In Blue Exorcist Volume 17, Shura must fulfill an ancestral promise to an ancient demon, Hachirotaro, by giving birth to a new Shura and then dying, to allow that offspring to assume her identity. When Yukio and Rin locate her, they do their best to dispel Shura’s obligation.
Blue Exorcist Volume 17 has the energy of a first volume, due to a very narrow spotlight on Yukio, Rin, and Shura; the less is more forumla slows the roll of this moderately lengthy narrative to provide a jumping on point for new readers. The unexpected result of this interlude is a Ghibliesque feel to the family dynamic created by the small cast of characters, all the more accentuated due to paternal feelings displayed by both the demon Hachirotaro and the senior exorcist, Shiro. Moreover, though Shiro’s adoption of Shura is more or less treated like he brought home not a child, but a feral puppy, it nonetheless establishes Shura as a kind of sister to Yukio and Rin.
The demon Hachirotaro is a memorable villain, not only due to his striking character design, but due to his uniquely genealogical motive. When Shura’s progenitor promised that she would serve Hachirotaro forever, the demon found a solution that would allow this vow’s fulfillment despite the limits of his new servant’s mortality. Every Shura will die at 30, but not before giving birth to a new Shura to serve Hachirotaro. While he literally keeps the memory of Shura’s ancestor alive, it is indisputable that she’s dead as well, and this compulsion corrupts his interest in every new Shura. Still, less evil than twisted, Hachirotaro is an outside-the-box antagonist that lent this special episode of Blue Exorcist some additional distinctiveness.
Blue Exorcist is a fascinating story told by a consummate mangaka, so equally at home in depicting the psychological world as the material world, that the facial expressions are nearly as varied as the scenes. This volume, and the series, are strongly recommended.
Blue Exorcist Volume 17 arrived in stores on July 4th, 2017, and if you can’t find your copy, you can buy a print or digital edition through Viz.
Viz Media sent the review copy.