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The Devil You Know – Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga (Volume Two) – Humble Opinions

Seeing is disbelieving

If there were ever a being to carry completely justifiable daddy issues, it would be the child of Satan. I doubt he would turn up to any of his child’s important life moments and he also helms a realm of eternal torment and damnation. And that’s terrible. In the specific case of Rin, Satan is also rather determined to utilise his son as a weapon for destroying the entire mortal realm and gaining even more power than he already possesses as the Head Demon in Charge. Totally a selfish move, but what else would you expect from, you know, the Devil himself?

When last we left our hero, he was locked in a prison cell and just discovering the extent to which his adoptive father was awesome. We already new Shiro was enough of a badass to hold Satan at bay for years with willpower alone, but now we are also aware of how simply he can heal an entire temple of a deadly demonic disease, befriend the sceptical leader-to-be of said temple and receive an invaluable relic as payment for such. It’s also worth noting that Shiro was almost dead when he first crashed into the Myohda Sect, having felled a demon single-handedly. Regardless, Rin is inspired by the actions of his father and resolves to do all he can to help those around him, believing it will add worth to the life Shiro sacrificed himself to preserve. It’s a solid point of motivation and one that continues to enforce the notion that the circumstances of one’s birth are not a defining trait in establishing a their true self; rather, it is those who choose to be a part of one’s life that can guide them. Of course, some people refuse the lives presented to them and allow their resentment to fuel their journey into the darkness (as it does with one Saburota Todo). Man, who’d’ve thought a series about exorcism would lean so heavily into the realms of personal development? Take that, Satan…I think.

In front of every good demon…

With his path decided, the closing half of this arc becomes the tale of Rin. Though still a terrible threat, the Impure King receives no development and exists solely as a threat for our heroes to overcome. More specifically, the Impure King’s inherent weakness to fire serves as an ideal stage for Rin to showcase the benefits his power in the hands of an Exorcist. Mephisto himself title drops the importance of Rin’s acceptance of his abilities, heralding the birth of the Blue Exorcist, a demon created to kill his own kin. A little grandiose, but given the degree to which Rin burns away the forces of evil, not entirely untrue. Speaking of, Mephisto remains an intriguing presence within this story. Though established long ago, his lack of true allegiance to any side stands as a fun aside to the personal struggles that form a bulk of the series. The guy really just wants to be entertained and if the Son of Satan turns against his father and birthright, all the more exciting. After all, aren’t we hoping for the same thing? Sure we wan’t Rin to succeed in the end, but aren’t the struggles fun to watch? Rin wouldn’t have had a chance to prove himself had the Impure King not arisen, so was it not a necessary evil? Also, I just realised I’m following the thought patterns of a demon, so I’m just going to stop now.

Goodness gracious…

Not to be left behind, Yukio retains his relevance with a vengeance in these closing episodes. Driven to the brink yet again by Todo’s taunting, Yukio reveals that he is not as different from that which he hunts. Though not to the extent of his brother, it would seem that the power of Satan flows through Yukio’s veins as well. When faced with his imminent death, Yukio’s eyes burst forth with that all-too-familiar blue glow and left both himself and his opponent lost for words. Sure they fade to normal after a second or two, but their presence spins the tale of Yukio down an all new path. This arc has spent a decent amount of time informing us that Yukio carries a fury within him, born of living a life of fighting demons and coping with Rin. Combined with the knowledge that succumbing to dark emotions can invite demonic influence, Yukio stands on a dangerous precipice. The kid holds so much self-loathing and uncertainty, that the day he finally snaps is not too far in the distance. Now add the fact that the blood of the most powerful demon ever exists within him to some extent and you’ve got yourself a recipe for another arc. That being said, the lessons we’ve learnt with Rin may come into effect once again and save another soul torn apart by their origins and doubt. Hopefully.

While we’re talking about demons, go figure, why don’t we take a little time to focus on Todo? Remember, he was that guy who started this entire arc? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, because he leaves surprisingly little impact for somebody who resurrected a demon of historical terror. On top of that, he absorbed the power of a demon destined to fight said resurrected and single-handedly took on a team of Exorcists. And yet he still remains calmly non-impactful. Sure his dialogue with Yukio is gratingly self-confident, but that’s really as memorable as he gets. Though his fate leaves the door wide open for him to return, his overall presence in this arc was more instigator than focus. The clash of Rin and the Impure King is what everybody wanted to see, Todo was really just there to give Yukio something to do. Even his absorption of Karura did not kill the demon and his corruption of Mamushi resulted in her trading her Exorcist rank out for a husband. Yes Todo influenced the story, but it feels as if he only shifted things around, perhaps even to the benefit of the good guys. I just…it’s like…the dude’s average as a bad guy. He could come back, or he could not and it really wouldn’t matter. Which feels mean to say, but the guy tried to kill people, so screw him.

Tourist Troupe

As far as arcs go, the Kyoto Saga is a pretty solid one. With more attention on character development than exorcism, it sends us through the mindsets of people trying to come to terms with an impossible truth. Their friend is suddenly revealed as the Son of Satan and their lifelong pursuits of vengeance and saving humanity are turned on their head…except they aren’t. That’s the trick to this, you see. As it turns out, people are not defined by the actions of somebody else and your personal history with somebody is not necessarily rendered null in void when you learn that their dad is a jerk. I can’t say that this rule is in play for every situation, but it definitely is here and I’m glad everybody finally got on the same page. Enough so that they all went on a charming trip through Kyoto and did what normal kids do: make fun of their friend by spelling “Satan” through use of creative posing when having their photo taken in Kyoto Tower. Why the lady taking said photo did not seem weirded out by such an action is beyond me, but that’s a story for another saga.

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