Ao no Exorcist 25 (Fin)

Shura, Triple A, Yukio, and Rin join forces to attack the Gehenna gate, but there are too many small fry in the way. Bon, Izumo, Renzo and Co. execute a plan to telegraph sunlight from the Vatican in Rome to Japan, in order to weaken the demons. Rin and Yukio ride Kuro up to the now-cleared gate and envelop it in flames, closing/destroying it. One month later, things have returned to normal at the True Cross Academy, though Rin is more proactive in interfering in higher-ranking exorcist operations. They also visit their mother’s grave – their birthplace – in the forest.

This was a somewhat disappointing finale. I was having a hard time staying invested in the face of a lack of any significant peril, and lots of strange, random things. I mean, wtf was the deal with those mirrors? Where did that come from? Throughout the episode, you see swarms of small black demons flying around, but not attacking their prey, but simply flying by as people yell “there’s too many of them!” With Shiemi out of harm’s way and Yukio back to his old self, no characters were in immediate mortal danger this week. No suspense. Also, Yukio is suddenly able to hear Rin’s cat now, and transforms like his bro when he unsheathes the sword? Huh?

The “everything’s back to the way it was” epilogue wasn’t the best move either. It only reinforces the fact that nothing that happened in that big climax was any big deal. Even visiting the place where their mom gave birth to them fell flat for me; I mean how is someone who slept with Satan a “wonderful person?” Offspring bias, I suppose. And while Kuro is proof that some demons can be tamed, why is Rin rushing headlong into battles he’s not authorized to fight? Or, more to the point, if he’s capable of taking care of demons, why’s he still in school? I dunno…not a great ending to what was a pretty decent series.


Rating: 2.5

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Ao no Exorcist 24

Yukio is possessed by Satan, who swears a lot and laughs like a jackass. Shura, Shiemi, and Rin try to get Yukio to snap out of it, but only Rin succeeds, after sufficient yelling and a few tears. They manage to free Yukio, but Satan is still on the loose, and the massive Gehenna Gate remains open.

The Satan in this series just doesn’t work for me as a character. I just hate him. I know, we’re supposed to hate him, but he’s so implacably evil and unlikable, there’s never any doubt that he will ultimately be cast aside and defeated. I hate that he’s a weak, goofy, one-dimensional villain. Why there was a flashback episode with Yuri and Satan I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t rouse any sympathy for the Satan character. He’s a big jerk, period. And yet this whole episode does nothing but prove that point ad nauseum, along with provide the predictable heartfelt beseeching Yukio to wake up.

Thankfully, Cardinal Ernst didn’t have any stupid longwinded religio-political speeches, but the line of the episode had to be (former) Paladin August’s: “But genocide using a weapon of mass destruction contradicts the Order (of the True Cross)’s principles!” Seriously? That line was written? And it actually had to be spoken by somebody?


Rating: 2.5

Ao no Exorcist 22

Ernst overthrows the existing bureaucracy and names himself Pope, and rises Yukio to the rank of Paladin and head of the Japanese branch. Rin and all the other members of True Cross Academy are armed and given a new edict: kill as many demons as possible. The weapons absorb demon blood for a ritual to open the Gate of Gehenna and destroy Satan for good. Rin is the sacrifice to unlock the gate, while Yukio transforms into a demon himself.

This episode covered a lot of ground. One could almost say the series is now in a hurry to wrap things up. Ernst showed up a couple episodes ago, and we have no idea who he is or what made him so evil; all we know is, he’s a Bad Guy with plans for world domination, and he’s ensnared an extremely naive (and stupid) Yukio with a promise to save Rin by restoring his full humanity. The force of all the sudden change is so great this week it sweeps everyone up before they can even complain.

This episode also sets a firm morality concerning the fundamental role of exorcists. They’re supposed to slay demons, but not all demons. There are good ones, like Kuro the Cait Sith, Izumo’s foxes, and countless demons who protect forests, rivers and the like. In this regard, our protagonists should be on the side of Princess Mononoke. Like humanity, there is an entire spectrum of demonhood stretching from good to bad. What Pope Ernst has ordered upsets the balance of things. He’s bad, and our ragtag group of students – and Rin, if he’s still alive – must stop him.


Rating: 3

Ao no Exorcist 21

Neuhaus’s wife ends up at Shiemi’s place, where Shiemi takes care of and takes a liking to her. Rin & Co. learn Neuhaus that she’s a “quickened”or resurrected corpse possessed by a demon, but he didn’t do it. The Paladin gets wind of her and he and his men arrive to kill her, but Rin stalls him until he’s summoned back to the Vatican and met not by the Grigori, but by Ernest Frederick Aegin, who’s taken over with Yukio by his side.

My God, the volume of pseudo-religious political babbling that goes on in this episode brought back bad memories of the most tiring episodes of Index. This week a little bit of Gundam megalomania was sprikled in, with the new Phantom of the Opera (Frederick) revealing an enormous church armory that will be used as a base for a new offensive against the demons. The implication is that up until now the Vatican had only fought defense against Satan; he means to take the fight to them. But this week those larger considerations are only the bookends.

Michelle the spider-woman hangs with Shiemi until everyone descends on her quaint little garden wanting her head. Shiemi convinces Rin not to hurt her, though, and it’s her wishes that drive him to defend Michelle from August and his henchmen, though in vain, as Michelle ultimately takes a bullet for him. More importantly though, Yukio seems to have changed his allegience behind Rin’s back. The imminent face-off between brothers will either be as dull and predictable as another religio-political speech, or something more consequential and satisfying. Here’s hoping for the latter.


Rating: 3

Ao no Exorcist 19

*Clicks tongue*…surprise birthday party episode. But hey, I didn’t mind it nearly as much as the previous filler ep, the one with the kitchen demon. Perhaps because, like the best episodes of any series with a vibrant ensemble cast, it gives everyone something to do and allows for some very nice character interactions. Considering how much everyone’s been through the last three weeks, a break was inevitable, but also far better than expected. Also, by this point, we know everyone a lot better, making them more fun to watch even during filler.

When else would we learn that Bon is good at papercraft? Or that Konekomaru could work out his awkwardness with Rin by helping him bake? Or that Renzou and Paku have such great chemistry? The party is being planned for Izumo, who then keeps bumping into her friends as they plan. Most distressing is when she keeps seeing her best friend on an apparent date with Renzou, and her ill-fated undercover spy mission is cute, if misguided. I enjoyed the increased role of Paku; she may not exactly stand out, but she was fun to watch this week.

There are a whole lot of nice character moments in here, and I’m not going to pretend the episode was much more than that…but it did have at least a minor twist: the surprise was ruined (thanks to Izumo’s spying), so the party becomes one for everyone, not just her, by her request. Meanwhile, Yukio observes the festivities from a far, still having told no one about his ominous, worsening malady. Just to segue back to business, the episode ends with a report Rin and Yukio’s monastery is under attack. Wash down that X-mas cake and get movin!


Rating: 3

Ao no Exorcist 17

Ao no Exorcist keeps impressing, to the point where I almost wish it were a series the length of say, Soul Eater. The chemistry between characters – both positive and negative – is that good. And it would only get better with time…like wine. This week the big cliffhanger is resolved relatively quickly – Rin wakes up and is reunited with his sword and quickly dispatches Amaimon.

But while the Vatican is willing to go along with Phele’s gamble for now, Rin is going to have to win back the trust of some of his friends, namely Bon and Konekomaru. I like how everyone reacts differently to this new truth about Rin, and those reactions fit their characters. Particularly good is Izumo’s little pep talk at the end, which hints that she too may be half-human.

There’s even some nice moments between Yukio and Shura (no, not that nice), as the two were siblings of a kind in the past. Yukio has a lot on his plate: not only will his brother be killed if he goes berserk again, but he also has to make sure Rin passes the Exorcist’s exam six months from now, or…be killed.

Even better is Bon’s complex reaction. He did a lot to save Rin, but that doesn’t mean he won’t kill him hesitationless if he hurts anyone he cares about. The people most uneasy about Rin are those who lost loved ones to Satan. Can they trust his son? Can Rin control his powers? Hopefully, they can. We’ll see.


Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 16

The last fifteen weeks have basically been building up to this: Rin’s friends now know the truth: Rin is the son of satan. I honestly didn’t know how all the various characters would react to this news, but fortunately for him, most of them sided with Yukio and Shiemi, who want to save him. The new Paladin, Arthur August Angel, shows up to take Rin into custody and put Pheles on trial with the Grigori court for treason.

This episode keeps two distinct story points – Rin’s trial and his friends’ efforts to repair the sword that seals his blue flames – and it keeps them both interesting. During the trial, Mephisto Pheles goes to bat in Rin’s defense, and though we still aren’t sure we can trust him, it’s clear he’s the only one who can save Rin. He and his angry brother Amaimon, who shows up just in time for Pheles to suggest they sic Rin on him to prove he will be useful fighting against Satan & Co.

Yukio also does Rin a solid by telling everyone the whole story, and how Rin himself has only known about his lineage for a few months. Shiemi in particular is, predictably all for saving him no matter who is dad is, but it was good to see at least one dissenting voice…but to my surprise it was neither Izumo or Bon! In fact, Bon recognizes the sword as once belonging to his temple, and suggests a trip to Kyoto to get it fixed by the 11th Yoshikuni, a girl with purple hair and a really weird accent.

The mission to retrieve jewel steel for the repairs is interrupted by a battle with Mara demons who try to lead Yukio and Bon astray, but Renzo and Izumo are right there to snap them out of it. In all, this was one of the best Ao no Exorcists to date. It was action-packed, well-paced, never boring, and was a very good payoff to all the building up to date. But it isn’t over: Rin still has to wake up and defeat Amaimon, and his sword still needs to be fixed. But so far so good.


Rating: 4

Ao no Exorcist 15

Rin is released from the grip of the giant moth demon that grabbed him last week, thanks to some quick thinking from Bon. Bon is getting increasingly frustrated with Rin’s puzzling behavior: how can such a loser keep saving the day?

As we know, he misunderstands Rin’s desire to fight alone. Rin doesn’t want him to see what he is: a son of satan. But this week, it becomes impossible for Rin to keep it secret. Amaimon crashes their training party, sticks a bug in Shiemi that puts her in a docile trance, and threatens to have his way with her. Rin ain’t gon’ stand for that.

So Mephisto Pheles finally gets what it seems he wanted: Rin draws his sword and goes all out against Amaimon, proving to be more than a match for him. He also does this in full view of his friends (though some are conveniently un- or semi-conscious). Still, it looks like the cat sith is out of the bag…and even worse, Rin seems to have lost all control.


Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 12

The gang of esquires is given a seemingly innocuous mission to extract a harmless ghost from the ridiculous “MepphyLand” amusement park, in which the most dramatic development could be Shiemi switching from her bulky kimono to an ordinary school uniform, complete with short skirt; but it turns into far more than that quite quickly. One of Mephisto’s brothers, Amaimon, shows up, takes Rin’s sword, and unsheaths it, releasing Rin’s demon side. Then he proceeds to mop the floor with him.

This underscores just how vulnerable not only Rin is, but also how fragile his grip on (relatively) ordinary life is. One minute, he’s arranging a date with Shiemi, the next, he’s transformed into a vicious monster through no fault of his own, and almost loses himself in the process. It’s only through the intervention of Shura – a “High Inspector, Upper First Class Exorcist” – that he’s able regain his humanity. Shura was disguised as the member of the gang always obscured by his hoodie. “He” is also a she.

My immediate first impression of Shura is, sadly, “stupid-looking”; Yoruichi-san looked sexy enough in a glorified tracksuit; why this person has to walk around in a tiny bikini top is beyond me. Still, it opens up a new can of worms regarding Rin: his identity as a son of satan is revealed to a very high-ranking exorcist, and that can’t be good. Not only that, but Amaimon will be back, and he may not be as playful next time. Are Rin’s hopes of living a normal life as a human exorcist toast? Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 9

The pages’ battle with the mid-level demons last week wasn’t just a team-building exercise, it was also the Esquire’s exam, and everyone passed. But something isn’t sitting well with Yukio; he felt Neuhaus was going too far attacking Rin. Neuhaus rebuts: Mephisto ordered him to try to kill him, ‘try’ being the operative word. However, it turns out Neuhaus is one of what will likely be many gunning for Rin; he has a vendetta against all demons, and the fight was personal, not professional.

As per usual, the animation and combat in this series is consistent and seriously decent, as Yukio is forced to confront Neuhaus and gets in over his head, leading Rin to come and save him with his sword of blue flames. This isn’t anything new; Yukio reminisces earlier about how he was a crybaby as a kid and Rin looked out for him. He wouldn’t be the exorcist his is without Rin. Shiemi has known Yuki since they were thirteen, and she always admired him, and she isn’t surprised that Rin, who has been very kind to her, had a hand in Yukio’s forming…though he still doesn’t know how to talk to girls.

Shiemi arrives a bit to late to help the brothers in their battle with Neuhaus, but heals Rin (even though he doesn’t need healing) and vows to become an Exorcist – a tamer, specifically – so she can stand beside and protect them. While she may look like your typical damsel-in-distress, Shiemi is quickly turning into anything but; everyone would have been in serious trouble without her contribution last week. The question is, as she is drawing closer to Rin, when will she learn the truth about him, and how will she react? Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 8

This was another great episode of Ao that kept the tension high and offered a lot of action and bonding. Izumo makes peace with Rin, but she and Bon nearly come to blows in a battle of egos, with Rin in the middle. Yukio punishes them with rocks, and the young group of Exwires has to work together to deal with a resurgent ghoul. One weak link and its game over for everyone.

Under duress, feuds are thankfully forgotten. Bon recites the Gospel of John in hopes of finding the ghoul’s fatal verse; protected by Shiemi, who seems to have mastered her little tree spirit, Ni, and can form huge barriers of roots. Even Izumo gets her surly fox spirits to listen to her and buys Bon and everyone else a little more time. I like how they were able to defeat their enemy, but only by a hair. It underscores how they’ll have to improve greatly both as individuals and as a team if they have any hope of being long-lived exorcists.

As for Rin, he tried to lure the ghoul away, but it split in two. Also underscored is just how much stronger Rin is than any other student, as he is able to easily dispatch his ghoul-half when he realizes no one is in sight and he can use his blue son-of-satan flames. It turns out the demon summoning teacher wanted to test Rin’s strength, and it would appear he passed. Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 7

Exorcist gets right back on point with a episode containing a good mix of instruction, character progression, peril, and action. Shiemi wants to make friends, and chooses the most unpleasant of classmates in Izumo. She’s descended from a shrine maiden and can summon demon foxes without batting an eyelid, but she’s kind of a bitch too, who looks down on everyone and turns Shiemi into her servant under the false pretense of friendship. Having “never had” a friend before, Shiemi doesn’t think anything of this treatment, but it angers Rin and Izumo’s longtime friend Pazu.

It’s worth mentioning that while Shiemi hadn’t formed any significant bonds up until this week, if, like her, you don’t count Rin and Yukio, Rin meanwhile has pretty much been accepted by Bon and his mates, despite Bon’s external reluctance. Also, Bon’s group all want to be Arias, and they’ll need a knight; enter Rin. When a demon invades the girl’s bath, the previously calm, confident Izumo is an emotional wreck after Pazu admonishes her for the way she’s treated Shiemi.

Thus, her summoned foxes turn on her and the demon wounds Pazu. This scene wisely eschews overt fanservice; on the contrary, the fact only Izumo managed to get undressed before the peril actually underscores her vulnerability. In reality, she’s just like Shiemi: she believes there are few who’d find her worth the trouble, so she depends on Pazu’s presence. If eyebrows would only lower the bitch-armor, Izumo might realize that Shiemi and Rin can be worthwhile, powerful friends. They certainly made a good team here.

Both Shiemi’s tamer/doctor skills and Rin’s diversionary tactics save Izumo and Pazu, while Yukio chases the demon off with his gun. The demon, it would seem, was sent by the demon-summoning teacher to attack Rin, which begs a couple questions: one, why was it in the girl’s bathroom, and two, wouldn’t the teacher have known such a relatively weak demon would have been easily dispatched, as it was? Whatever the case, as the core of “Exwires” gels, people are still gunning for Rin’s head. Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 4

When Rin accompanies Yukio to the city’s premiere magical supply store (and is told to wait outside), he happens upon a very loved and well-tended garden. The tender is a new character, Shiemi, (voiced by Hana Kanazawa). She’s a pretty young thing, but Rin’s sudden appearence startles her. She also can’t walk due to a debilitating malady in her legs that resembles roots. Still, she spends her days (and nights) tending the garden on her knees.

Yukio, charged with discovering the cause and attempting to cure Shiemi, deduces that a demon from one of the plants in the garden is crippling Shiemi, keeping her confined there. Shiemi doesn’t mind, because she feels guilty for leaving her grandmother there one day, then returning to find a trellis has fallen on her, killing her. She vows to never let the garden wither; this benefits the demon.

The obvious solution is to burn it all to the ground, thus revealing the demon, but that’s out of the question, so instead Yukio helps Shiemi recall it was a pansy that spoke to her. When the demon fully possesses Shiemi and becomes a giant Pansy monster (not unlike a plant-based FF boss), Yukio demonstrates the advantage of bullets filled with “nutrients”, while Rin proves his usefullness by slicing the flower demon to bits. Fully recovered, Shiemi predictably shows up in Yukio and Rin’s exorcism class; now one of the gang. Rating: 3.5