Ao no Exorcist – 23

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Whatever else you might care to say about A-1 Pictures’ anime-original ending for this season, let this be clear – they’re definitely going big.

While it was not without flaws, I liked this episode an awful lot. Pacing was still too fast, though it was definitely improved over last week’s insanity. The effect of this frenetic velocity is that character motivations tend to be lost, leaving only their actions behind, and we did see that problem continue this week. But on the whole things were more coherent and compelling with this episode, with the spine of the final arc becoming pretty apparent. Not everyone will like this direction I’m sure, but it’s certainly interesting to me.
So is Satan being made out to be a good guy, as I’ve seen some charge? I wouldn’t interpret things that way, no. What seems obvious to me is that Yuri was both reckless and dangerously naïve, and intensely drawn to the powerful mind of Satan. No attempt was made to gloss over the deaths Satan caused, and I think it was clear his presence in Assiah is nothing we should be celebrating. At the same time, though, I’m pretty confident that the flashback he showed Yukio was more or less accurate. It had the ring of truth to it, and it’s been obvious almost from the beginning that Egin was a bad man. Yuri feeling sorry for Satan is another one of those things that would have flowed more smoothly if there’d been time to flesh out Yuri’s character and show us how she came to be the sort of woman for whom that was possible.
Why didn’t Egin just use Yukio’s blood to begin with, you might ask? Logic is another casualty of the fast pacing in this case, I think. It can certainly be no surprise that Yukio would offer himself up in the place of Rin, given his current frustrated mindset of impotent protector of his brother. Arrogance was Egin’s downfall (as is pretty much the norm in shounen anime and manga) and I shed no tears for him. That he’d ordered Yuri murdered was no surprise to me, though it was fascinating to see the anime’s take on the origins of Rin and Yukio. That felt as if it could have been canon to me, especially Mephisto’s role in it – I could very easily see him taking advantage of the situation to have a little fun and gain control over two very powerful baby entities. Shiro decided to raise the boys just a little too quickly (pacing again) but is he the sort of man that would murder two infants in cold blood even in those circumstances? I don’t think so.
Also of interest is Takara’s role in all this. He finally spoke with – very significantly – the bunny set aside. Sitting on a girder, observing events on the school rooftop, reading from “Revelations”? Fascinating indeed – just what is he and whose side is he on? Might he perhaps be an angel, or – a Horseman? Hmm… And of course, Mephisto’s motivations remain as clouded as ever. He always seems to be in control no matter what’s going on around him, but where are his interests? If Satan has re-entered Assiah via Egin’s stupidity and now possesses his most perfect vessel yet in Yukio, that seems to put some pressure on the implacable Mepphy to finally choose a side once and for all.
So there you have it. With two eps left no one – even the manga readers – can say with authority how all this will shake out. It has the look of an interesting finale if veteran director Okamura-sensei can get the pacing right. We’ve seen the viewpoint Yuri seemed to live by – not all demons are bad – espoused repeatedly through the series, with Blackie and even Mephisto himself just to name two examples. But I can’t imagine A-1 going with the premise of a peaceful resolution with Satan, that notwithstanding. And who will fill the power vacuum at the Vatican, with the Grigori deposed and Egin’s group seemingly destroyed? With their Paladin currently hosting the Prince of Darkness, there are obviously personnel changes on the way in Rome.

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  1. A

    great episode, can't wait til next week!

  2. A

    This eppy was a BIG letdown for me. I mean I had JUST finally managed to put aside my whiney "but the manga is so much better waa waa waa!" feelings lol and then they busted out with what else … but SATAN, evil incarnate by definition … falling in love. -facepalm- Admittedly the pacing was improved, but I hardly had a chance to notice that in between my scoffs of incredulity at the storyline and countless plot holes.

    My gripe with the studio's directional choice here is not so much their divergence from the manga canon, which wasn't completely unavoidable if you ask me, BUT predictable nonetheless. It's more the fact that this whole finale arc seems really poorly planned if you look at the way they started the season: faithfully adhering to established "canon" facts in line with the manga. But suddenly in the final stretch, Yukio (who Shiro pointed out in one of the first eps, was unable to handle Satan's powers unlike Rin) has become a demon/host, Shiro has become a (reformed) heartless asshole who isn't really the boys' father, Satan who in the second episode blatantly mocked his role as Rin's dad has become a "loving family man" and opened Yukio's eyes to the "truth" about his mom -scoffs-

    I might be the exception, but I just can't suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy the crazy plot twists and turns they're so desperately reaching for … Well, here's to hoping that the final two (or is it one?) episodes prove to be the series saving grace!

  3. I definitely don't think Satan was being portrayed as a good guy here, and I for one never thought Shiro was the boys real father – how could he be, if that was Satan?

    I get your frustrations, but I'm honestly fine with it except for the pacing.

  4. A

    @ Guardian Enzo

    Hm, I guess things are still up in the air since the story surrounding the twins' conception hasn't been confirmed in the manga either … I for one was under the impression that the babies were possessed somewhere in utero? – again I reference Shiro's statement about Yukio being too weak for the power in the womb yada yada … I kind of have to just chock that up as a personal assumption though since the supporting evidence is just not there … I also was without a doubt getting a "good-guy feel" (lol) from that whole Yuri/Satan in love montage BUT … who knows, are they really just setting us up to somehow prove that Satan is above all else the master of deception? Could be … and that would DEFINITELY prove as a redeemer, at least for me.

  5. Well, I haven't read most of the manga so I certainly can't say for certain what the backstory on the twins was as presented there. But I certainly assumed Satan was their daddy.

    The question of Satan as presented in the ep is a tough one. Don't forget this was a flashback from his own perspective, so he's going to cast himself in the best light. I don't think it's impossible in the context of the AoEx universe for Satan to be genuinely curious about Assiah, amused by a human female and still be evil.

  6. M

    I can't really handle the sudden change in character the anime is forcing upon Yukio and the old priest guy. It's too jarring and I can't take these past few episodes as anything outside of comical.

    They also don't seem to be planning a second season of this because the retcon necessary to get back to the manga storyline would be ridiculous.

  7. I would be stunned not to see a second season, though it'll take a couple of years. The manga is a huge success and I honestly don't think it'll be that hard to contrive an open-ended ending for the season. Ernst was an anime-original character, so I doubt any canon characters will die.

  8. M

    It's not so much that I think they will die, but they've kind of changed the role of some of the characters. In the manga thus far…

    ***general slight spoiler warning****

    Yukio never turned into a demon nor showed any signs that he would do so. There was a big long bit that played heavily into the next arc where Rin's friends distrust and are scared of him after finding out his secret. The backstory of the sword also ties into to the kyoto arc. Amongst some other smaller things. All the stuff about their mom is anime original so if the manga does ever broach the topic the anime will have to gloss over it someway.

    ***** end of spoilers*****

    I'm not saying it's impossible. It will probably be a bit messy to retcon all the changes. The Yukio bit is the part I find the most issue with.

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