically I'm starting with Blue Exorcist (I swear the anime review is coming, it's just the very last summer title) which is currently the only shonen title I follow. I've actually read a good deal of shonen, I've read about 400 chapters of Naruto and 300 of Bleach (I've long since dropped both), probably around 150 of both D. Gray Man (dropped after the author's huge hiatus) and Nurarihyon no Mago (which just stopped interesting me), about five years ago I was caught up with the US release of HunterxHunter (which was either at the end or towards the end of the Greed Island arc, i'd like to read the rest someday), and 80 or so chapters of Soul Eater (dropped after the rescue Kid arc). I did read Psyren to the end (but I started when it was almost over and the ending had to be rushed or it was going to be cancled) and also read all of Fullmetal Alchemist but FMA is odd since it doesn't favor the tournament fighting style of plot that nearly every other shonen series I just listed does and so far Blue Exorcist doesn't either. It might be because Blue Exorcist is still much smaller than any of those titles (not even at 3o chapters yet) but as long as it avoids the tournament style fights I'll probably stick with it.
Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist) by Katou Kazue
That above statement pretty much sums up why I'm following Blue Exorcist right now, it's not the most original of premises but it works well, is entertaining, and understands what kind of pace it needs to succeed as a monthly manga (even if the chapters never seem like they're long enough). Rin is the son of Satan and has inherited many of powers but he's made it his goal to kill Satan in revenge for killing his foster father and for that reason he enters the True Cross Academy to train as an exorcist and hon his demonic powers. Having a good reason to hate your parents is hardly a new trope (best example I could find for it was Archnemesis Dad) and going to a magical school to train for revenge is also hardly new in any medium. But the fact that Rin isn't an emo teen whose whole life is structured around this revenge, he's actually a pretty friendly and likeable lead character, does make the story a little different and here it's all the characters that make the story interesting. About half of them have been fleshed out with backstory so far (and I'm sure the rest will be sooner rather than later) and it was refreshing to see how the characters didn't immediately accept Rin's demonic powers once they found out about them but instead were, rather realistically and like real people, unnerved and it took a while for them to come around again. That leads to the problem I had with the anime in the end, they didn't handle that part of the story nearly as well (partially because that's where the anime diverged) but that's a subject for a different review. But for now, Blue Exorcist is a fun series with interesting characters, nicely done fight scenes, has a good mix between enough action and enough non-action interesting things happening, and the actual background of the series (the magic and the demons) proved more interesting than I was initially expecting. I am following the scans for this series and haven't started buying the print copies yet (I'm always a little leery to start buying such long series when they're not even close to over and this is going to be a long one) but I do want to start buying some of the volumes soon and look forward to what's going to happen next.