Blue Exorcist is a 2011/2012 anime series (and on-going manga series) about twin teenage brothers Rin and Yukio Okumura. The brothers (shown above) are raised by a Catholic (kind of) Priest and Exorcist named Father Shiro Fujimoto. Yukio got in on a scholarship to the prestigious private school “True Cross Academy” and left home with Rin to figure out things for himself. Rin’s world turns upside down when Satan tries to indwell within the body of Fujimoto and they reveal the truth, Rin and Yukio’s biological father is Satan and Rin specifically is part demon. The series progresses from there as Rin ends up in True Cross Academy training to be an Exorcist, deciding he wants to kill his biological father. Unbeknownst to him one of his teachers is his brother, Yukio. The anime and manga continue from there following as Rin continues training to be an exorcist. The anime series ends after 25 episodes and tries to tie things up in a way which departs from the manga quite a bit. Since I’m not that far into the manga, and this is called “anime & theology,” we’re going to base this on the anime.
First, let’s talk about the world they live in. In Blue Exorcist, the people live in a universe with two parallels – Assiah and Gehennah. Basically, earth (Assiah) and a hell (Gehennah) dimension run by Satan. They are parallel to each other and some demons come and go between the two dimensions. Much like the Buffy mythos, not all demons are pure unadulterated evil and some don’t even like Satan all that much. Their conception of demons is more akin to Japanese folklore than demons as mentioned in the Bible. It makes for a different world than our own, one which is not theologically sound. Hell is a real place in the Bible which is not parallel to Earth, but separate altogether and a realm of eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46, Luke 16:19-31). And Satan is not in charge of Hell, he is being tormented there (Revelation 20:10). So, in that respect – their entire mythos is off. That said, most movie conceptions of heaven, hell, and the devil are wrong. Satan is commonly viewed as “in charge of Hell” (examples South Park, God the Devil & Bob, The Devil’s Advocate, etc). But, I digress.
Now, as a series which uses a lot of references to Christianity out of context and created by a non-Christian from a predominantly non-Christian culture, it would be easy to pick apart all the other elements of my faith which they get incorrect. It’s easy to point out the anime series specifically in how it interprets the Papacy as being laughable when compared to the real world. It would be easy to point out that we have characters acknowledging both the truth of the Bible alongside other faiths, despite them being mutually exclusive of each other. It’s easy to point out that Father Fujimoto being so into big breasted women and constantly lusting after them isn’t the normal behavior of a Catholic Priest. Then there’s the Catholic priests who use pagan symbolism to summon demons to assist them in battle. Etcetera. Instead, let’s talk in more detail about the Biblical truths which shine through in the anime series.
God’s Word has Power – In the series, the word of the Lord has power. Literal power. Reciting Bible verses can destroy demons. In instance, a character (Ryuji “Bon” Suguro) recites the Gospel of John until he reaches the fatal verse of a demon (John 21:25) destroying it in the power of God’s Word. In Blue Exorcist, an entire division of exorcists are dedicated to memorizing God’s word and using it to defeat demons (Arias). The Bible affirms that the Word of the Lord has power (Psalms 33:6, Romans 1:16, Hebrews 4:12). God spoke the world into existence and His word has the power to rebuke, encourage, and to save us (2 Timothy 3:16, 1 Peter 1:23).
Family Matters – One of the most interesting parts of the Blue Exorcist series are the interactions between Rin and Yukio. They’re brothers who are in different roles in the school and exorcist order; one a teacher, the other a student. But, in the end they’re still brothers. They still show love to one another and are fiercely protective of each other. We are called to love our family and provide for them (1 Timothy 5:8, Romans 12:10). But, we need to also remember that our friends and those in communion with Christ are our family too (Romans 12:5). Amidst all the cursing, Insane Clown Posse points it out well that our friends are our family. You see that same type of family kinship growing among the friends of Rin in the series. They become a united front, a family of sorts, just as we are called to be together in Christ. Matthew relays a story in the 12 chapter of his Gospel where Jesus is confronted by His family who, apart from His mother, did not believe in Him. Christ then said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?…[while stretching out His hand toward His disciples]…here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother (Matthew 12:46-50).” As Christians, our friends in the faith are our family and we work together for each other’s good, and the good of God’s kingdom (Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 4:16).
Self Sacrifice – In the first episode (SPOILER) Father Fujimoto dies to save his son Rin. Satan indwells inside his body. At that point, Fujimoto resists Satan and kills his body to ensure Satan no longer regains to Assiah sending him back to Gehennah. Sacrifice is a Biblical notion. We see it throughout scripture, but most vividly in the life and death of Christ. Christ sacrificed Himself for the forgiveness of sins. He gave up His life so that we may inherit that which He deserved. He gave up His life to save us from the devil and from ourselves. Like Fujimoto, Christ allowed Himself to die to ensure that the demons of this world do not consume us, providing us with His strength and Spirit. This ultimate sacrifice is mirrored in the sacrifice of Fujimoto who gives himself gladly to save his rebellious son. In Christ, we see God made flesh giving up His own life like a lamb to the slaughter in order to save His rebellious creation. This is the core of the Gospel and we see a mirror of it in Blue Exorcist.
Overall, I have enjoyed Blue Exorcist and plan to keep reading the manga. The anime series was well done, the characters were interesting, and there is Biblical truth even when you don’t expect it. The characters can be scary for children, but should be an enjoyable series for teens. That said, don’t seek to find the Gospel in Blue Exorcist. Know the Gospel truths and view everything through that lense. That’s why I write these pieces. That’s why I may continue to write these pieces.
For some more insight from different Christian perspective, check out the piece from Annalyn’s Thoughts on Blue Exorcist. She actually watched it closer to when it came out than, you know, a few years later like me.