Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 50 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
Of course we end with a wedding. It's not the one we might expect, mind you, though that's probably for the best, since Rokuro and Benio are still high schoolers after all. Goodness knows Ryougo and Haruka deserve a bit of happiness themselves, so for now, our Twin Stars are consigned to the roles of Maid of Honor and Best Man. Still, ending on a wedding is absolutely appropriate, because the central relationship between Rokuro and Benio has always been the heart of Twin Star Exorcists. Even if they're not the ones technically getting married, this ending still reinforces that these two are meant for each other, and they'll be together with each other from here on out, through sickness and health, through good times and bad.
There's also that final fight with Abe no Seimei, but it goes exactly as you'd expect it to go. Fighting for the right to live and to love, Rokuro and Benio are on the ropes for a while, but the spirits of their loved ones (including Sae!) come to them in their darkest hour and lift them back up to victory. Thanks to the power of friendship and true love, Abe is defeated and the apocalypse is diverted, for another thousand years at least. As an added bonus, the Twelve Guardians are rescued from their stone prisons, and even Abe no Seimei departs on a note of optimism. It's a predictable way to conclude the final arc and more than a bit cheesy, but it works. As far as fights go, this last arc definitely hit its peak a few weeks ago with Rokuro's fight against Yuto, but this was a perfectly okay way to wrap up the last conflict against the show's final Big Bad.
Besides, TSE was always a romance in shonen action clothing, so the big battle isn't really what we're here for at this point. It's all about that wedding, or more to the point, it's all about our Twin Stars. This series has had just as many low points as high ones, but it's always been able to nail Rokuro and Benio's constantly growing relationship. The series has managed to bring them from a bickering pair of mismatched teens to genuinely loving and supportive pillars of a relationship, in a way that's felt pretty much completely satisfying. Outside of the nearly fatal misstep regarding Benio and Abe no Seimei a couple of weeks back, Twin Star Exorcists has never really failed to make sure that its central relationship was believable and heartwarming. Seeing these two up there at the microphone, awkwardly working together to quote Ernest Hemingway and toast their friends' wedding, was a real treat.
It's the little things I'm going to miss about Twin Star Exorcists, rather than the big action and shonen trappings. The series' exterior qualities were always pretty rough, so it was never going to be a hit for those seeking a more traditional action-adventure series. The animation was mediocre, the development of the conflicts and villains inconsistent, and its handling of anime-only material could be frustratingly uneven. Stories like the Dragon Spot Arc were generally strong, while this last act definitely felt rushed. Still, between all this, we had wedding toasts, weird demon rock concerts, and adorable family road trips across a miasma-plagued wasteland. This show gave us Ohagi Man, and if that doesn't prove the goodness of TSE's core, nothing will. Yeah, it could be very rough around the edges, but at its core, Twin Star Exorcists had a warmly beating heart that managed to win me over.
So it's nice that the series ends with a conclusion that isn't a full stop so much as an ellipsis. As Rokuro and Benio share their love for each other in the glow of the fading sun, they know that their work as exorcists will never really be done. There are still cities to rebuild, Kegare to battle, and Basara to contend with. But as the episode so plainly lays out in its final moments, those ups and downs of everyday life are what make it so special. It's much more worth fighting for life when you're sharing it with someone you love.
I started reviewing Twin Star Exorcists almost exactly one year ago, and it just so happened to be my very first gig writing about a weekly series for this site. Just like Rokuro and Benio, I feel like I've grown a lot, as a writer and a critic, in what feels like a short amount of time. TSE was never going to change anyone's life. Heck, it probably won't even make it on many Favorite Anime lists. Still, this was a special hidden gem of a series for me. Twin Star Exorcists was in many ways flawed, but it had enough heart and soul to earn my respect. I'm very glad to have been able to cover it.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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