Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Normally, these two dimensions would never intersect, but having possessed all material substances, the demons are now intruding on the material world. But among the human race, there are those who can exorcise such demons - the Exorcists.
Rin and his twin brother Yukio Okumura have been raised by Shiro Fujimoto, an eminent priest, but one day Rin discovers their biological father is actually Satan! As the border between "Assiah" (the human world) and "Gehenna" (demon's world) is intruded upon by evils, Rin vows to become the ultimate exorcist and defeat his own father, Satan. To hone his raw skills, Rin enters True Cross Academy to train with other exorcist candidates.
Blue Exorcist is a name I have heard mentioned with enthusiasm amongst younger UK anime and manga fans a lot over the past year. It is a mainstream shonen title, written by female manga-ka Kazue Katō (published in English by Viz). While it bears some narrative similarity to YuYu Hakusho it is less humorous and likely to be a hit with fans of Bleach, Soul Eater and D-Gray Man.
From the outset, the designs, direction and production values are all solid and make for good watching. Central character Rin is a brash boy who asserts his independence and individuality. He constantly cast into the shadow of his twin brother’s success and the viewer is able to identify with his frustrations and to warm to his kinder side. He’s always an outsider, bound to the destiny of his demonic lineage before he even knows it. He strives to rise above this and resists evil at every turn. When he enters the academy to qualify as an exorcist he takes a stand against his father, subverting the stigma that the son of Satan has marked him with. This is no easy path as Rin must face and the scorn and inherent mistrust of those around him as he strives to become stronger.
As a seasoned and well travelled fan of anime, the series is not something I am excited about. I have seen and read many things that have the feel of Blue Exorcist and that explore very similar themes over the years. Despite the fact that exorcism takes centre stage, it has nothing new to offer in terms of the narrative function and treatment of possession and the supernatural in anime.
While Blue Exorcist has not entranced me I would not say that it is a poorly produced or dull series. For entry level fans who like shonen adventures full of action, it’s a solid starter, angsty yet humorous with great sequences of animation. For anime fans who have think that it seems all too familiar, they probably have more than enough viewing experience to recognise its influences and realise that they have seen a world of better things before it.