Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 19 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
I love it when a plan comes together.
Not Benio and Rokuro's plan, mind you. That plan goes about as terribly as you could imagine. Initially bolstered by their newfound unity and the growing strength of their Resonance ability, the Twin Stars' battle against Yuto quickly turns into a bloodbath. As it turns out, Yuto's entire body is fueled by Kegare corruption, which means he wipes the floor with our heroes pretty neatly. Blood is shed, bones are broken, and poor Benio gets her legs completely disintegrated. So as far as the titular duo is concerned, their long awaited rematch with the enemy of the exorcists could not have gone worse.
It did make for an absolutely riveting episode, though. Everything that Rokuro and Benio have gone through has led to this, and even though it was hard to watch them struggle and suffer so much, I remain absolutely thrilled that all that buildup is finally paying off.
I had a pretty good idea going into this week's episode that Benio and Rokuro weren't just going to take Yuto down without a struggle, but I was taken aback at just how visceral this episode was. Yuto tears the Twin Stars apart, quite literally in his sister's case, and the sickening glee with which he does the deed is just unsettling. There's a raw earnestness to his assault that really amplifies his presence as the show's Big Bad. In outlining his goal to kill everyone in Japan and use their energy to become the strongest exorcist ever, we didn't really learn anything we couldn't have figured out on our own; still, this episode provided Yuto the razor-sharp edge to his motivations that I've been waiting for. He's gone from being a nebulous threat to something much more tangible, and therefore much more terrifying.
That terror manifests as precise, affecting cruelty, especially in Benio's case. Rokuro spends much of this episode either screaming in blind rage or getting mercilessly beaten, between the few hits he and Benio are able to land. This isn't necessarily a complaint, since it feels consistent with what we've seen from him so far. Benio, however, suffers the greatest emotional trauma, receiving the ultimate rebuke from her long lost brother, who makes sure to cripple her physically as he obliterates whatever hope for his redemption she may have had. Unfortunately, there were some obvious edits and convenient camera angles to obscure Benio's injuries and undercut the emotional impact of this moment, though it makes sense that a show aimed more at young teens wouldn't revel in Benio's bloodshed like some other anime might. Whatever it lacked in graphic intensity though, it more than made up for in emotional intensity. Benio's actress, Megumi Han, absolutely kills it this week, with the way her voice cracks as she lies broken and bleeding, crying out to her brother.
And then Kamui arrived.
I will confess, Benio's Kegare-infused upgrade is one of the few things from the manga that I've had spoiled for me, but even though I knew it was coming, I was once again incredibly impressed with how it all played out. Kamui's nonchalant neutrality makes him an interesting card to play, especially since the only reason he helps restore (and improve) Benio's legs is because he knows she wants nothing more than to kill him. As far as Kamui is concerned, he only wants someone strong to fight, and he respects Benio more than Yuto, so he offers her the chance to live and she takes it, though Rokuro's despair tells us she might be risking more than she knows.
This episode wasn't perfect; there was some choppy animation here and there, and the dreamlike scene that preceded Benio's transformation didn't quite do it for me. Still, I would be lying if I said I didn't want to get up and clap when Benio made her grand re-entrance. This is the show's new benchmark, with the kind of emotional intensity and tightly-wound conflict that I look for in anime.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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