Despite being burdened with crippling debt to the morose Haruitsuki Abeno, Hanae Ashiya has come to enjoy his job as an exorcist. His ability to communicate with youkai has given him a sense of responsibility regarding the magical creatures, and he continues to work hard to send them to their true home in the Underworld. As Ashiya’s life finally stabilizes, the youkai threaten to upset it once again. Knowledge of his existence has begun to spread, and not everyone is happy to have a human working for the Mononokean, the interdimensional tea room. But one day, a simple visit to the Underworld draws the attention of those in power, and Ashiya soon learns that not every youkai is willing to go along with Abeno's plans. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Attention: Spoilers ahead. My review is more or less a comparison of the anime and manga and describes why I’m not happy with what they did with this adaptation.
I’m not sure how to rate this season. I’m stuck somewhere between 6 (fair) and 8 (very good) because I guess that without the manga comparison, it might be better. I’m also reading the manga and I felt a bit shortchanged at some points throughout the season.
They left out some manga chapters entirely, took away from scenes that were very emotional in the manga but were only so-so/had less impact in the anime. I guess that was meant to help keep the episode length but I feel like they should have rather lengthened those 1-2 scenes and shortened other scenes that showed scenery etc.
Example: [spoiler]When Ashiya had been attacked by the Executive and then remained alone in the room while waiting for Abeno to return, Fuzzy runs to him and tries to cuddle.. In the manga Ahiya is still very traumatized and is shaking..He reaches out to Fuzzy but at the last second hesitates and drops his hand again,fearful to touch the yokai. While the scene did exist in the anime, it felt rushed. 1-2 seconds more showing Ashiya’s anguish and fear would have been welcome here. The same goes for the scene at the riverbank where he has a breakdown. They left out the whole kappa part -which would have been okay if they needed to shorten the episodes- but again… the breakdown was very emotional in the manga. He’s never really cried earnestly in the manga before, so that scene was very important for his character development in my opinion.In the manga he starts crying without even really noticing at first and then breaks down entirely apparently (actual crying spree not shown in the manga either, but the beginning and end was shown so that you knew what happened). In the anime, you can barely guess he’s been crying, so it feels pretty flat. Therefore the scene did not develop the same “soul cleansing” effect for Hanae that it had in the manga.[/spoiler]
But now to the thing that had me confused/angry/disappointed: The complete deviation from the plot at the end of this season when compared to the manga. I’m still not really sure about how to feel about this:
[spoiler]They changed the entire Sasa incident. In the manga, Sasa does posess Ashiya and orders him to kill Abeno. Ashiya tries to follow suit but regains consciousness for a moment where he realizes that he’s strangeling Abeno and stops. He withdraws within the deepest part of his soul thinking that he’s killed Abeno. He’s really desperate there and you’re hurting with him. In that moment Sakae makes his appearance and takes over Hanae’s body and consciousness to protect him from self-destructing inside and being killed by Sasa. Sakae then releases and kills Sasa (who is not in the least repenting and who would have killed Abeno and Ahiya and whoever else he got his hands on). Abeno cannot stop Sakae but witnesses a memory of Sakae sealing that demon years before. He thanks Sakae for protecting Hanae before Sakae’s consciousness disappears and Ashiya faints again. In the anime Sakae is way more hateful. He takes over when Hanae is possessed but before the whole strangeling incident. It doesn’t feel like he’s taking over to protect Hanae – more like he’s doing it out of a selfish desire to act upon his hatred for yokai and kill one. While he starts trying to kill Sasa, Abeno interferes, so Sakae *then* ends up strangling Abeno because he’s interfering. In the end, Sakae’s consciousness vanishes because he’s passed the time-limit apparently. Sasa’s still very much alive and suddenly a good yokai who’s overcoming his hatred for humans because Fuzzy tells him (or rather her in the anime) how Hanae was so nice him etc. Bonta and Sasa are sent to the Underworld together.
I guess for someone who hadn’t read the manga, this might all be nice and dandy but for me… I feel let down.
To me, Sakae has always seemed like he did indeed hate yokai before but probably learned to be less aggressive and accept most of them through Aoi. He also seemed very introverted but still loving in his own way in the manga. As if he was really concerned about Hanae and loved him. He didn’t seem like a truly evil/bad person. Just really complex. The way Hanae’s mother is reminiscing about him, also suggests that he’s actually kind. The strange thing here is that they didn’t change *that* in the anime. So it’s even more confusing.
Also, by not having Sakae kill Sasa while acting in Hanae’s stead, they’re taking away other important facts that shape Hanae’s character in the manga (as he comes to learn of “his” deed later on and is trying to make up for it with other actions that will become important in the subsequent manga chapters).[/spoiler]
They pretty much destroyed the chances for a season 3 pick-up if they don’t plan to go 70% original story-line with that one… which I just don’t think they will do. They more or less pulled a Blue Exorcist S1 2nd half on this… Since I really love the series, this breaks my heart a little.