Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 35 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
Chijiwa returns to torment the Twin Stars this week, and from the opening of the episode, I was excited to see what he had in store for our heroes. He and his brother were some of my favorite characters introduced during the Dragon Spot Arc, and I was filled with twisted delight to see that Chijiwa had resorted to keeping company with a creepy straw facsimile of his dead twin. Glimmers of weirdness like this are what Twin Star Exorcists could always use more of, and my excitement proved justified when the mad twin turned out to be one of the most imposing antagonists we've seen on the show in a while. He and his brother were fun before, but this week, the lone Basara came across as a genuinely unhinged threat to the Exorcists, which is just the dose of character and menace the show has needed.
Before the crap hits the fan, however, we're treated to a surprisingly strong dose of laid-back comedy and slice-of-life material, the likes of which we haven't really seen since before the time skip. With Benio and Rokuro's relationship essentially solidified, the humor in their scenes together is less about building up their romance and more about fleshing it out. The other exorcists joke about Benio learning to adapt to “married life”, and even though the knot hasn't yet been tied, the sentiment is still apt. My wife and I have been married a little over a year now, so maybe that's why I've been so keen on seeing Benio and Rokuro go through the same process of figuring out what it's like to really share your life with someone. It can be corny at times, but there is an affecting, tangible quality to Benio and Rokuro's affection for one another that has always been this show's secret weapon. The romantic-comedy gags that this episode wrings out of Benio's earnest attempts to make a decent homecooked meal might be easy targets, but they're also really funny, so I can forgive the show for it.
Chijiwa is not in such a forgiving mood however, and his arrival at the Exorcists' school flips the “action” switch for the episode. The animation has settled into a rhythm of being consistently “slightly-below-average”, which is disappointing, but this is an episode that knows its limits and does its best to play up mood and energy when it can't quite afford technical spectacle. The fight itself isn't the most glamorous one the show has done, but Chijiwa is such a compelling and entertaining villain that I can't really complain. In keeping with the show's strengths, the back half of this episode was at its best when Rokuro, Benio, Mayura, and Shimon were playing off each other, especially with a deranged Basara keeping them on their toes.
While it was a little predictable to have Shimon step in to bail out the Twin Stars, I really enjoyed the setup for next week, with Chijiwa puppeteering Shimon and the rest of the school into a grim battle against the remaining exorcists. When the Basara ended the episode by asking which of their friends Rokuro and Benio wanted to kill first, it was genuinely unsettling. While it remains to be seen how this story will conclude next week, this was one of the strongest standalone episodes Twin Star Exorcists has put out in a long time. It was great to have the gang back together, even if it was only so a crazy puppet-master demon from another dimension could tear them apart again.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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