Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga Episode 11
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga ?
When Rin finally draws the Koma Sword this week, it serves as the culmination not only of the Kyoto Saga, but also the entirety of Blue Exorcist up to this point. This whole arc has been about Rin learning to come to terms with just who and what he is, being able to embrace the monstrosity that makes him such a powerful threat against the creatures that would threaten his family and friends. As people have been telling him over and over since Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga began, the only thing holding Rin back has been his lack of self-confidence and his fear of hurting the people he cares about. With the Impure King raging across the mountainside, however, there's no more time for hesitation. Rin must embrace the dichotomy of his own being, the demon who will slay demons, and become the Blue Exorcist.
He doesn't have to do it alone, though. If there's anything that makes Rin such a force to be reckoned with, it's having so many allies to rely on. Even in the final hour of the battle, Ucchusma arrives to temper the fires coursing through Rin's veins and give him the one final push he needs to wipe the Impure King off the face of the earth. In less capable hands, the fire spirit's arrival might feel like a lazy deus ex machina, but in the case of Blue Exorcist, it simply reinforces themes that the show has been hammering home for weeks now: Rin's powers may make him demonic, but his allies make him human. Everyone from Yukio to Ryuji to Shiemi, and even Ucchusma – these are the bonds that contain and control Rin's otherwise unfathomable strength. Even as the power of Ucchusma's mantra threatens to burn his humanity away, Rin clings to those bonds, so he's able to annihilate the cancerous rot of the Impure King without harming a single hair on the heads of his companions.
This beat in particular was my favorite moment of the episode, because it's such great payoff to the little training exercises Rin has been trying (and mostly failing) at all season. For many episodes, Rin could barely light one candle without melting the other two surrounding it, and this week he's expected to perform the same task multiplied by a thousand. It's good writing, working both as a set piece and an emotional climax. A wall of blue flames should be a terrifying threat for the rest of the exorcists, but Shiemi and the others have learned to have faith in their friend, and that sentiment is reinforced when they run to embrace Rin in the aftermath of the battle. Konekomaru is even weeping an apology to Rin, but of course Rin has no idea what the monk could possibly be sorry about. These are his friends, and after a rough season of mixed emotions and uncertainty, they're comrades in arms once again.
Honestly, ending on this heartfelt moment would have made for a perfect end to the season, but there is still Yukio to contend with. Greeting Rin with a sucker punch to the jaw isn't the first sign that these brothers' relationship might be in trouble; Yukio's been struggling on his own for almost the entirety of the season. His own personal battle with Todo might have technically ended in victory, but it has obviously left Yukio riddled with doubt and fear, especially regarding the latent demonic power that might reside in him. Next week, we'll have to see how (and if) these doubts can be assuaged. I'm hoping the season will be able to end on a moment of reconciliation, but knowing how shonen manga tends to go, I have the sneaking suspicion that this rift between brothers is only going to grow.
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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