The Blue Exorcist – One Light Falters, Another Burns Brightly
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In the eleventh episode of Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga, Shine Bright as the Sun, Shura Kirigakure protects Ryuji Suguro while Rin Okumura attacks the Impure King. But even his flames can’t keep up with the monstrous demon’s might. Shiemi Moriyama‘s familiar Nee collapses with Izumo Kamiki still imprisoned in the impurity; but Moriyama is unwilling to give up. An already exhausted Yukio Okumura faces off against a quickly regenerating Saburota Todo. How can Yukio fight an enemy with an ever-shifting form? Rin has to make a deal with an unexpected ally — will even that be enough to overcome the Impure King?
What’s In This Post
- Rin’s amazed that he was able to draw his sword. Kirigakure arrives and burns the impurity off of Ryuji. Both of them try to encourage Rin to attack the Impure King, but Rin’s unsure of himself. He launches an attack, but every time he strikes, the Impure King regenerates and spews more miasma. Finally, despite Kirigakure’s protection, Ryuji’s strength snaps and he falls unconscious. The barrier begins to fall. In the monks’ camp, Konekomaru Miwa and Renzo Shima watch in horror, partly because they realize that Ryuji must have fallen, and partly in fear of the miasma flowing into the city. Yaozo Shima notes that the rain will dampen it, for now. The flame demon that the monks had called to help them laments at how useless the humans are. Above the fray, Mephisto Pheles watches in amusement.
- Yukio tries to fight the partially disembodied Todo. Though severely wounded and turned mostly into ash/clay, Karura’s regenerative capabilities keep Todo in the fight. He partially reforms, attacks Yukio, then reforms as soon as Yukio shoots him. He continues to taunt Yukio, who comes close to loosing his composure. Recalling that he’s fighting a demon, he convinces himself not to listen, and he devises a plan to use water-demon bullets on Todo. He finally empties the clip into Todo’s partially formed torso, which temporarily deprives him of a body. Knowing he’ll regenerate soon, Yukio and the monks retreat. They see that the barrier is falling.
Rin pauses in frustration at his inability to make any meaningful impact on the Impure King. Having become disillusioned with trying to help the weak humans, Ucchusma, the Impure King’s ancient enemy, appears to Rin and offer to teach him the incantations needed to take on their shared enemy. Desparate, Rin accepts the help but becomes concerned as Ucchusma shows no concern for purifying everything — even the humans — with consuming flames. Hoping he’ll be able to control the power, Rin learns the chant. Ucchusma changes from an orange flame to a blue flame to match Rin. Rin launches the Fireburst Samadhi attack, and it begins to consume the Impure King. Rin then realizes that he needs to pour more and more power into the technique, and he nears the edge of his control.
Moriyama realizes that even with Nee’s help, she can’t get ahead of the impurity that’s trapped Kamiki. Nee finally vanishes, leaving Moriyama exhausted and panting. Kamiki urges her to flee, even going so far to say that she hates Moriyama in an effort to discourage her, but Moriyama begins to climb the mound of goo to free her friend. With a final heave, Kamiki comes free, and the two tumble to the ground. Kamiki, not knowing how to react, focuses instead on the need to get Tatsuma Suguro to medical treatment. The ground begins to shake, and they see a blue light from where the barrier used to be. Yukio, too, sees the flames and springs toward them.
The Fireburst Samadhi takes more and more of Rin’s power, and his control wavers. He remembers the injustices he’s faced at the hands of the Church, even to the point of them declaring that he must die, and for an instant, he decides to purify the face of the entire planet. His power output explodes and the flames surge higher. Then, he remembers Moriyama telling him that she wasn’t afraid of him. One by one, he recalls the faces of his friends, and he determines not to let them down. His blue flames leap out across the landscape and begin burning away the Impure King’s rot. The monks are initially terrified, remembering the tales of the blue flames murdering their family and friends; then they realize that not only does the flame not harm them, it heals those with boils from the miasma. Moriyama and Kamiki also see the flames, and Moriyama tells her friend they’ll be fine. “They’re warm,” she thinks as the flames engulf them. Miwa and Renzo that the opportunity to rush towards Ryuji. Mephisto celebrates the birth of the Blue Exorcist.
Finally, as the sun rises over the mountain, Rin’s flames consume the last of the Impure King. Ucchusma confirms the cleansing is complete. Warning Rin that he’ll someday have to choose whether to be human or demon, the fire demon departs. Ryuji regains consciousness just as Rin sheaths his sword. He’s astounded that Rin is almost giddy — but not because he just defeated the Impure King. He’s giddy because he can control his flames. The monks arrive with Renzo and Miwa, and they confirm that Rin’s blue flames cleansed them without hurting them at all. They’re all grateful. Then Yukio arrives and punches Rin in the jaw. He demands to know if Rin understands the predicament he’s in. Rin answers and yes, he knows — he’s the spawn of Satan, and he’s decided to embrace his powers so he can protect his friends. He asks Yukio to accept him, too, as he passes out, exhausted. In a vision, he sees his foster father walking away from him, and he asks what he should do now. His father tells him to figure it out for himself.
What I Liked
Rin’s initial assault on the Impure King looked great. The animation was smooth, Rin stayed on model, and the action was dramatic. It well illustrated his growing frustration that he couldn’t inflict more damage.
That extended to the barrier falling, too. It didn’t just vanish like a pierced soap bubble; it slowly eroded from the top down. I don’t know what magic looks like when it dissipates, but I bet it looks something like that.
Mephisto quoted Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil.” It’s a pretty insightful (though dark) quote about how we have to be careful about the tools and techniques we use to fight evil, because we could become evil (“when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”). This is why I like anime. You don’t see this kind of philosophical depth (at least, not very often) on more “mainstream” media.
Yukio finally remembered not to listen demons! I was wondering when he’d pick up on Todo’s psychological attacks — and the role he himself played in how effective those attacks were. Yukio’s an interesting character: bright, dedicated, but full of doubt and rationalization.
Even lying on his back, a mess of partially dissolved clay and ash, Todo continued to needle Yukio. And despite his resolve to not listen to the demon, Yukio still let the demon get under his skin. Todo’s a tenacious and resourceful villain; it’s hard for me to hate such an interesting character!
I like how this show treats the non-human intelligences. For example, Ucchusma’s goal was to destroy the Impure King and purify everything that beast had touched. That included the humans who were infected, too. Ucchusma didn’t see anything wrong with that. For him, it was simply a consequence of his power and mission. Of course, Rin saw it differently, and I’m sure his friends are glad he did! Still, that kind of detail makes the world of Blue Exorcist so interesting.
Seeing Kamiki at a loss, not knowing how to deal with Moriyama’s affection, was a treat. She’s still trying to come to terms with belonging to a group, and she doesn’t understand her own feelings about it. And here’s this completely open and honest Moriyama blurting out how much she likes her friend!
The entire season was leading up to the moment where Rin recalls Moriyama’s face and her kind words and decides not to be a monster. The writers did a great job building the dilemma. The church was against him. His friends had seemed to turn against him. He even felt like his foster father had betrayed and abandoned him. I don’t think I could blame him for deciding that it would be better to burn humanity off the face of the Earth! His friends, though, made all the difference. Moriyama’s gesture in particular anchored him and gave him emotional time to recall Kamiki sitting beside him in spite of having just learned he was Satan’s son. Those small, kind gestures gave him the strength to choose a destiny of protecting, not destroying, humans. I thought it was a beautiful moment.
Kinzo Shima gets points for bravery (or sheer stupidity?). When all the other monks turned and ran in terror of the blue flames, he stood his ground. His reward was being one of the first to realize the flames were they ally.
Having just burned the Impure King into nothingness; having defeated the almost undefeatable enemy, what’s Rin the most proud of? His ability to control his flames! That is so in character!
Miwa is such a serious young man! He’s overcome with guilt at having doubted Rin, and he tearfully begs Rin’s forgiveness. Of course, Rin has no idea what he’s talking about. He already accepted Miwa’s doubt as something completely reasonable, so he didn’t take offense. Another moment of genuine emotion in this episode!
What I Liked Less
Why was Moriyama able to grab the impurity without being affected? Was it because of her background of a herbalist? Without that explanation, I thought her being able to free Kamiki felt a little too easy. Well, the pulling her out part; using Nee to attack the impurity certainly didn’t turn out to be easy!
I like action-oriented series like Akame ga Kill. I like emotional/poignant series like Puella Magi Madoka Magica. What I also like is a series that can combine both in a compelling and interesting way. That’s Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga.
Look at what went into setting up the dramatic moment when Rin has to decide if he’ll incinerate humanity or not. His foster father died protecting him from his real father (Satan). Up to that moment, he had no idea of his true nature, and even when he found out, he had to deal with conflicting emotions from his brother. Then his friends found out about his nature, and they seemed to disown him. The church wavered on whether or not he should be put to death, with the current paladin making no secret of his desire to kill Rin. And even more recently, the monks reacted in fear and loathing when they saw his blue flames. Even Rin, as optimistic as he tries to be, couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by all of that hate. In the moment of his power’s ascendency, when he could clearly see a way to rid himself of all of that pain, how could I possibly blame him for wanting to lash out?
But the show also setup the counter argument. Starting when Kamiki sat down beside him on the train when everyone else, even Moriyama, ignored him, the series showed Rin’s friends trying tentatively to get beyond their fears and reach out to him. I think I can say that Kirigakure has relentlessly supported him, even when it wasn’t in her own political interests. While he might be doing so to further his own agenda (which, in fairness, might be in everyone’s best interests), Mephisto argued on Rin’s behalf in front of the Exorcists’ highest court, at great personal peril.
Back in the first season, Rin formed a close relationship with the warm and naive Moriyama, and it was that relationship that was the first anchor against the temptation to destroy the world. Her affection gave him the emotional space he needed to remember his friends and the others he wanted to protect. His web of connections saved him, and in this case, the city of Kyoto — at least.
Those relationships give this show a warmth that makes the show so attractive to me.
What’s your favorite aspect of the show? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
- The 2016 Holidays Are Gone – Must Be the Winter 2017 Anime Season! Preview Part I
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 1: Small Beginnings
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 2: Strange Bedfellows
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 3: Suspicion Will Raise Bogies
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 4: Act of Treachery
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 5: Mysterious Connections
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 6: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 7: Like a Fire Burning Bright
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 8: From Father to Son
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 9: Through Thick and Thin
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 10: Unbowed and Unbroken
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga Episode 12: Candid and Open