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Ao no Exorcist – OVA »« Ao no Exorcist – 24

Ao no Exorcist – 25 (END)

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「時よ止まれ」 (Toki yo Tomare)
“Stop Time”

The ending for the anime of the manga that isn’t ending anytime soon wasn’t really an ending at all. But stay tuned for the movie…

While it was certainly an open question how A-1 Pictures was going to conclude this adaptation, one thing I was pretty confident of – even before the movie announcement – was that no doors would be closed. No vital characters would die – if they’re alive in the manga they’d survive the anime. That left anime-original characters like Ernst as sacrificial lambs, but indeed none of the major cast died and no potential avenues for a second season were closed off (Yukio was even demoted back down to Middle First Class). If and when (and I’d bet the farm on “when”) a second season rolls around, if A-1 so chooses they can pick up pretty much where they left the manga last month and not skip a beat.

That’s all well and good, but the most important question is how the ending stands on its own. There’s no question that the series lost a little of its dramatic firepower when the anime veered off, but I’ve generally enjoyed this final arc and it didn’t end badly. If I’m going to fault it, I would argue that it was too predictable and – even given my expectations – too open-ended. The final battle on the rooftop went just as I expected, with Arthur joining up with Shura, and the Okumura brothers setting aside their squabbles to stand (or fly) together against their father. It’s not as if things could have ended any other way, but as has sometimes been the case with this adaptation the characters get where they’re going a little too quickly and conveniently, with the necessary emotional journey feeling rather rushed.

I was also a bit disappointed that, right to the end, both Mephisto and Takara ended up playing the role of spectator. We did get an interesting flashback at the start of the episode, where Mephisto apparently made a bargain with Faust himself – apparently choosing his alias as a tribute – and he did at least provide commentary when Rin and Yukio joined their demonic powers to form a flaming phoenix that was rather cool. But I’d hoped for more, a real choice – and as for Takara, all he did was pop his head in at the close and say a few words of snark through his bunny puppet. “Where have you been all this time?” Indeed, Shima – my very words. Probably the most interesting element of the final arc was the question of Satan’s motives – it’s clear that Yuri genuinely believed ( and still believes) that this notion of uniting Genenna and Assiah has merit, and that their sons will still have a role to play in doing just that.

My favorite moment of the episode was when Rin and Yukio – sent by Mephisto – headed off to the abandoned forest where Yuri died giving birth to them 16 years earlier. That added a nice benedictory moment at the close of the series, as well as framing the contradiction of their existence and setting the stage for future developments. As if it weren’t clear enough that this wasn’t really an ending, the anime closed with a completely extraneous bit about a demon that possesses vehicles, giving Rin one last chance to show all all his shounen character attributes and giving us one more Blackie moment. It was an odd choice, ending as it did quite literally in the middle of the scene.

 

Epilogue

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Preview (Movie)

Ao no Exorcist   25   Preview 01 Ao no Exorcist   25   Preview 02 Ao no Exorcist   25   Preview 03

 

Final Impressions:

Ao no Exorcist was always in a tough spot, an adaptation that began too early in the life of a fiercely popular manga that will likely run for years to come. The episodes that were direct adaptations of manga chapters were generally very successful. As with all A-1 Pictures series, the animation and music was top-notch andthe casting was excellent. Those episodes did a fine job of setting up the story. There were some excellent anime-original standalone episodes mixed in, too.

The final arc itself certainly wasn’t as dramatic as the best manga material, suffering from at times insane pacing and a little too much predictability. To end with an original arc was probably the best choice under the circumstances, giving at least a measure of finality to the anime without closing any doors for future seasons. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the movie. Will it follow the FMA route and be completely new material, perhaps following directly from the anime? Or will it tackle a manageable chunk of manga and adapt that? I suspect we’re likely to see a series of two or three films using anime-original material, both to keep the fans hooked in and leave more manga material for future seasons.

For me, the best elements of the story – and the best episodes – were the ones dealing with Shiro. One of Fujiwara Keiji’s most winning performances, Shiro was a great catalyst for strong family drama and intense conflict. That family conflict was really what the series was about at the beginning, and was always its best feature for me. Shounen is full of complicated fraternal relationships and angst over missing fathers, but rarely is it presented as well as it was here. Things tended to get a bit bogged down with complicated excess baggage in the second cour, but going forward sticking to its core elements is going to be critical for the series to succeed.

Another strong aspect of AoEx was the nicely varied supporting cast. I particularly enjoyed Mephisto, the grinning mystery man at the heart of everything that happened in the series who never revealed his hand, right to the end. But Rin’s fellow students were also an above-average bunch, with Bon especially standing out as someone who was deeper and more intelligent than his clichéd appearance suggested. We never did get any romance between KanaHana’s Shiemi and either Okumura brother, but she was still an enjoyable character – hardly Hanazawa’s best work but distinct enough from the rest of the cast to stand out (in more ways than one).

I didn’t end up feeling as strongly about AoEx as I once thought I might, largely because the first cour was clearly better than the second. But I don’t really think it’s fair to judge it yet, because this really does have the feeling of something that’s barely gotten started. it was probably a mistake to begin an adaptation this soon, because even in spite of the very strong popularity of the manga it’s likely we’ll have to wait the better part of two years for it to stretch its lead out far enough for another season to make sense. Will the fan interest still be there? I hope so, and I think so – there’s a reason the manga is so popular. This is a damn good story, well-conceived and smartly written with strong characters, and as long as the manga continues indefinitely I think the fanbase will wait for another season. And the movies (I fully expect more than one) will help tide them over until that happens.

October 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm
31 comments »
  • October 2, 2011 at 4:48 pmKaminakun

    First half was wonderful. Second half I didn’t bother.
    Read the manga, period.

    • October 2, 2011 at 5:45 pmMrRei

      And I thought I was the only one who stopped by the 2nd half… :p

    • October 2, 2011 at 6:57 pmrochichan

      Agreed. X’D

  • October 2, 2011 at 4:49 pmWhee

    Actually didn’t hate the anime ending at all.
    Even though I read the manga (in fact, I don’t entirely like where the manga’s standing atm)

  • October 2, 2011 at 4:59 pmx

    Not a bad last episode. I must admit that I’ve been surprised by this anime. I usually avoid this genre and I never liked the theme song :p. I wasn’t a big fan of the manga either (not that I hated it, just wasn’t crazy about it). However, overall, this anime was pretty entertaining. The characters are a big win in my opinion, the story starts off cliché, but gets better. The anime original story was more fun for me than where the manga is at right now. Of course I didn’t appreciate the rushing of the last few episodes, but the story it told was interesting. Will see if anything more comes of this. The manga is published monthly, so I don’t expect it to collect enough material for the anime fast enough for sequels without lots of anime original material added.

  • October 2, 2011 at 5:15 pmnarutokyuurasen

    I personally believe the anime was better. where the manga is right now it doesnt really catch me to much right now. maybe if it didnt come out once every month ! then I’d like it better. it should come out every week like naruto does. but i loved the anime and every episode except 11. 11 was retarded. the fight scenes were great to me and they used the song from the very first episode with blackie rin and yukio. my favorite part was the most random part. the phoenix. plus i missed seeing rin and the others in their winter uniform so thats a good comeback. and i can’t wait for the movie to come out either. i only wish rin got to see his mother like yukio did so he wouldnt feel like he odd one out. i always thought the older brother should know more about the mother than the younger brother but logic can change at any time i guess. anyway season 2 will be nice and if they keep up the original anime method it might turn out great ! it would be nice to see yukio learn his flames alittle more than they showed us but when you think about it the phoenix wasnt too random. both yukio and rin were falling it’s only naturally that BOTH of them get the idea that they want to fly so they combined their flames and thought of wings. its almost the same thing as chakra shaping

  • October 2, 2011 at 5:17 pmIchigomaru

    I think they’ll do as fma, when the author finish the manga we’ll have an adaptation following the original story. hoping for this =)

  • October 2, 2011 at 5:22 pmClick

    Honestly, everything which followed the second episode paled in comparison. The rest of the episodes never even came close.

  • October 2, 2011 at 5:27 pmClaire Phoenix

    It’s sad to see this anime end but will be waiting for the movie patiently.
    Thank you Guardian Enzo for the screencaps and summary. :)

  • October 2, 2011 at 5:40 pmDrew

    All I have to say about the ending is that has to be nominated for one of the most homoerotic moments in the last decade. Up there with Athrun and Kira’s classic scene from Gundam Seed Destiny. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • October 2, 2011 at 6:01 pmSadiki

    This show had a really good soundtrack.

  • October 2, 2011 at 6:49 pmShiawase

    The BGM during Rin and Yukio’s visit to the forest was lovely~
    And those golems are sooo cute!! xD
    Also, ’twas refreshing to hear Shiemi finally yell at the twins for always being reckless :3

    I can’t wait for the movie ^^

  • October 2, 2011 at 7:04 pmfishell

    I was hoping for longer battle scenes and cooler techniques but…..this show can make better!!

  • October 2, 2011 at 7:33 pmLen

    o_o they’ll prolly remake one based on the manga

  • October 2, 2011 at 7:49 pmshinkirou

    i am confuse here , so have yukio finally turn into demon like rin or still human which given the fact he got ‘elves ears’ and fangs? and and it stated he already awaken which will he also be like rin which need to awaken by unleashed the katana too ?

  • October 2, 2011 at 8:44 pmPeepQ

    I really liked that song they put in there in the middle of the episode. Overall was pretty good, Hopefully this series goes strong in the later years.

  • October 2, 2011 at 8:57 pmProoof

    give insert songs now 0.0

  • October 2, 2011 at 9:07 pmMormegil

    Well, Shura’s breasts were nice.

  • October 2, 2011 at 10:37 pmNot Random Enough

    A shame RC isn’t going to follow the remake of Hunter x Hunter. The first episode is brilliant, with probably the best animation of any series this season. Less harem, more original series? Maybe? For once?

    • October 3, 2011 at 10:47 amGuardian Enzo

      I reviewed the premiere, but while it was pretty good, I don’t see myself blogging it even if I do continue wastching. It didn’t knock my socks off, but I didn’t watch the old series so I don’t have anything to compare it to, really. I know things get a lot darker as it progresses, but I’m worries by the talk that Madhouse is sanitizing this version.

  • October 2, 2011 at 11:47 pmKurisu Vi Britannia

    The only reason to even read about the episodes on here past the start of the anime originals was Shura’s boobs…. THERE I SAID IT!

    IMO I really couldn’t care less if they tried to do a second season where it stuck to the manga or tried to involve the manga plot, they’ve ruined it for me because theres just been to much original content for Yukio,Arthur and some of the other students.

    I started reading the manga quite a while back and I could see this turning out to be a really good anime, too bad it probably hit a few potholes along the way due to being a little more generic than some other storys.

  • October 3, 2011 at 1:38 amLonghaul

    While I am sure the anime original episodes were fine, given that my favorite part of the manga was after the changeup it was a big no to me.

  • October 3, 2011 at 2:31 amMomogoldfish

    Did they just one-shot Celty at the end?

    Like FMA I’ve yet to read the manga for this one but since Yukio’s power awakened I am kinda wondering if A-1 will pull a Kuroshitsuji and have an almost completely anime-original second season (though I actually liked Kuroshitsuji II so that’s probably fine with me).

    Also just realized that Yukio’s name in kanji is literally SnowMan, Yuri named him after her golem friends and that’s just adorable~

  • October 3, 2011 at 6:01 amAndrew

    good anime overall. ending was ok at best but the anime was entertaining throughout

  • October 3, 2011 at 12:59 pmHayama

    I was sooooo disappointed with this anime. It was so cliche and boring. I expected much more :( Guess, I’m too old for those crappy shonens, sigh

  • October 3, 2011 at 5:02 pmconyo985

    Shiemi got angry that’s a first. I guess Shiemi wants a threesome now. Oh yeah! http://randomc.net/image/Ao%20no%20Exorcist/Ao%20no%20Exorcist%20-%2025%20-%20Large%2032.jpg

  • October 4, 2011 at 7:25 amHurvilo

    Exactly where did the anime branch of entirely from the manga? I believe I’ve heard it was at the same time as Show Spoiler ▼

    and really, wouldn’t it have been a wonderfull cut off point for a one cour season right after Show Spoiler ▼

    The second half was just a major, major letdown compared to the borderline fantastic start. Oh well. The Brotherhood-treatment in ten years, eyh?

    • October 4, 2011 at 9:11 amGuardian Enzo

      That’s about right. I believe the first major departure was when Rin’s sword was broken.

  • October 4, 2011 at 8:07 pmJust A Random Guy

    Major disappointment. I understood from the beginning that it’s an adaption from a manga series, so i started the series with an expectation of Full Metal Alchemist, and I was wrong. The first couple of ep sure had the potential to be as good as FMA, but as the story progressed on, it just started to drift apart. GUARDIAN ENZO was right, the anime version adapted too early. I get why they made Yukio to have the demonic power as well, since they are twins, and it would give out a wrong message if they favored one twin more, but they didn’t do a good job transitioning from Yukio being non-demonic to being demonic. It felt as if there were too many important characters who seem to have no contributed enough to the story, such as; August, Mephisto, Takara, etc. I also felt that the character developement in the story was not enough, and it focused on too many little things Izumo Kamiki’s birthday, which they spent an entire ep on…Other than that I’ll be looking forward for the movie.

  • October 5, 2011 at 8:11 pmsealouse

    You really think they can continue with manga material after Yukio went demonic and all that? Oh well. At least there will be the remake in 5-10 years.

  • October 9, 2011 at 9:05 amNoAoNoExorcist NoLife

    is the anime actually ending? cause in episode 25 it said [final] >.> coz i was expecting ao no exorcist to replace naruto -_-