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Like any of 18-year-old girl, I'm a fan of a lot of things. Football and k-pop are the most severe. But above all, there's nothing I cherish more than my life, my family and my friends :)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ao no Exorcist, AKA My Favorite Shounen Manga

Up until three days ago, I didn't have favorite shounen manga. Now I have: Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist) by Kazue Katou.
The cover of the first tankoubon of Ao no Exorcist.
(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Blue_Exorcist_chapters)
I decided to Google "Ao no Exorcist read manga free" exactly three days ago. There's a funny story to how I stumbled upon this manga. No one recommended this manga to me nor did I read any review/summary about this manga before I decided to give it a try. And I'm not a manga junkie either. The last time I read manga was, I dunno, half a year ago maybe.
Fan art of dark Jack Frost

So, how did I know this manga? The answer is through a fan art of Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians (pictured on the right). Yes, as ridiculous as it sounds, a fan art of a children movie character introduced me to my soon-to-be #1 favorite shounen manga. 

One of the comments said that dark Jack Frost looks like Rin Okumura. At that time I was like, "Okay, I'm just gonna do a quick image search for 'Rin Okumura' to see him myself." And that's how I fell for Rin Okumura without even reading the manga. He's just too attractive. Then I started to read Ao no Exorcist. And I was instantly HOOKED.

I love this manga mainly because of the story, the characters and the art work. 

First, let me start with the art work. The first thing I do to decide whether I want to read a manga or not is by examining the art work. The broad and thick strokes in Ao no Exorcist is typical shounen, but the character designs are pretty cool. I've never had troubles distinguishing the characters because of the details like Rin's fanged teeth and pointy ears, Yukio and Konekomaru's glasses, Izumo's eyebrows, Shiemi's hair clip, Bon's punk hair, Renzou's tareme eyes, their choice of weapons (katana, handgun, Buddhist staff, bazooka) and so on.
I love the cool character design. From left: Renzou, Izumo, Yukio, Shiemi, Rin, Konekomaru and Ryuuji.
Source: (http://www.mangareader.net/ao-no-exorcist)
Based on how the characters are drawn, they fell more in the cute category than the realistic category, but it's not too cute like in Shoujo manga. I'm thankful that none of it had ridiculous body proportion or exaggerated features. The emotions on the characters' faces are drawn very well.
The characters' emotions in Ao no Exorcist are well-drawn.
Source: (http://mangafox.me/manga/ao_no_exorcist/)
The action sequnces have some cool poses. I'm also impressed by the how detailed Katou draws True Cross Campus Town, Kyoto City, Inari City, inside of Vatican office the Impure King's castle (or whatever it is) and even some random forest. In short, the art work is great.
Some visually stunning landscape drawings in Ao no Exorcist.
Source: (http://mangafox.me/manga/ao_no_exorcist/)
But no matter how great the art work, a manga is rated, first and foremost, from its story. And boy.. what a story Ao no Exorcist tells. It tells a story of a boy named Rin Okumura, who is your normal teenage boy with aggressive impulses, until he was attacked by a demon in human form, making him snapped and emitted blue flame all over his body.

Rin's first discovery of his demonic power.
(Source: http://mangafox.me/manga/ao_no_exorcist/)
So, what's the big deal about a boy finding out that he had special ability? You see, this discovery is about to change his life forever, in the most heart breaking way.

Rin has an adoptive father, a priest and exorcist named Shiro Fujimoto. At first, Shiro seems like a normal father, with him showing tough father's love to Rin; scolding him if Rin was being childish and genuinely supporting him to be a better man. But in the last third of the first chapter, Shiro's love for Rin was taken to a whole new level when the big bad Satan (king of all demons and Rin's true father) possessed his body in order to take Rin to hell. Rin helplessly watched Shiro's body falling apart piece by piece because the body couldn't contain Satan's power. 
Satan is possessing Shiro Fujimoto and destroying his body from the inside.
Source: (http://mangafox.me/manga/ao_no_exorcist/)
However, Shiro managed to hold Satan in his body for a moment and stabbed himself in the heart, not letting Satan take his son.
Shiro Fujimoto's heroic sacrifice.
Source: (http://mangafox.me/manga/ao_no_exorcist/)
And when Rin decided to draw the demon sword kirikura (to save himself from being sucked into the gate of hell), his demonic power was fully unleashed. Rin was aware that doing so would make him a half-demon permanently and cause him to never return to being normal human. In the end, Shiro was dead and Rin was left crying on his knee.
Rin is broken by Shiro Fujimoto's death.
(Source: http://mangafox.me/manga/ao_no_exorcist/)
How's that not heart breaking?! And it's only the first chapter! That's how you do an opening for a shounen manga!

From this point onwards, the story tells about how Rin is trying to become an exorcist, just like Shiro. Together with his twin brother Yukio, Rin entered True Cross Academy, and there, he met many friends with the same ambition: to become an exorcist. Dangerous missions were given to Rin and friends, even more dangerous with Rin's status as Satan's son. Make sure to read my other post about why I love the characters in Ao no Exorcist.

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