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Ao no Exorcist – The Movie

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「劇場版 青の祓魔師」 (Ao no Exorcist Gekijouban)
“Ao no Exorcist’ The Movie”

Better late than never, I say…

Ao no Exorcist holds a special place in my heart because it was the first regular series I blogged on RC, so it’s nice to be back writing about it after a long absence. I think most fans of the manga have a pretty firm opinion of A-1 Pictures’ adaptation of AoEx at this point. It was darn good for a long time, but went seriously off the rails when it diverted into anime original territory. I’m not one who ascribes to the notion that all anime-original material is bad – hell, any fan of Natsume Yuujinchou would laugh you out of the room at the very idea – but in this instance, I won’t argue that there wasn’t a pretty significant drop in quality once the anime steered away from the manga, though those eps had their moments. I think AoEx was simply a case where the anime was produced too early in the manga’s run, though there’s so much to like in the story that it’s easy to see why Shounen Jump didn’t say no.

Fortunately, as we wait for the inevitable second season of AoEx, the post-TV material has been excellent for tiding us over. The OVA, “Kuro Runs Away From Home”, was hugely entertaining, and this big-screen theatrical release was better than I frankly expected. It’s anime-original of course, but being free of the TV series’ responsibilities it’s able to deliver a self-contained stand-alone arc without worrying about consequences for any future sequels. To do so A-1 turned to Yoshida Reiko, one of the most experiences screenwriters in anime, and what they got was a thoroughly engaging story that felt consistent with the tone of the series and offered a genuine sense of scale, as a movie version of a TV show should.

That story is the chronicle of a little usagi demon who we first meet in a picture book Shirou is reading to the toddler Rin and Yukio (as usual, every scene with Shirou is a keeper). It’s the story of a village and the youkai a village boy found and cared for. The villagers become so carefree that they forgot about doing any work, and when an exorcist showed up and sealed the youkai away, the village went to seed, all but forgotten. But forgotten it wasn’t – the sealing of the demon is still celebrated in a matsuri a thousand years later in True Cross Town, which seems to have been built on the site of that village and the little shrine to the little youkai that rose up on its ruins.

There’s a whole lot more plot here of course, including a demon train that carries souls to Gehenna. In a very impressive opening sequence Rin and Shiemi are involuntarily responsible for most of the trouble that happens in the movie by loosing the demon on the town in an attempt (a successful one) to help the souls trapped inside. It’s the destruction this event causes that unseals the little usagi demon, who shows up with an attitude and the voice of Kugimiya Rie and winds up in the care of Rin, who names him Usamaro. During the course of the events that follow it becomes clear just what Usamaro’s ability is, and why it caused such havoc a thousand years earlier (and today).

This story isn’t especially profound and I don’t think it adds anything truly essential to the mythology of the series, but it’s not really intended to. It’s quite involving nonetheless, not least because it gives Rin a chance to show off his essential nature as a friend to the outcast and misunderstood. There’s a fair bit of Shiemi and Yukio, but most of the rest of the regular cast is relatively secondary – the main focus is definitely on Rin and Usamaro (and an entertaining turn from Kiuchi Hidenobu as Cheng-Long Liu, an exorcist descendant of the exorcist who sealed Usamaro). It’s also a surprisingly impressive film visually, with some really gorgeous backgrounds and a fair bit of sakuga animation. Sawano Hiroyuki’s music is an excellent fit, especially the orchestral pieces that accompany the large matsuri and battle scenes. If this is the last AoEx animation we’re going to see for a couple of years, it’s certainly an entertaining way to tide the audience over, and quite successful in its own right.

 

ED3 Sequence

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ED3: 「REVERSI」 by (UVERworld)

September 5, 2013 at 6:58 am
15 comments »
  • September 5, 2013 at 7:08 amCelecia01

    The movie was awesome, the manga is brilliant, and the anime is great. All we need now is a second series!

    • September 5, 2013 at 11:27 amAni_BEE

      We can wait although I did cosplay “Paladin” Yukio because I like where the anime story fell in the end I think the fans are fine in waiting for more content but given that it on a monthly and not weekly run in Shueisha/Jump Square it might take a few years without a larger team to work one it. ;)

      Visually it seem rather enhanced the world Kazue Kato but to the page. Can I call it design porn. *__*

  • September 5, 2013 at 8:07 amswordhack4

    I enjoyed the movie greatly! I also enjoyed the anime as well. IMO it kinda dropped a bit when it went to the anime original type, but all in all the finale was still amazing.

    Though, I really hope they do a reboot when the manga gets far enough, because what I read recenty (in ch.48) It DESERVES a reboot.

    This is a BIG manga spoiler, read at your own risk.!!!

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • September 5, 2013 at 8:32 am☩Croos☩

    Good Job Enzo.

  • September 5, 2013 at 3:12 pmDdadain

    I’m hoping they pull a Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood for the second cour rather than taking off where the anime left off… rather than trying to “repair” the huge disjunction between the anime ending and what the manga has revealed thus far, it’d be better to wait for the manga to actually be close to finishing so the “full scope” of the story could be told as the author had intended…

    Given that this may take 3-4 years, I don’t really mind. Since I thought the original ending was a bit rushed… that it lost the beautiful narrative that made us fall in love with its first half in the first place.

  • September 5, 2013 at 3:34 pmSDFGS

    On thing I did miss from this series was the sheer amount of scenery porn. I mean this probably has one of the best backdrops out there in anime paired up with Shingeki no Kyojin (I’m talking about city backdrops) and Toaru Majutsu no Index

    • September 5, 2013 at 7:10 pmGuardian Enzo

      I agree, the city backdrops for AoEx have always been some of the prettiest and coolest in anime. The funny thing about Index/Railgun is that’s actually a real city (Tachikawa), and they really didn’t change it all that much. Gatchaman (among others) uses the same setting.

      • September 6, 2013 at 9:16 pmthenewhorde

        wait? did you said Railgun/Index is based off Tachigawa? Heck, ok, I’m definitely going to check out Tachigawa this week.

  • September 5, 2013 at 6:05 pmRyo Hana

    The oriental art was so enjoyable!
    I love how Rin is dealing with all of his angst
    while being super optimistic on the other side.

  • September 6, 2013 at 12:02 amAnonymous

    I didn’t notice this the first time, but there’s a really subtle shaky cam effect in almost every shot.

  • September 6, 2013 at 12:16 amKairi

    AoEx! I love this series, been ages since I kept up with the manga, unfortunately… I should watch this movie soon. @_@

  • September 6, 2013 at 10:10 amiron2000

    The detail art really left an impression.
    Though I can’t quite remember the plot already :P

  • September 7, 2013 at 1:55 pmKF

    I was touched you know. I nearly cried at the end. That poor demon…

    TQ

  • September 18, 2013 at 4:56 pmillusion

    This movies shows us that Rin will be an excellent father when he steps up his game with Shiemi eventually.

    • September 18, 2013 at 5:07 pmGuardian Enzo

      Most good fathers had good role models, so Rin has a nice head start.