by Emily Reuben
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for all previous episodes of this series.
Finally the Impure King reaches his full form in “Unbowed and Unbroken”, but despite this development the episode feels stagnant. Interestingly, the amount of action in this episode is more involved than any prior episode in the season, yet the episode manages to feel empty and without consequence. This is a huge issue with Kyoto Saga: when the series begins to pick up the pace after attempting to build tension episode after episode, the payoff is more than lacking; it’s virtually absent. When the series continuously drops the ball in terms of interesting character development and enticing animation sequences, what is there to draw viewers in? At this point, the Blue Exorcist name is what is bringing in viewership, not the quality of the season.
“Unbowed and Unbroken” clearly demonstrates the importance of focus and pacing when writing for a television format. With roughly 22 minutes to tell a story, the medium of television can be quite limiting. With this in mind, it is vastly important to prioritize what to show and what to leave out. Kyoto Saga has repeatedly failed to prioritize what to focus on, instead focusing on closely resembling events in the manga. The A plot is cast aside for various subplots that could be resolved in a matter of minutes, but are instead stretched out across episodes. This delay may work in a manga, but when translating to a moving, visual medium, changes must be made to accommodate. By trying to shove in as much detail as possible, the A plot feels rushed and lost among side character dilemmas.
“Unbowed and Unbroken” showcases events happening around the main dilemma (Bon and Rin attempting to stop the Impure King), but nothing really ties together. Once again, Shiemi and Izumo are forced into the mix further derailing the actual plot in their spectacularly boring way. Yukio is still facing off with the demonic Todo, making for the only redeemable part of the series at this point, and Konekomaru and Shima simply serve as messengers (and slight comic relief), but their only purpose here is to give Shura a reason to get involved next week.
A constant gripe with Kyoto Saga has been the lack of time Rin has been given in terms of character development and conflict resolution. Here we finally get to see more of Rin, but the result is extremely disappointing. In the previous season of Blue Exorcist Rin was portrayed as an arrogant, but good-natured hero. In Kyoto Saga Rin has been shown as weak, timid, and even more out of character, a suck-up. It is frustrating to watch a character that has been previously shown to be a strong, confident protagonist as insecure and powerless. The son of Satan has done nothing of value this entire season. With only a few episodes remaining, Rin’s character has been the biggest failure of the series.
All Images From: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga Episode 10 – Unbowed and Unbroken
“Unbowed and Unbroken” attempts to fix many of the previous issues, but in doing so the episode is largely unfocused. There is too much happening on the side that detracts from the gravity of the A Plot. More importantly, Rin and Bon’s exchange demonstrates a vital problem with the season thus far: the protagonist has been useless. With only a few episodes remaining, “Unbowed and Unbroken” gives an unfortunate insight into the quality of the remaining few episodes.