Sunday, April 24, 2016

Book Review: “Ao no Exorcist” - Tankobon vol. 5-9

Written and illustrated by Kazue Kato

From the hallowed hallways of True Cross Academy, where Rin Okumura is training to become an exorcist, the story now shifts to the heart of Kyoto, as exorcist-turned-demon Saburota Todo steals the powerful "Left Eye of the Impure King".

[Ao no Exorcist is an ongoing manga series. Individual chapters are currently being collected into Tankobon volumes. I have decided to categorize my thoughts based on adventures. In this second part of my review, I look at Tankobon volumes 5 through 9, which contains chapters 16-37].

Hoping to prevent a catastrophe, the exwires travel to Ryuji Suguro's hometown to help the exorcists of the "Myoda Sect". Nestled between an estranged father-son relationship on one end and a shocking deception by a respected exorcist on the other, a stolen artefact releases a poisonous miasma that poses a widespread and deadly risk to the entire city of Kyoto. As the story unfolds, historical secrets are revealed, great alliances are formed, and powerful magic is displayed .. but, eerily, there always seems to run a thread of something greater, waiting in the wings.

While the previous chapters were all about introducing the key characters in this saga, this is where we start going deeper into each person's life - and, to my endless fascination, the author maintains this trend throughout the series. There is no one single "hero" of this tale. Everyone has a part to play; every action makes a difference. And I really loved seeing how each character - driven by his or her unique quality - helped to make a tangible difference every step of the way.

Sure, there was some silliness in this section too! ... A trip to the beach aroused a lot of comments from the boys, surrounded as they were by Shiemi Moriyama's mortification at having to wear a swimsuit, and Shura Kirigakure, whose everyday clothes are never that much more than a swimsuit anyway. But it all felt in good fun, and did not deter from the main danger they were fighting to control.

The Art, as I mentioned in my previous review, is as powerful as the words, and adds such great value to this entire tale. Not only do characters continue to look distinct, there is so much of "movement" in the art; nothing is static, nothing looks fake. And of course, locales continue to look stunning - giving the reader a deep sense of being present along with the protagonists.

With an ancient whale-deity aiding a mission to hunt down a terrifying Kraken, I will end this review. I shall be back to talk about Rin's deal with Mephisto himself!

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