It’s time to end another big arc for Blue Exorcist and see the fallout for all of the characters in this latest volume. Is it good?
Blue Exorcist Vol. 15 (Viz Media)
Written and drawn by: Kazue Kato
Translated and adapted by: John Werry
Lettering by: John Hunt
After a long, tough battle with at the Illuminati’s secret research lab, our heroes are left wondering what will happen now. The Illuminati’s ramping things up, one of their own has suffered great losses, and a terrible secret of theirs is known and wanted by the enemy. They also having to deal with the fallout from Renzo Shima’s betrayal and some unexpected revelations regarding him. The future is cloudy for our heroes and unfortunately, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.
This volume of Blue Exorcist acts as the epilogue for the last arc, but also the setup for the futrure. There’s very little, if any, action this time around and the focus is put towards developing its story and some of its characters. While the lack of action does make the book feel slower paced and not as energetic as previous volumes, it’s not that big of a problem. The result of the different focus is a more peaceful, but also ominous and melancholy outing for the series, which I found to be really well handled.
Story wise, we see the fallout with the Dream Town arc. It resolves the situation and mystery of what happened to Izumo’s little sister, ending it on a fitting, but also sad fashion. Izumo finally gets to see her sister and see that she’s doing well, but since they’ve been separated for so long, the little sister doesn’t remember her. Professor Gedoin is dealt with by the Illuminati and we see the reasoning behind Shima’s betrayal, showing that there is more to it than meets the eye… in many different and unexpected ways. We also finally follow up on a plot point involving Yukio and his eyes from a while back, setting the stage for Yukio’s new character arc. The developments in the book, with giving too much away, were solid and I’m very curious to see where the manga will be heading from here.
You know things are serious when zombies are growling and asking for meat.
The focus on characters this time around led to some good development and drama. While Izumo’s character arc isn’t exactly finished (she still seems apprehensive about trusting people), she really seems like she has grown over the course of this arc. She’s lost almost everyone and now only has her friends left to put trust in, even opening up more to Shiemi (quite a contrast to when she originally used to push her around). Shima got a lot of development this time around, even more than when he originally turned out to be a traitor. His loyalties, how he treats his friends, and even how he says he is cool with/specializes in betraying people close to him really makes him a hard person to get a read on. You can’t be sure what he intends to do or what his motivations are anymore, leaving him the biggest wild card in the series. There’s some brief development with Lucifer (getting to see him be more intimidating than usual), Suguro’s distrust in Shima growing more, implications about growth with Yukio in the future, and even a more formal introduction of Lewin Light (a higher up in the True Cross) and getting a better idea of his behavior. This was a really good volume when it came to development and alluding to an intriguing future for these characters.
The artwork by Kazue Kato continues to really shine here. While there is little action and no supernatural monsters (areas where Kato’s artwork is typically at its best), the volume looks great from start to finish. The characters look good, showing a wide range of emotion and expression in how they talk and act around each other. The layouts are constructed well and make things easy to follow, using some good angles in the panels and double page spreads to capture the right mood. Being a more character-focused volume and where there’s a ton of heavy drama, it was very important that Kato captured the right tone and emotion in everyone and she did so incredibly. In the way people look at each other, how some scenes build (like Izumo getting to meet her sister or her being reunited with Paku), and the body language they have, you can just tell what people are thinking or how they are feeling in an instant. It’s just so well done, even more than most Shonen Jump series.
Blue Exorcist Vol. 15 is a slower moving, but very enjoyable and engaging outing for the series. A bunch of the characters get some much needed development, the story is setting up for the next part of the series rather well, and the artwork continues to be a joy to look at. Fans should be excited and satisfied by what they get to see here.