Twin Star Exorcists
Episode 39

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 39 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?

Oh, Twin Star Exorcists. You beautiful, ugly, lovable, aggravating mess. You have so much potential and so much to appreciate on your own merits, but every now and then you just have to take a stumble. As the resident Twin Star Exorcists Apologist, I have to be honest, this episode was rough. It has a lot of really good ideas, but it fumbles nearly all of them.

The premise itself is strong: take some time away from our main duo to focus on Mayura and Seigen, whose daughter-father relationship hasn't really been explored much since the tail end of the pre-timeskip arc. I really like Mayura as a character, especially since she's grown into a full-fledged Exorcist in her own right, and getting to learn more about her family history is a promising arc to explore. This just made it all the more disappointing when the whole backstory involving Seigen and Mayura's mother was handled as haphazardly as anything the show has done. There's some potential to the notion that their relationship was borne out of Seigen's former wickedness, but it's set up and blown through so quickly that absolutely none of it comes across right. Mayura's mom is a blank slate of a character, who decides to forgive and fall in love with her brother's murderer just because, I guess? Seigen being the Exorcist equivalent of a hitman is a neat idea, but it's also the kind of plot that needs more than half an episode to develop. A mini-arc could have resulted in some interesting drama and relationship development between Seigen and Mayura, but as it's presented, it's just a flimsy excuse to power up Mayura for her battle with Kuranashi. That battle is this episode's second big blunder.

This was probably the single ugliest episode the show has produced since the nadir of Shimon's introduction all the way back in Episode 5. Everyone is off-model, the editing is choppy and confusing, and the animation is stiff and lifeless as a corpse. This is supposed to be Mayura's shining moment, coming into her own as a badass warrior, and the whole battle falls flat on its face. Kuranashi's constant lazy sneering about “creating a diversion” just deflates the tension even more, giving the entire episode the sour aftertaste of something designed solely to fill up time. For as late in the game as we are in Twin Star Exorcists' run, this kind of feckless writing is difficult to excuse.

Was this episode a total waste? No, it wasn't. Seeing Mayura and Seigen strengthen their bond, and having Mayura finally get a moment in the battle spotlight, were fun and appreciated beats for the story to finally hit. The problem isn't the ideas, it's the execution. This has always been Twin Star Exorcist's Achilles heel, but I can't remember the last time this show has stung so badly in its failings. Hopefully this is our requisite final low point for the series, one last stumble on its way to the end of the road. Twin Star Exorcists has never been in the running to win first place, but if it doesn't start to pick itself up and focus on the finish line, I'm worried how far behind it might place.

Rating: C-

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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