Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 15 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
Out of all Twin Star Exorcists's shortcomings, I'd say the biggest gripe I've had so far is that the show spent a lot of time developing Benio and Rokuro's relationship while ignoring a lot of much needed story development elsewhere. Much of the exorcists' world, including any character that isn't directly involved in the Grand Scheme of Getting Two Middle Schoolers to Make a Baby, has felt underdeveloped over the last fifteen episodes. The biggest victims would have to be the other exorcists living in the Seika dormitory. I regularly forget that Shimonoseki and Atsushi exist, and while Ryogo got his own episode way back at the start of the show, he's largely existed as “That One Exorcist That's Friends with Rokuro and Occasionally Gets Beaten Up By Kegare.” This week, TSE shines the spotlight on Ryogo once again and tries to course-correct its lackluster character and worldbuilding. For the most part, it does a pretty good job.
It all begins when Ryogo's buddy Fushihara sets him up on a blind date with the charming Haruka Kaibara, and they both hit it off pretty well. I enjoyed this turn of events because it really helps to establish Ryogo as somebody that has a life outside of the dorm. For the first time in months, Ryogo gets the opportunity to demonstrate who he is as an individual, instead of just being an accessory to Rokuro and Benio's adventures. We learn that he's a workaholic, pretty old-fashioned when it comes to romance, and a giant awkward dork when it comes to anything that isn't fighting Kegare. We'd seen glimpses of this personality a little bit before, but only this week did he ever feel like a fully fleshed out character. He may not be the most compelling or nuanced guy in the roster, but he feels more involved in the story than he ever has before.
My only real complaint with how Ryogo's story shakes down is that it all feels like too much too fast. I'd actually forgotten all about Fushihara, who only made one brief appearance back in Episode 4, but he not only becomes a full-on supporting character here, but he's also rather brutally transformed into a Kegare and killed off before the episode ends. While his friendship with Ryogo and Haruka helps give the development a little bit of pathos, I can't help but feel like it would have hit home a lot more if Fushihara, Ryogo, and Haruka had been active side characters for a little bit longer. Still, I appreciate the effort to expand the roles of the other exorcists, especially since the fight against the Kegare only seems to be growing.
On the Rokuro/Benio side of things, their B-plot leads us into a perfectly serviceable Kegare fight that sheds just the tiniest bit more light on the looming threats against the exorcists, while also giving Fushihara a suitably tragic end. The fight itself wasn't much to write home about, but watching Benio and Rokuro struggle with the emotional weight of their battle made up for that somewhat. The reveal that he was transformed into a Kegare in death wasn't an especially surprising one, but it does hammer home the inherent dangers of the profession. After weeks of Benio and Rokuro constantly escaping impossibly large threats by the skin of their teeth, Fushihara's demise reminds both our heroes and the audience that the Kegare play for keeps.
This is really what I enjoyed about this episode, in spite of the rushed pacing and lack of any standout action beats. For all the grit-your-teeth drama the Yuto and Kamui fights provided, the lack of permanent consequences has left the story feeling just a little bit toothless. Ryogo's loss and the Twin Stars' failure in Magano give the Kegare a menace that finally seems to be resonating with our heroes. As Seigen rightfully points out, if they go into battle giving anything less than their all, Benio and Rokuro won't just end up battered and bruised; they could very well toss away their lives.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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