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The Winter 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Blue Exorcist: Shimane Illuminati Saga

How would you rate episode 1 of
Blue Exorcist: Shimane Illuminati Saga ?
Community score: 3.0

What is this?


The world is divided into two planes that are meant to remain forever separated: Assiah, the world of mortals, and Gehenna, the world of demons. Rin Okumura has found himself at the center of the eternal war between the forces of good and evil, seeing as he is the literal spawn of Satan who has been trying to prove his worth as a hero by following in his twin brother Yukio's footsteps and training to become an Exorcist at the prestigious True Cross Academy. After fighting to earn his classmate's trust and overcoming the nearly apocalyptic catastrophe of the Impure King's revival in Kyoto, Rin now finds himself back at school and living life with his friends. However, the barrier between Assiah and Gehenna continues to weaken, and Exorcists-in-Training will soon discover just how far-reaching the schemes of their evil enemies truly are…

Blue Exorcist: Shimane Illuminati Saga is based on a manga of the same name by Kazue Katō. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Saturdays.

How was the first episode?

Nicholas Dupree

I confess, I don't remember a ton about the past two seasons of Blue Exorcist. That's just a consequence of this show getting new seasons every six years or so. I can tell you the gist about the son of Satan and his magic sword going to Exorcist school and doing Exorcist things, and I remember liking the blond girl, but anything deeper than that is a mystery to me. I think they fought a big flesh tumor thing in Kyoto last time? Didn't Ren also have a cat or something? Why's that one lady wearing a bikini top if she works for the church?

Thankfully, this episode seems aware that they need to at least catch up with viewers on the basics. I don't know if scenes like Mephisto explaining how demon hearts and Gahena work to Ren were in the manga, but they sure helped remind me of lore I'd forgotten in the decade since I first heard it. We even get a monster-of-the-week battle that conveniently has Konekomaru explain everyone's personality and powers in order. Thanks, dude, I really appreciate it. This makes the episode feel a bit like homework, but I really needed a study guide, and after so long away from the cast, getting back into their dynamic before diving into the next story arc is a good idea. I may not remember the Kyoto arc, but I do remember liking these personalities and how they bounced off each other.

If you're fresher on all this information, then some intrigue is still crammed between the recap stuff. More and more humans can suddenly see demons and other supernatural stuff. There's some crazy monster that the church is dealing with in some desert, and as always, Mephisto is up to some kind of vaguely menacing shenanigans. It's solid stuff, even if the particulars of the extended cast and the supernatural rules are lost on me. I like integrating all this foreshadowing into a smaller story with one of Ren's classmates. The distinct character designs remain on-point, easily the strongest visual aspect of the franchise. While I still miss season one's more dramatic direction, the overall animation here is perfectly solid. As evidenced by my amnesia, Blue Exorcist has never been an all-time favorite of mine, but it can certainly be a good time, and that should hopefully stay true here.

James Beckett

When it comes to the beginning of a new year and a new season of anime, it's always fun to discover new and unexpected surprises in the shows you're unfamiliar with. However, few feelings are nicer than being reunited with old friends. Man, it's absurd to think that it's taken thirteen years for us to get to Blue Exorcist's third season. As we've only just gotten around to covering the 10th volume of a manga with around 30 volumes in circulation as of this writing, I fear we may not see a complete adaptation of the story until most of us fans of the original anime have reached retirement age.

That's a problem for Future James, though! For now, I'm just happy to be back at True Cross Academy with our loveable idiot son, Rin, along with all of his friends, not to mention the weirdos that run the school and are somehow responsible for keeping humanity safe from the threat of the hellspawn that lurk in the realm of Gehenna. For anyone new to the franchise, here's the rundown for how to catch up: Only the first 17 episodes of Season 1 are canon, and after that, you skip directly to Season 2, 2017's underrated Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga. If you're on the fence about whether or not Blue Exorcist is worth your time, I, for one, highly recommend it! It's the very definition of a rock-solid meat-n'-potatoes shonen adventure. Will it blow anyone's mind with its subversive storytelling or shocking spectacle? Probably not, but it's a hell of a lot of fun, features some excellent demonic action, and it's got a whole lot of heart. Plus, you'd only need to watch, like, 29 episodes to be all caught up to here, and that's nothing compared to some of the genre's heavy hitters!

However, if you are one of those folks who doesn't mind diving into a series that is dozens of episodes into its run, then the good news is that the first episode of the Shimane Illuminati Saga seems to be very aware that it's been, you know, seven years since we last saw any of these guys, so this premiere largely functions as a reintroduction to the characters and the setting, before giving us a taste of the smaller-scale action we can expect on a week-to-week basis as Rin and the gang go hunting for spooky mysteries to stab. In that respect, you might argue that this episode ends up being a little exposition-heavy, but I didn't mind that at all. We still get some fun world-building and some intriguing hints at what's coming next for our heroes, and Konekomaru's little schoolmarm blowup at all of his teammates works to both remind us of who everyone is while also demonstrating how much the characters have bonded and grown since Season 1. It's all good stuff, and I can't wait to see where the story takes us from here.

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