(Ao no Ekusoshisuto)
|Genre||Adventure, dark fantasy|
|Written by||Kazue Kato|
|Imprint||Jump Comics SQ.|
|Original run||April 4, 2009 – present|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tensai Okamura|
|Written by||Ryōta Yamaguchi|
|Music by||Hiroyuki Sawano|
|Original network||JNN (MBS)|
|Original run||April 17, 2011 – October 2, 2011|
|Episodes||25 + OVA|
|Salaryman Exorcist: The Sorrows of Yukio Okumura|
|Written by||Kazue Kato|
|Illustrated by||Minoru Sasaki|
|Original run||April 19, 2013 – April 3, 2020|
|Anime television series|
|Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga|
|Directed by||Koichi Hatsumi|
|Written by||Toshiya Ōno|
|Original network||JNN (MBS, TBS, CBC, BS-TBS)|
|Original run||January 7, 2017 – March 25, 2017|
|Episodes||12 + OVA|
Blue Exorcist (Japanese: 青の祓魔師, Hepburn: Ao no Ekusoshisuto) is a Japanese dark fantasy manga series written and illustrated by Kazue Kato. The story revolves around Rin Okumura, a teenager who discovers he and his twin brother Yukio are the sons of Satan, born from a human woman, and he is the inheritor of Satan's powers. When Satan kills their guardian, Rin enrolls at True Cross Academy to become an exorcist under Yukio's tutelage in order to defeat his father Satan.
The manga has been serialized in Shueisha's Jump Square magazine since April 2009, with individual chapters collected into twenty-seven tankōbon volumes as of July 2021. Viz Media has licensed the manga for North American production, with the first volume released in April 2011. Aniplex of America also released the anime's DVDs in English regions. The series was adapted into an anime television series produced by A-1 Pictures, and broadcast from April to October 2011. An anime film, Blue Exorcist: The Movie, premiered in December 2012. A second season, titled Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, aired from January to March 2017.
The series has been well received by readers with sales having received a boost thanks to the anime's release. Publications for manga and anime compared the series with other shōnen manga but still praised the series.
The world of Blue Exorcist consists of two dimensions, attached to each other as a mirror and its reflection. The first is the material world where humans live, Assiah (物質界), and the other is Gehenna (虚無界), the world of demons, which is ruled by Satan. Originally, a journey between the worlds, or even a contact between them, is impossible. However, any demon is able to pass to the dimension of Assiah through the possession of a living being in it. Even so, demons have historically wandered among humans unnoticed, visible only to people who have had contact with demons before.
In contrast, there are Exorcists, people who train to destroy demons who act in a damaging manner in Assiah. With more than two thousand years of existence, this group has several branches all over the world being secretly under the command of the Vatican itself and acting in a clandestine manner.
The story revolves around Rin Okumura, who, along with his younger twin Yukio Okumura, was raised by Father Shiro Fujimoto, an Exorcist. One day, Rin learns that he and Yukio are the sons of Satan. Witnessing Shiro dying to protect him, Rin draws the demon-slaying sword Kurikara (倶利伽羅), which restrains his demonic powers. From that moment on, Rin not only gains demonic features like fangs and a tail, but also the power to ignite into blue flames that destroy almost anything he touches.
Rin wishes to become an Exorcist like his guardian to become stronger and to defeat Satan. He enrolls at the prestigious True Cross Academy (正十字学園, Sei Jūji Gakuen), an exorcist cram school, which is actually the Japanese branch of the True Cross Order (正十字騎士團), an international organization dedicated to protect Assiah (human realm) from the Gehenna (demonic realm). Much to his surprise, Rin finds that Yukio is already a veteran Exorcist and is one of his teachers. Thus begins Rin's journey to become an Exorcist, accompanied by his brother and his fellow students who quickly become his close friends.
Kazue Kato took inspiration from the 2005 film The Brothers Grimm, as she tried to work the angle of brothers fighting against monsters into a story. She eventually decided on making the story about demons and exorcists, thus conceiving Blue Exorcist. Due to exorcists being the main idea of the story, the manga features a lot of Biblical references. In an interview with Anime News Network, Kato said: "I should not run away from these references if I'm working in the Exorcist genre." An ending was planned by Kato but the exact length of the series has yet to be decided based on the manga's popularity in Japan.
In 2016, Kato stated, "I think there might be four more arcs. I have a rough storyline complete for the ending, but I haven’t figured out all of the details. I have a few things where I’m not sure what to decide to do." In July 2021, Kato announced that the manga would enter on an eight-month hiatus to work on a six-chapter manga mini-series adaptation of Fuyumi Ono's Eizen Karukaya Kaiitan. The manga resumed publication on May 2, 2022.
Blue Exorcist is written and illustrated by Kazue Kato. A one-shot chapter, titled Miyamauguisu House Case (深山鶯邸事件, Miyamauguisu-tei Jiken), was first published in Shueisha's Jump Square on August 4, 2008. Blue Exorcist has been serialized in Jump Square since April 4, 2009. Shueisha has collected its chapters into individual tankōbon volumes. The first volume was released on August 4, 2009. As of July 2, 2021, twenty-seven volumes have been published.
The series has been licensed by Viz Media for release in North America, with the first volume released under the Shōnen Jump Advance imprint on April 5, 2011. Twenty-seven volumes have been released as of May 3, 2022.
A spin-off series written by Kato and illustrated by Minoru Sasaki, focused on Rin's brother, Yukio, titled Salaryman Exorcist: The Sorrows of Yukio Okumura (サラリーマン祓魔師 奥村雪男の哀愁, Salaryman Futsumashi Okumura Yukio no Aishū), started in Jump SQ.19 on April 19, 2013. After the magazine ceased publication on February 19, 2015, the series was transferred to Jump Square. The series finished on April 3, 2020. Its chapters were collected in four tankōbon volumes, released from February 4, 2015, to June 4, 2020.
An anime adaption for the manga was announced on November 27, 2010, on Shueisha's Jump Square official website. The anime was produced by A-1 Pictures with Hitoshi Okamura as the producer. Originally, the series was scheduled to air on April 10, 2011, on MBS, replacing Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto; however, due to the March 11, 2011, Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami the series' broadcast was delayed until April 17, 2011. The anime ended on October 2, 2011.
The opening theme for the first 12 episodes is "Core Pride" by Japanese rock band Uverworld, while the opening theme from episode 13 onwards is "In My World" by Japanese rock band ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D. The ending theme for the first 12 episodes is "Take Off" by South Korean boy band 2PM, while the ending theme from episode 13 through episode 25 is "Wired Life" by Japanese singer Meisa Kuroki.
Aniplex announced they would simulcast the series in North America through video sites Hulu, Crunchyroll, Anime News Network and Netflix starting on April 20, 2011. Aniplex of America released Blue Exorcist on DVD in four sets, starting by releasing the first DVD on October 18, 2011. An OVA was released in 2011, called Ao No Exorcist: Kuro no Iede. The series began broadcasting in the United States and Canada on Viz Media's online network, Neon Alley, on October 2, 2012. The series began airing on Adult Swim's Toonami block on February 23, 2014, and finished airing on August 10, 2014.
After six years, a second season titled Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga was announced in June 2016 and premiered on January 7, 2017. Koichi Hatsumi directed the sequel, while Toshiya Ōno wrote the scripts, Keigo Sasaki designed the characters, and Hiroyuki Sawano and Kohta Yamamoto composed the series' soundtrack. A-1 Pictures returned to produce the animation. It was also announced that there would be five new characters in the sequel. The opening theme song was "Itteki no Eikyō" (一滴の影響, lit. "Drop's Influence") by Uverworld, while the ending theme song was "Kono Te de" (コノ手デ, lit. "With This Hand") by Rin Akatsuki. The series has been licensed by Aniplex of America.
The first anime series contains an anime-exclusive story arc starting in episode 16. The original ending contained within the first season's final nine episodes is retconned in the second season, with the anime story timeline once again following the narrative of the manga. The second season adapts volumes 5 through 9 of the manga.
A stage play based on the series titled Live Act Ao no Exorcist: Mashin no Rakuin ran for nine performances at the Nippon Seinenkan hall in Tokyo's Shinjuku ward from May 11 to 17 during 2012. Satoshi Owada directed and wrote scripts for the play. Main characters Rin and Yukio Okumura were portrayed by Ryou Kimura and Kimito Totani respectively. A light novel titled Ao no Exorcist: Weekend Hero was written by Aya Yajima and illustrated by Kato. It was released by Shueisha on September 2, 2011. A visual novel for PlayStation Portable, Ao no Exorcist: Genkoku no Labyrinth was released on April 26, 2012, by Bandai Namco Games. A smartphone game, Blue Exorcist: Damned Chord was announced in December 2018, but in November 2020 it was announced that the game was canceled.
As of November 2016, Blue Exorcist had over 15 million copies in circulation. The manga has been popular in Japan with the seventh volume receiving first print run of one million copies becoming the first Jump Square manga to reach such milestone. The release of the anime also drastically increased the manga's sales to the point that Shueisha decided to increase the print run for the seventh volume.
Critics have praised the Blue Exorcist manga, with Comic Book Bin reviewer Leroy Douresseaux feeling the first volume had potential, enjoying the comedy in the work and the characters and their interactions, recommending it to teen readers. Danica Davidson from Otaku USA felt that while the series employs disturbing storytelling, Rin's heroic traits despite being Satan's son make the plot more appealing to the readers. Kato's artwork has been praised by Anime News Network's Carlo Santos for the way each character has distinct traits while background images are well designed. Deb Aoki of About.com praised Kato's art and the series' "multi-dimensional world that melds European architecture, Japanese culture, modern technology and Tim Burton-esque whimsy", also stating that it is a "multicultural mishmash" of Harry Potter, Cirque du Soleil, Blade Runner and Alice in Wonderland, but she called the action scenes "a bit chaotic, and sometimes hard to follow".
Despite noting that the story uses several clichés, Carl Kimlinger from Anime News Network emphasized how the execution was well-performed, resulting in entertaining episodes, especially its fight scenes, which were noted to be one of the anime's strongest points. Sandra Scholes of active Anime noted similarities to other series like Trinity Blood, Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach, but wrote that the story and characters have "plenty of their own to tantalize us to watch" and wrote that it is "a truly shonen series, but there is room for some emotional scenes".
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