- Story and Art by: Kazue Kato
- Translation & English Adaptation: John Werry
- Touch-Up Art & Lettering: John Hunt, Primary Graphix
- Cover & Interior Design: Sam Elzway
- Editor: Mike Montesa
- Published in English by: Viz Media
I’ve recently been getting back into the world of watching anime and reading manga, which I haven’t done much of and certainly haven’t gone near for quite a few years, but I guess it’s not all bad as it has given time for new stuff to come out that suits my interests, such as Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba for example.
I was browsing the stores in my local city center the other day with my friend, hoping to find a volume one of a manga I’d be interested in, so my best friend Holly recommended Blue Exorcist since she knows I love stories that revolve around demons and other supernatural themes. So I bought the first volume, went home, and read it that same evening…and boy was Holly right, I loved it!
I’ll admit it took a few minutes to re-adjust my reading because as always with Japanese tradition, and with all Manga, the book reads from right to left instead of left to right. Sometimes you can get lost on which speech bubble comes first but you soon pick it up again and it doesn’t draw too much away from the overall experience in my opinion.
Rin Okumura has never really fit in with the rest of society, with a history of anger issues and for being known as the kid who always started fights, he was often referred to by other citizens as a demon, but even they had no clue how right they were.
Rin and his younger twin Yukio were both adopted by Father Shiro Fujimoto, an exorcist. However, Rin has never believed in exorcism until one day after helping a little girl who is being tormented by a weird-looking creature, Rin starts seeing little bugs that Father Fujimoto tells him are small demons, and that Rin’s blood is awakening to the second realm of the world.
The world is split into two realms, the first being the material world in which Humans live, known as Assiah, with the second realm being the realm of demons, known as Gehenna and ruled by none other than Satan himself. Exorcists are the ones who stand between the two realms, protecting Assiah from being overrun by the demons that try to inhabit it.
Demons pass through to our world by possessing living beings, and low-level demons like goblins are able to roam around unnoticed by all except those who have had contact with demons before, known as temptaint.
After Rin ends up in a fight with a demon-possessed bully, Rin’s power is revealed as his body is set alight with Blue Flames. Saved by Father Fujimoto, Rin’s life begins to unravel as he is given a sword, a phone, and instructions to leave his home. Father Fujimoto reveals to Rin that he is not human, and is in fact the demon-child of Satan and that Demons will now hunt him down to bring him back to the dark lord.
Rin decides to fight against Satan and demands to become an exorcist in order to kill his father. After meeting up with the right people thanks to the phone Father Fujimoto gave him, Rin must now attend True Cross Academy, the Japanese branch of the True Cross Order, a secret organization of powerful Exorcists who defend the realm of Assiah from the demonic forces of Gehenna.
The story is filled with emotion between the brothers and the characters they meet. The first book is a collection of 3 chapters that all give us a sense of each characters perception of the world.
Despite Rin’s tough exterior, you’ll learn that he is a big softy who cares for others more than he cares for himself, which is both good and bad. He is determined to protect those who are weaker than him, even when he was a child, he was always protecting his younger brother Yukio. Even after discovering who he really is, Rin will prove that he won’t be taking his heritage to heart by becoming someone he isn’t. Despite their arguments, Father Fujimoto raised him to be a fine young man, so Rin is determined to live up to his adopted father’s expectations, no matter what others think of him.
Yukio, despite being the younger brother, becomes Rin’s protector and tutor, since Yukio has been studying exorcism since he was just seven years old, now enrolled as an actual teacher within the True Cross Academy. His feelings towards Rin may have altered due to recent events, but he knows that they are still brothers, and brothers look out for one another.
Kazue Kato has created some interesting designs for his book, with the first stand out being the design of Rin’s demon form. Pointed ears and slightly sharper fangs are almost standards in a lot of Manga and other fantasy media but it’s the flames that form Rin’s horns that interested me the most.
There are so many demonic appearances where the character suddenly grows horns from their skull and it feels like something of that magnitude would be hard to hide in a more human-looking form, so to have horns created by flames feels like a very interesting idea as the flames extinguish when Rin sheathes his sword that contains and unleashes his demon form and powers.
Being a manga the entire book (except for cover art) is in black and white which I think really helps the reader focus on the drawings themselves rather than the colours. There are moments where the book goes from detailed line work during close-ups, to cartoonish and exaggerated details to add to the humour of particular scenes which help ease the tension of the plot in places.
I loved reading this first volume of the story and can’t wait to continue the story with later volumes. This first book already had a great character arc for both Rin and Yukio so I can’t wait to see how their relationship evolves over the series because there is bound to be more drama amongst the brothers who will have to face the demons of Gehenna together.
If you enjoy TV shows like Supernatural, Buffy, and any other shows with supernatural elements to them, then you’ll enjoy Blue Exorcist. I know I did!