Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
Episode 9

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga ?

I'll cut right to the chase; this was a great episode of Blue Exorcist. Now that the gears are all spinning in the fight against the Impure King, Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga is delivering on one of my favorite styles of storytelling, where everyone has their own little mission to accomplish while everything is falling to hell around them. While we pick up right where we left off last week with Yukio's fight against Todo, the episode also manages to devote equal amounts of time to the other core pairings of the mission: Rin & Ryuji, Konekomaru & Renzo, and Izumo & Shiemi. It reminds me of a great war movie, where no matter which characters you like most, there's something compelling happening.

What really makes this setup work is how effective the Impure King is, not as a singular villain, but an unstoppable force of nature. The way his form oozes across the landscape and consumes everything it touches is menacing and imposing without needing any monologues or dastardly plans. It's such a daunting enemy that the stakes feel legitimately life-or-death. In a series where you know most of the characters are bound to make it out alive, that's an impressive accomplishment indeed.

It also helps that each individual story has some kind of unique conflict for each pair to work with. Ryuji and Rin's is perhaps the most simplistic and immediately suspenseful: They're fighting a giant rot monster with magic, and the fight isn't going well. Shiemi and Izumo are still struggling to get Ryuji's father to safety, and their conflicts are more introspective. Izumo is still not used to the fact that she actually cares about the people she's fighting with, and that newfound emotional connection puts her off guard, right in the Impure King's destructive path. Shiemi, to her credit, finally gets her familiar Nee to sprout back up, resulting in the comically badass image of a cute little flower man growing ten times his size to do battle with a giant wad of CGI goo.

Renzo and Konekomaru don't have as much coolness to throw around, but that's by design. These two are the most ill-equipped to handle this much danger, and Renzo in particular wants to simply cut his losses and run away. This kind of cowardice could easily push Renzo into unlikable waters, but the show has fleshed out his flighty-but-ultimately-good-natured personality enough to where his response makes sense, so he ends up being quietly badass in its own right. It's easy for the selfless and the brave to rush headfirst into deadly situations, but it means a little bit more when an average, cowardly guy like Renzo can do the same.

Then we come back to Yukio and Todo, whose fight is both the least and most interesting part of the episode. I say least because it deals largely in territory we're already familiar with: Yukio's mixed emotions concerning his brother. There are a number of flashbacks to illustrate Yukio's internal conflict, but his own on-the-nose dialogue says it all: “I love my brother, and I also hate him”. That being said, this circular conflict also gives us the biggest tease of the week. In a moment of panic and fear, Yukio's eyes burn bright with blue fire, if only for a few moments.

The series has been teasing the latent demonic powers buried down in Yukio's core, but this is the first time (in this version of the story at least) where that Satanic potential has been confirmed. What does this mean for our demon-hunting brothers? It's hard to say. Odds are that it won't get resolved that quickly, because we're still smack in the middle of a much larger conflict. There are battles to be won, and giant CGI cancer demons to kill, and I can't wait to see how things develop next week.

Rating: A-

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and his blog.


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