The latest Ao no Exorcist #86 by Katou Kazue is out… kinda. I had to find a downloadable version because there’s something wonky with MangaPanda’s link. Mangastream doesn’t seem to have it yet, and my other usual places are also mysteriously corrupted.
Could it be…… SATAN??
Before I get too far into my review, I have to say that Blue Exorcist currently gets my vote for some of the very best in shounen manga being written. I think I have a new-found girl-crush on Katou-sensei.
So, okay, when last we left our intrepid heroes–in this case Bon and Lightning, they had just discovered the cloning facility that existed in the pocket alternate universe in the basement of the Holy Cross Academy. Not only that, but the clones were specifically ones of the eight demon kings.
As Light says:
Yep, pretty damn evil.
Mephisto, having been spying on them this whole time, ‘natch, does one of his weird-a$$ spells that lands our boys, naked (because why not?) in the bath, back in our time and space. There was some other action with the containers exploding and Light doing one of his “and et cetera” spells, but, honestly, I don’t think much of what happened in that scene was terribly important–other than the general suspicion that some of these clones are people we KNOW, for certain Amamon.
Back in the bath, the boys are treated to a history lesson… which I f*cking loved.
In it, we learn that demons are kind of just a concept. But, as humans developed, their edges began to be noticed, and eventually they were able to become incarnate by possession. There was a war in heaven (as it were) about whether or not humans were useful, Lucifer being in the “nope” camp, and Mephisto being “yep.”
Which… let me take a moment to lay down a little cautionary tale. I’m not sure we should believe Mephisto here, this is literally a COMPLETE REVERSAL of what Lucifer’s name means. Lucifer is often understood to be translated as “bringer of the dawn” or “light bearer” (or “morning star,” but that’s a whole other thing,) and there are plenty of apocryphal ideas out there in which Lucifer is a knowledge bringer, an illuminator–that it’s THAT kind of ‘light’ he bears. Of course, in his guise as the snake in the garden of Eden, Lucifer is the one who gave us “the knowledge of good and evil.”
I think it’s also telling here, that sensei chose to draw this “knowledge” as a flame (could it look more like a falling angel, too? And who was the first of the fallen? “How you have fallen from heaven, oh, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” [Isaiah 14:12] ):
Mephistopheles, meanwhile, is translated as “plasterer of LIES.”
So… back to the story.
I guess the war gets kind of resolved, but a problem remains: demons burn through bodies like fire through paper. The stronger you are, the faster you degenerate. And, it’s horrible and painful and Lucifer is sick of it. He’s in so much pain that he thinks it’s a grand idea to just let go–become an idea again. Only problem is that expelling that much energy at once is an extinction-level event. For ALL of us.
The other demon kings are not so keen.
Mephisto, in particular, uses his forked, silver tongue to convince his brother that cloning is a better deal. So, yeah, here’s the confirmation Light was looking for: all this “pretty damn evil” stuff was done under the aegis of Holy Cross Academy.
Then we lead up to my girl-crush moment….
We find out that Katou-sensei ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDS CLONING BETTER THAN MOST SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS.
I’m, OFFICIALLY, in love.
She points out through Mephisto’s narration that cloning doesn’t f*cking make perfect copies. Turns out, that’s not how it works. So all this effort into cloning isn’t enough. The bodies have to be enhanced and altered through horrific experiments. Finally, a few start to take, specifically Amamon’s. But, Lucifer is still a big problem.
One day… (and I bet you can guess just about how long ago)… the perfect vessel was born.
Unfortunately, another soul gets there first.
Mephisto describes it as the essence of Gehenna… which kids, you all understand, is the Jewish analog to Hell. It’s Light who puts it together, I think, and realizes… could it be…. SATAN?
Yes, it *is* Satan. Satan stole Lucifer’s body-double.
And, thus, began the road that led to the Blue Night.
Bon has some kind of epiphany here at the end of the chapter that I have to admit I don’t quite understand. It may be that he’s finally realizing that the poor Okumura brothers have been given way too much credit for causing the massive clusterf*ck that is the Blue Night… or I missed something critical about their involvement that Bon pieced together but didn’t quite spell out for us.
If you think you have it figured out, please tell me.
My other moment of deep appreciation for Blue Exorcist actually falls to the translators. I don’t know if the scan I read came direct from Viz Media or if it was a fan scanlation, but whoever translated the kanji for “half-breed” to “nephilim” is a f*cking genius and I love you and your apocryphal Biblical scholarship! I think, technically, the singular is ‘naphil’ but no one but me and three other people would ever recognize that, so good on YOU, translator-person, for realizing that 9 out of 10 people have likely heard the word ‘nephilim’ and know that it refers to the offspring of demons/fallen angels. (Elohim, one of the names of God in Hebrew, is actually plural. Think on that for two seconds.)
But, okay, enough of my Biblical geekery.
What’d you all think?