Twin Star Exorcists
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Twin Star Exorcists ?
Pound for pound, this week provided the most compelling episode of Twin Star Exorcists we've gotten in weeks. If it weren't for the fact that the action was essentially non-existent, I'd say this was the show's best episode so far. As it stands, even if the show has yet to marry its comedy and action as satisfyingly as it did in those first two episodes, I feel hard pressed to complain when everything else works as well as it did here.
The show has been treating Benio and Rokuro's fated relationship as window-dressing the past few weeks, so I was really happy to see that this week was putting that plot thread front and center, though I was a bit nervous too. One of the interesting things about TSE is that its core premise is inherently tricky to pull off. The fate of all mankind rests not only on Benio and Rokuro's arranged marriage, but also their arranged baby-making. Given that these are two middle-schoolers who don't have a lot of agency in the matter, the whole arrangement has a lot of potential to be kind of creepy. The last four episodes have spent a lot of time developing side characters and fleshing out the world of the Exorcists, so when I realized this week's episode was all about Benio and Rokuro moving in together, I wondered if the show could sell its main gimmick without crossing the Rubicon of Cringe.
All things considered, I have to applaud TSE for keeping things tasteful and charming, instead of being off-putting. It helps that Tsuchimikado's transparent manipulation of our protagonists' living situation is played almost entirely for laughs; everyone knows how weird the whole set-up is, so playing up that absurdity makes it clear to the audience that the show is in on the joke. It also makes the inevitable romantic tension that builds between Benio and Rokuro feel more genuine. As our intrepid heroes navigate Tsuchimikado's weird methods of playing Cupid, the show lampshades some of its more predictable beats, and the pair even get a couple of small moments that make their chemistry feel earned instead of forced. When Benio and Rokuro are getting flustered over the pitter-patter of attraction building up between them, it actually feels like a couple of kids experiencing romance for the first time. Rokuro and Benio navigating obstacle courses and Tsuchimikado's bad puns was genuinely kind of cute. By the end of the episode, the two were actually bonding, sharing details of their lives over friendly teasing. I'd be lying if I said I didn't let out a couple of audible "d'aws" when everything was said and done.
Outside of the rom-com shenanigans, the show also brought its Almost-A-game to its other moving parts. Tsuchimikado is probably the most consistently entertaining character on TSE, and his Hawaiian-shirted tomfoolery was very much welcome this week. As far as I'm concerned, the quality of any given episode is directly proportionate to the amount of screen time Tsuchimikado gets. Even Kinako got some worthwhile bits, which is something I never thought I'd say. His back-and-forth with Tsuchimikado provided the ideal amount of screen time for this little mascot. Call me an easy mark, but his Exorcist-style "Sugar Splitter" attack actually had me laughing out loud.
My biggest complaint about the last couple of episodes was also addressed, and the excessive flash-backing was pared down to a minimum this week. What's more, the flashbacks we did get actually concerned events we hadn't already seen a few minutes before. They weren't completely seamless, but they weren't as obnoxious as they have been, which is an unequivocal improvement.
Speaking of the flashbacks, their framing combined with Benio's suspiciously ambiguous knowledge of her own brother's death all but cements his inevitable return to the fray. I'm not familiar with the source material, but I'd be shocked if Benio's twin brother didn't have some kind of twisty involvement with the Kegare threat. When someone's death comes by way of hearsay, and they have a face obscured by a standout hairstyle, you just know that person is prime Surprise Villain material.
Twin Star Exoricists is still by no means a perfect show. At this point, it's too inconsistent and mired in cliches to be anything more than enjoyable fluff, the anime equivalent of a fast-food drive thru. A lot of our secondary characters are still barely developed, and at this point I'm almost convinced that the other Exorcists' uselessness might be some kind of weird inside joke. Still, this week was as fun and entertaining as the show was in its first two episodes. For the first time in a good while, I don't feel like I have to apologize for liking Twin Star Exorcists, and I'm absolutely okay with that.
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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