There was a lot to love about this series. Likable characters, a good story and plenty of action. Unfortunately, I can’t help but wish that it had gone in other directions than it did down the stretch. I realize this isn’t a clear or even valid criticism of the series, but like so many anime fans, I tend to get wrapped up in my own ideas of where the story “should” go. This rarely happens when I’m reading a book or watching a film. When it comes to anime, though, so often I’m left unsatisfied by writers’ choices. It’s a wonder I actually like any of it at all!
Not really up for discussing the ending, but I feel like they played it too safe. Maybe the manga ends this way. Maybe it’s still ongoing and, in light of that, this was the best they could do to wrap things up. Or, maybe you’re supposed to leave viewers wanting more? Somehow, we actually get an extra season of Working!! but not more of this or Soul Eater? Am I being too impatient? I do want to see where these characters go from here. There’s a lot of potential for growth in them, and I feel like so much of the initial premise of the series is still unexplored.
Also, I think I would have enjoyed Blue Exorcist even more if there had been more emphasis on Christian scripture and/or mysticism. Sure, there’s episode 8, in which the arias-in-training recite the book of John to kill a demon, but otherwise there was a surprising lack of actual Christian content anywhere to be found. If the writers had gone a little further down this path, we’d have a series in which the heroes possessed some tangible powers to work with (complete with Biblically-backed limitations) rather than the often vaguely-defined combat skills that they continuously relied on. Maybe this is par for the course in Japan and writers there really don’t care about Christian theology or history beyond what they can pull out of it that might look cool (it wouldn’t be the first time). But I would have liked to see a series in which Christian teens (whom I presume the characters were, although none are ever shown praying or studying a Bible) battle demons with abilities that have, you know, something to do with their beliefs rather than ill-defined superpowers that, beyond those of Rin himself, we never really get much of an understanding of.
I guess I wanted the series to take fewer liberties with the finer points of exorcism as revealed by the Catholic church, which would have given us a privileged look behind the scenes into a heavily guarded world of secrets and mysticism. Obviously, authenticity was never the point of this show, but how much more intriguing could Blue Exorcist have been if its depiction of the church resembled what it looks like (from the outside-in, at least) here in the real world? Maybe then, abilities like demon summoning would come as a real surprise — and open the door to all kinds of theological discussions — instead of resembling standard shonen cliches.
I don’t mean to be hard on this series. It never promised to be anything more than it was, and if I’m still not okay with that, then I guess that’s what fanfiction is for. It’s actually pretty tempting. Probably for the best that I’ll be back in school soon.