The wait between Volume 12 and 13 of Blue Exorcist felt extremely long. After how much insanity went down in 12 and the nasty cliffhanger it left off on, myself (and I assume many others) desperately wanted to know what happened next.
The 13th volume has finally arrived; let’s see how things turned out. Is it good?
Blue Exorcist Vol. 13 (Viz Media)
Written and Drawn by: Kazue Kato
Translator: John Werry
In the last volume, Izumo Kamiki was kidnapped by the Illuminati so they could use her as a vessel for a powerful fox demon, while Renzo Shima was discovered to have been a traitor. Izumo’s friends aren’t about to let that stand however, tracking her down to her home in the prefecture of Shimane, while also learning about her past. However, rescuing her isn’t going to be that easy thanks to the horrifying monstrosities waiting inside the Illuminati base. But beyond that, does Izumo even want their help, given her guilt and inner torment?
The last volume I would say is where the s--t hit the fan for the series as it dropped several significant and shocking reveals. On top of Izumo being kidnapped, there was the fact that Renzo was a traitor, the identity of who leads the Illuminati, learning who Nemu really was, and learning about Izumo’s history and her family. There was really no way to top the excitement in that volume and unsurprisingly, that turned out to be the case in this volume. However, that’s not to say that this was a bad outing for the manga. It was still very good when it came to the story, characters, and even the drama it pulled out. It just didn’t reach that jaw dropping levels the previous volume had.
The story in Blue Exorcist Vol. 13 wraps up the last of the story about Izumo’s past and what happened when she called the Illuminati to get the demon out of her mother. Like expected, it was pretty tragic and it does lend credence to why she feels so guilty and why she has such serious trust issues. We also learn what exactly the Illuminati’s plan is for using the nine tailed demon. The rest of the volume consists mostly of the heroes launching their assault on the base and their struggles against what actually lies inside. It leads to a pretty nice balance of action, story, and even horror. Oh dear God, the horror…
Personally, I got to say that this was quite possibly the most frightening and nasty volume of the series we have had to date. Oh sure, there’s been plenty of things in the series up until now that were creepy and unnerving, like the situation going on with the Impure King. However, the monstrosities visible in the book, along with the disturbing undertones and implications make for a rather chilling experience. From the creepy twist on zombies to the… things that reside in the feeding area or even the idea about just how many people have disappeared over the years; all of these pieces really come together well with how they are introduced and executed. They’re never given to us all at once either, which makes Kato’s buildup and twists all the more impressive. Maybe people might find these particular monsters not that scary or exciting, considering how played out they are today, but to each their own.
Characterization and development this volume is pretty good overall. Besides Izumo, who gets a lot of much needed development with her backstory; we spend some more time developing the villains. We don’t get backstory for them or anything like that, but we do get to see the motivations of higher ranked members and see some of their personality. We also give time to develop Miwa’s character in the last chapter withhim using his brains and escaping from the monster hounding him, seemingly building off prior scenes with him from the last major arc. Sadly, not everyone gets focuses or even has much of a moment (Shiemi and surprising Rin for instance), but when there is development, it is handled rather well here.
Kato’s writing in general is pretty good too. The pacing was decent, the drama and emotion was pretty solid and there were some rather heartbreaking scenes, such as what happens with Mike and Uwe. The dialogue was good and there were some strong exchanges throughout. Even in a pretty creepy volume, there were still bits of humor sprinkled throughout that were pretty amusing and never really intruded on any of the scenes that were supposed to be tense or serious. Overall, no real major problem with the writing here.
Kato’s artwork still looks excellent, with very little to complain or nitpick about (maybe some blank backgrounds rarely). Her characters are still very well drawn and expressive, especially when it comes to selling the drama in the book. The action is nice looking and flows well for the most part, especially with the well-structured, easy to follow layouts. The creature and supernatural aspects are designed well, especially with these chimeras our characters encounter. Every time I look at the scenes these things are in, I always seem to catch a new detail about them.
Is It Good?
Blue Exorcist Vol. 13 is another great collected edition of the series, continuing to show great development in the plot as it ups the stakes in various ways. Enjoyable characterization, good writing, and lovely artwork all come together quite well. The wait for the next volume is long, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end.
Blue Exorcist is currently available from Viz Media, with the fourteen volume scheduled for a late December or early January release. A spinoff title focusing on Yukio, written by Kazue Kato, is currently running in Jump Square. An anime adaption and movie have been created as well, being released by Aniplex of America. There’s been a few video games and a stage adaption as well. Lastly, Blue Exorcist is one of many titles running in Weekly Shonen Jump and can be read on a monthly basis.