Twin Star Exorcists
Episode 21

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 21 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?

So I should start by offering a brief apology, as it seems I peddled out some misinformation last week. I had been under the impression that the anime-original material Twin Star Exorcists is moving into would fill in the two-year time skip that occurs in the manga. While the show still seems to be heading into a unique arc that isn't covered in the manga, it definitely didn't waste any time getting to that time skip. Thank goodness for that, because this was a damn fine episode.

Honestly, any fears I had that the show would rest on its laurels were put to rest this week, and I couldn't be happier. This episode has a lot of heavy lifting to do, handling both the ramifications of a two-year time skip while also laying down pieces for the next storyline, and it does so with the kind of grace and confidence that simply didn't exist even a couple of months back. We're seeing Twin Star Exorcists hit its stride, where even the anime-only material can be as compelling and entertaining as anything that came before it.

This is apparent from the first scene, where the Seika Trio actually holds their own against the Kegare in a well-animated and well-choreographed action scene. For so long, these guys have existed to act as the show's damsels-in-distress, but this time they fight like they've always been competent. Not only that, but the group of Exorcists gets more diverse with the addition of both Haruka and Mayura to the roster. We've known since her introduction that Haruka is an Exorcist, but it was nice to see her in action all the same. Mayura only just last week expressed her desire to join the fight against the Kegare, so it was a little surprising to see her join the team so soon. That said, her presence on the battlefield makes perfect sense. She's powerful enough to justify her inclusion, while still being klutzy enough to add a comedic dynamic to the team that I already appreciate.

In addition to an expanding team of Exorcists, the time-skip affords us a glimpse at the evolving dynamics between our core cast, as the prospect of Benio and Rokuro's union gets closer to becoming reality. I've made no secret of how much I admire TSE's handling of its central relationships, and this episode doesn't disappoint. Benio and Rokuro have grown into a pair of assured and capable young adults, and watching them navigate their increasingly intimate relationship is a key component to Twin Star Exorcists' success. I especially appreciate how the writers haven't reduced Mayura to a simple romantic foil, instead making the wise decision to frame her more as Benio's wing-woman than Rokuro's Other Girl. While it's clear that Mayura still has feelings for her childhood friend, that's far from her only defining trait. There's a maturity and nuance to the core dynamic of the main trio that just works so well.

Not that this episode is entirely made up of narrative housekeeping. We also get introduced to a mysterious young girl named Sae, an orphan of Magano who's as preternaturally talented as she is adorable. Her arrival is suspiciously appropriate given that Benio and Rokuro are trying to figure out their feelings about raising a child of their own, and it's obvious that she has something to do with the mysterious infections and Kegare attacks plaguing the city. However her past will work into the ongoing conflict remains a mystery, but I have the sneaking suspicion that it won't end well for our Twin Stars.

Sae's narrative mysteries are put on the backburner this week, though. She really serves to function as a trial-run for the Twin Stars' child-rearing skills. Her insistence on calling Rokuro Papa is cute (and suspicious) enough, but Sae shines a light on Benio's atypical mothering talents that completely melted my heart. Some may have questioned my love for Ohagi Man way back in Episode 14, but I stand vindicated, as Benio using Ohagi Man as a bedtime story for Sae stands as perhaps the most adorable payoff to a silly gag that I've seen in a long time.

So yeah, this episode was great. It had action, comedy, and heart, and we didn't even have to wait for an arc to end first! The show is finally living up to its potential, providing the kind of heartfelt and action-packed entertainment that shonen was made for. It started off as a messy and inconsistent underdog; now it's one of the hidden gems of the season. Now that's what I call a comeback.

Rating: A

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 and his blog.

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