Seriously, now – if you can’t be moved by a cute little kitty-cat literally crying, what kind of heartless bastard are you?
It’s a great credit to Ao no Exorcist that it manages to switch between it’s different modes without losing a step. After several school life eps followed by two serious, action-driven stories, we got a standalone story this week. And the moral of the story is that when it comes to Rin and Shiro, the apple didn’t all too far from the tree after all.
The focus of this story was Blackie, the “cat sidhe” (Irish spelling). He’s a former patron God, a cat who assisted the silk merchants of the area, who became a demon when his worshipers forgot about him and his shrine was bulldozed. After turning enraged and rampaging the local village, Shiro – who was revealed by this story to be the only exorcist ever to achieve the rank of Paladin – made peace with him and contracted him to be his familiar, and a Guardian Demon for the academy. Now, when Shiro’s death is finally revealed to him, he rampages again – and it was the compassion of Shiro (via a posthumous gift) and Rin that saved him again.
I’m a sucker for lonely God stories (I love Natsume Yuujinchou after all) so I admit I was predisposed to enjoy this episode, But it totally worked for me because it was effective on so many levels. It allowed Rin to show not only his growth as a character, but his fundamental nature – how he’s actually much more like his stepfather than his biological one. It also worked on its own merits. Blackie’s story was laid out crisply and effectively.
In addition, with all of the supporting cast pretty much absent altogether it was good to see much of the ep focus on Rin and Yukio. They’re still at it like cats & dogs, and Rin’s little attack on Yukio’s glasses was rather childish and crude – but Yukio certainly proved himself the ultimate overpreparer with a drawer full of replacements (that’s just creepy). I think it’s going to become more obvious as we proceed that Rin is actually the brother most like Shiro, paradoxically – and that Yukio is going to be increasingly resentful of this as the show progresses. Of course, any ep where we get to see a little more of Shiro is pure win, too. And is it a coincidence that this episode aired on Father’s Day – which is celebrated in Japan? I wonder.
Next week looks like another switch – this time back to the light-hearted class with a beach episode. At this point I’m pretty much OK with whatever – it seems as if AnE is capable of doing pretty much any kind of show it wants to without a drop in quality. A-1 Pictures, you’re doing it again.