Ao no Exorcist – 04
Character introduction episodes are a mixed bag, even within a series. In Ao no Exorcist, the twins, their father & Mephisto had good intros, but unfortunately Shiemi’s is pretty weak. I don’t know if its my indifference to Shiemi as a character, or the fact that Kana Hanazawa is playing her like every other ditzy Kana Hanazawa character, but this episode was just not as good as the previous three. That’s not to say that it was bad, it’s just that Shiemi’s story is rather dull compared to Rin & Yukio’s.
Shiemi’s back-story is pretty a straightforward tale of misplaced guilt – Shiemi blames herself for her beloved grandmothers death, because she broke her promise to be back early enough from her wanders to help her granny in the garden, resulting in the old woman having a tragic accident when doing the work herself. Shiemi then associates any desire of her’s to adventure away from home (in search of a legendary garden) with her granny’s death, and becomes physically unable to leave her granny’s garden. Shiemi’s mental fetters are then reinforced by a parasitic demon that physically roots her to the garden. It should be noted that, even though this is a demon, it’s mostly harmless so long as Shiemi has no desire to leave the safety of her garden (although it must really suck to have your legs become too weak to support you for no immediately apparent reason).
Shiemi still has her mother around, but the relationship is strained since the mother is busy running the main supply store for the True Cross Exorcists and seems to have no real attachment to Shiemi’s beloved garden. Shiemi’s mothers attempts to get her daughter away from the garden results in a teenage temper tantrum reminiscent of Rin’s in episode two (without the satanic possession and death of the parent in question!) which touches a nerve with Rin.
Rin sees echoes of his own behaviour in Shiemi and feels the need to do something about it. Of course Rin isn’t exactly gifted in the way of mediation and his way of tackling the issue is to physically shake/slap some sense into Shiemi; and this obviously works since this is a shounen series where actions speak louder than words! Of course an action scene is a prerequisite so of course the hither-to rather passive demon affecting Shiemi’s garden suddenly goes on the offensive once Shiemi shows any sign of wanting to break free. The action is wrapped up quickly with Rin powering his way through once Yukio creates an opening, once again showing how the brother’s strengths nicely balance each other.
This episode was really designed to give Rin another friendly face in the Exorcist cram school since Shiemi decides to join the school in order to overcome her hikikomori ways. Rin needs another student to pair up with as Yukio won’t always be on hand due to his being an active duty Exorcist in addition to being a teacher, plus Shiemi nicely doubles as the love interest for the twins – Rin seems quite taken with Shiemi, who in turn idolises ‘Yuki-chan'; triangles make everything more interesting!
The start of the episode gave us some more information about True Cross Academy itself. The school is built in such a rambling confusing manner because Mephisto has used his own unique abilities to place anti-demonic spells and wards into the very foundations – the place is meant to be a maze (plus the crazy architecture reflects Mephisto’s personality perfectly) and the exorcist’s facilities can only be reached through the use of special keys. Yukio has a variety of keys since he’s a fully qualified exorcist, where Rin only has the one that allows him to get to his classroom – I really like the idea of these keys, seems like a much more efficient way to get around the huge school grounds than wandering aimlessly!
I also enjoy the interactions between Rin & Yukio. Yukio has really gone into all out mother-hen mode, tidying up after Rin & nagging him to study – to think that just last week he was threatening to kill Rin! It’s amusing to see how different Yukio acts when in professional Exorcist mode, gone is the sarcasm and exasperated nagging, and out comes this charming, cool, calm and collected persona (which instantly cracks whenever Rin says/does something stupid) – no wonder Shiemi and her mother are quite taken with Yuki-chan! It will be fun to watch Yukio attempt to adjust to having his loud, opinionated brother messing with his professional life – until now they’ve always been kept strictly separated after all!
Next week’s episode will continue to introduce the characters in Rin’s new class. Thankfully they’re much more interesting than Shiemi so next week should be a fun episode!