The wonderful BFI Southbank is a venue that not only allows the audience to watch, but also to appreciate good quality alternative cinema. Their screening of Atsushi Takahashi’s ‘Blue Exorcist’ was certainly no exception.
Weaving three different plot lines together, this cleverly written piece of cinema delves into raw childhood curiosity, relating it to lessons learnt within adulthood. We see a close bond evolve between Rin, the protagonist, and Usamaro, a half boy-half demon who has the power to erase memories.
The idea of being able to erase specifically negative memories from the beholder offers a Utopic fantasy, which should theoretically appeal to the masses. However, as the plot thickens and the effects of the power heighten, mass destruction ensues and it soon becomes apparent that there is in fact a fine line between Utopia and Dystopia. By the end, it seems that raw human nature and morality rule over any fantastical powers, therefore rendering the film an elaborate analogy, which an insightful audience can definitely appreciate.
Although a visual and psychological treat, the music behind the film left a lot to be desired. There were often very sudden, erratic changes in musical style and tone, which was reminiscent of someone skipping through songs almost at random. Despite this slight downside, the constant dramatic switches between scenes kept both myself (and probably the rest of the audience) on our toes, steering well away from lengthy dialogue and unnecessary padding.
‘Blue Exorcist’ was originally a television series, which becomes apparent since the back-stories to most of the characters are not properly covered – assuming prior knowledge from the audience. However, I have not seen any episodes prior to this, and the film still appealed to me as an isolated piece of cinema. As well as obviously satisfying those in the audience who were fans of the television series, it definitely inspired me to start watching it, therefore demonstrating the franchise has the platform it deserves.
The comic book style imagery, combined with the very fact that films like these are animated can often give a certain impression – that the plot line may be as two dimensional as the animated characters, or that the aim is to satisfy a demographic consisting mostly of pre-teens. However, I was surprised to discover just how brilliantly philosophical and thought provoking the film turned out to be. If there is any franchise to prove that the anime genre should have a mainstream platform, then this is it.
Words by Matthew Nicholls
Photo from www.jpopasia.com