Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
When I noted that episode 3 of Twin Star Exorcists was a dip in quality over its reasonably strong opening episodes, I was hoping that kind of dip in quality was an aberration, one of the occasional hiccups than even the best anime of a season might produce a few times in its run. While Twin Star Exorcists is by no means the best anime this season has to offer, it's been entertaining and charming enough so far.
This week though, the quality dropped enough to leave me worried.
I'll start by saying that this episode worked insofar as it fleshed out the conflict a little more and gave more shape to the Exorcists as an organization. We met the too-cool-for-school Shimon Ikaruga, who belongs to the prestigious order of the Twelve Guardians, despite only being sixteen. Not only do we get a glimpse into the hierarchy of power the Twelve Guardians represent, but Tsuchimikado also revealed that the city Benio and Rokuro inhabit is experiencing an abnormally high amount of Kegare attacks. This information combined with the blink-and-you'll-miss it shot of an evil-looking character is starting to give this show's long term plot a little definition, which it sorely needs at the moment. This was all good to know, and Shimon seems to be an exorcist who isn't completely useless at his job, which is a refreshing change of pace.
Outside of the above though, this episode was a pretty meager affair. Neither the action nor the comedy worked very well this week. Benio and Rokuro's bickering is already starting to feel tired. Their whole shtick this episode consisted of them arguing, and then their friends would make fun of them for acting like a couple. Wash, rinse, repeat. It didn't help that the episode didn't even bother to give them the little moments of cuteness or reconciliation that the last few episodes have provided. This show needs little moments of genuine chemistry and development like that to sell its entire premise. If Rokuro and Benio don't work, then the heart of the show stops beating, and the spectacle of the action is the only thing that can keep people engaged. And this week was also not good for spectacle.
In general, the entire episode was shoddy-looking. I don't know what went on behind the scenes, but it resulted in an episode that looked consistently sloppy; there were a few occasions where things got downright ugly. All of our heroes looked off-model throughout, and their movements were jerky and rough. Even though most of this week is devoted to an extended battle scene, the fights mostly consisted of still frames and even more recycled animation. The parts of the fights that were animated were blandly choreographed and stilted. There were a couple of moments highlighting Shimon and Rokuro's special attacks where the animations jumped up in quality, but they only lasted a few seconds each, which only highlighted just how sub-par everything else in the episode looked. Even the Kegare, which are normally a source of engaging visuals for the show, looked goofy and awkward this week.
This week was easily Twin Star Exorcists's weakest entry so far, and a troubling red flag for what the future of the series might hold. Even if the show squanders the potential of its two leads, I could at least see people giving it a pass for cool enough fight scenes to pick up the narrative slack. If this is the new standard of action and animation we can expect from Twin Star Exorcists though, then I can't see anybody sticking around for too long.
I really hope that isn't the case. I definitely understand the criticism that Twin Star Exorcists feels too derivative, but the show has a plucky can-do spirit that I can't help but find appealing, and that's helped me overlook a lot of its shortcomings. This week, I felt my forgiveness begin to wane. Not only does its animation need a shot in the arm, it's also dropping the ball on seriously developing Benio and Rokuro as a team. Even before they can end up as a romantic couple, they at least need to develop more rapport as comrades in arms. If the series loses sight of both its emotional core and its sense of visual style, then it won't have much of a leg to stand on.
Twin Star Exorcists has a lot to prove in the coming weeks, and I am genuinely rooting for it to show us that it can do better.
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.
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