Playtime’s over, looks like.
Last week wasn’t just another school adventure of the week, as it turns out – it was actually setting up the chain of events that would seismically shift the ground underneath Ao no Exorcist for good. And can anyone be surprised that it was Mephistopheles that was behind it?
The charade of the training exercise is dispensed with pretty quickly. By the time the group arrives back at camp both Izumo and Takara (Bunny-kun) have already completed their missions (leaving the mystery of who set off their surrender flares). Izumo simply used her familiars to transport the peg lantern, but as usual we get nothing from Takara – no notion of how he succeeded so quickly. Just scathing words for the others, via his dummy. But really, that part of the story is at best an hors d’oeuvre and at worse an outright red herring.
Mepphy notes at one point during this episode that tails are a major weak point for a demon, and that looks to be true enough. But poor Rin has another weak spot few demons have to deal with, and that’s his heart and what it makes him do. Specifically, his heart when it comes to Shiemi (though to be fair he seems to have always had a soft spot for the weak. Stepfather’s influence.). Shiemi is clearly the weakest member of “Team Rin” and finds herself getting into a spot of bother frequently, and if he proved nothing else Mepphy proved that Rin has absolutely no self-control when it comes to her. So when Amaimon used a demon bug to control her and made some less than gentlemanly advances, he may have got the reaction he wanted but he also got a helluva lot more than he bargained for.
It was a good thing Shura gave Rin his sword back, because Amaaimon was playing hardball. But the reality of the situation became clear quickly enough – while Shura (a seriously powerful Exorcist) was struggling with Amaimon’s dog and the others, including Yukio, were being roughed up and tossed aside, Rin was clearly the better demon than Amaimon once he drew the sword and really let his inner beast escape. He absolutely kicked Amaimon’s ass, even chasing him into the “cuckoo clock” Mepphy tried to hide him in after it was clear he was soundly defeated. Even big brother appeared to be surprised by the extent of Rin’s powers once they were fully unleashed.
Of course things can never be the same now. All of the others have seen Rin’s true form, and that genie can never go back in the bottle. Mepphy and Amaimon have called him “brother” and the true extent of his power is clear. What happens to Rin’s relationship with his friends now, even his brother? Can he possibly go back to school, now that the truth is out there? Bon (who has proved himself to be smart, loyal and remarkably tough for a normal human) hardly seems the forgiving type. Even Yukio seemed shocked by what he saw. And what will Shiemi make of all this? I fear dark and painful times may be ahead for our hero.
It’s interesting to muse on the meaning of this episode’s title, “Act of Kindness”. And on the identity of the new face in the preview. The intriguing line of the episode for me came from Mephistopheles: “Compared to demons who always seek pleasure in denial, the moderate ways of humans are easy to corrupt. So which way are you taking?” I’m not sure I grasp all the permutations of that – I’m not sure we’re supposed to just yet – but I suspect it’s a key question that will hang over the rest of this series.