Twin Star Exorcists – Mid Season Review
Twin Star Exorcists:
Original Air Dates: April 6th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Grotesque creatures known as Kegare reside in Magano, a realm that exists parallel to our world. Exorcists purify these evil apparitions to protect the people. Rokuro Enmado, once heralded as a prodigy, is now opposed to going down the path of an exorcist. Benio Adashino, a girl who’s also been found to contain tremendous power, is determined to exorcise all Kegare and purify the world. When the two cross paths Rokuro is forced to choose between running from his powers, or using them to aid in Benio’s quest against the Kegare. The two find themselves at each other’s side, and become known as the Twin Star Exorcists.
Mid Season (6 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Rokuro is a stubborn, reluctant protagonist. Reluctant heroes can be interesting, as they fight against the call to action that drives them to confront the central evils of the story. It can generate good conflict, but here Rokuro holds onto this stubborn reluctance for far too long. We’re five episodes into the series before he comes around to the idea of fighting alongside Benio and the others. It wouldn’t be a problem if his struggle against joining the fight wasn’t the same mishmash of ideas for two episodes straight. It’s understandable why Rokuro doesn’t want to join up, and the origin he’s suffering from gives him a tragic backstory, but Twin Star Exorcists doesn’t do anything interesting with that information, making the series feel like it’s dragging its feet as the audience pulls it along, kicking and screaming, into progressing the story forward.
Linny: There’s a lot in the show that feels common and cliche, especially the whole notion of having yet another highly skilled protagonist with a dark past that prevents him from reaching his true potential. It’s a tried and true formula in anime, and one that has its fair share of fans so it isn’t surprising to see it being used once again. However, Rokuro lacks the charm needed to appeal to those who have gotten tired of that trope. When the show does try to do something different (different even from its own manga apparently), it produces something that has been commonly deemed an annoyance. I’m talking about the fox like companion that accompanies Benio, who’s a foul mouthed and arrogant tyke that makes most people want to punch it in the face.
Tom: That mascot character, Kinako, is easily the worst and most annoying aspect of the series. He’s anime only, meaning he’s been forcibly inserted into whatever scenes the writers could cram him into. His dialogue is more often than not mere commentary or captain obvious level statements that add nothing to the series. He’s meant for humor, but comes off as aggravatingly unnecessary and a clear sign that there was little faith in Twin Star Exorcists as a property to begin with. Ignoring him for the moment, the rest of the side characters possess little actual characterization and exist solely as set pieces to drive the plot forward. Benio, our other main character, is so emotionless that, at times, she comes off as heartless and uncaring, particularly during episode four when one of the side characters is in mortal danger. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a tough girl, but when she shows zero reaction at all to a fellow exorcist’s blight that’s not bad ass, it’s bitchy.
Linny: It feels uninspired but there’s enough classic shonen tropes to please shonen fans. For those who desire a little spontaneity and surprise in their stories, the show has a tendency of projecting itself from a mile away, constantly dropping heavy hints so you always know what’s going to happen next. It tries really hard to sell its monsters and demons, which do have a rather unique look and colour scheme, but whether that’s a good thing or not will be up to your personal preferences. In episode four, a haunted house is shown in a state that screams for a contractor rather than an exorcist. The show is obviously trying to go for the haunted abandoned feel but the extreme state of disrepair and squalor made me wonder if the exorcists would be killed not by demons but by a rotten support beam.
Tom: At its heart Twin Star Exorcists is a classic shone tale, not particularly original save for the nuances that define it, many of which I worry were lost in translation from manga to anime. I can’t speak for changes outside of the first episode, but based on how much was cut and or changed to condense Twin Star’s seventy-seven page chapter down into just twenty-two minutes of animation, I can’t help but be skeptical more wasn’t altered or reworked to pair Twin Star down. Whatever the case may be, as Twin Star continues I find myself drawn less and less to the world. We’ve moved into a demon of the week format, a format that hinges on interesting designs and clever one off writing– both of which Twin Star is lacking. One would’ve thought the draw of the series would be Rokuro and Benio’s odd couple dynamic. But by episode six that dynamic feels subdued, and anything but engaging.
Linny: Personally, I am tired of the odd couple lead that hate each other’s guts but are forced to work together. It can be pretty enjoyable but if it is one of your lesser preferred set up, the show doesn’t do anything especially noteworthy. However, if you like the odd couple set up in shows then hey, there’s a chance you might love this one.
Tom: As Twin Star progresses we’ve begun to learn a smattering of details surrounding the Kegare and Exorcist world. But the series’ progression falls into the all too usual shonen trappings: A new, powerful character appears to spur our heroes into improving themselves and training. It’s decent progression but only if you haven’t seen it numerous times before. I can’t help but wish I had easier access to the manga, so I could compare the anime and its source material, coming to understand exactly how much has been changed for the sake of making Twin Star a “huge mass market success.” Is this a Terra Formars Revenge case where the source material has been “shonened” up for the sake of pulling in a younger audience?
Linny: The show takes a rather unique approach to depicting the battle moves and attacks of its protagonists, choosing to use a lot of still images and reusing combat footage. Maybe that was an artistic choice or maybe it was a result of budget constraints. If it was an artistic decision, it’s definitely unusual but not necessarily groundbreaking or entertaining. There’s also a very strange use of vertical phone camera angle being used to depict flashbacks so yeah, visually this show made a lot of unique choices.
Tom: Twin Star’s red and black color palette gives it a more dark and violent appearance that sets it apart from other shonen. However, its visual designs never delve too far into the grotesque, giving us a kiddie interpretation of a world plagued by the Kegare. As the season progresses animation quality and designs take a dive, with many characters suffering from stilted movements and off-model work that detracts from the otherwise unique use of colors and style.
Linny: I started this show having read the first chapter in advance and my expectations were fairly high. Sadly from the first episode itself, I began to notice the unusual stylistic and narrative choices the anime made and while I wasn’t particularly fixated on the manga version, the anime’s take on the story felt lackluster. As we progressed, the animation grew weirder, and the story a little too familiar to keep my interest levels high. Maybe I am harsh due to my personal boredom with generic shonen, but for anyone else like me, I’d just like to say that this show isn’t one you’d regret skipping. It has some unique animation but story and character wise, it isn’t anything especially commendation worthy.
Tom: Twin Star Exorcists had a decent, not stellar, first episode. But as the series progressed it’s fallen into a lot of the overly familiar shonen trappings with predictable progression and poorly realized characters. It’s uninteresting and the reliance on the all too common monsters of the week formula hasn’t elevated the concept. Compared to My Hero Academia, the other major shonen of the season, Twin Star Exorcists is far less deserving of your time.
Twin Star Exorcists is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.