by Emily Reuben
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for all previous episodes of this series.
After the previous episodes of forced insertions of character development and drama, “Mysterious Connections” offers a slight change of pace. Yukio finally arrives at the temple and learns about the robbery of the Left Eye. He also learns that Rin has had an outburst resulting in his confinement. Disappointed in his brother’s inability to control his powers, Yukio tags along with Shura (Rin’s mentor) to visit and scold Rin. Shura delivers a letter addressed to Rin from Bon’s father, Tatsuma, and the remainder of the episode is spent retelling the events described in the letter.
The mysterious letter details the past of Bon’s father and the struggles he had faced when first taking over leadership of the temple. More importantly, the episode relates the acquisition of Rin’s sword (The Koma Sword) he received from Father Fujimoto in the prior season and Fujimoto’s involvement in these events. This adds some much appreciated explanation of character motives in relationship to the developing plot.
At this point, Kyoto Saga seems to be following the manga too closely. This is strange to say, as Kyoto Saga’s very existence is based on the fact that Blue Exorcist’s first season didn’t follow the manga closely enough. The biggest issue when adapting a manga into an anime is pacing. Sequences that only last a few pages in the manga turn into 6 episodes of an anime, effectively slowing the plot to a halt. Having read through the Blue Exorcist manga and knowing where the plot is currently headed, it is clear that far too much time has been spent on exposition in the anime adaption. This doesn’t mean that Kyoto Saga has failed as an adaption, however. It has certainly shown growing bonds between characters, rising tensions, and heavy foreshadowing of future events as opposed to remaining completely devoid of interest. The set up for an interesting season is definitely here, it just seems to be taking too long to actually amount to something. Only time will tell if the slow build-up will be worth the wait.
While the pacing up until now has been rather slow, what Kyoto Saga has been doing well is evolving character relationships. “Mysterious Connections” is no exception in this regard. One brief exchange between Yukio and Shura does a much better job at foreshadowing Yukio’s character than the entire last half of the previous season had managed to do. Yukio is by far the most interesting and charismatic character in the series, so it is genuinely impressive to see allusions to his character addressed with subtlety.
It is exciting to see Kyoto Saga begin to pick up the pace and demonstrate its ability to develop and expand on established characters. Hopefully, “Mysterious Connections” signifies an improvement for the remainder of the season and isn’t just a fluke.
All Images From: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga Episode 5 - Mysterious Connections
Overall, “Mysterious Connections” demonstrates that Kyoto Saga has some real potential to stray from a slow paced bore to an engaging, character driven adaption. The characters really shine here and for the first time, the flashbacks add to the story rather than reiterate past events for those who easily forget.
Emily is a Telecommunications (Film and Media Studies) major minoring in Japanese and Professional Writing in Emerging Media. Her review Netflix’s ‘Death Note’ grossly misunderstands why the original was a success and her feature article Studying Abroad in Japan: The weebs are wrong won honorable mentions in the CSPA journalism awards categories for Entertainment Reviews and First Person Experiences. She is the 2018-2019 host for the Input 2 podcast. In the past, Emily has interned at WFYI Indianapolis as a Production Intern and studied abroad in Japan.