Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga ?
Even with all of the hullabaloo regarding the Impure King's revival last week, I knew we couldn't quite dive right into the action without resolving the drama and uncertainty left over in Rin's present day storyline. The poor kid has been sitting in a prison cell reading a letter for the past two episodes, struggling with the consequences of his recent demonic flare-up; while the development of the side characters and the build-up regarding the Impure King has been great, this is still Rin's show. If ever there was a time for the show to settle the Exwires' trust issues with our resident Spawn of Satan and come together once and for all, this was it, and I'm happy to report that the show delivered on that front.
Some might complain about how this relative lack of action contributes to the “slow burn” feel of this season, but I would argue that we're still at a very good place in this 7th episode of the Kyoto Saga. While this arc has essentially ended up where the anime-original episodes went with the Exwires, I found this version of events much more natural and organic. It makes sense that these demon hunters would need a while to adjust to the reality of their friend being the son of The Absolute Worst Demon, and dedicating some time to hashing those feelings out was the right call. Now, with the gang finally taking action to bust Rin out of the demonic prison Mephisto was forced to toss him in, the last of their reservations have been dealt with, and the Impure King can take center stage at last, bringing with him an increase in action and drama. In terms of pacing, I'd say the Kyoto Saga has managed to pull off a Goldilocks scenario: not too rushed, and not too slow, but just right.
Speaking of golden locks, Shiemi finally gets something to do this week, after taking the sidelines for the past six episodes to fret about how poorly she handled Rin's outing as a demon. I have to admit that incapacitating the rest of the group so that Shiemi was the only one able to save Rin was a little anti-climactic, given all the buildup of the group sneaking in with Mephisto's invisibility cloaks, but the emotional payoff of Rin and Shiemi's reunion helped justify the narrative jankiness that got the two together in the first place. Plus, I did find it amusing that Shiemi was able to bypass the demon's security by being the least threatening person imaginable. (She's essentially an Adorable Marshmallow with Bangs, after all).
This episode is all about emotional payoff, and after half a dozen episodes of sideways glances and unsure posturing, I was very happy to have the Exwires finally take the plunge and commit to trusting Rin again, Shiemi included. Shiemi and Rin's emotional reunion is another moment you can find echoes of in the original anime, but it just works better here. It's sweet and relieving and, most importantly, it feels earned. The same goes for Ryuji's reluctant reconciliation, which only further reinforces just how caring and loyal of a friend he is beneath his gruff exterior. I was just happy that all of our students got together for their Big Damn Hero pose; it put the biggest grin on my face. The moment works not just as a payoff to the first half of Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, but as a culmination to everything these characters have learned and struggled through together over the course of the entire series.
This adaptation of the Impure King arc has already proven to be more satisfying and engaging than the original series' conclusion, and given that we're only seven episodes in, I'm very excited to see where things go from here. Now, the focus is entirely on the Impure King and the consequences of his cancerous rampage through Kyoto. Rin is back in the game, and even if he doesn't have full control over his Blue flames just yet, he is finally back in the good graces of his friends. What could possibly go wrong?
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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