Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 16 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
Let's all take a moment to appreciate Mayura Otomi, who might just be Twin Star Exorcists's secret MVP.
All the way back in episode 3, when we first really got to know her, I expressed my hope that Mayura would get to be more than just a typical 3rd-wheel love interest. Over the past couple months, TSE has actually done a really good job in fulfilling that hope. While still firmly rooted in stock tropes, Mayura has proven to not only be a potential love interest for Rokuro, but a down-to-Earth and driven young woman in her own right. I've especially appreciated how consistently she goes out of her way to support Benio as a friend, in spite of her misgivings about the arrangement she and Rokuro have been forced into. It would have been so easy to turn her into the typical, suspicious, jealous friend of the protagonist, but if this week's episode proved anything, it's that I've come to genuinely like Mayura, and I'm just as interested in her fate as I am in Benio and Rokuro's.
Last week's previews made it clear that something bad was going to happen to Mayura, though the first half of the episode almost could have fooled me. Up until the sudden shift into Kegare-fueled dramatics at the halfway point, TSE was providing another of its straightforward-yet-effective character episodes. Among other things, we finally get to see Mayura and Seigen have a little one-on-one time, which I've been waiting for ever since we learned that Seigen is Mayura's absentee father. His ambivalence about their relationship and Mayura's insistence on trying to establish some kind of normal father/daughter rapport was an insightful scene for both of the characters. Seigen obviously has some issues he needs to work out on his own, but it was genuinely sweet how Mayura didn't seem to take it all that personally. She's so divorced from the world of the exorcists that it's hard for her to criticize or help with problems she doesn't understand, something she herself comments on when she's trying to figure out a way to be a good friend to Rokuro and Benio.
That's all certainly about to change though, what with her sudden and violent transformation into a Basara. While I had a general idea what was coming, the scene itself was still effective, conveying the appropriate amounts of horror and uncertainty. Nega-Mayura's design was also pretty great, a kind of Lovecraftian Lolita mishmash of too many limbs. Following last week's episode, TSE seems to be emphasizing the horror of its Kegare designs a little more, which I definitely appreciate. The fight between Nega-Mayura and Seigen was pretty good, though it was more focused on the drama of the situation than the action. Interspersing Benio and Rokuro's horrified reactions helped sell the emotion of the scene, at the expense of the fluid choreography the show usually doles out in big fights like this.
The most interesting developments occurred at the very end of the episode, when the Twin Stars discover a new power: The ability to use their Resonance and amplify their spell power to actually reverse Kegare corruptions. I'm of two minds about this, to be honest. On one hand, it feels a little cheap to introduce a solution to the problem that last week's episode spent so much time setting up. The loss of allies to the Kegare is supposed to be a meaningful consequence to the war, but now it seems like Rokuro and Benio can take care of it relatively easily.
On the other hand, the anime does make sure to actually address this in Rokuro's final scene, where he breaks down in tears, knowing how many loved ones he could have saved if he'd had this power earlier. It goes a little too over-the-top with the sobbing for my tastes, but it's still an important beat to hit, a reminder that there are still going to be real consequences to the war against the Kegare.
And with the post-credits scene, we finally get the reappearance of Yuto. One of my big complaints up until the end of the episode was how random and out of nowhere Mayura's transformation felt. While not definitively stated, I feel like at this point I can assume that Yuto was behind it, which makes the event feel a lot less random. Either way, Yuto showing up probably means another escalation of the conflict, which the show is due for after the turmoil our Twin Stars went through this week. If nothing else, the series has become much more consistent in its quality and pacing overall. I'm looking forward to seeing where next week takes us.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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