Saturday, November 3, 2012

DaWaRou Posts: Blue Exorcist&Supernatural: A Tale of Two Brothers

SO! My first draft of this post was going to be comparing and contrasting America and Japan on their animated series and content, but due to the length, I'll resume it another time. My second draft was a review of Blue Exorcist and my thoughts on why I believe it to be a far superior shonen manga than something like Naruto or Bleach, but unfortunately when I SAVED it, the entire draft was DELETED so now I'm going to retry this AGAIN and focus on the thing that really caught my eye about this series. That being how the brothers Rin and Yukio are disturbingly similar to Sam and Dean. YES! Today we're going to be comparing the hit shonen manga series to the hit CW television series. I'm John Corey, and welcome to the Broken Infinite.

So, I guess it's best if I explain exactly what I'm comparing, isn't it. Well, Blue Exorcist is a shonen manga series that's written and illustrated by Kazue Kato and serialized in Jump Square. It tells the story of Rin Okumura, a violent boy with a good heart who's not having much luck with his life. He's constantly getting into fights, keeps getting fired because of it and isn't smart enough to go to an illustrious and fabulously amazing school like the True Cross Academy like his younger twin brother Yukio, and Father Shiro Fujimoto is at his wits end, but still encourages Rin to look for employment! This all changes when Rin is attacked by Demons on his way to a job interview and just when he's about to be cut up like a Thanksgiving Turkey, Father Fujimoto arrives and exorcises the Demon, sending it back to it's own world. Things go south though when the good Father kills himself to protect Rin from his father, Satan. SURPRISE!!!! Rin then is enrolled into the True Cross Academy where he vows to use his Demonic powers to one day become the greatest exorcist and kill Satan, King of Demons. All the while, Mephisto Pheles is running amok and...being something of a Trickster and Troll, if not both at the same time.

Now Supernatural is an American series that focuses on Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers who drive around the country hunting and killing Demons and Monsters and FUCKING PAGAN GODS!!!! May I remind you that GODS are IMMORTAL! But that's kind of the series in a nutshell.

Now, despite both series having very similar concepts, they're quite different. Blue Exorcist has only been running for a few years with only 10 volumes available in Japan and a 25 episode anime. While there's a somewhat sizable cast of characters and Rin is undoubtedly the main lead, we spend a lot of time with the other characters as well, and for only having 10 volumes by volume 8 the cast is surprisingly well developed. There's angst, yes, it kind of has to happen with series like this, but it's saved for the moments that require it and is pretty fast paced with the action. While it delves into the standard shonen shtick of overcoming the impossible, believing in yourself, trust and friendship as well as something I've seen multiple times which is an abundance of Love Triangles beginning to form around our main characters. Despite the obviously Black and White Morality that comes with series like this, there's LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of morally grey areas and some of our exorcists aren't as pure and pious as their names would imply.

Supernatural on the other hand has been running for eight seasons, which I'll conclude to be about eight years. It started off as a fairly simple monster of the week series more akin to a male version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer despite that probably being more comparable to Charmed. The two brothers were never anything but the main focus of the episode and their issues would often stem from family related topics like why Sam chose not to take part in the family business of being a hunter, why Dean had so much blind faith and obedience in their abusive father who was the primary instigator of the plot(sort of), Sam and Dean arguing about one of the two topics listed above and the strong and horribly dependent bond the brothers have for each other that's exploited time and time again. Though they later begin arguing about the morality of their "job" (actually a better word would probably be the "ethics" of their job) as well as the means by which they dispatch of certain Demons and other things like that. Like Blue Exorcist, Supernatural also delves into the morally grey areas of human nature but it's always quite clear from the beginning that Sam and Dean are the good guys and the monsters they're supposed to kill are the bad guys. The series is also notable for it's HEAVY HEAVY HEAVY amounts of ANGSTY ANGST!

The thing that really sticks out to me though are the similarities between the two series. Both focus (primarily) on two brothers who've been trained (or are being trained) to defeat Demons and Monsters when they threaten humanity. Both have very obvious religious themes running rampant and tend to play mix and match with certain mythologies and creatures. Both have the younger brother portrayed as the smarter of the pair and the one with probably the most potential and the older brother as the brash, violence prone idiot who does better with the dirty work (to an extent). Both have father figures that try their best to handle the boys and a father that's...abusive (to an extent). The most striking similarity though is the brothers themselves which I shall now go on about in more detail.

Now while the brothers share basic similarities in their role as older and younger brother, Rin has more in common with Sam while Dean has more in common with Yukio. Also at this point I'm going to start delving into spoiler territory so you've been warned!

Rin and Sam are both the more favorite child to their respective parental figure. While Sam was filled with a great deal of contempt for his father and how he was raised, it's very clear that he's John's favorite son despite Dean being his faithful "Yes" Man. Similarly, Rin and Fujimoto often clashed with each other on certain topics and while Yukio has made Fujimoto proud and is the more dutiful and intelligent and desirable of the two brothers, Rin's in a very special position as the son of Satan which, I'll assume, prompted Fujimoto to pay more attention to him as a child than to the more capable Yukio. In addition to this, both Sam and Rin have a connection to Satan as well as demonic powers at their disposal. In both cases it's something of a VERY direct connection to Satan as Rin is the son of Satan while Sam's demonic powers come from Azazel spilling his demonic blood into Sam's mouth as a baby. In both cases, the people around them freak out when they find out, though Sam's case is a bit more ambiguous at the beginning as he was only having precognitive visions of people's deaths while Rin's powers are destructive and dangerous from the start. Additionally in both cases, Satan has taken an active interest in these boys, with Sam as his vessel and Rin as his son. These powers also begin to warp the minds of Rin and Sam respectively with Sam requiring more Demonic Blood to make his powers stronger and Rin going into a rage similar to InuYasha in his Demon form. Both are somewhat afraid of their powers at the beginning but grow to see them as a strength with Sam becoming able to exorcise Demons with his mind as opposed to killing the human bodies they possess and Rin's blue flames able to easily ward off and kill Demons. The two are viewed as dangerous by those around them with one Hunter reappearing multiple times on Supernatural to try to kill Sam and while in Blue Exorcist there are other half Demons that hunt other Demons, Rin's the son of Satan which, understandably makes him a but more dangerous. Both Rin and Sam are additionally more optimistic and idealistic than their brothers with Rin always wanting to try and save everyone or reason with certain Demons and Sam being more sympathetic to the monster's plights if they have one at all.

Now for Dean and Yukio. Both are the more dutiful "son" to their respective fathers with Dean never questioning John and Yukio receiving training as an Exorcist from Father Fujimoto sometime prior to the start of the story. Both try to act as the respective caretakers of their brothers with Dean always worrying about Sam and never able to let him die or have the normal life he wants and Yukio literally ending up as his older twin's keeper and teacher with Father Fujimoto dead. Both can seem rather stubborn on certain topics and both clearly have some resentment for their brothers. In Dean's case it's probably a secret fit of jealously at Sam's ability to have a normal life as well as the fact that Sam is a much better Hunter than himself, regardless of the methods he's using and then there's the whole "spoiled" younger sibling thing. With Yukio it's a bit harder to pin down as in the manga that's made it to America at this point, there aren't really any reasons for Yukio to be resentful of Rin with everything that's happened to him since the start of the series. But there's the exchange they share in the first volume when Yukio points his gun at Rin, angry at him for being responsible for the death of Father Fujimoto and later on in volume 8 when fighting a demon it's revealed that Rin always got more special treatment than Yukio did so it's typical sibling rivalry. There's also the fact that the two brothers are locked in a Love Triangle (God, I love those!) with the primary girl of their affections flip floping back and forth between the two but obviously having more of a connection with Rin. Both Dean and Yukio are proficient with firearms and popular with girls in general, though as Supernatural has a more adult audience it's more obvious in Dean's case. Both Dean and Yukio get angry at their brothers for repeated dependence on their Demonic powers though in both cases you can call them on stupidity as Sam's method of exorcising Demons later on is safer for the human hosts while with Rin, the blue flames of hell are the best weapon they've got. Also, both Dean and Yukio are a bit more jaded and cynical when on the job to contrast with the idealism of their brothers. This is made very obvious with Yukio in one chapter where a Demon has taken a child hostage and after Rin has promised the mother they'd rescue her child without fail, Yukio tells her to prepare for the worst and then berates his brother for making a promise like that.

It might seem strange, but I've never actually seen two series with so many similarities and what's more, I've never seen a pair of siblings quite like the ones I'm comparing here, not in real life and not as much in fiction. The closest I've seen is the relationship between Ed and Al Elric but even that's kind of a stretch. But that's my post! Blue Exorcist and Supernatural, I reccomend both and for the low low low price of your dignity, YOU TOO can engage in shipping these siblings! It's Incest, it's Twincest and it's WINCEST! Might as well ship all four of them! But, that's all from me! This has been another post by John Corey, and I'll catch you later, DaWaRou~!

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