Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
After the last episode took its time to flesh out Benio's past and set up the conflict with Kamui, I predicted that this week would follow a familiar pattern and dig right into the action. I was sort of right, though honestly I was a little surprised at the wonky pacing of this week's episode. It was ever so slightly off-kilter, never quite striking a steady balance between action and drama. Both elements worked well enough individually but when combined, the product as a whole felt uneven.
I appreciated Twin Star's effort to not abandon its character moment completely to the Kamui fight, but it just felt odd to have Benio and Rokuro's dip out of Magano so suddenly, have their heart-to-heart, and then immediately jump back into battle. Granted, it makes sense on paper to have Rokuro jump in early, only to be overwhelmed and then rescued by a freshly recovered Benio; it's the execution that was flawed. The unnecessary flashbacks combined with jarring quips from Kinako gave the dramatic scenes a stuttering quality that hurt their overall impact. Likewise, Rokuro spends much of his initial encounter with Kamui learning about the death of Benio's family, which the audience already knows. Again, these scenes make sense on paper, but they're put together in such a way that dampens a lot of the tension that last week spent so much time building up.
All of this isn't to say that I didn't enjoy those dramatic scenes overall. I actually really enjoyed Benio's reaction to Rokuro's dinner, which is apparently just as disgusting as the meal she made, but the obvious care that Rokuro put into it makes it that much more meaningful to her. It's an obvious emotional beat, but no less effective. For all of the show's flaws, it has done a pretty good job of developing its protagonists' relationship naturally and effectively. The chemistry that these two share is something that I've found lacking in a lot of television romances, anime or otherwise. I've genuinely enjoyed seeing Benio and Rokuro learn how to work and live together, while struggling to handle the strangeness of their situation all the while.
Pacing issues aside, the actual throwdown this episode revolved around was pretty satisfying. It wasn't the most well paced or animated fight we've gotten, but Kamui's intimidating presence and the intensity of the blocking helped make up for it. Kamui is altogether a fascinating addition to Twin Star Exorcists's lore, providing a face and some semblance of motivation to the Kegare threat. This also raises a lot of questions. Are the Kegare more than just monstrous killing machines? Are there other more intelligent and capable Kegare out there, and if so, what plans are they scheming up? Kamui has shown that Kegare are at the very least capable of using magical enchantments in the same way as Exorcists. His existence alone complicates the Human/Kegare conflict in a lot of potentially fascinating ways.
Speaking of complications, it was interesting to see how the whole fight with Kamui might have been facilitated by Tsuchimikado. If he wasn't behind it, he was at the very least aware of it, watching from afar while Benio and Rokuro took a pretty solid beating from Kamui. The show has hinted about a possibly sinister undercurrent to all of Tsuchimikado's antics, and this episode proves that he's willing to cross some questionable lines to achieve his goal of uniting the Twin Star Exorcists. It makes his character even more interesting and sows some seeds for future complication in Benio and Rokuro's lives. If they can't even completely trust the leader of the Exorcists, then how safe are they really?
This episode certainly wasn't perfect in its execution, but it contained enough suspense and genuine emotion to keep with the general bar of quality I've come to expect from the show. With another villain introduction Arc come and gone, I imagine we're headed back into more laid-back territory. I generally don't mind that side of Twin Star Exorcists, but I hope this break is a shorter one. The sooner Kamui and Subaru return to wreak more havoc, the better.
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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