Ao no Exorcist – Because Blue Flames are Kewl
I know, the title is so weaboo-ish. (Also, the image is spoiler-ish at its best, re: Yukio holding a gun) The mere motive of the author for making this post is because he saw the trailer (and quickly got intrigued so he read the manga) from one of gg-subs if he’s not mistaken.
It’s been a while since I have stumbled upon a battle shounen which piqued my interest. Seriously though, Shana captivated me because of her resplendent red flames. How can I let myself miss out blue flames which are definitely cooler? Visuals aside, I definitely like the Shinto and rich Japanese folklore vibes that Ao no Exorcist radiates.
I didn’t really appreciate the first few chapters of AoEx because of the vague exposition of what was happening except that Rin is your typical protagonist that doesn’t have a clear vision in his mind of what he wants in life, and then suddenly, something was triggered by Rin which drastically changed his disposition in life. Pretty much the basic starter amongst shounen mangas.
I haven’t seen enough flames yet so it’s clearly a bit early to stop reading. I think the development which made Rin an exorcist (a student to be precise) was abrupt. When you think of it, being an exorcist is not your typical part-time job such as pizza delivery. Cliche yes. Most shounen heroes start off as inexperienced then always display great potential throughout the development, which I think pretty much what happened as the course of events progresses.
Yukio here is both Doctor and Dragoon. Doctors specialize on curse treatments and potions. Dragoons specialize in wielding heavy firearms. Other jobs include Aria, Tamer, and Knight. I don’t know if I have forgotten other jobs XD.
I haven’t said anything positive yet haven’t I? If there’s something which greatly fascinated me, it would be the job classes that the exorcists have. I’m a MMORPG nut so I would probably appreciate any anime that tries to incorporate job system in its setup. Ao no Exorcist was able to win my attention through the MMORPG atmosphere it sets. It’s like all the ExWires (it’s what you call exorcist trainees) is one party trying to explore a dungeon, with all these fights trying to highlight their specialties. Even if this is the case, I still find it unpredictable because of the random external forces introduced in the series. Also, the author has it good handling the limited space where the story is set which is a giant academy (imagine Mahora from Negima!). As an analogy, just imagine the arc from Negima! during the Underground Library Expedition. It has that adventurous feeling and at the same time ominous and paranormal tone due to the monsters whatnot encountered during their training/study.
I’d say the way Ao no Exorcist executes things as a shounen is refreshing. Most shounen mangas more often than not, solely focus on the protagonist. I don’t feel that way in Ao no Exorcist because almost everyone in the class of exorcists have enough screen time. You’ll see Rin getting stronger, as everyone also does, unlike other shounen mangas where the disparity (in terms of power) between the protagonist and other characters is obvious. Although the protagonist has to be a special lad amongst other characters, Rin is not that loosely powerful compared to them (then again, this is just the start). As of now, no one among the ExWires is left out but we’ll know as things progress if the manga would slowly feature Rin and Yukio going as partners focusing in different matters aside from other ExWires.
Ao no Exorcist could be the shounen manga where team cooperation is most observed (or as TV Tropes term goes, the “Nakama” spirit) compared to other few shounens I’ve read. Rather than protagonist-centered, most of the accomplishments are done by the group as a whole. Maybe the job class system helps in setting it up in a sense that everyone has their own role in how the fight will go and how they’ll win it. This is not even close to strategic planning and assigning everyone what to do which is the most common notion of team cooperation. It’s more like everyone has to clump together and do impromptu things via their skills and abilities to fend off enemies trying to get close, which is rather fun to read because there is no planning in their cooperation. It’s pure action. Whatever happens, happens. My gamer senses are tingling because I like these kind of scenes in an RPG, more commonly in an MMO (eg. when there’s a boss or something in the map and everybody is getting massacred). This is the kind of scene where you’ll find yourself just spamming the best of your abilities to an enemy to get rid of it. It’s highly enjoyable to witness these kinds of scenes because it’s as if things are just happening without a reason. And yet, there are actually many reasons.
There you go, I think I’ve expressed my delightful feeling while reading Ao no Exorcist. As for the incoming anime, I hope it showcases the strengths of the show which I mentioned regarding the not-really-protagonist-centric way of dealing with the story, as well as my very own bias towards the MMORPG atmosphere it sets. What worries me though is until what chapter the anime would be and how would the wrap-up be since the manga still has few chapters as of the moment to assure a second season in the future.
image credits: pixiv users 染谷, さとう, sayu