Ao no Exorcist 87 -“Embryo” – Kazue Katou

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This title page is pretty fascinating.  It’s obviously Shiemi (Plant Girl)… who otherwise has a seemingly minor roll in the current chapter.  God, I love Katou-sensei!

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The chapter actually continues the conversation in the bath with Mephisto, Light, and Bon.   We find out that after the Blue Night, Lucifer took some of the research (the elixir, specifically) from the secret clone project and kept working on it.  Mephisto remarks tat he thinks it’s kind of amazing Lucifer managed to get the information all on his own and that he suspects a traitor.

Light has this to say…

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And does make a compelling case that it would make sense considering Mephisto used his time powers to keep a section of the secret project in existence in an alternate universe/timeline.  Mephisto is also very cagey (though vehemently denies knowing anything about) the existence of the missing Dr. Neuhaus.

Mephisto pressures Light to give up on that line of questioning. Light goes along with it, wanting to know who among the higher-ups knows about all this. We find out Angel is a survivor of the Blue Night, but remembers nothing.  The only Arc Knight involved was some guy with a monocle named Drac Dragulescu, who–if I’m supposed to remember anything about him, I don’t.  We find out he died under an alias, so maybe he’s a dead (pardon the pun) end.

When the bell rings at midnight, Mephisto says ‘times up’ and the boys are kicked out of the bath.

Light takes off and who do they run into but Angel, himself.  They have a humorous exchange in which Angel can’t believe that Light doesn’t stink for once and gives all the credit to his new apprentice, Bon. This scene is entirely played for laughs, but I was weirdly unsettled by it. I think it unnerved me because so far, everyone Light and Bon have met, completely ignore Bon, like he isn’t even there.

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Look at this. Dude even remember’s Bon’s name.

Creepy.

At the Paladin Headquarters Light goes to see Azazel, an entombed Grigori.  (Normally, I have all of this Biblical reference stuff, but I did not know that Grigori were a thing.  Here’s  what the Internet tells me about them: “The Grigori, (also known as The Watchers) The mysterious eighth order of angels, the gentle Grigori were created by God to be Earthly shepherds of the first humans.”)

Bon later calls Azazel one of the ba’al, but I assume he’s just using the Hebrew here, generally meaning ‘lord,’ and not Ba’al in specific.

There’s some discussion about where the ba’al reside. Apparently,  some live in Hell (aka Gehenna) but three “emperors” are here:

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Then we meet the watcher and get additional information that he’s a substitute nephillim (who takes on Azazel’s form in an emergency) because Azazel’s line died out.

Or…. did they?

Because when Light goes up to see what remains of Azazel (he refused a body and so returned to an elemental state,) Light calls Azazel “gramps”

Then we get a very dramatic scene of Shiemi (Plant Girl) waiting through the rain for dawn.

After that, we flash to Academy and everyone gathering at the steps talking about winter break. Seems everyone is skipping it to stay at school, Christmas is Rin and Yukio’s birthday and everyone shares theirs and discusses how they skipped it.  Shiemi rallies everyone to the idea of a joint birthday party… while dropping the bomb that she’s decided she isn’t going to be an exorcist after all.

Something is going on here and I’m deeply worried.  I think with the title and everything we learned here, Shiemi is going to be set up as one of the clones.  I do think she looks an awful lot like Lucifer (frankly, I think Angel does, too, but whatever.)  So…

I guess this is a wait and see game.

I continue to be impressed with Blue Exorcist.  How about you?  Thoughts?

Ao no Exorcist/Blue Exorcist #86

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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??

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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.

Big time.

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:

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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] ):

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Mephistopheles, meanwhile, is translated as “plasterer of LIES.”

Just sayin’

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.

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?

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.)

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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?

Ao no Exorcist/Blue Exorcist #83

The newest chapter is out! Go get it: http://www.mangapanda.com/ao-no-exorcist/83.

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This chapter begins exactly where the previous one left off: with the arrival of Amaimon. He struts up to Rin, shoving Shiemi (Plant Girl) aside.

We get a flashback from Shiemi’s p.o.v. that helps remind readers like me, who have forgotten who even Amaimon is and why he’s calling Shiemi his ‘bride’ (chapter 13).  He continues to act like he has control over her, but she’s having none of it.  In fact, her confrontation with him is the impetus for her to ‘come out,’ as it were.  She finally confesses that she’s determined to become an exorcist.

Amaimon continues to be a a$$hole-bully, by saying “Then Die” (which is sort of interesting since one assumes, wearing the school’s uniform would mean he’s also an exorcist-in-training?)  But, Shiemi’s heart-felt declaration of intent causes Rin to be able to shake himself from his rejection daze and stop Amaimon’s blow.

In typical bully fashion when his blows do no damage to Rin, he basically says, ‘well, I’d love to murder you now, but I promised my big brother I’d be a good student, so I guess it will have to wait.’

Then we have a lovely moment where the two would-be-paramours have a lovely exchange where Rin, the ever giving, decent one, shouts out to Shiemi, “Hey, we’re still friends, okay?” And Shiemi accepts with a blush and a “Yes, let’s do our best!”

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What I love about this scene is that Rin’s friends are still standing thereby him, ready to take him out for a cheering-up meal, and Shiemi gets to be her own woman, too.  This is the kind of romantic subplot in a shounen manga that I can really appreciate.

Just as everyone starts heading off to class, Suguro/Bon gets a text from his mentor, Light. The two of them have been doing some extra-curiculuar investigation into “The Blue Night”  They end up at the place that Rin and Yukio were raised, the Southern Cross Boy’s Monastery. When one of their targets, Mr. Misumi, doesn’t want to talk about why he transferred to the monastery things get ugly. Light tempts to torture a confession out of Mr. Misumi, until Bon interferes.  Light acts like Bon’s interference was all part of the plan, but the whole scene made me uneasy.

Apparently, however, it had a similar effect on Mr. Misumi who decides to confess.  He starts to tell our heroes something about how he’d been in something called “Section 13” which has Light looking freaked out… and then this happens:

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Death literally shows up. There’s an awesome image of Death (Kin of Time!) breaking a complex looking hour glass type thing that then causes Mr. Misumi to fall over dead on the spot.

Light notices something on Mr. Misumi’s neck that he calls, “A contract of Morinath.” Turns out Light has no clue about Section 13, but he figures this contract thing is a connection to an elixir for immortality and thus is a connection to the Illuminati.

Bon gives us this face:

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Crap. That puts me at odds with Pink-Haired Shima!

Also note the blue flame like flash in Light’s eye.

So…. things are getting complicated and divisive and I’m deeply worried about my precious cinnamon bun, Bon.  He’s clearly willing to stop anything that goes over his moral line, but I worry that he’s going to already be way too deep in by the time everything comes to whatever head it’s building to and he’s going to end up in a very bad place.

Meanwhile, I have no idea what Mephisto Pheles is thinking letting Amaimon out to cause trouble at the True Cross Academy.  But, I kind of literally trust none of the Satan spawn except for Rin and Yukio (and I worry about them, half the time too!)

Ao no Exorcist/Blue Exorcist continues to impress me. Katō-sensei may be one of my favorite mangaka, currently.  I thought she deftly handled the interpersonal stuff, and is masterfully keeping me in suspense/on the edge about the storyline/plot.  Also, some of her art is downright creepy.  The image of Death breaking the hourglass with their scythe is the stuff of nightmares–and very… mystical.  I love when you get a sense that there are even some things that are freaky to practiced exorcists like Light.

Anyway, I’m still deeply hooked.

Your thoughts?

Blue Exorcist / Ao no Exorcist #82

Blue Exorcist is out!  Blue Exorcist is out!  Go go it, it’s SUPER ADORABLE. http://www.mangareader.net/ao-no-exorcist/82

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I’m going to just say it now.  Kazue Katō is currently the only reason not to despise Weekly Shounen Jump, since her manga, Ao no Exorcist is published in JUMP+. She is also currently one of my all time favorite mangaka, hands down.

Look, boys, chapter 82 is how you do this whole ‘shipping’ thing with a light hand.

You guys KNOW how angry I get when people spray ‘no homo’ on a thing.  This was so not that, even though we see Rin and Shiemi (plant girl) awkwardly ask each other out.

So, why am I not mad?  I literally think it’s the awkwardness and real-life-moment-ness of this whole chapter that saves it from feeling like an author’s attempt to shout: OKAY SO I GAVE YOU SICKOS THAT BATH SCENE WITH THE BROTHERS AT THE INN BUT OMG THESE CHARACTERS ARE STRAIGHT–SUPER, SUPER-DUPER STRAIGHT-SO STAY AWAY! HANDS OFF!

I mean, look at this:

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This is so… adorable. I loved how the girls are listening in from around the corner and are like ‘crap, now we’re stuck in the bathroom!’ and ‘when did this even happen?’ (Chapter 73, I believe.)  I also love that, this whole ten chapters, Rin’s love confession has been hanging there, mostly forgotten by the readers, only to resurface like this, very naturally and very… high school.

This whole chapter is charmingly reminiscent of being a teenager.  I love, LOVED that Izumo (fox girl) instantly invites herself over for a sleepover so she can get the scoop AND, more importantly, bring over a stack of shoujo manga so that Shiemi can “learn about love.”

Can I just say? This is almost literally how I was taught about love.  When I asked my mother for romance advice, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Read some romance novels.”

So, maybe this seems ridiculous, but people do think this way!  (And, you know, I turned out a lesbian, so…)

But, the scene, while cute, also does a lot of plot work.  We are reminded that Shiemi’s grandmother doesn’t want her to be an exorcist because it’s dangerous–and we get moment after moment that re-illustrates how lonely and sheltered Shiemi was before going to the True Cross Order.  Then, we get this funky dream sequence, where we first see Shiemi coming up out of the ground, like, maybe, her origins aren’t entirely human, but, instead very Elemental:

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Of course, this is also a lovely sexual metaphor… his TAIL is even visible….

And, then… this whole thing makes Sheimi realize something important about herself.  Even though she desperately wants to catch up, to be like everyone else, she’s not ready for romance. She’s not ready to date.

Then we get this amazing/awkward moment… the anti-shoujo un-confession:

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(The boys watching from the steps made me super-happy, too. I also really loved that as this whole embarrassment is going down gray-haired Miwa’s like, “dang, better make the dinner reservation now–dude is gonna need cheering up.” They’re like so, so gay, while being  the best wingmen, ever!)

The chapter ends on a dramatic (and theme appropriate!) cliffhanger– with the return of this guy (who I had to look up) who says that Shiemi is his BRIDE:

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In case, like me, you’ve forgotten, this guy is Amaimon, a demon king, known as the King of the Earth. I think that last bit is significant and I bet that we’re going to learn in the next up-coming chapters that Sheimi is … well, not as human as she’s seemed so far.  She really spent a lot of time in this chapter trying to be a “proper human,” and between that and the dream, I feel like we’re being set up quite nicely for a big reveal about her nature.

All I can say?

I’m all in. Ao no Exorcist pretty much has all of what remains of my shattered, shounen heart.

Blue Exorcist #81: Underground Library

Blue Exorcist #81 has been out for a while, go read it: http://mangafever.co/Read/Ao_No_Exorcist_81

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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.

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Look at this precious cinnamon bun!

This, my friends, is how fan service is done.

Yummy.

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.

Fascinating stuff.

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:

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Seriously, Shima… think this sh*t through!

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.

Ao no Exorcist 80

Ao no Exorcist has been out a few days now, but if you haven’t caught up with it yet, here’s a link: http://www.mangareader.net/ao-no-exorcist/80/

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When I get depressed about the fact that Bleach may soon be over, I remind myself that all is not lost. We still have Ao no Exorcist.  

Friends of mine have warned me off the anime because they say, the ending is rushed.  I’m happy to say I see no evidence of that in the manga, even though the ending of this chapter seems to point in the same direction as the ending of the anime (so far as I understand it, at any rate, with the return of Satan himself.)

In the meantime, we have this lovely slow build.  The chapter opens with pink-haired traitor, Shima (Renzo), talking to someone on a cell phone about the events of the previous chapter.  When Shima meets up with our heroes he immediately asks what happened to the dragon, Hachirotaro, and Rin is all, “We let him get away.  The Order will watch over him, anyway, he’s tiny.”

Then there’s some interaction with the newly-short-haired boob-sword lady, Ms. Kirigakuri, in which she proclaims that she feels like a new woman, now that this burden has been lifted from her.  She has some flashbacks to the creepy priest dad of Yukio and Rin, but, actually, it’s a nice scene.  When reinforcements arrive, we find out that Yukio is actually badly enough injured that he needs to go to hospital.  After the spiritual paramedic heads off, Yukio has this intriguing moment:

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Is he thinking about the power he could have had?  How close he came to being immortal?

Shima certainly thinks so.  He teases him about that and about the fact that Yukio offered to get sword-boob-lady pregnant for the snake-god, and then heads for the *mic drop* in which he points out two things, 1) that Yukio is in longer in any shape to continue his suicide training (which reveals that Shima was Mephisto’s source), and 2) a faster way to kill himself is to join the Illuminati.

Actually, Shima doesn’t put it that way, and yet he kind of does.  He says, “I warned you if you were going to do that [the suicide training], you should get some advice for your own good… or you could just come over to the Illuminati.”

Which when you parse it, appears to read, “If you’re going to keep trying to kill yourself, you should get therapy, or, you know, f*ck it, join the Illuminati, (implied: that’s the same as suicide!)”

And, yet, Yukio doesn’t hear it that way at all.  In fact, just thinking about it makes his heart beat so fast he passes out.

The next thing we know, Yukio is waking up at True Cross General Hospital and he’s given the bad news that it’s going to take him two months to recover.  At his disappointment, Rin, who is still trying to be a good brother, says:

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That “or whatever” implies you know exactly what these really are, Rin, even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself.

Speaking of things Rin doesn’t want to think about, boob-sword lady tries to talk to him about how Yukio shot him….

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Denial is not just a river in Egypt, Rin!

And, I kind of love sword boob lady for being all, “Eh, never mind” about this because one of my favorite things about Rin’s character is that he really probably wouldn’t even hate his brother even if he thought about it for five seconds.

Dude didn’t even hate people who actively disliked him and considered him evil for being the son of Satan.  He was just like, “Tokyo Tower! I can’t wait to see it! Who’s with me?” making him impossible not to love.

It’s like Satan’s spunk gave all the powers to Rin with ZERO of the evil.  So much no-Evil, in fact, that it went into negative numbers… aka a shounen hero.

The chapter ends with a flash back to Aomori (which, by the way is not only a real place, but where my Japanese teach is original from) where Shima finds the tiny rape-y-snake-god with the help of his demon staff (Yamantaka) and bundles the shrunken god off to secretly give to the Illuminati and Lucifer:

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So, it looks as if Lucifer is going to step-up plans to revive Satan because collecting material is getting more difficult now that there are all these new Exorcists running about doing things (which was probably in response to them having stirred stuff up in their collecting…)

At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.  I’m still very much enjoying this manga.  It’s one of my favorites at the moment.