Ao no Exorcist: The Movie

Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 20 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 27 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 39

Better late than never, I say…

I think most fans of the manga have a pretty firm opinion of A-1 Pictures’ adaptation of Ao no Exorcist at this point.  It was darn good for a long time, but went seriously off the rails when it diverted into anime original territory.  I’m not one who ascribes to the notion that all anime-original material is bad – hell, any fan of Natsume Yuujinchou would laugh you out of the room at the very idea – but in this instance, I won’t argue that there wasn’t a pretty significant drop in quality once the anime steered away from the manga, though those eps had their moments.  I think AoEx was simply a case where the anime was produced too early in the manga’s run, though there’s so much to like in the story that it’s easy to see why Shounen Jump didn’t say no.

Fortunately, as we wait for the inevitable second season of AoEx, the post-TV material has been excellent for tiding us over.  The OVA, “Kuro Runs Away From Home”, was hugely entertaining, and this big-screen theatrical release was better than I frankly expected.  It’s anime-original of course, but being free of the TV series’ responsibilities it’s able to deliver a self-contained stand-alone arc without worrying about consequences for any future sequels.  To do so A-1 turned to Yoshida Reiko, one of the most experiences screenwriters in anime, and what they got was a thoroughly engaging story that felt consistent with the tone of the series and offered a genuine sense of scale, as a movie version of a TV show should.

That story is the chronicle of a little usagi demon who we first meet in a picture book Shirou is reading to the toddler Rin and Yukio (as usual, every scene with Shirou is a keeper).  It’s the story of a village and the youkai a village boy found and cared for.  The villagers become so carefree that they forgot about doing any work, and when an exorcist showed up and sealed the youkai away, the village went to seed, all but forgotten.  But forgotten it wasn’t – the sealing of the demon is still celebrated in a matsuri a thousand years later in True Cross Town, which seems to have been built on the site of that village and the little shrine to the little youkai that rose up on its ruins.

There’s a whole lot more plot here of course, including a demon train that carries souls to Gehenna.  In a very impressive opening sequence Rin and Shiemi are involuntarily responsible for most of the trouble that happens in the movie by loosing the demon on the town in an attempt (a successful one) to help the souls trapped inside.  It’s the destruction this event causes that unseals the little usagi demon, who shows up with an attitude and the voice of Kugimiya Rie and winds up in the care of Rin, who names him Usamaro.  During the course of the events that follow it becomes clear just what Usamaro’s ability is, and why it caused such havoc a thousand years earlier (and today).

This story isn’t especially profound and I don’t think it adds anything truly essential to the mythology of the series, but it’s not really intended to.  It’s quite involving nonetheless, not least because it gives Rin a chance to show off his essential nature as a friend to the outcast and misunderstood.  There’s a fair bit of Shiemi and Yukio, but most of the rest of the regular cast is relatively secondary – the main focus is definitely on Rin and Usamaro (and an entertaining turn from Kiuchi Hidenobu as Cheng-Long Liu, an exorcist descendant of the exorcist who sealed Usamaro).  It’s also a surprisingly impressive film visually, with some really gorgeous backgrounds and a fair bit of sakuga animation.  Sawano Hiroyuki’s music is an excellent fit, especially the orchestral pieces that accompany the large matsuri and battle scenes.  If this is the last AoEx animation we’re going to see for a couple of years, it’s certainly an entertaining way to tide the audience over, and quite successful in its own right.

Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 06 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 07 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 08
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 09 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 10 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 11
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 12 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 13 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 14
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 15 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 16 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 17
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 18 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 19 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 21
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 22 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 23 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 25
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 26 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 28 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 29
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 30 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 31 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 32
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 33 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 34 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 35
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 36 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 37 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 38
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 40 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 41 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 42
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 43 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 44 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 45
Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 46 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 47 Ao no Exorcist - Movie - Large 48

ED: “REVERSI” by UVERworld

Ao no Exorcist - ED3 - Large 01 Ao no Exorcist - ED3 - Large 02 Ao no Exorcist - ED3 - Large 03
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

7 comments

  1. i

    Huh, neat. I really liked the show when it came out so I really want to watch this, if it comes to N/A.
    Also, the first season came out in like 2010/2011, don't you think they have enough material to do a full season by now?

  2. R

    Hey, I took a quick peek on RC and saw you mention that Ao no Exorcist was your first post there… That's quite some time ago, and those were the days…lol. To be honest, I enjoyed your posts on Natsume and S;G at the time and thought to myself that RC had found a great writer. What switched me over to LiA was Chihayafuru — loved every one of your reviews.

    Like you said, this movie doesn't add much to the series, but the story is contained and eventful, and the movie, as a whole, is quite entertaining.

  3. s

    Great post, really enjoyed this movie! While the Kuro OVA was a nice distraction, it was good to see the whole cast back in action again. I thought the script was tight as well, and the animation was pure eye-candy! Seems like they really sunk some money into this and it paid off.

  4. G

    I liked this movie. The battles with the train were very well choreographed and exciting. My one gripe… not enough SHIEMI.

  5. i

    A lot better than the TV ending and the Toaru movie (which was ruined by an idol, the only archetype not yet tapped by Touma). Still don't like that Youko ripoff woman.

    Overall very Ao no Exorcist like and fun.

  6. T

    This was one of the better films out of the four I was looking forward too, and I too loved the way the film looked. I probably didn't enjoy it as much as others but I in no way thought it was bad and should it come state side I'm definitely buying the blu-ray.

  7. K

    I was touched you know. I nearly cried at the end. That poor demon…

    TQ

Leave a Comment