Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 40 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
To answer the question asked by this episode's title: no, they do not finally kiss. Rokuro and Benio aren't allowed to actually express their feelings for each other, apparently, because this is Anime Land, where first kisses can only occur in the final moments of the final episode of the series. Or so it would seem.
Yeah, the fakeout at the end was both frustrating and obvious, and I was hoping against hope that TSE would rally against its worst urges and avoid the cliché of not letting its romantic leads actually express romantic feelings for one another. Alas, it was not to be, and the kiss the entire series has been building up toward has once again been delayed, this time by Kuranashi seemingly absorbing the rest of the Twelve Guardians in their weakest moments. I know the world is at stake and everything, but come on now. At this point, One Piece will be wrapping up, and the Twin Stars will still be in the Will-They-Won't-They phase of their relationship.
Outside of Kuranashi's lip-lock-blocking, there isn't much else to discuss about this episode; it's the most purely functional episode we've gotten in a long time. Rokuro and Benio take on some enemies together, race each other to the top of the massive Kegare-dome, and swiftly dispatch the mechanisms keeping that section of the city held aloft in the air. The Guardians do their part to get the citizens safely to the ground, and after the aforementioned romantic shenanigans, Kuranashi reveals that weakening the guardians and absorbing them directly was his plan all along, setting up a cliffhanger that will lead us in to the next plotline. It was all a very “no muss, no fuss" affair. The episode wasted very little time on extraneous battles and Guardian appearances, cutting to the necessary beats of the story one by one until the credits rolled.
If that sounds a little dry and even anticlimactic, that's because it was. Kuranashi has been hinting at some larger game plan since abducting the city, but it's all been so nebulous and piecemeal up until now that the cliffhanger resolution feels more abrupt and unsatisfying than it should. I get that the Twin Stars' success was supposed to be a little easy, but it doesn't stop this episode from feeling more like setup for next week instead of a complete story in and of itself. It wasn't bad by any means, just underwhelming. When you factor in the fake-out love confession, the episode gives the impression that it is both progressing the plot fairly rapidly while somehow also stalling for time, which creates a decidedly awkward vibe indeed.
On the plus side, the animation was a nice step up from last week, managing to look consistently on-model for most of the episode. Given the show's messy track record, I wouldn't get too excited for future episodes; I'd like to think the last handful of episodes can remain at least consistently decent-looking, but I'm not going to get myself too excited. At this point, I'm taking Twin Star Exorcists' final batch of episodes one week at a time. Some of them will disappoint, no doubt, but hopefully the majority will work well enough for the show to stick the landing, however roughly.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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