Twin Star Exorcists
Episode 42

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 42 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?

This is a tricky episode of Twin Star exorcists to review; I'm honestly of two minds about it. On the one hand, Yuto's reintroduction to the story is absolutely necessary in this final act, and I'm glad the show is taking the time to explain how he has arrived back on the Twin Stars' doorstep two years after their last encounter. It's actually something I specifically said I wanted the show to do, so I'm hard pressed to complain about it. On the other hand, the episode was hamstrung by some writing decisions that struck me as lazy and unnecessarily rote in their execution. This is an episode we needed, but I don't know if it's the one we deserved.

My first big issue is how this episode handles Yuto's toying with Rokuro and Benio; more specifically, I didn't like how Benio was relegated to being “fridged” to bring out Rokuro's inner-beast. Yes, I know she didn't die, so the trope isn't a complete fit, but it still came across as unnecessarily cruel to have her locked in a box and mercilessly beaten just so Rokuro could get a brief and ineffectual Angry Power-up. We already know Yuto can be cruel, especially to his estranged sister, but this cruelty felt less like necessary character writing and more like cheap shock tactics. When Yuto sliced off Benio's legs in their last battle, the moment was not only visceral but linked intrinsically to Benio's personal struggle. She had to be the one to choose between asking for Kamui's help or bleeding to death; it was a moment that required an internal strength on Benio's part. But this time, she's only being tortured so that Rokuro can get stronger; Yuto makes this explicit when he tells Rokuro that Benio serves as a convenient tool for getting to him. There's no subversion of this idea, nor is there any opportunity for Benio to unshackle herself from such a tired old cliché. It's just a lazy and reductive writing crutch played straight, disappointing to see in a series that has managed to avoid a lot of those crutches so far.

My other big issue is how quickly and easily the episode handles Arima Tsuchimikado's return. It's not an unexpected development or even a bad one; even when he was given up for dead weeks ago, I don't think I ever bought into the notion that Twin Star Exorcists would axe such an important character off screen. Arima even lampshades how disappointing a development that would be, so the show is clearly at least in on the joke. Still, showing up to rescue Benio and Rokuro at the last minute this week was just too easy a solution, overly reminiscent of the Twin Stars' earlier days when they needed rescuing all the time. I was under the impression that the point of the past twenty or so episodes was to show how much Rokuro and Benio have grown together, and seeing Yuto take them out so easily is just a cheap way to demonstrate Yuto's newfound power. I think the same effect could have been accomplished without relying so much on Arima and without sidelining Benio. So many of my complaints could have been avoided.

So yeah, this episode had some problems. They weren't any deal breakers or anything, just obnoxious sore spots in an otherwise perfectly good episode. The animation is staying much more consistent now that we're in the home stretch, and I enjoyed how the show managed to link Abe-no-Seimei and his mythology into the plot. Plus, Rokuro is apparently a Kegare, a revelation that should prove dramatically fruitful in these final weeks. This week had a lot of things to like about it, and I'm still confident that TSE is on a good trajectory heading into this last arc. I just wish the show didn't feel the need to take such lazy shortcuts to get where it wants to go.

Rating: B-

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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