Ao no Exorcist – 05
This week we meet more of Rin’s new classmates, the primary focus being Suguru Ryuuji AKA Bon, a rather serious, short-tempered fella who is the heir to a declining temple. Rin and Bon immediately strike up a rivalry, because you’re not a true shounen protagonist until you have a rival to call your own! The episode falls into a fairly predictable pattern, but there are some interesting tidbits of information underneath all the “rawr, rawr I don’t like you” behaviour Rin & Bon engage in.
The set up for Rin & Bon’s rivalry is very straightforward – Rin’s a complete idiot in class, school isn’t really his forte and his falling asleep in class and failing every test he sits rubs the ever so serious Bon up the wrong way. Bon is at True Cross Academy on the same scholarship Yukio attended on – he’s completely focused on his studies and finds Rin’s antics both distracting and offensive. However rather than just ignore Rin and get on with things, Bon allows his irritation to get the better of him and constantly needles at Rin, which of course gets Rin all fired up and the cycle continues with both boys feeding into each others annoyance. This kind of relationship is a staple of the shounen genre, but the one that I think is most similar is Gray & Natsu from Fairy Tail as they get over their antagonistic ways fairly quickly, but still enjoy arguing with each other.
Of course the turning point in their relationship is when Rin ends up saving Bon from his own stupidity, as Rin’s ability to cow the giant frog demon evens the playing field a bit – Bon may be booksmart, but Rin is physically skilled even without relying on his demonic flames. Bon isn’t so pig-headed as to disregard a true display of skill and recognises that Rin is serious about becoming an exorcist in his own way – the two will never be buddy-buddy, but neither will they be truly antagonistic; Rin stands to benefit from Bon’s knowledge and Bon from Rin’s strength.
It was nice to get a bit of Bon’s past straight off the bat too. His attitude seems to be a direct reaction to his father’s rather meek personality – Bon can’t seem to comprehend why his father didn’t fight harder to prevent the decline of their temple after The Blue Night. Where his father laughs off the attitude of the locals, Bon seems to have taken their scorn and used it as fuel in his attempt to be the best he possibly can be. Bon clings to his childish wish to defeat Satan because it represents his determination to restore his family’s lost prestige – Satan was the root cause of The Blue Night that wiped out the majority of the monks in the temple which resulted in its being thought cursed & shunned by its patrons.
Because the two goals have become one and the same in Bon’s eyes, he can’t really handle it being ridiculed; so the fact that Rin not only doesn’t ridicule him but actually echoes the exact same wish (albeit for entirely different reasons) with absolutely no hesitation or fear, earns Rin a lot of respect in Bon’s eyes. This is why it is Bon that makes the first move in reconciling with Rin; Rin himself never really harboured any real malice for Bon (rather he thought Bon was cool!) and being the good-natured, simple idiot he is, easily accepts the clumsy gesture of friendship Bon offers (woo hairclip!).
The stuff I found most interesting only made up a tiny fraction of the episode. First off, Yukio. I really like Yukio as a character – it’s really difficult to figure out what he’s thinking underneath that perfect smile. This week we see him once again aiming a gun in his brother’s direction, clearly sticking to his orders to keep Rin under tight surveillance. Its unclear whether Yukio was aiming at Rin or at the frog demon, but the fact he reports that Rin did not release his flames before putting away his gun, seems to imply that it was indeed Rin he was aiming for. The fact that Yukio can so easily slip into this ruthless professional persona is quite disturbing, especially when you see him acting so cheerful with Rin & Shiemi earlier in the episode. It makes me wonder if there isn’t still some deep-seated resentment towards Rin in Yukio’s heart, and just what would cause Yukio’s facade of Mr Nice Guy to shatter. Rin of course is oblivious to everything including his twin’s sometimes chilly smiles, if Yukio does crack it would really be a massive blow to Rin.
The other big thing of interest is the reveal of Mephisto as a high-ranking demon – no less than one of Satan’s sons. It was pretty obvious that Mephisto was a demon – the fangs, ears & the fact he has powers that no other human exorcist possess (shapeshifting, the creation of the Exorcist’s keys etc.) were pretty major clues. However the fact that he’s actually one of Satan’s sons (and therefore Rin’s half-brother) came as a bit of a surprise. Mephisto clearly has his own motives for staying in the human world and being a high-ranking member of the exorcist order, what those are aren’t clear (he’s kind of coming across as a bit of an Orihara Izaya figure at the moment – the fact they share a voice actor helps). It’s interesting that Mephisto seems to be both feeding information on Rin to Satan, and protecting him at the same time. True Cross Academy is beyond the demon’s reach (Mephisto meets his brother Amaimon outside the grounds) thanks to Mephisto’s own powers, but he’s also keeping Satan updated on Rin’s development, maybe he’s playing double-agent or perhaps Mephisto is dancing to no one’s tune but his own? Either way he’s a character to watch, and I doubt we’ve seen the last of this third son of Satan that was briefly introduced – Earth King Amaimon.
Next week looks like a comedy episode with a cooking demon…..hopefully is isn’t as bad as the preview suggests.