Ao no Exorcist #76 is out. Go read it, I’ll be here. We can talk once you’re done.
All right, so, this chapter is basically the backstory for Shura Kirigakure (aka boob sword lady.) We find out that the reason Shura is entangled in this contract with Hachiro (who isn’t a snake god, but a dragon–an immortal hydra,) is not for her own sake, but that of her mother’s: Tatsuko Kirigakure.
Tatsuko had been part of some super-ninja village that she fled in order to start her own style. She manages to escape the ninja by heading far north, where she runs into Hachiro.
He defeats her fairly easily, but Tatsuko is so feisty that he falls for her…. in the single most creepiest way, EVER…
Apparently, Shura’s mom is the worst negotiator in the history of all time. In exchange for the Boob Sword (which, admittedly, is pretty cool especially since we see it being made from a dragon’s claw), Shura’s mom agrees to 1) die at 30 and to pass this curse on to all her daughters, and, as if that weren’t awful enough, she also agrees to 2) bind all her daughters into this curse in perpetuity, including agreeing that her 3) children have children with the dragon and, maybe even more creepily that 4) her kids will all look exactly like she does…
Kirigakure suck at negotiations.
And, Dragons suck at romance.
But, then, so does Shura.
Because, the moment Father Fujimoto (Rin’s foster dad) shows up and slays (sort of) the dragon, she has this reaction:
To be fair, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Shura behaving overly sexual in kind of awkward NSFW ways. I’ve always found her to be a problematic character because she’s forever throwing herself on people half her age (often when completely drunk.)
I should probably be horrified by the panel that follows, in which Shura announces that she wants to have babies with this guy, the priest, Rin and Yukio’s foster dad, but…
I’m weirdly amused by the dragon’s response, which is basically, “Eh, fine. Come back after you’ve popped out a baby.”
Yet… I find it very in keeping with this dragon, Hachiro’s, complete… alienness. Often, in manga, we meet supernatural creatures and they behave more or less like people. They may have an overabundance of pride or honor, but they have many of the same responses as regular people: surprise, horror, guilt, etc.
This guy? He’s clearly not normal.
He’s clearly not human.
He’s utterly repulsive and I sort of adore it. A lot of the situations in Ao no Exorcist are kind of awful, the more you consider them. There are plenty of really creepy overtones in this whole manga, which is maybe why the humanity of Rin and the moments of light hearted humor feel so precious and real.
In fact, Rin’s response to hearing about the curse is so perfectly him, so perfectly shounen, that he makes me love him all over again.
I mean, let’s face it, Shura is NOT the best teacher Holy Cross has ever seen. She’s been so wasted on field trips that she was _not_ the responsible adult and nearly let everyone die. She seems to think that training Yukio is the same as just trying to kill him. There are some people who would think, “Eh, thirty years… eh, bummer, but you’ve had a good life. And you can stick it to the dragon by dying free, not having anyone’s baby…” In fact, Shura is very, “I’ve made peace with it. I’ve lived without ties for a reason.”
Lots of people would be like, “Wow, that’s brave,” and wished her luck in the next life. But Rin? NO. He tells her she hasn’t lived a life without ties, because he loves her.
He doesn’t say it in those exact words, but that’s the heart of it. Rin makes up dorky reasons why she needs to stay alive , but what he’s really saying seems very clear to me. Basically what he tells her is that you think you’ve got no ties, but that’s not how it works. You touched my life, like it or not.
And now I’m all in, and you don’t get to die on me. Not without a fight.
God damn it, I love that shounen sh*t.
And, for as awful as her backstory is, I also really like this explanation as to why Shura has no appropriate boundaries. She was raised by a dragon–a super-rape-y, creepy-ass, does-NOT-think-like-a-people immortal reptile.
What about you? What did you think?