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Blue Exorcist Volume 01 - Kato Kazue Rin Okumura is the illegitimate son of Satan, but he and his twin brother, Yukio, have been raised by Father Fujimoto, a famous exorcist. Once he discovers the truth, Rin swears to defeat Satan by entering the famous True Cross Academy and becoming an exorcist himself. The only trouble is, he has to keep his demon heritage a secret or he stands a good chance of being destroyed by the very people he wants to join.

It took me a little while to get into this since I haven't read any manga in while. I'm trying to get back into it, as it's nice to be able to pick up a volume and read it in one sitting as a break from more serious novels.

Blue Exorcist has an interesting idea behind it and many intriguing themes: Demons, exorcism and the struggle to defy one's genes and become one's own person. There is also the struggle between good and evil - between exorcists and demons - but this is surprisingly one dimensional in spite of the premise that the protagonist himself has demon blood. I'm assuming the lines will become blurred in later volumes, however, as this first volume is only an introduction to the characters and ideas.

I found it a little hard to believe that Rin had no idea what was going on and that Yukio and Father Fujimoto had been able to hide so much from him, but I get that he had to be in the dark in order for us as readers to be introduced to the world of demons from scratch. I would have preferred it if Yukio had no idea what was going on, as I think that might have been an interesting dynamic between the two brothers, but there we go. I'm hoping their relationship is explored more in later volumes as it has a lot of potential for strife and conflict, but also a strong brotherly bond.

The artwork is appealing, and Rin in particular as an interesting array of facial expressions. I think that Kazue Kato is particularly talented at drawing backgrounds, but during action scenes I found it a little hard to follow what was going on. A great feature was the coloured title page, which really added something extra and a bit special. On the whole, however, the artwork was great and I really liked the old sketches at the back of the book.

A negative aspect of the book was that the story moved far too quickly in the beginning. I had not yet built up sympathy for Rin or for any of the characters when the story kicked off, and what should have been an emotional scene did not, therefore, have much effect on me. I think this contributed to it taking a while for me to get into the manga, but it didn't spoil my overall enjoyment of the book. After chapter two, things slowed down a bit and I began to get attached to the characters, so it is not a problem throughout.

Overall, the first volume of Blue Exorcist was an exciting introduction to the series and I will be reading more of it. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys action-orientated manga such as Samurai Deeper Kyo.