Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen – 02
I’m undecided at this point whether I want to cover AoEx as a digest of a full post, and that’s because it’s coming back to me that this was a relatively difficult series to blog. It’s quite good, but one of those shounen that’s rather literal – it speaks in text a lot more than subtext. And it tends to have rather a lot of setup time between climactic episodes by shounen standards. None of those are bad things by any means, but they do make the show a bit harder to write about.
This definitely qualifies as one of those setup episodes, even if you define the major payoff of this arc the relationship between Rin and his friends as opposed to the confrontation over the Eyes of the Impure King. What’s really being established here is the depth of Rin’s isolation from his classmates (apart from Izumo, of course). That’s being driven to some extent by Ryuji, whose home (his mother’s family inn) the kids end up staying at on their trip to Kyoto. To be fair, though, Ryuji is an ornery bastard who fights with pretty much everybody – including his father, who he blames for not defending his honor after being blamed for the demise of the Myoga Sect.
Is that the most exciting face of Ao no Exorcist? No, but it’s that attention to small details that distinguishes this series from most of its class. I confess I also rather enjoy watching Rin interact with Kuro, who’s one of the very best familiar characters in anime. Cats are generally better judges of people (by far) than people are, and that certainly applies here. Ryuji’s father seems to see the truth of Rin’s nature too, in a way his son is too blinded by adolescent rage to see himself. It isn’t a question of forgiveness, since Rin isn’t guilty of any of the things Ryuji blames him for. It’s just a matter of simples fairness, really – not assigning responsibility for something simply because of a person’s blood. This is a rather extreme case, true, but the principle still holds.
Seiren – 02
Seiren isn’t great or anything, but I find it sort of interesting that it’s scoring almost a full-point lower on MAL and Anime Planet than either of its Amagami SS predecessor series. It’s been a while since I watched those shows but I remember them pretty well, and I honestly don’t see Seiren as any worse or better – I think it’s very much in the same vein. Admittedly it doesn’t have the divine Haruka-sempai but apart from that (and she wasn’t even the #1 fan choice) where does that big gap come from? Has anime changed that much in the past five years (or perhaps more pointedly, have anime fans)?
I admit in watching Seiren that it does kind of feel old-fashioned. Somehow its ecchi is rather quaint despite being quite kinky (smell seems to be the particular kink of this mini-arc), and the gender politic seems out of time – what we see in romance-centric anime these is more extreme in one direction or the other. I quite like the moderate middle ground this franchise takes – it’s sexy without being egregiously crude, the protagonist has a healthy libido but normally so for his age, and the girls are well aware of the power of their charms carry with them without being treated as complete vixens or airheads. It’s not exactly uplifting or ultra-progressive, but it strikes me as pretty harmless by anime standards.
The omnibus format might be kind of dated for romance too, as we don’t see as much of it these days. There seem to be three girls in Seiren so presumably they’ll get four episodes each, meaning we’re halfway through Tsuneki’s arc. It was she who came through Shouichi’s window last week, having been caught in the rain and attacked by deer (!?) during an escape attempt. She’s obviously a pretty forward girl, and she knows the impact she has on Shouichi. But their hijinks with the sweats and such are mostly amusing, and they’re not a bad couple – I thought it an especially hopeful sign that Shouichi told Hikari that her navel was beautiful, which was quite bold. Hey, they’re no collarbones but navels can be pretty “H” too…