Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 44 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
It's a classic trope. Two characters are finally embracing their feelings for one another, when suddenly disaster strikes! One of the lovers, in a misguided effort to protect their companion, tries to break things off entirely. By going so far to protect what they love, the hero ends up jeopardizing the relationship itself. Rokuro finds himself in this very situation, feeling that a fight with Yuto will only end in more bloodshed and, even worse, Rokuro's possible transformation into the monstrous Cataclysm King. So of course, he tries to sever ties with Benio, despite her willingness to train her broken body back into shape. She's even (*gasp*) confessed her love for him to Mayura, but it's all for naught. Rokuro's made up his mind, much to nobody's surprise.
Twin Star Exorcists isn't playing with anything new here, but I'll be damned if I still wasn't getting emotional when the climactic “breakup” scene played out this week. I know it's all an act, and I know it's only in service of bringing Rokuro and Benio closer together for the series' end, but I was affected all the same. Having spent so much time with our titular twosome, it'd be impossible for me not to get worked up over melodramatics like this. Plus, the art direction and animation was looking pretty good this week; not perfect by any means, but stronger than it's been in weeks, and that went a long way toward selling the drama of the episode. I've been asking TSE to step up its visual game in these final episodes, and it seems like the show is aiming to do just that.
If there's anything that seals the deal for this episode though, it's the vocal performances. I don't talk too much about the details of vocal work in my reviews, mainly because I find it hard to eloquently analyze the performances of actors who are speaking a language I know little about. From the beginning, however, I've tried to recognize Megumi Han and Natsuki Hanae's work as Benio and Rokuro, because their performances are such a big part of Twin Star Exorcist's success. That hasn't changed at all this week, as the two seiyū absolutely kill their big scene together, easily selling what could have easily been a ham-fisted and cheesy scene in lesser actors' hands. The dialogue itself is just okay, but the emotion and chemistry the two are able to communicate elevates the exchange and helps the clichéd nature of the scene go down much more smoothly.
Honestly, this episode was just great all around. Not only does the emotional climax work about as well as it can given the circumstances, but Mayura also gets to steal the spotlight in a way she hasn't since the early days of the show. Her back and forth with Benio is both sweet and charming, and it reminds me of why I was once so eager to name Mayura as the show's “Secret MVP”. She's gone from being a potential rival for Rokuro's affections to acting as a steadfast and caring friend to both Rokuro and Benio. While the girls' conversations have never been the kind to pass the Bechdel Test, I continue to appreciate that Benio has friends to turn to when Rokuro is unable to support her. Even Kinako has found his groove as the comic relief sidekick, offering some funny asides and cute reactions without becoming grating. It's taken a couple dozen episodes, but the little mascot has proven himself a worthy member of the cast.
If anything, this episode felt like “Classic” Twin Star Exorcists. The animation looked good, the core cast played off each other well, and Megumi Han and Natsuki Hanae were firing on all cylinders to ratchet up the romantic drama. This is the exact kind of episode I've been waiting for, as the show barrels towards its conclusion. If the series can keep this up to the end, it just might stick the landing after all.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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