After an extremely emotional and intense episode, Ao no Exorcist returns to a more typically laid back style this week. That’s not to say there weren’t important developments or action – just a more relaxed pace.
It’s summer, and since we’ve already had a beach episode what could be more natural than a training camp episode? Yukio and Shura are in charge of the gang as they head off to the woods for what Rin persistently calls a picnic, but it’s really a demon-haunted forest and a test to determine whether the students will be allowed to go on missions. It’s a pretty standard setup – the task, the supplies, and the challenge to figure out what’s really being tested. With the goal being to return with one of only three lanterns in the forest, and only those returning with a lantern to receive a permission, it seems to be an “every exorcist for himself” scenario. But this is anime, so it’s really a test of their ability to work together. Or so it seems for now.
And this being Ao no Exorcist, everyone has their hidden agenda. Shura (revealed by Yukio to be 26, and not the 18 she claimed last week – though she made him pay for revealing it) is still testing Rin’s self-control. Mephisto and Amaimon are secretly observing, though Shura has detected their presence. Their ends are not clear, but they never are so that’s not new. Amaimon seems concerned with prodding Rin towards another outburst, though Mephisto appears content simply to wait for events to unfold.
Despite a warning from Shura not to use his powers or else, Rin loses control of his flames again – and again it’s Shiemi being in danger that sets him off. Perhaps he really is growing, as Rin manages to contain his fire. But not before Bon – like Rin responding to Shiemi’s screams – spots a strange blue flame. Just how much does he suspect? And what did the giant demonic moth steal from Shiemi’s bag? Meanwhile Konekomaru discovers a lantern and realizes that there’s no way any of them can win the challenge alone, and everyone except Izumo and Bunny-kun ends up as a team. What befalls the other two is unknown, but one of them sets off their surrender flare/distress signal as the main group tries to get their lantern – revealed as a demonic “Peg Lantern”, a huge stone youkaii that feeds on living beings for energy – back to camp. But here’s trouble there, too, as Rin inadvertently releases the seal on an even more giant demonic moth which appears to mistake him for a wool sweater.
There wasn’t anything too groundbreaking there – I’d call it more of a placeholder episode. But there were a few interesting reveals in addition to Shura’s age. We know Bunny-kun eats now, for example, and through his human mouth and not the bunny one, though whether that debunks the theory that the bunny is the master and the boy the dummy conclusively I can’t say. Shima is apparently deathly afraid of bugs. And Yukio for the first time reveals his jealousy of Rin’s new closeness with Shiemi openly, though she doesn’t really pick up on it. But I do think it’s significant that when Yukio sat next to her and started talking, instead of getting all gushy and blushy like the old Shiemi, she just kept right on talking about Rin.
Episode 13 really set a high standard, so I’m not going to be too hard on 14 for not living up to it – really, it was just fine. But every ep with Shiro makes it harder to be satisfied with an ep without him. And I missed Kuro too, believe it or not – I think he added a very nice element to his scenes with Rin. It’s not that I’m unsatisfied with these “normal” school life eps anymore. But as the series progresses and the plot deepens, the standards do get a little higher and it’s harder to get excited about one where not much of consequence – unless you count Rin’s head getting squeezed between Shiemi’s thighs – really happens…