In a sense, this is a pretty easy review to write. There’s nothing too subtle about the appeal of this series – it’s just solid – make that excellent – straightforward shounen. This is an old formula custom-tailored to appeal to a young male demographic – take some supernatural, superpowers, a little violence, throw in a very strong resonance with the frustrations of adolescence. It’s a story about guys, starring mostly guys – in an odd way it reminds me of Bakuman in that sense – and it does a great job packaging all of it in an entertaining way.
Since this is fairly basic material, the execution is everything. Even though I knew what was coming in this episode, the death of Shiro was still meaningful and jarring. Part of this was no doubt due to the excellent performances by Nobuhiko Okamoto and especially Keiji Fujiwara, but it’s also a tribute to the strong setup in the manga. The emotions between Shiro and his sons felt genuine right from the very beginning, and it made his loss all the more painful.
The contradiction of Rin’s existence comes to the fore in the second episode, with Satan’s minions making an all-out assault on Shiro’s monastery to retrieve him and, when that fails, the ultimate final boss himself taking possession of Shiro’s body to try and finish the job. It’s only by drawing the sword that hold his demon powers – and thereby releasing his own demonic nature and forever ending his chance to be human – that Rin is able to close the gate to Gehenna and buy himself some time. But it’s too late for Shiro, whose mortal body was destroyed by Satan’s power. His last instruction was for Rin to call the only number in his phone – the best friend who would surely protect his son.
When said best friend shows up, however, it’s with the announcement that he and his order are there to destroy Rin as a threat to humanity. It’s Mephisto Pheles, in the person of yet another legendary seiyuu, Hiroshi Kamiya. He’s a long way from Takashi Natsume now, though – a flashy, flamboyant kind of mad hatter exorcist. He agrees to take Rin on board as a member of his order and train him – but only with the warning that Rin will surely grow to wish he’d killed him this day. And what of Yuki, the “good son”? How will he react to everything that’s happened?
This is an old formula, but there’s nothing else like it in my rotation this Spring, so I’m glad to have it. As I said, execution is everything – and so far, the execution is superb. With the talents involved here, I expect it to stay that way.