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Submitted on
January 19, 2012
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Note: The following thought are my opinions of the manga SO FAR, and should not be considered my overall thoughts of the series once it's completed. Series like Naruto and Bleach have shown us that a series can jump the shark and seriously decline in quality.

Ongoing Manga Impressions: Ao No Exorcist

In this edition of Ongoing Manga Impressions, I have to look at a monthly series, Ao  No Exorcist by Kazue Kato, which is currently being serialized in Shonen Jump monthly sister comic, Jump Sqaure. The story revolves around Rin Okumura, a teenager possessing abnormal strength and endurance who, along with his younger twin brother Yukio, was raised by Father Shiro Fujimoto. Soon after Yukio departs to study at the prestigious True Cross Academy, Rin learns that he is the son of Satan, the strongest of all demons.

After his father Shiro dies protecting him, Rin has an encounter with Mephisto Pheles, who agrees with Rin's wish to become an Exorcist like his guardian to take revenge on Satan. Rin enrolls at the True Cross Academy, which is actually the Japanese branch of an international organization dedicated to protect the human realm, Assiah, from demons and other creatures from the demon realm, Gehenna.

Despite the not so original plot that this series started with, I actually really got into it when it first started. The first few chapters are some of the best in the series and was a great way to start this series. I mean, you had an unlucky main hero who in truth held great power, a very different but likeable brother, and a badass priest that could give Anderson a run for his money. Add a tense filled beginning and epic death scene, and this made for a very solid start.

What went wrong?...Well, I'll go over what I like about this series first, because to be fair there is stuff I do like.

As I said before, Rin is pretty decent main character, and his interaction with his brother Yukio is probably one of the best written parts of this manga. You can tell they love each other, but they're so different in personality, and you can tell that what happened to their father has made something of a gap between them. How they come back together and come to terms with their new reality is often the best parts of the manga.

Perhaps my favourite character in this manga is easily Mephisto. He steals the show every time he's on, and is constantly hilarious. And there were some other good side characters like Ryuji who turned out to be far more developed than their original cliché, which was nice to see.

Aside from that, the artwork is pretty decent, the comedy is actually quite good and the ideas the series present are good…

……but the execution of these ideas? Not so much.

I'll start from the beginning. Okay, Rin decides to become an exorcist and goes to True Corss Academy to study. Okay, so it's gonna be a Hogwarts-like series at first, having Rin and co. learn fighting skills, magic and exorcism skills. That's a great, justifiable long training arc which can also fit in some good slice of life! And much later in the story it can shift into a much darker, action packed second half which is more Hellboy-like and…

…Why is the second half already starting? You've barely shown us anything of Rin learn anything. Wait, why is Rin already as strong as his teachers? Why are you throwing around all this terminology I've never heard before and you refuse to explain? Who are these new characters and why should I care about them? Why is Shura such a whore?

Why is the pacing in this manga so awful?

I'm sorry to fans, but the pacing in this manga is pretty bad. It has great ideas, but when I read this series, I feel like Kato wants to get to the good parts as soon as possible. That's fine and all, but when you send your main character to a school of magic, it would be nice to see him, well, LEARN some new powers. Even his big reveal to his friends came too quickly in my opinion.

Did J.K Rowling skip straight to Harry and Voldemort's final battle? No! She spent seven books, AKA seven years, giving him a reasonable amount of time to develop as a wizard, making it not a stretch that by the time he fights Voldemort, he's a genuine threat. Rin on the other hand…we're 30 or so chapters in, and he's ALREADY the strongest good guy.

And while I did praise some of the characters, the females in this manga are pretty abysmal. Izumo is just a tsundere without any unique qualities, Sheimi gets one interesting chapter and then is just reduced to a side romance character, and I personally hate Shura. She's the most unprofessional professional I've ever seen.

I feel like this manga could've been better had it been a weekly manga. I think then Kato may have felt he had more time to expand on the powers of an exorcist and the world they're in. Alas, this is a monthly series, and it seems to me Kato wants to get to the juicy parts in order to keep his readers interested. But I find when writers do this I'm so unemotionally involved I'm more bored than anything.

I'm not asking for A Song Of Ice And Fire level of expansion, but the way I see it, a setting is a character in its own right, and when that's barely expanded on it's a pretty crap character. Hell, even Naruto and Bleach knew how to create an interesting (if very flawed) setting!

It's by no means the worst manga out there, and I'm sure some will find enjoyment from it, but I personally can't recommend Ao No Exorcist much. What potential it had to be a great series was largely ignored.

Overall Recommendation: 2/5

Stay tuned for future Ongoing Manga Impressions!
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hallowedthings Jul 30, 2012  Student Writer
I'm going to have to disagree; I think that the pacing was/is excellent. I'm glad it didn't go the way Harry Potter went (especially considering the way Harry Potter petered out after all of that build-up).

I remember that I got bored of Harry Potter quite quickly because there wasn't enough danger in the series. Most of it was magical slice-of-life interspered with fairly tame mystery, except for around the end of each book, and that really didn't do it for me.

And considering the demographic this story is aimed at (i.e. not a group that cares very much about deep or slowly paced stories, but more about action and interesting plot twists and story movement) it's excellent. I would give it a 4.5/5.

That's my opinion, though. I do agree about wanting to see Rin learn more magic, but I don't think there was much else for him to learn other than demon lore. Especially as most of what they're taught is probably harmful to him. Maybe Mephisto will give him lessons in magic in the future? Haha, that's probably just wishful thinking.

Nice review though, with some very good points :)

PS: What exactly were you hoping he'd deal with as part of the plot, if it hadn't taken the direction it did take? I'm curious. I love magic schools, academies and universities in fiction, so I'm interesting in your thoughts :)
Hey, it's fine. If you like the series than that's perfectly okay. There's one thing I have to say though:

You say the Shounen demographic isn't into slower paced stories, but do you know what the most popular shonen series of all time is? One Piece; a manga that takes its time to build up its world, plot and characters.

In fact, it's the best selling manga of all time, so I really can't agree with that statement. I mean, it almost sounds like you're saying shounen fans are idiots.

As for what I'd have him deal with, well, just about everything he's gone through, just further expanded on. I want more detail, more substance to everything, because it's all very shallow. I do think this series would've been better as a weekly series.

Still, thanks!
This is minor, but Kato is actually a woman, so you might want to add an s to that he.
Many typical shonen suffer from plots that move at glacial paces (ex. it took 60 volumes and 15 years for One Piece to get to its midpoint) so I see a quickly moving plot as the lesser of two evils. Other than that, I agree a lot. And seeing reviews that don't just overly praise or hate on something is very refreshing, even if I don't agree with everything. I look forward to reading more of your reviews! :D
Thanks! And thanks for becoming a watcher!

To be honest though, I prefer One Piece's slow speed compared to Ao No Exorcists rushed pace. I feel like there's so much in this world that they're just flying through, none of it makes an impact.
I like One Piece, but my wallet couldn't take reading more than one long running manga. Shorter, quicker series just seem so much easier to get into.
Well there's a number of manga websites you could check out. I go Mangareader.
I know, but I'm trying to get out of the habit of reading things illegally. I usually read manga either through the library or buy the volumes. I read a few series online, but I generally try to avoid it.
Fair enough then.
So would this be a poor Hellsing clone, A poor D gray man clone, or a poor Harry Potter clone
I'm sure what i wrote would explain what i think it is
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