Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
This week's episode of Twin Star Exorcists was a decided improvement over last week's. While the show still doesn't seem to be reaching for any new or unexpected heights, it's settling into a groove of "Good-But-Not-Greatness" that I think will be enough to carry it through the rest of the season.
Honestly, this episode hits a lot of the same beats as last week. The focus is primarily on Rokuro and one of his close friends, though instead of his crush we get to learn more about the big-brother figure in his life, Ryogo. And like last week, Shinnosuke and Atsushi completely drop the ball in their Kegare-hunting, so Rokuro and Benio have to pick up the slack. The episode even ends with a very similar moment between Rokuro and Benio that playfully hints at their growing feelings for one another in a typically middle-school way.
While this kind of formulaic storytelling won't do the show any favors if it's still happening twenty episodes from now, I didn't mind it here for two reasons. Number one is that the writing was much tighter, giving a good amount of backstory for Ryogo and Rokugo's friendship without meandering like the last week's offering did. Ryogo so far seems charming, and he works as a nice foil to our stubborn and temperamental protagonist. I was getting much more emotionally invested in Ryogo and Rokuro's development than I was for Rokuro's shenanigans with Mayura last week. The scene where Ryogo revealed he'd been hanging on to Rokuro's childhood trinket was cheesy for sure, but it was the good kind of cheese.
Some shows need characters buried in tragic or complicated backstories, but I'm willing to go along with Twin Star's penchant for featuring exorcists and love interests who are content to just be fairly pleasant people. It's good to see that the preview for next week's episode seems to indicate the arrival of some sort of antagonist though. A strong central conflict will do this show a world of good when it comes to invigorating the urgency and drama necessary to fuel a shonen series like this one.
Another reason I'm willing to give this week's episode a pass on repetitiveness is that its animation and direction took a noticeable upswing from last week. Even if the action here was sparser than I might have liked, it packed more of an emotional punch, which made what little action there was that much more enjoyable. Plus, the art direction gave the scenes of Ryogo and Co. investigating a haunted house that eerie Silent Hill-esque vibe that I wouldn't mind seeing a lot more of, since it helps the show stand out so much. Given that this is shonen aimed more directly at the middle teen demographic, I don't know if we'll ever dive into full on horror movie mode, but I will take all the creepy Kegare hauntings I can get.
I won't reiterate Twin Star Exorcist's issues with being derivative much more from here on out, but suffice it to say that really is the biggest thing holding the show back right now. I also can't help but feel like Ryogo, Shinnosuke, and Atsushi are being depicted as a little too incompetent. I get that the show needs to make sure we understand that Rokuro and Benio are The Best Exorcists Ever, but it's making the other exorcists seem unreasonably bad at their own jobs. Hopefully these Three Amigos will get their time to shine as the series progresses.
I'll end by saying that I really hope that Benio gets more to do and soon. She's been essentially sidelined to background support for the last two weeks, and I can already feel the emotional weight of the show slipping when it relies solely on Rokuro to carry it. She remains plenty cute, but I'm pretty sure her little mascot familiar has gotten as many lines as her these past two episodes, and he didn't even appear on screen this week. A lot of my goodwill toward Twin Star Exorcists was predicated on the charming banter and thoughtful development that both Rokuro and Benio received in those introductory episodes. If she starts getting dropped out of the equation just so we can have more time to spend with Rokruo, I fear that a lot of the show's charm and energy would be going out the window with her.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life. He spends way too much time on Twitter.
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