Blue Exorcist: The Movie Review

Anime

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Blue Exorcist: The Movie
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Publisher: Madman
Format:
DVD/Blu-Ray – Reviewed on Blu-Ray
Release Date: 16th April 2014
Price: $34.95 – Available Here

Overview
Rin Okumura has led quite a difficult life since his true ancestry was revealed to the world. Having fought everyday to prove that he stands as an ally of humanity, Rin understands the stigma that being half demon carries. So when the opportunity arises to help a fellow demon simply enjoy existing, he leaps at the opportunity…well, stumbles into it at least. Either way, in a world full of conflict, chaos and celebration, is there truly a place for a demon to belong?

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Unleash the beast

Story
Taking place after the series, Blue Exorcist: The Movie begins following just another day in the life of Rin Okumura…well, a small part of it actually. True to form, our demonic hero overslept and must blaze through the streets of True Cross City in order to reach his destination: an Exorcism. Meeting up with his brother Yukio and fellow Exwire Shiemi, the trio make preparations to cleanse the world of a horrid Phantom Train. Of course Yukio’s meticulous planning soon crumbles under the interference of Rin (and Shiemi surprisingly enough), causing the demonic locomotive to rampage through the town and cause untold damage to the surrounding environment. Within the chaos caused by said rampage, Rin stumbles upon the shattered remains of a shrine, near which lies an unconscious child. Naturally, Rin rescues the child and thus our story begins.

After a quick medical inspection, combined with the child’s feral demeanour, it is discovered that the boy is in fact a demon. With the only other option being the boy’s “erasure”, Rin accepts the responsibility of caring for the child, whom he names Usamaro. Diverging from the action packed opening sequence, the next portion of the film presents itself in a much slower pace, fitting the sombre mood that follows Usamaro. Distrusting of humans due to some form of past trauma, the demonic child hesitantly begins to open up as Rin persists to interact with him. Though we’ve come to expect this kind of compassion from Rin, having already saved a tormented Kuro from persecution, it is nevertheless a touching display. Having been the target of suspicion and fear for the greater portion of the series, it is heartwarming to see Rin strive to break the pattern of hatred and make Usamaro happy.

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Come out gun blazing

Of course Usamoro’s appearance as an innocent looking child doesn’t hurt in presenting him as deserving of affection. Another facet of Usamoro’s integration into Rin’s life, that some might overlook, is just how easy his friends accept the little demon. Having already come to terms with Rin’s true identity, it’s nice to see that their value systems have changed enough for them to see the good in demonkind. When it’s deserved of course. On the flip  side, we also see brief glimpses of Mephisto’s soft spot for the Okumura brothers, utilising his influence to ease their punishment for the Phantom Train fiasco. Though he doesn’t factor to heavily into the story, it’s nice to see that he’s still the same old unpredictable demon we all know and love.

Running in tandem to the development of Rin and Usamaro’s relationship is a plotline revolving around a festival that occurs only once every 11 years. And it just so happens to be 11 years since the last festival, what luck! Of course this festival is integral to the film, as it coincides with the reinforcement of True Cross’ anti-demon barriers. One could only imagine what would happen if said barriers were unable to perform their duty…though I’m sure a lot of fighting would be involved.

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Awww, sleeping like a little demon

Visuals
Being an anime movie, this incarnation of Blue Exorcist certainly possessed a larger budget than the series. And boy did it put it to good use. Inspired by traditional Eastern culture, the various constructions and paraphernalia created to showcase the 11 year festival are intricate beyond belief. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a festival scene where confetti isn’t raining down upon the entirety of True Cross. It’s quite overwhelming, especially when combined with the ever present swarm of Coal Tar. Not to be outdone, the movie also provides us with our first real glimpse at the hustle and bustle that is True Cross City . With the series having spent the better portion of time within True Cross Academy or in other specific locales, such as a forest. As such, it is a nice treat for Blue Exorcist fans to witness the world just beyond the walls of the Academy, presented as a highly complex area, chock full of people, construction and a blend of cultures. Compounded by the presence of the festival, the fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics serves to further the notion of chaos and brotherhood that is so prevalent in the film.

As always, Blue Exorcist doesn’t fail to deliver when it comes to demons. Though only a few are shown throughout the film, each features a highly unique design, serving to add a visual interest to an already epic situation. The Phantom Train’s slow progression from locomotive to demon was also rather interesting, expressing the panic the creature must have felt with the Okumura twins (and Shiemi) preparing to exorcise it. Or it was just evil and aggressive. Either way, it looked awesome. The combat sequences that centred around the demons, as well as every other situation in the film, retain the series trademark fluidity, serving to amplify each individual moment.

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His ego is writing cheques his body can cash

Audio
As always. the English dub of Blue Exorcist is great. With a few additional characters joining the returning cast, the film creates a diverse cast with their own individual voices. Voices that actually show emotion when the situation calls for it, which generally boils down to a whole bunch of screaming during action sequences. Though the film does provide a great deal of more sombre, calm moments that showcase the true range of the cast.

Following the visual representation of the festival, the film’s soundtrack includes a number of traditionally Eastern sounding tunes. This naturally serves to amplify the impact of the festival, representing the true extent to which such an event permeates a society. In moments that do not directly relate to said festival however, the music reverts to a more expected pattern. Such as the classic electric guitar that can only equal an action sequence. The violin also features prevalently in one particular scene, used to represent fear through its shrill, haunting tune.

Extras
Though the film itself is available in both English and Japanese dub, the audio commentary found in the extras section is entirely Japanese. Though there are in fact two tracks, one presented by the Japanese cast of the film and another by the creators. It’s pretty thorough. On the briefer side of extras, the release also includes a number of theatrical trailers, commercial messages and promotional videos. Just in case you didn’t get enough Blue Exorcist. In addition to these on disc features, this release also includes a collection of four postcards that showcase various artworks for the film. A nice little addition to round out the bonus features.

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Run Rabbit Run

Overall
Blue Exorcist: The Movie is a rather unique addition to the franchise. Though few moments directly relate to the events of the series, a working knowledge of the anime is of course required to truly enjoy the film. That being said, the film is still a story unto itself, only briefly touching upon moments from the series. Which is enough. In essence, Blue Exorcist: The Movie is a story of right and wrong, and the chaos that arises when people’s ideals clash. Because as black and white as we try to make morality, it is a subjective, personal force that both unifies and divides the world. And when a million ideals cross path with a million more, both concepts can become a little blurred.

8-5-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

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