Monday, September 26, 2011

Ao no Exorcist - 24

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It’s pretty easy to see what cards everyone is holding as we get set for next week’s anime-only finale of Ao no Exorcist, but there’s still a wild card – or perhaps it’s a joker - that’s yet to be played. And I suspect that as he goes, so goes the battle.

This episode was quite a bit different from the last couple. The good? the pacing was manageable, and events proceeded at a much more sensible clip. The bad? Things weren’t quite as exciting as the last couple of eps, and a good deal more predictable. It was inevitable that things follow the path of Rin and Yukio confronting their family issues, though, so I don’t really have any complaints in seeing this week’s climax built around that.

I think any complaints about Satan being presented as a good guy should be pretty well put to rest, as it was clear he viewed his sons as tools to achieve his goal of conquering Assiah. Ernst proved himself a total sucker by giving the top boss of all top bosses exactly what he wanted, a screamn’ big gate from Gehenna to Assiah. There are still hints of affection towards Yuri (legend Hayshibara Megumi, Ayanami Rei – and Pen Pen – herself) that I suspect won’t please everyone, but I think Satan’s view of uniting the two worlds is quite different from what she had in mind. And I’m not bothered at the notion that a demon – even Satan – could have feelings for a mortal woman. It’s hardly the first time we’ve seen that tack used in literature and it won’t be the last.

Some of the drama of the Rin-Yukio confrontation was robbed by the fact that the outcome seemed pretty obvious, but I thought it was handled well. Yukio’s internal struggle with chibi, eyeless versions of himself ranting their jealousy of Rin was creepy, and Shiemi and Shura’s parts in bringing the climax about were in character. Yukio has never been one of my favorite characters and in a sense, I almost feel as if he had this coming – in contrast to Rin, he’s been quite arrogant and in denial about what he is. Hopefully the fact that it was Rin that ended up calling him back and saving him from suicide will teach him some humility.

But with Satan seemingly ready for an all-out war now that he’s been evicted and no signs of the gate being closed, we get back to that joker. Seems to me that Mephisto has to finally choose a side now – I suppose he could play the smiling clown right to the last and stay neutral, but I think his connection with Shiro will finally come into play in the end. Since we’ve only seen a tiny fraction of his power it seems as if he could tip the scales in whichever direction he chooses. But if he’s a joker, maybe Takara is the true wild card – in that we know even less about his intentions and his abilities than we know of Mephisto. And based on his appearance in last week’s ep, Bunny-kun must surely have a significant role to play in whatever happens to close this season out.

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