Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 36 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
If last week's episode of Twin Star Exorcists was the buildup, then this week is the payoff. Outside of a forgettable few minutes catching up with the other Twelve Guardians, the majority of this week's entry has our heroes fighting off the hordes of students being controlled by Chijiwa and Puppet Momochi. It's a tense, well directed half-hour filled with engaging choreography and even some polished animation. It isn't without its flaws, but it's a damned fun episode nonetheless.
When I say flaws, I'm really referring to one major flaw: the cliffhanger from last week falls flat on its face. Last episode ended with Chijiwa capturing Shimon and threatening to use him against the others, putting them in an impossible kill or be killed scenario. It was set up to be one hell of a showdown, and I was really looking forward to how the conflict played out—but then Shimon was saved and the problem was solved without much of any fuss. Combine that with the needless inclusion of the other Twelve Guardians, and all the tension that the previous episode built up was almost completely deflated in the first third of this episode. I know the show is trying to keep up the momentum of the “Missing Exorcists” side of the story, but it was so slight of a reminder that the episode's pacing would have worked better if the scene hadn't been included at all. Needless to say, I had low expectations for how the rest of it would play out.
Fortunately, my worries were unfounded. The back half of this episode was entertaining, engaging, and action-packed, completely making up for the lackluster first act. Chijiwa and his scarecrow effigy of a brother have quickly become some of my favorite villains the show has produced, and this episode highlights the mix of macabre style and genuine pathos that make them so interesting. The other Basara (including Kuranashi) have suffered from a lack of motivation, so while Chijiwa's revenge scheme is simplistic and fairly cliché, it still goes a long way in making me care about him. By the time he and Shimon were squaring off in a one-on-one duel, I actually wanted to see how this particular Basara's story played out. He's nothing spectacular as far as characters go, but he has more depth and reason for fighting than most of the Basara we've met so far.
Speaking of Shimon, he got his fair share of the spotlight this week, with his fight against Chijiwa culminating in the reveal of an awesome new set of Enchanted Armor. Their fight scene wasn't without the series' usual animation issues (there hasn't been an exquisitely animated fight scene in this show since before the time skip), but once again the series manages to work around its animation issues with strong choreography and kinetic direction. It was a great upswing from the fumble of the episode's first half, and by the time all was said and done, I was surprisingly satisfied.
Twin Star Exorcists got off to a rough start this week, but putting the focus on Shimon and Chijiwa's fight helped this episode make a solid comeback in the end. It looks like all this chaos was just a prelude to whatever Kuranashi's master plan is, and though it remains to be seen if this arc will have enough meat to fill out the last dozen episodes TSE has left in its run, I'm excited to see where it goes. I'm just sad we had to lose Chijiwa and Scarecrow Momochi in the process. We hardly knew ye, Basara Bros, but you will be missed!
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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