Ao no Exorcist 84 & 85

Sumimasen!  I have been completely absent from my job here at MangaKast. I blame the U.S. election and Kubo Tite’s crappy ending of Bleach.  Both knocked me back so hard, it’s taken me forever to recover (and I’m not completely there, but I’m slowly catching back up with my manga reading, at least.  My thoughts about SnK 88 in a bit.)

SPOILERS

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rin

Chapter 84 is called “Fundamentals,” and has probably one of the coolest–I’m not sure what to call it, exactly, puzzle-solving (?)–moments in Ao no Exorcist so far. Katou-sensei seems to be at the top of her game, lately, IMHO (although that might be only my impression because we’re going deeper on Suguro/Bon than we ever have before and he is one of my all-time favorite characters.)

In the way of Ao no Exorcist, the story meanders its way to the point.  We’d ended the previous chapter with a rather ominous image of Bon’s concerned face behind a crazed-looking Lightening:

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Just look at this for a couple of seconds. I absolutely love all the emotion and storytelling that happens in this one panel. You get that hint of demon-fire (is it??) in Lightening’s eyes, but he’s in shadow. The person actually in the spot-light is Bon, who looks… well, you could read his expression a couple of ways, but my first impression was: deeply dubious.  Like, Bon is thinking, “This guy… his methods… I’m really not f*cking sure about this guy.”

This chapter starts with Bon rushing back to join the pity party (for Rin’s attempted asking out of Plant Girl/Shiemi).  What I love about AoE, honestly, are these moments. I mean, the story is great, but we really get a wonderful sense of character in the kinds of interactions. Rin talked random character #2 into buying Bon’s favorite for him (which tells you a bunch of things about Rin–like, that he’s kind of weasel mooch, but YET thoughtful in terms of remembering people’s favorites.) Then there’s this fascinating back-and-forth about how Umiamon got introduced by the name Ambrosius, which seems to have rung a bell for Bon, but before he can talk about it, the Okimura brothers discuss the death of the monk they grew up with, and he clams up (because he was there and knows that it wasn’t just some random old-guy heart attack and feels guilty).  Then, he’s called away by Light again.

A quick Google search on the name Ambrosius doesn’t really provide much of interest, although apparently there are versions of King Arthur’s tale where Ambrosius is Merlin’s surname. But, it’s odd for Bon to suggest the name is German, when it’s clearly Greek.  So, I’ll be expecting a connection to some German demon at some point here.

Then we get a scene where Light confronts  Mephesto in the bath.  We see a LOT more of Mephesto than I ever wanted to (and we see that he’s… rotting (?)…which is fascinating), but the scene itself is cute. Mephesto either nicely leads Light to the answer or is genuinely surprised by how quickly Light figures out his obtuse clues (you really can NOT tell with Mephesto.)

Next is the cool hand in key thing, which I LOVED, followed by the world’s saddest funeral for Monk-guy (not well-loved, apparently. Like six people? SAD.) Yukio overhears talk about what happened to cause Monk-guy’s death and now knows that Bon knows sh*t he isn’t telling, so that should be interesting in upcoming chapters.

We get a mini-cliffhanger with Plant Girl/Shiemi where grandma is about to lay something at her feet–my guess is some origin story or other (possibly that she’s a demon clone, but we’ll get to that in a second.)

The final scene in the chapter is a confrontation between Bon and Light.  Light says some really weird sh*t, like kind of confesses that he’s a high-fuctioning sociopath? And that maybe people thought he was a demon as a child because he loves demons way more than people–but, oh, I mean, I’d do anything for the human race….

Oooo-KAY. Sure, Light. I believe you. You’re SUPER sincere.

But, like the manipulative player he is, Light pushes Bon’s loyalty buttons in all the right ways to make Bon agree to stick with him even though this is clearly a bad, bad idea.

The dun-dun-DAH moment is when they see Cousin It and It leads them to a mysterious figure in the doorway!

Cue: curtain fall!

When we raise the curtain again in Chapter 85, we discover that mysterious figure is none-other-than Dr. Igor Neuhaus (an actual German name). Dr. Neuhaus is all cagey, but points them in the direction of Section 13.  We find out, too, that we’re in an alternate time line, which, frankly, is super-cool.  The title of the chapter is “Heterophylly.” which the translators say (and Wikipedia confirms) is the phenomenon of different leaf-types on the same plant (a plant reference, which I think is going to circle back around.) But on the surface, it’s also a lovely real-life, scientific metaphor for the branching off of timelines.

Ah, sensei, as if I needed a reason to be MORE in love with you!

We get a creepy tour of the Cram School pre-Blue Night. They find the research records for the elixir, but also there’s a lot of evidence that points to human experimentation on… orphans… or maybe… clones.

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Mmm…. look like anyone we know???  Looks a bit like both Lucifer and… Shiemi?

We get a kind of half-confirmation at the end that maybe my Lucifer guess is right, because Light says, “Let me get this straight, basically before it was destroyed on the Blue Night, Asylum was a cover for a research facility called Section 13, where they conducted illegal human experimentation for the elixir and created mass-produced clones of the Demon Kings.”

I’m too afraid to search through the Wiki to uncover who else is a demon king (because there are spoilers) besides Lucifer, but I did, at least confirm that Lucifer is listed as a demon king.

My guess is that, in February (looks like there’s a month hiatus), we’re going to hear that Plant Girl/Shiemi is a demon-king clone.  I might be absolutely way off base about this, but if it happens, I want you to know I called it. It seems super-likely, what with the pictures and with the title of this chapter being related to plants.  But, I could be reading too deeply into something that isn’t there, since people also always talk about time as having “branches.”  And there is some connection between Time and Mephisto. Light brings it up in the bathtub scene (somehow light went from Death as Time’s servant to Mephisto. I feel like this Time connection is new, but AoE is actually DENSE and I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed an earlier clue) and Dr. Neuhaus underscores the time/Mephisto connection when he mentions that Mephisto’s magic created this “garden.”

Who who knows?  But Katou-sensei has me wrapped around her little finger.  I might actually fight someone over the fact that I think, depending on how this lands, Ao no Exorcist might be the best written manga in current years.

Your thoughts?

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9 thoughts on “Ao no Exorcist 84 & 85

  1. I was going write some crap about bishop Ambrose then realized I’m a bore on the internet and deleted it all. I am so delighted to hear your thoughts on this manga. I like meaty well written ones with good art too. Guy on the streetcar was reading DragonballZ and I thought. Meh. Something for everone I guess. There is Family Circle and then there is the Punisher. Same medium but totally different result. Love finding the wheat amongst the chaff.

    • Very true… I love the range you imply between Family Circle and the Punisher. I read much of the early Punisher, which I loved as any Marvel fan, and Family Circle continues to torture me because I can’t NOT read the comics in my daily paper (and, yes, we still get a PAPER paper.)

      But now I want to hear ALL about Bishop Ambrose. I mean, I feel like maybe if sensei were evoking Ambrose, the bishop wouldn’t she go there an not make it Greek-souding with Ambrosius? I dunno.

      • Aurelius Ambrosius. Orginally from Trier (Germania/Gaul). Bishop of Milan.
        Baptized Augustine amongst other infamy. Wrote a boring book about death (death of the body being the end of the physical life but the start of joy in heaven. Sin is the death of the soul. etc etc). Often pictured with bees/beehives. An apocryphal story about bees not stinging him as a baby and leaving him in a pool of honey interpreted as why he was a good speaker. Hated women, jews, Eastern church and pagans. Unsurprisingly never married. Coff coff.
        Medieval Studies BA of uselessness.

      • Medieval Studies! So COOL! Seriously, sounds like something I would have pursued if I had had the option. Do you think there’s a connection here? An abandoned baby connects with the clones/orphanage, but the rest? Well, other than the fact that what’s his name seems to clearly hate women and is a jerk (who may never marry)….

  2. Boring pedantry ahead. Bon is my favourite. I know you like his hair. I don’t like Lightning, not sure anyone would. He seems like that guy at work who you hope doesn’t sit next to you at coffee.
    So jerky violent Ambrosius Faust looks to be random immortality, demon, hell, christianity vocab references. As one would if cross culturally writing. (Ahem. Guilty.)
    So when he’s introduced (p.7 Ch.84) the general chorus makes some comments about his name.
    Faust = actually a German folktale of unknown vintage, but most people know it from Geothe’s play or the creepy Murnau film (1926) He prefers human knowledge to the divine. Little bit of a philosophical conflict with Ambrosius. Also if I must be pedantic, Faust and Mestopheles are two different people but in Blue Ex he’s one. Wikipedia claims Faust is based on Gutenberg’s partner or a known 15C alchemist but I beg to differ. He reeks of archetype, the devil deal, the dissatisfaction with God, pursuit of secular knowledge. The sex angle. A great story.
    Ambrosius = random Xian medieval bishop reference (one of the 4 original doctors of the church up there with bible popularizer Jerome and annoying proselytizer Gregory 1)
    Umaimon = tasty. Funny joke I liked it.
    Amaimon = prince of hell in some apocryphal writing about demons 16thC ‘the Office of Spirits’ (aka Liber Officium Spirituum) which might be where many of the non-Japanese names are coming from. Superstitious folks have historically liked lists of things. That book is a list of demon names. I just checked one edition listing online to refresh my sketchy memory of if he was in there, there are some excellent names on that list! “Die Goorax demon spawn of hell! I will crush your devilish form into dust!!” Totally. I said ‘goo’. Hehe.
    I think I’m going to reread Blue Ex again because you are reviewing it. I remember a great bit in around Ch. 78 with the Shura boobs and you think Father Fujimoto is taking off his collar for something nefarious and then haha shirtless, he just has kind words and covers her up with his cassock. Heh. Reading too much Yaoi makes everything nefarious.
    Anyway apparently I remember some stuff and what I don’t remember the internet provides.

    • Yeah, I have some demon knowledge from my own research when writing my first science fiction books (sounds like a typo, but my future books all had angels in them.) But, I’m no expert on those exhaustive lists of demons, though I do occasionally peruse them because I love knowing that, for instance, Hell has an archivist. Looks, like I need to re-read a few chapters, too, so I may join you!

  3. Wait wait wait!… Lucifer is the only Demon King you’re aware of? Because there have been more announced officially in the comic too. In particular you should review chapter 39 and chapter 66. I think you’ll find the info there very relevant to what’s going on with Mephisto and the alternate timeline where the secret lab is located. ԅ(≖‿≖ԅ)
    Also, I know it’s super confusing, but there isn’t a hiatus next month. For whatever reason, the February issue is considered on time as long as it comes out *before* February. In otherwords, the February issue comes out in January. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Well, I’m clearly a casual reader, but I am an actual, physical subscriber to JUMP, so I’d get the issue no matter when it came out. Thanks for the head’s up about chapters to re-read.

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