by Emily Reuben
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for all previous episodes of this series.
Another week, another episode that focuses on someone other than Rin. “Through Thick and Thin” features a bit of everybody from Yukio, Rin, Bon, and the other exorcists in training. Again, the majority of the season up to this point has felt more like it was Bon’s story being told from the vantage point of Rin, but episode 9 finally begins to stray away from that. For now, the main intrigue surrounds Yukio.
“Through Thick and Thin” is definitely not an action oriented episode. While Todo and Yukio continue their fight, no one really does anything new in this episode; everyone just continues doing what they started doing last episode. While characters partake in action oriented sequences, the focus is not on the actual combat but the relationships between characters. Action in Kyoto Saga acts as more of a catalyst for (minor) character development rather than a vehicle for portraying fast-paced, engaging animation. Character development is great when done well, though admittedly it would be nice to actually witness a real fight rather than having a brief physical squabble interrupted by constant dialogue.
Continuing the trend from last week, the scenes with Yukio are by far the strongest of the season so far. The combination of intense action, high stakes, and compelling character development all culminate in a masterfully crafted scene at the beginning of the episode. The emotional development of Yukio really works here because as Yukio reveals his feelings to the audience, he is simultaneously having his first serious confrontation with these feelings. Because these feelings are developing and evolving as the scene goes on, it really imparts the moment with emotional gravity.
While the scenes with Yukio feel genuine and compelling, every other character in this episode falls flat in their moments of emotional development. Rin and Bon arrive at the base of the Impure King and start fighting. However, instead of showing characters dynamically changing emotions based on their surroundings, they both stay relatively stagnant, resulting in a largely inconsequential scene. Shima and Konekomaru are the next pair focussed on, and this is where the character development starts to go awry. A previously unexplored part of Shima’s character first revealed in episode 7, “Like a Fire Burning Bright”, is delved into in “Through Thick and Thin”. However, instead of seeing this as a natural progression, it seems more like Shima acted this way in episode 7 just so he could cause drama in episode 9 where there wouldn’t have ordinarily been any. Ultimately, his development is ineffective due to the lack of logical buildup and poor pacing.
After that mess Izumo and Shiemi get their turn for unnecessary character development. Sadly the exchange mirrors their conversations from earlier in the season with the same fatal flaw: they keep talking about how Shiemi wants to be strong, but they never show her doing anything to grow. Not all of the exchange was worthless though. The show accidentally stumbled into a moment of humor as Izumo channels the irritation of many viewers, telling Shiemi that she is weak and that she just needs to shut up. It’s hard to resonate with Shiemi when she literally does nothing but cry and whine. Even when she does attempt to be useful, her consistent lack of self-confidence (despite her peers constantly building her up) is rather off-putting.
At the end of the episode, the focus returns to the fight between Yukio and Todo, where a major revelation is shown. The new information is not explained, but the implications are as epic as the gothic music that swells during the reveal. This pseudo-cliffhanger teases exciting new developments that may have the potential to shake this season from its rut of lackluster character interactions. For those disappointed with Yukio’s character in the previous season, the allusions here are sure to please in future episodes.
All Images From: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, Episode 9 – Through Thick and Thin
Though “Through Thick and Thin” showcases the most dynamic and entertaining character development of the season in Yukio, the show is still held back by the overexposure of the side characters and their poorly written exchanges.