Shounen isn’t my favourite genre, but I have enjoyed plenty of the better series in the genre. Ao no Exorcist is a sneaky one though: at first it first seems to avoid a lot of the overused cliches that plague the genre… only to fall into them anyways.
What sets Ao no Exorcist apart is that it’s typical shounen, but done well. The main character is a hot headed brat, but he’s well fleshed out and has good development and reasons for his actions. The show inevitably ends up at an academy, but school assignments that the characters have to do are fun, interesting and lead to quite a bit of character development.
The big problem is that this series is way too epic for what it wants to be. On one hand it aims for high school hijinks and a look at exorcists in training, and on the other it is involved in an international plot involving to purge the strongest demon known to man: Satan. The main character may be Satan’s son and all, but the two parts don’t mesh at all and leave a terribly divided series.
The part of the series that suffers the least is the one that focuses on the high school. It’s not ambitious, but it’s fun, the characters are genuine and they have a great chemistry between them. The plot against satan unfortunately is horribly rushed, with in the end Satan magically forgetting to use a lot of his powers in order to actually prevent the main cast from not instantly dying. It’s full of bland twists and unoriginal plot devices that are way too constrained with trying to go for a “by the books”-ending. This series is based on a manga, but decides to go with its own storyline for its final third. While that isn’t immediately a bad thing, it just doesn’t work here.
A-1 has made sure of great animation, but in the end there are just many better shounen series out there. Ao no Exorcist was a nice attempt, but it lacks vision.
|Storytelling:||7/10 – Does not know what it wants to focus on and ends up half-hearted. Tries to subvert shounen cliches only to fall into them.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Saved by a good chemistry and good development. Bad villains, though.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Solid action, though nothing amazing.|
|Setting:||7/10 – Tries to deliver a solid setting of exorcists, but in the end there is hardly any gap between the best and the worst of them.|