Warning: The following article contains some spoilers from season one of Blue Exorcist.
Sometimes a brand new anime makes a huge splash when it debuts, leaving fans biting their teeth for the year or two wait until the second season. Other times the gap stretches out further and further, with little or no word from the studio as to when a captivating show will return; this is usually followed with resigning acceptance that the anime is never coming back—and then there’s Blue Exorcist.
Blue Exorcist (or Ao no Exorcist as it’s known in Japan) premiered nearly five years ago to critical acclaim and rave reviews from fans. Based on the Jump Square manga created by Kazue Kato and animated by A-1 Studios (Aldnoah.Zero, Sword Art Online, Working!!!, The Seven Deadly Sins), the story follows Rin Okumura and his twin brother Yukio, an Exorcist, who discover that they’re the sons of Satan after he murders their guardian. Seeking purpose in life and revenge for his “father’s” death, Rin enrolls in True Cross Academy to become an Exorcist like his brother and defeat Satan.
The first season ran from April of 2011 through October and was followed up by Blue Exorcist: The Movie in 2012, yet despite the accolades, stellar ratings, and continuation of the manga in Jump Square, vanished from the airways until this January. You read that right: After an almost five-year haitus, Blue Exorcist is finally back with its second season, the Kyoto Saga.
Contrary to what you might think, season two doesn’t chronologically follow the destruction of the Gehenna Gate (essentially a gateway to Hell) in the season one finale. The Kyoto Saga’s set immediately after episode seventeen, “Temptation”, when Rin defeated Amaimon, King of the Earth, for a second time, once again saving his fellow Exwires (Exorcist students). This explains why the group are still afraid of him after discovering he’s the son of Satan.
The only two portions of season one that aren’t cannon in the Kyoto Saga are the group heading to Kyoto to fix Kurikara (the sword Rin’s demonic essence was sealed in) and Konekomaru being haunted by the gufu (crow demon). After all, it makes no sense for them to go to Kyoto, return to the True Cross Academy, and then head straight back to Kyoto on an urgent assignment they happened to miss the inciting incident of while they were there. Retconning the first season also allows for much better fully fleshed out character development in terms of how Shiemi, Ryuji, Renzo, Izumo, and Konekomaru feel about Rin. It always felt like they’d gotten over the whole “spawn of Satan” thing too quickly for the sake of shoving as much plot as possible into the first season.
Besides that continued interpersonal tension, Mephisto’s bet with the Grigori that Rin can pass the Exorcist exam within six months, and Rin trying to control his demonic flames under Shura Kirigakure’s guidance, an entirely new plot arc’s been introduced: The Left Eye of the Impure King – a demonic relic being kept safe in the True Cross Academy Vault – has been stolen by someone from within the Order. After a failed attempt to steal the Right Eye of the Impure King from the Myoda Sect in Kyoto, Shura, Yukio, Rin, and his fellow Exwires are dispatched there to investigate. Oh, and Kuro too – what would Rin do without his kitten-to-colossal size Cat Sith familiar? Assiah (the human realm) is once again on the brink of calamity, but this time the threat is one of their own.
Watching from episode seventeen of season one into the season two premiere, “Small Beginnings”, A-1 Studios hasn’t missed a beat. Not only has the entire original voice acting cast returned for the Kyoto Saga, the new additions are equally fantastic. The Myoda Sect opens up a ton of lore that season one didn’t have the time or narrative place to touch upon. We’re introduced to Renzo’s older brothers Juzo and Kinzo (who made a brief cameo in the 2012 film) as well as Ryuji’s father Tastuma Suguro, the master of the sect. With higher quality animation, those familiar captivating action sequences, and an even more enthralling story, Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga is a must-watch for any anime fan this season.
Catch all-new episodes available for streaming every Friday at 1:30pm EST at Crunchyroll, where you can also rewatch the entire first season.