Twin Star Exorcists
Episode 3

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?

Twin Star Exorcists pumped the brakes a little this week to deliver an entertaining, if not slightly underwhelming, follow-up to its exposition-and-action-heavy first two episodes. While I'm glad that Twin Star is willing to slow down the pace and set the stage a little, I can't help but feel that this third episode might have course-corrected too much.

The episode begins with a glimpse into Rokuro's state of mind following last week's revelation that he and Benio are destined to marry and bear a child that will end the battle against the Kegare. He dreams of their nightmarishly sitcom-flavored future, complete with a laugh track and a dorky Dad-sweater for Rokuro, not to mention a delightfully creepy looking baby that Benio can't stop fawning over. I have to admit that this bit was pretty funny, and it's a nice example of what did and didn't work about the episode overall. It's clearly not trying very hard at originality, but it manages to be pleasant and engaging enough all the same.

As Rokuro and Benio adjust to their new lives as partners and classmates, the show hits all of the clichés with little fanfare. All of the boys at school drool over Benio, while Rokuro grumbles sullenly. Mayura pines for Rokuro, while Benio couldn't care less about anything other than fighting the Kegare. At the end of the day, Benio shows just enough concern over Rokuro's well-being that their friends can smile knowingly at their blossoming relationship.

There's really nothing new to see here, which isn't much different from the last couple of weeks, though I couldn't help but feel that the show suffered from some diminishing returns this week. In the first couple of weeks, there was enough chemistry between our leads, along with the eye-catching visual direction, that it was pretty easy to excuse the familiarity of the proceedings. This week, the quality of the visuals and the writing dropped just enough to be noticeable, and that has me a little concerned for the show in the long run.

Last week's background characters, Shinnosuke and Atsushi, picked up the B-plot this week. Though it's nice to get a little more personality for these two, their role in the episode felt a little too muddled, and their fight with the Kegare at the amusement park was visually lackluster. Even when Benio showed up to bail them out, the fight consisted mostly of still-shots and recycled animation from the last two weeks. Where the last two episodes made the action work both as spectacle and plot-development, this week the action felt phoned in. When the Exorcist part of the Twin Star Exorcist equation feels perfunctory, there's an issue. Hopefully this was just the staff conserving their budget and energy for a rebound later on down the road.

The writing was also noticeably uneven this week. Even though the show is ostensibly about Benio and Rokuro's relationship, the two were given surprisingly little screen time together this week, and their lack of interaction damped the show's energy. Really, Benio's entire arc boiled down to rehashing what we already know about her: She's powerful, determined, and bad at playing with others. Her half of the episode could have been cut without affecting the overall plot too much, and that's disheartening. One of the things I found so promising about our two titular Exorcists was that in those first episodes, it seemed like they might get equal footing in the character-development department. I'm disappointed to see the show resting on its laurels so soon with Benio, especially when her action scenes can't pick up the narrative slack.

The focus on developing Mayura this week definitely contributes to Benio falling to the wayside. As Rokuro's childhood friend, Mayura is obviously set up to be the third side to an impending love triangle, which makes sense given the ambivalence both Benio and Rokuro feel about their current situation. So far Mayura is perfectly fine; her character design and line delivery make her likable enough. She apparently has some familial ties to the main Exorcist group, which I hope means she has something more interesting going for her outside of being the third wheel in a love triangle.

Despite my creeping reservations, it would be a lie to say that I didn't enjoy this episode overall. The show has an endearing, more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts charm going for it that I can't help but appreciate, even in more low-key efforts like this one. If it keeps this up, Twin Star Exorcists will probably remain a pleasant enough distraction, at the very least. Still, I can't help but feel like the show might be holding itself back, being so willing to stick to the familiar and the safe. Hopefully next week can ease my concerns.

Rating: B-

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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