Blue Exorcist #81 has been out for a while, go read it: http://mangafever.co/Read/Ao_No_Exorcist_81
I can not get over Bon’s hair. I think he looks so mature! I kind of miss the little bleached skunk stripe, but hot damn, boy! Plus, thank you Kato-sensei for the fan service of Bon in full-on mom mode IN AN APRON.
This, my friends, is how fan service is done.
The chapter actually starts with a follow-up from the whole incident up north with the snake god from the previous chapter. Shura Kirigakure giving her report and insisting on a demotion. She is very untrusting Mephisto’s various plans, particularly as they have to do with the Okumura brothers (or heroes), which, frankly, seems very reasonable. She also calls Mephisto a demon (while we get a close-up of him licking the blood off his face where her new-ish sword scratched his face), and I’m not ENTIRELY sure we’ve had direct confirmation of his nature–even though I suspected him from the beginning (what with his name, and all, and of course ALL THE CLUES.) So, that’s… intriguing. I like the complexity here a lot. Clearly, Shura feels like she’s on the right side of this war, but she also does NOT trust her supposed boss.
Then we switch to where poor Bon is laboring away for his new master, Lewin Light (another name I can’t entirely trust since Lucifer is often translated as “Light Bearer.”) Light is doing a little detective work in the library, tracking down any exorcists who may have defected to the Illuminati after the Blue Night, the night that Rin and Yukio were born.
The Blue Night was some kind of major event that the Order of the True Cross doesn’t much talk about; its events are shrouded in mystery, almost as though it’s been covered up or hushed up for some reason. Light has also noticed that it’s also shortly thereafter that the Illuminati makes its first appearance.
I’m getting the sense that Bon and Light are about to uncover something really interesting about our, heretofore, sort of one dimensional villains. I mean, the Illuminati have Lucifer, who is mysterious and handsome, but we kind of don’t quite know what they’re up to beyond possibly trying to raise Satan from Hell (and other things that haven’t made a whole lot of sense yet, like the whole capturing of fox-girl, Izumo, to host the nine-tail). But, here we are, literally beginning some detective work into their origins and possible motivations.
This stands in STARK comparison to Shingeki no Kyojin which is approximately at the same place in terms of chapters (84), where I feel like all we’ve gotten is a lot of meaningless death and almost no examination (or hope of examination) of our enemies.
On a similar note, I really adore the way, in this chapter, both Bon and Shima (the pink haired double-agent) stand up for each other independently. This mutual respect they have, despite their differences, really adds depth and a sense of impending tragedy–especially when coupled with this observation from Light:
I mean, you can say: ‘Lyda, SnK and Ao no Exorcist are apples to oranges. One is a serious story about the realities of war and the other just some silly shounen story with demons.’ To which I say, ‘You’re not paying attention.’ Ao no Exorcist has, at its heart, some serious stuff to say. The consequences for some of the actions might be a little less grim and heavier on shounen values of friendship and faith in humanity, but I would argue to my last breath that Ao no Exorcist is just as serious as SnK. The difference is that Kato-sensei has a lighter touch. She can weave moments of humor in between moments of heart-rending FEELS. For my money, that’s a f*ckload more like Real Life ™ than all the grim-dark bull-crap of SnK.
Obviously, milage will vary.
Maybe this is a gender thing. I’m a HUGE fan of women mangaka, like Arakawa-sensei and Kohske-sensei. They seem to be able to hit me in the feels in just the right ways.
Ao no Exorcist remains one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is going.