by Emily Reuben
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for all previous episodes of this series.
“Like a Fire Burning Bright” finally offers a significant dose of character interaction and more active character involvement. At this point everything that has been built up throughout the season is actually beginning to tie into Rin’s character, which is a huge relief seeing as he has not been given as much of a focus until this point.
After reading the letter addressed to Rin the previous episode, Rin accepts Bon’s father’s plea for help in defeating the Impure King that has been re-released into the world. Shura, who has been a fairly passive character in this season, notes Rin’s progress and returns the Koma Sword she had confiscated from him, seeing his improved ability to contain his powers. Sadly, Rin is no longer able to draw the sword, as his confidence has deteriorated. Before Shura or Yukio can help Rin muster his courage, he is imprisoned in a magic, “impenetrable” prison to await his execution by order of the Vatican, where the exorcist bureaucracy is headquartered.
Meanwhile all of the residents of the temple prepare to fight the Impure King, including Shura and Yukio. Rin’s classmates must make a decision: attempt to free Rin to use him as a weapon against the Impure King or obey the Vatican’s orders to keep Rin under lock and key until his execution.
“Like Fire Burning Bright” is probably the best example of character building demonstrated in Kyoto Saga. Shura plays a role in Rin’s escape. Shiemi graduates from simply complaining about her uselessness to taking direct action. Rin is given time to digest what is happening to him and take it all in. Bon and Rin begin to finally patch things up. With the exception of Izumo (who hardly ever does anything), Shima (who is designated to be comic relief), and Konekomaru (a completely unexplored, disposable character), the main cast finally seems to be taking a more active role in the plot. While the developments and interactions aren’t perfect, at least it’s there, which is more can be said for some of the previous entries in this season.
Visually, nothing here is overly impressive or terrible; the animation is just acceptable. This has remained constant throughout the season (with a few minor exceptions) and “Like a Fire Burning Bright” is no exception. What’s different here is the appearance of Mephisto, the zany head of True Cross Academy who appears to further detain Rin. When Mephisto appears to imprison Rin, the animation associated with him feels exceedingly out of place. The style becomes less refined and more cartoonish, featuring faces on inanimate objects and brighter color schemes. While the appearance is brief, it demonstrates the inconsistant tones that have persisted throughout Kyoto Saga. The animation switches from silly to serious within seconds, which greatly contrasts with the serious topic of execution at hand.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment with this episode is the implementation of the music.This is not a problem for all viewers; in fact, some may see the music in this installment as an immersive bonus. Most people know that music can have a sizable effect on emotions. Unfortunately, some directors do not know when to keep the scene silent. On more than one occasion in “Like a Fire Burning Bright”, a lone piano plays in the background of the scene, usually signifying some contemplative yet personal feeling. The lonely piano plays its emotionally manipulative hand a few too many times, making the emotional impact of the episode feel forced. With more subtle music editing, Episode Seven could have been a rousing build-up to the imminent climactic fight slated for Episode Eight.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another. The characters finally feel like they are coming together as a group instead of a group of individuals who all happen to be exorcists around each other, yet the emotional climax of this episode is so artificial. Despite this, “Like a Fire Burning Bright” has laid the groundwork for a climactic conclusion to this season.
All Images From: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, Episode 7 – Like a Fire Burning Bright
“Like Fire Burning Bright” allows for some interesting character discourse and protagonist development, but the visuals are inconsistent which negatively impacts the tone. Similarly, emotions seem to be forced through audio rather than explored naturally through impactful dialogue. Overall, this is a solid episode in regards to characters, but it falls flat in terms of presentation.