Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
Twin Star is settling down again this week, drawing back from the emotional and dramatic highs of the past couple episodes and doubling down on the Rom-Com. Episodes like these have historically been the series' Achilles heel, and this episode definitely comes with some of those animation and action drawbacks we've grown to expect. Still, this scrappy little shonen has been shaping up more lately; the pros do end up outweighing the cons this week, adding up to a fun, cute entry overall.
Most shows that run as long as TSE is expected to are going to suffer from inconsistent animation. It's a sin I've given the series plenty of flak for in the past, mostly because it's come at the cost of some critical action beats or character moments. (I'm looking at you, Episode 5.) While this episode certainly isn't the prettiest of the bunch, it doesn't really need to be in order to work. This is supposed to be a lighthearted take on Benio and Rokuro's first date after all, a comedown from Yuto's less-than-pleasant re-emergence into our heroes' lives. What might be distracting and detrimental to a Kegare-heavy episode is much less of a problem here; some of the jankier scenes even kind of fit the breezy tone the episode is going for. It's nothing seamless, but it's not as jarring or out of place as some of the earlier episodes. This week, the show knows its limitations and works within them, instead of just trying to ignore them.
The mastermind of Benio and Rokuro's day out is Mitejima Subaru, one of the Twelve Guardians who also happens to be Benio's old teacher. She's an immediately entertaining presence and another reason this episode works as well as it does. Subaru belongs to the same “Colorful and Weird Adult Mentor” league as Tsuchimikado, and she works really well as the feminine foil to his over-the-top antics. Her efforts to play matchmaker are cute, and the gunplay she shows off in the climax elevates the otherwise pedestrian fight scene into something entertaining. TSE has suffered from a dearth of interesting side characters, so Subaru is someone I'm glad to know we'll be getting more of.
What I enjoyed most this week was seeing Benio and Rokuro get those moments of real chemistry. The pair's early attempts to hold hands and generally act like a couple were cringe-worthy, but in an endearing way. By contrast, Rokuro using Subaru's carte blanche to buy Benio some ohagi was honestly very heartwarming, and Benio offering him the last piece of her coveted treat was just too great. The whole day felt both ferociously awkward and subtly sweet, which I'd bet is a good summary of what dating is like for many young teenagers. This show's secret weapon is the fact that Benio and Rokuro's relationship feels real and engaging, and I think this episode is proof of that.
The only comedy that didn't really work came from Kinako, whose incessant punchlines and needless exposition felt even more arbitrary than usual. His anime-only existence has drawn some ire from fans of the manga, but even as a someone who has only seen the anime, I'm starting to see where they're coming from. The little familiar can be endearing when he's just being Benio's overprotective spirit friend, but it's difficult to excuse him undercutting the power of more dramatic moments. The writers seem to have been using him more sparingly as of late, so maybe it isn't too much to hope he'll be written out altogether or at least given something meaningful to do.
This was by no means a high water mark for Twin Star Exorcists, but I think the series is finally finding its groove with these conservatively budgeted “cool-down” episodes. This is a welcome development, and it will be increasingly important as we dig deeper into the series' 50 episode run. At the end of the day, I think I'm just a sucker for "shipping." Give me any “Out on a Date” episode with some cute moments and a dash of honest emotion, and I'm bound to have a fairly good time.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter.
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