In my coverage of this very long-awaited premiere, I mentioned how wild it is to be getting the third season of Blue Exorcist in the Year of Our Lord 2024, fully thirteen years after its first season arrived on the scene, and a solid seven years since we last checked in with Rin and the True Cross Gang in the Kyoto Saga. To say that a whole hell of a lot has changed between 2013 and 2024 would still be an understatement, and Blue Exorcist itself is still going through some growing pains, what with the transition from A-1 Pictures to Studio VOLN. So, the number one question going into this new Illuminati Saga has to be whether Blue Exorcists still feels like a show that’s worth keeping up with after all of these years.
Thankfully, after watching these first three episodes of Season 3, the answer is a solid, “Yes! (Probably).” If I’m being honest, this batch of opening episodes doesn’t exactly represent the show at its most thrilling or story-advancing. To Blue Exorcist‘s credit, it seems just as aware of the impact its extended absences might have had on its fanbase as any of us viewers, so it opts to take its time with some mostly light and fluffy episodes that prioritize reintroducing us to the world and characters of the show, with only a few glimpses here and there of the larger story that is being set up.
Over the course of two School Mystery Hunts and one Romantic School Festival, the show quickly establish the team dynamics that are likely going to be front and center during the ups and downs of the forthcoming stories: Rin is out as the Son of Satan and just trying to live his ridiculous high school life; Yukio is grappling with what his role in the larger scheme of things is (especially with his own demonic powers starting to emerge); Shiemi is a fully fledged student of True Cross Academy now, and she is also slowly realizing that she might—*gasp*—like “like” Rin; Izumo continues to play the tsundere role and hold everyone at arm’s length, though there are obviously some secrets she’s keeping that are bound to come to the surface; Ryuji is still honing his skills and training to be a powerful Dragoon; Konekomaru and Renzo continue to serve as perfectly likeable supporting team members; and Neru is…well, he’s still sitting around in the background with his hand puppet, and I’m sure nothing at all sinister will come of that!
We have some major schemes cooking with the introduction of the Illuminati organization and their freaky, manmade Gehenna gate, but all of that is still very much simmering in the pot on the back burner, for now. Given how much time we’ve already spent waiting to get the show on the road with Blue Exorcist‘s plot, you’d think I’d have less patience for all of these fairly familiar and predictable sitcom shenanigans, but to be honest, I had a lot of fun getting to just hang with these characters again. It also helps that I fully needed all of the catchups on where the cast is at and what is going on in the world, what with the seven years I’ve had to forget it all.
As has always been the case, Blue Exorcist is a good show not because it is incredibly original or surprising in how it handles classic action-adventure tropes, but because it manages to stuff its story full of archetypes and cliches while still being charming. I was invested in seeing Shiemi prove herself by saving Izumo again when Izumo’s familiars needed some glutinous persuasion in the form of Shiemi’s rice offerings, and you bet your ass I was rooting for Rin and Shiemi to finally overcome their terminal teenage awkwardness and dance with each other at the school festival. Are these the kinds of episodes that are going to burn down the barn and light the whole world on fire? No, of course not. When the proverbial dookie does inevitably hit the fan with all of this Illuminati business, though, we’ll all appreciate the time Blue Exorcist took to get us back on board and having fun with its heroes. It’ll make the trials and tribulations that they’ve all got in store ahead that much more exciting to witness.
Blue Exorcist: Shimane Illuminati Saga is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.