Plot: All that Matoi wants to have a quiet, normal life, but she manages to get into trouble quite often. She isn’t a bad seed, but she just stumbles into awkward moments and feels out of place in most situations. After her friend Yuma’s family shrine is attacked, Matoi finds herself in the middle of Yuma’s vengeance, thanks to a magic spell that went haywire. As if her life wasn’t already a mess, the misfired spell has awoken some deep, supernatural elements within Matoi, turning into a powerful exorcist. This strange turn of events also places her right in the center of a conflict between the very forces of good and evil, not her idea of a good time. Especially when she realizes there are vicious demons out on the prowl and if she doesn’t master her new talents, lives could be lost and evil could overrun the world. So she trudges forward, always afraid that her vanishing exorcist cloak might leave her naked in public, but that’s a small cost to vanquish demons, right?
Entertainment Value: This twelve episode series gets off to an uneven start, but soon finds a solid base and turns out to be quite a fun show. The main issue is that the first episode tries to balance silly comic moments with the dark, ominous realm of demons, which doesn’t work too well. So expect a focus on comedy at first, as well as a small tidal wave of fan service toward the start. As time passes, the show takes a darker turn and drops some of the wackiness, which I think was a wise decision. The slow start might also keep you from connecting with some of the characters, but just ride it out and the series will correct that concern. Matoi starts off as the kind of anime girl we’ve seen time and again, a basic girl thrown into a wild situation that she seemingly can’t handle, but that is just the surface. The show offers up some terrific character development for Matoi, unraveling her backstory and giving her some competent depth. This holds true for most of the supporting characters as well, so this series has a good narrative and isn’t just style over substance. At the same time, the show isn’t overly serious, so it hits a nice balance after the first few episodes.
I appreciate supernatural style anime for a multitude of reasons, but one great perk is that the visuals are often remarkable. In this case, we have demons, rituals, magic spells, and even other dimensions, so the animation is given a wide scope of interesting things to showcase. This is all handled well, with beautiful animation and some impressive attention to detail. The show can have a dark visual presence at times, but the lighting used is fantastic. I know this sounds like a minor detail, but a spooky scene can lose the impact if the lighting is off, so I was glad to see Matoi was one series that nailed that subtle touch. The designs aren’t the most detailed I’ve seen, but they look good and are fun to watch in motion. And I don’t just mean the fan service when I say that, the show just has a cool overall visual presence. I do wish Matoi had gotten off to a smoother start, but even considering that rocky stretch, the show recovers well and really turns into a fun, well crafted adventure. I loved the finale as well, as few shows really deliver when it comes to the conclusion, but this one does. So if you’re a fan of magic themed anime, this set is well recommended.