by Emily Reuben
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga is the sort-of sequel to the primarily well received action anime, Blue Exorcist. General audiences enjoyed the inventive world building, fun characters and creative demon designs, though many fans of the original manga series found fault with just how far the second half of the series strayed from the source material. While many of these changes would go unnoticed by those who skipped over the manga, readers took notice of the anime’s detour from the manga’s established plot line and concluding of events. Little of the material actually in the manga survived the transition to anime series outside of the first few issues, alienating many manga fans who expected a completely different conclusion to their beloved story. Five years after the first season ended, Kyoto Saga is here to right the wrongs of its predecessor, effectively erasing the second half of the first season from the show’s official cannon.
It is highly recommended that before getting into Kyoto Saga that any perspective viewers should either watch season one of Blue Exorcist through episode 17 or read until the manga’s Kyoto Impure King Arc. Kyoto Saga spares very little time introducing characters or plot lines, assuming that those watching are well acquainted with the story up to this point with only a few brief flashbacks to remind viewers of what had transpired earlier in the series. With this in mind, the first episode of Kyoto Saga is very much focused on the aftermath of what had happened in episode 17 and before, so those who are unacquainted with the events of the story should stop reading here to keep from reading any spoilers about the first half of the first season.
Kyoto Saga is a continuation of Blue Exorcist’s story with all of the same characters present. The hot-headed and aspirational son of Satan, Rin Okumura, continues his fight against the demonic forces infiltrating the human world. At his side are his fellow exorcists in training, as well as his more accomplished twin brother Yukio, who is responsible for keeping Rin’s budding demonic powers under control. In the majority of season one Rin’s powers had been kept secret from almost everyone, with the exception of Yukio and the administration of the Exorcist school, True Cross Academy. Here, the cat’s out of the bag, and Rin’s relationship to Satan as well as his demonic powers have been revealed to his comrades. Sadly, his fellow exorcists are all too familiar with the powers of Satan, with many having lost family in the fight against evil. Due to these negative personal experiences, Rin starts “Small Beginnings” as something of a pariah in the exorcist world.
“Small Beginnings” starts interestingly enough, allowing Yukio and Rin to jump straight into some demon fighting action. An artifact called the Left Eye of the Impure King has been stolen by an exorcist who has allowed himself to be possessed by a demon, and the twin sons of Satan have been called in to see what they can do about the situation. This brief encounter that Yukio and Rin have with the demon is one of two instances of action in this episode, aside from the opening. After this small dose of action, the remainder of the episode is mostly devoted to recapping events from the previous season and establishing where all of Rin’s classmates stand in regard to the revelations surrounding his lineage.
For the first episode of a season, “Small Beginnings” is a bit strange. Because Kyoto Saga aims to retell events from the first season, it essentially acts as just the next episode in a series rather than being an epic, action packed opening tasked with getting new viewers hooked. The events of this episode are represented as the continuation of events in the middle of season one. There is nothing here to really grasp the viewer, which should usually be the goal of any beginning episode. While it is noted that the creators have intended for Kyoto Saga to completely replace the second half of the previous series, this will surely alienate or confuse non-manga readers who were satisfied with the show’s previous conclusion.
The majority of this episode is spent watching Rin being rejected by his fellow classmates and dealing with the revelation that he is now being outcast. Only Izumo Kamiki, a generally snide and off-putting classmate of Rin’s, continues to speak to Rin and even attempts to cheer him up. This leads to some tense discourse within the group, and the remainder of the episode is spent addressing the feelings everyone has towards Rin and his abilities. Since the entire episode is focused on setting up both the larger plotline involving the stolen artifact and recapping the feelings of Rin’s classmates, “Small Beginnings” could have very well been titled, “Exposition: the episode”.
For a relatively uneventful episode, far too much time had been devoted to flashbacks. One of these flashbacks goes on far too long, essentially retelling the exposure of Rin’s powers to his friends. It seems strange that such a large amount of time was spent recalling past events, as this entire new season is supposed to be a retelling itself. Though this scene makes it entirely clear to the audience exactly when the events in this episode take place in relationship to the past season, this is information those following the production of Kyoto Saga would most likely already be aware of. Obviously, this may be helpful information for new viewers, but its doubtful that the majority of Kyoto Saga’s audience hadn’t seen the previous season. With this in mind, time in the episode would have been better spent detailing the characters reactions to Rin and Rin’s emotions more in depth.
All Images From: Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, Episode 1 – Small Beginnings
Overall, “Small Beginnings” does a fine enough job foreshadowing future dilemmas, but outside of planting the seeds for the plot of upcoming episodes, it feels as if not much happened other than seeing Rin being an outcast.
Ryan is a Music Media Production major who wrote the first ever Byte music review and has been involved with nearly every other section at some point. He is also an event planner at Village Green Records and the primary booking coordinator for the store’s outdoor concerts.