Here’s the second of our Anime Pocket Reviews! This time it’s 3-in-1! Also, it’s one from each year – 2010, 2011 & 2012!
Blue Exorcist (2011, S1, 25x25mins)
In a world filled with demons, Blue Exorcist follows Rin Okomura, a kid who along with his brother Yukio has been raised in a church by famous exorcist Father Fujimoto. One day the church they live in is attacked by demons, leading Rin to find out he is in fact the son of Satan, the source of all demons in the world. Determined to fight against his own identity and kill Satan himself, Rin follows Yukio to the renowned True Cross Academy, a school that teaches the arts of exorcism.
This was a fairly well-drawn piece, with characters having very emotive faces and the anime itself swapping between normal and comedy-style drawings very well (something that can also be said for MLM above). The demons regularly have a cirque-de-solei look to them, which I think works well for the age-range this is targeted at* but isn’t at all dramatic. The circus style also is evident in the highlight of the series, Mephisto. The wacky shape-shifting headmaster of True Cross Academy is a really quirky, sneaky, powerful manipulator and is honestly one of the best outlandish characters I’ve seen in any anime so far.
Like I’ve found with many different anime’s, Blue Exorcist does tail off in the middle, becoming little more than a situation teen drama you would expect your kids to watch, each episode having little or no meaning on the follow ups.
Overall, while this series has sparks of comedy, some cool characters and occasional dramatic moments, I can’t imagine I’ll ever come back to this one. Probably really good for a young age range, but lacks the bite to cut it at the top table.
*I’m under the assumption this is targeted at kids. However, the on-screen subtitles seem to indicate a fairly sparse use of expletives. This may be just a poor translation, where the word isn’t actually seen as an expletive in Japanese, or it could be legit meaning this is actually aimed at an older generation. If this aimed at an older generation, then this is actually worse than I’ve said in the review because it seriously lacks an edge, but I doubt that’s the case.
My Little Monster (2012, S1, 13x20min)
MLM stars Shizuku Mizutani, a cold, hardworking, A* high school student dedicating her life to her studies. Then she meets Haru Yoshida, an erratic, volatile and scary boy who’s supposed to be sat next to her in class but never turns up. Haru is lonely, and latches onto Shizuku when he finally starts going to school. The series follows the two of them as they fall in and out of teen love, along with the other friends they make, each with their own problems (friendship, appearance, parents etc.).
I’ve slated the opening credits to anime shows before, but this is an exception. While also to be consumed in smaller qualities, the intro song for this show might be the happiest song I’ve ever heard. That sums up the feel of this show, very lively, fairly funny, but nearly always happy. Past that, there’s not much My Little Monster offers in story, and there’s also not that much in character development considering the type of story it is. There is funny moments, and plenty of smiles to go with this, but it’s not something I would suggest to people to watch.
Durarara!! (2010, S1, 26x25mins)
Comedy, Mystery, Slice-of-Life
In pursuit of a more exciting life, youngster Mikado Ryugamine moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo, to attend school with long lost childhood friend Masaomi. Upon arrival, Masaomi fills Mikado in on what the city holds. He warns him to stay away from two people, angry superhuman Shizuo and information broker Izaya. He is also warned of a mysterious gang known as ‘The Dollars’. On his first night he witnesses a local myth known as the Black Rider, a woman who rides a black bike that neighs like a horse, who is rumoured to have no head. The series follows the two of them, along with a plethora of characters as paths start to cross in strange and potentially dangerous ways.
This was a really interesting anime. DRRR does an incredible job of bringing a vibrant location to life, creating a very lively and ever changing story that sits hand in hand with Ikebukuro, an ‘entertainment’ district in Tokyo. The amount of characters – not just people, actual dimensional characters – is staggering. The story is told from more than 11 different perspectives throughout the series, according to Wikipedia. There’s so many different people that different viewers will either like or dislike certain people*, and the way they can get brought to the forefront and pushed into the background, with the lead in an episode regularly changing from one character to the next, constantly keeps the story fresh.
At the start, this series is very lively, with a hint of happy-go-lucky about it, the three school kids adventuring around the big bad world. However, what starts as a really fun series starts to become dark, almost sinister, as more and more secrets are revealed. While I did still enjoy the series the whole way through, there was part of me yearning for it to return to the lively, bright and energetic style at the beginning.
The soundtrack for DRRR is really good! One of the best sounding anime’s I’ve seen. Also, the intro for DRRR is the best I’ve seen in anime, and shows you exactly why this is a success, the incredible array of characters! It’s really retro and cool, check it out below!
Overall, this is a thoroughly impressive piece of anime. The amount of characters all compressed into a relatively small space makes the world come to life, while the mysteries that are uncovered add a level of drama that is just about balanced with its more natural position, a light-entertainment piece. I will definitely be watching the next series!
*My favourite character was Shinra Kishitani, the effortlessly composed, naturally entertaining doctor that lives with Celty. He’s always good fun!
What did you think of these anime’s? Also, I’m interested to hear what people think is the best intro to an anime of all time, as I would argue there’s two worthy candidates on show here!
Make sure you follow us at The Culture Cove to catch our next Anime Pocket Review before anyone else, which will include intergalactic war thriller Aldnoah Zero!