「天空の庭」 (Amahara no Niwa)
“The Amahara Garden”
If there’s any episode that didn’t scream “I’m a shounen,” it’d be this one. This was THE token episode all shounens seem to have, a self-contained story with simple values, and a good helping of “heart.” Throw in some back and forth yelling where the one that yells the loudest wins the moral argument, and you’ve got today’s Ao no Exorcist.
The structure isn’t what’s wrong with these kind of stories shounens keep doing, but the relying on a dry set of words to craft an emotional background for three characters contained in one episode hardly cuts it as “emotionally moving.” Well why does it have to be emotionally moving? Because that’s the only way it would even make a point. This storyline was solely created to push out a new character that will seem to follow the cast, explain some things about demons, and also as a bonus, let Rin reflect on his actions that was made to seem like he was an age old troubled soul dealing with a father’s death. And to that end, it wobbled across the finish line like me currently running several hundred meters, half dead. Moriyama Shiemi (oh you know who this is) is in essence a huge guilt trip over something that wasn’t really her fault no matter how you look at it. The grape vine thing falling over the grandma actually made me chuckle because of an earlier scene depicting the mess first. I was thinking, “it’d be funny if that was actually what killed the grandma.” That really killed the mood. Shiemi also reasons that if she didn’t go out searching for All Blue the flower version, she could’ve saved her grandma’s life, despite the fact that her grandma is the one fervently telling her to go find it in the first place. The irony is just staggering.
Now, it’s either a shoddy scenario, or it could require more episodes, but it wouldn’t really be wise to go off on a tangent on what’s ultimately an irrelevant story. Despite the issues, I was still emotionally stirred by the end, if only because I share a strong bond with my own mother, so maybe the show doesn’t even deserve credit for that. You can’t rely on sympathy alone because you don’t know all the people watching the show, so everything else must be crafted towards creating empathy. I’ve never lost a father to Satan before, but I sure as hell almost shed a tear for Rin’s tragic loss because I really believed Rin was suffering (a large part always banks on voice acting too). Naturally I liked all the characters and wanted to feel their problems, but when push came to shove, it just wasn’t able to come together in the pivotal scenes due to some odd emotional reasoning I couldn’t ignore. One thing that does keep me enjoying myself throughout is the whimsical nature of the jokes, and the “older brother is actually not as mature as the younger” quirk gets me every time, despite FMA owning that from top to bottom years ago.
Exorcist certainly isn’t turning out to be as sweeping as the prologue, a definite disappointment for myself. That’s not to say there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, because there still is, and it’s shining rather brightly with the rest of the cast finally being introduced next episode. I think they’re actually going to follow the same, “introduce character, delve into his past, reflect on main character” thing again next week too… I’m admittedly a little worried how the story’s going to juggle multiple characters when it can barely handle more than two. The strong ratings for the manga give a glimmer of hope that the author does/eventually knows what he’s doing, so my faith will hang around there for now.