Blue Exorcist takes a well-worn chosen-one story and a framework that blends religion and fantasy and does right by both, further rounding out an impressive selection of anime content on HBO Max.
This review of Blue Exorcist (HBO Max) is spoiler-free.
HBO Max is quickly carving out a space for itself in the anime streaming market, and one of the latest additions to its library is a classic example of the form. From 2011, the 25-episode demons-are-among-us saga Blue Exorcist makes a case for its well-worn trope-y self as a pacey and well-balanced story of a tearaway teen who discovers they exist between two planes and in the midst of a realm-spanning demonic conflict.
That teen, fifteen-year-old Rin, is a standard archetype – a dropout twin with an overachiever brother, Yukio, and a stern father, Shiro, who just so happens to be able to see little black bugs that other people can’t because he’s the chosen one with a familial connection to a hellish demon-ruled underworld – don’t you just hate it when that happens?
Well, not always, since a lot of great religio-fantasy stories are built on this very same framework, and it shouldn’t be discredited out of hand. As I literally just wrote in my review of The Misfit of Demon King Academy, it’s the execution that counts, and Blue Exorcist is executed with aplomb, settling on a tone halfway between silly and serious and a pace just a few gradations below breakneck on the speedo. Both are a good fit and give Rin the time and space to work through the world-upending revelations of being the son of Satan. And if you thought that perhaps there might be a coming-of-age metaphor here then, well… have you considered doing this for a meager living as I do?
Either way, Blue Exorcist strikes one as a smart choice for HBO Max given the accessibility of its broader themes and the endless appeal of chosen-one character arcs. The visuals might be a bit standard, but there’s no shame in that, and the show helps to round out an increasingly diverse offering of anime content that is helping to solidify HBO’s streaming platform as a major player in the market. It isn’t what you know, after all, it’s who you know, and with Warner’s strong relationships with Crunchyroll and Studio Ghibli, the place to be for anime fans might be here.
We are fast becoming the number one independent website for streaming coverage. Please support Ready Steady Cut today. Secure its future — we need you!
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.