Ao no Exorcist 5

Oh dear, the fiery rival who has the same goal. Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah, just about every shonen anime that exists. So does Ao no Exoricist succeed in differentiating the rivalry between Rin and Bon? I’ll say mostly…for now. Bon’s been giving Rin the stink-eye since he first entered Yukio’s cram class, and this is the episode where they literally butt heads.

Bon’s story is also fairly cliche: he comes from a trod-upon, “cursed” temple that his fellow townspeople now avoid like the plague. He wants to restore the temple to its former glory and, like Rin, kick Satan’s ass (whatever that entails). His initial assumptions of Rin are that he’s some kind of rich coddled kid who got special dispensation from the headmaster to even be here, and is always sleeping in class. I’m with Bon here; I came close to dozing off many times in class, but you’re in the front row. Count sheep at home, son. Shiemi is new to class, but she doesn’t seem interested in waking Rin up.

Still, Bon is wrong if he thinks he’s more serious about his goal, but that doesn’t stop him from challenging Rin to a potentially deadly duel with enormous frogs while the teacher bails out for a booty call (seriously?) I like how Rin doesn’t take the bait, but only steps in to stop the frog when Bon nearly gets eaten by one. Bon thanks him, and even gives him a hairpin (don’t ask), and a friendship is forged.

As for that headmaster? Well, we knew Mephisto wasn’t human, but we didn’t know he had other brothers in Gehenna, and that he considers Rin one of his brothers as well. Must be the pointy ears and magic. What he has planned for Rin and Assiah (his “playground”) may not be altogether savory… Rating: 3

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Oreimo 14

I really enjoyed Oreimo as a whole, but would have enjoyed it so much more if the multi-talented, cute-as-a-button Kuroneko/Ruri Goko was the focus, rather than Kirino and Kyousuke. These extra episodes have given Ruri the screen time she deserved, and she doesn’t disappoint. Her character’s growth is even more apparent when comparing her to Sena Akagi, who is more or less a nerdier, more perverted version of Kirino and simply not as interesting.

While last week she resented Kyousuke’s doting, this week she is much more receptive to it. Is Kyousuke supporting her simply because his real little sister is absent? That isn’t the whole picture. Even when Kirino was around, the two of them had their own independent rapport. The fact that Ruri can now comfortably hang out in his bedroom and even profess her affection for him (in a manner of speaking) suggests she’s no longer hung up on the belief she’s filling in for Kirino. Kyousuke would prefer he call her senpai, not nii-san.

Ruri is a finisher; when she sets her mind to something, she won’t back down or give up until that something is achieved. She swallows her pride and asks Sena to help with debugging her game. The game even wins an award, albeit for “Most Shitty Game”, but what matters is she got it done, and didn’t compromise her creative vision. The powerful, passionate speech she gives to the game club in her initial bid is one of Ruri’s finest moments. At this point, Ruri is also probably my favorite Kana Hanazawa character. Rather than simply ditzy or cutesy, she really gets to explore the full range of her voice. Rating: 4