Shelf Life
Twin Star Exorcists

by Paul Jensen, Gabriella Ekens,

Holy crap, we have a lot of new releases this week. You'd almost think it was the beginning of the holiday rush or something. Well, no matter how many titles get shoved out the door in a single week, we'll be here to cover them. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Twin Star Exorcists

On Shelves This Week

Angel Cop - OVA Collection DVD
Discotek - 183 min - Sub+Dub MSRP $24.95
Currently cheapest at: $15.19 Amazon

Synopsis: As the members of a special police force try to hunt down a terrorist group called Red May, they uncover a violent conspiracy.

Extra: This OVA was released a few weeks ago on Blu-Ray. Our only coverage for it remain a “Buried Garbage” edition of Buried Treasure.

Brave Witches - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 325 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $43.49 Amazon

Synopsis: The flying witches of the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing continue the battle against an invading alien species known as the Neuroi.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this sequel/spinoff of Strike Witches. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Bubblegum Crisis - Complete Collection BD
Animeigo - 333 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $25.19 Amazon

Synopsis: In a city where corporate greed and rogue androids have run amok, a team of mercenaries known as the Knight Sabers fight for justice.

Extra: Our most recent review of this OVA series comes from the crowdfunded collection that released a few years ago.

Devilman - OVA Collection DVD
Discotek - 120 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $24.95
Currently cheapest at: $15.19 Amazon

Synopsis: When demons threaten to destroy human society, only a young man who has been possessed by a demon himself has the power to stop them.

Extra: Like Angel Cop, this OVA came out on Blu-Ray a few weeks ago. Still no formal reviews for this one, and our user ratings still have an average of 6.8 out of 10.

Gintama - Series 3 Part 2 BD+DVD
Funimation - 625 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $54.98
Currently cheapest at: $35.49 Amazon

Synopsis: Gintoki and his odd-jobs crew continue their struggle to make ends meet in alien-occupied Japan.

Extra: Everything in this set is covered by our episode reviews for the series. All of the various seasons are available streaming on Crunchyroll, and this particular portion is also available on Funimation.

High School DxD BorN - Complete Collection BD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $49.98
Currently cheapest at: $34.29 Amazon

Synopsis: Issei's dreams of a relaxing summer break are put on hold when Rias decides to put the team through intense training for their next big conflict.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this portion of the franchise, along with a review of a previous physical release. You can stream the series on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Marmalade Boy - Complete Collection BD
Discotek - 1660 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $79.95
Currently cheapest at: $48.49 Amazon

Synopsis: Miki Koshikawa is shocked to learn that her parents are getting divorced in order to swap spouses with another couple, but she suddenly falls herself falling for the other family's handsome son.

Extra: It's been about a year since this series was released on DVD, but the review situation hasn't changed since then: we still just have an old review of the original manga.

Monkey Magic - Complete Collection DVD
Discotek - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $24.19 Amazon

Synopsis: A monkey warrior named Goku tries to defend his people from the humans who want to take their resources.

Extra: We don't have much beyond a basic encyclopedia page for this series, and the handful of user ratings for it have an average of 4.6 out of 10.

One Piece - Collection 22 DVD
Funimation - 600 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $34.98
Currently cheapest at: $26.24 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Luffy and the Straw Hats travel to Fish-man Island, where a prophecy turns the locals against them.

Extra: This collection doesn't quite reach up into the range covered by our current episode reviews, but it's getting close. You can stream the series on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Princess Principal - Complete Collection BD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $69.98
Currently cheapest at: $39.99 Amazon

Synopsis: In a time where London is divided into east and west sections by a huge wall, a team of female spies conduct undercover missions while attending a prestigious girls' school.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this series, along with an interview with the director. It's available streaming on Amazon Prime and HIDIVE.

Reborn! - Part 1 BD
Discotek - 2222 min - Sub - MSRP $79.95
Currently cheapest at: $51.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Below-average teenager Tsunayoshi is visited by a baby hitman, who informs him that he's been chosen as the next leader of a mafia family.

Extra: This set contains the first four seasons of the show. No formal reviews, but our user ratings have a pretty good average of 7.8 out of 10. You can stream it on Crunchyroll.

Scum's Wish - Complete Collection BD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $69.98
Currently cheapest at: $39.99 Amazon

Synopsis: High school students Hanabi and Mugi look like the perfect couple, but they're actually just using one another as substitutes for the people they actually love.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this series, along with a feature article on how it depicts teenage relationships. It's available streaming on Amazon Prime.

SHIMONETA - Complete Collection BD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $29.98
Currently cheapest at: $20.59 Amazon

Synopsis: The dirty-minded members of the SOX organization use erotic humor to fight against oppressive government censorship.

Extra: You'll find reviews for this series here and here, and we also have a feature article on it. You can stream it on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Stellvia - Complete Collection BD
Discotek - 600 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $49.95
Currently cheapest at: $30.29 Amazon

Synopsis: Teenage programming prodigy Shima Katase enrolls in a space piloting school, where she trains to protect Earth from the effects of a powerful magnetic wave.

Extra: We have some old reviews for this series from the days of single-disc releases, and you'll find the first couple of those here and here.

Tetsujin 28 - Complete Collection BD
Discotek - 600 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $49.95
Currently cheapest at: $30.29 Amazon

Synopsis: A boy detective teams up with a robot created by his late father in order to fight against the forces of evil.

Extra: We have some single-disc reviews for this remake of the classic mecha series here and here.

Tokyo Ghoul - Season 2 BD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $49.98
Currently cheapest at: $34.29 Amazon

Synopsis: A traumatic experience leads Kaneki to join the Aogiri Tree faction, where he becomes a key player in the conflict between ghouls and human investigators.

Extra: You'll find our episode reviews for this sequel season here, and we also have a guide to the complete series. It's available streaming on Funimation and Hulu.

WorldEnd - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.69 Amazon

Synopsis: The last surviving human takes on a job as caretaker for a group of “weapons,” which are actually leprechaun girls trained to wield ancient human armaments.

Extra: Hey, I wrote the episode reviews for this one! You'll find those here, and the series was also covered in This Week in Anime. You can stream it on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Shelf Life Reviews

Supernatural action show Twin Star Exorcists goes under the spotlight in this week's review. Here's Gabriella's take on the first part of the series.

It feels like there's a game of keep-a-way going on with the gimmicks to shounen action properties. By this I mean, that when one of them strikes gold with a particular Magical Fighting Profession, the rest of them have to steer clear of that one for a while, until the series ends, at which point it becomes up for grabs again. In the course of this struggle, Naruto held the ninja throne for a while, while One Piece has been hoarding pirates for more than 20 years now. I say all this because it seems to me that, over the course of this squabble, nobody has ever gotten a solid claim on the concept of exorcists. This isn't to say that there haven't been hit shows about old-timey ghost hunters – for example, the likes of D. Gray Man, Blue Exorcist, and, of course, today's subject for review. Rather, it's more that one of these has yet to become the exorcist show, and wholly edged out the competition for a few years in the junior adventure magazine scene.

I say all this because my impression of Twin Star Exorcists had amounted to “that fairly popular exorcist show” for a while before I watched it. And now that I actually have watched it, my thoughts on the show are… still mostly that, honestly. I can, however, see why it is a fairly popular exorcist show, rather than one of the many fully aborted attempts at franchises that shounen rags discard by the fistful at around the three-volume mark. You've got a little bit of something going on, Twin Star Exorcists. It's only a little, but sometimes that's enough.

In the world of this show, demonic impurities are constantly harassing human society. A secret organization of exorcists (of the Japanese onmyouji variety, so not the “by the power of Christ compel you” types) works in the shadows to protect humanity from this threat. Teens Rokuro and Benio are members of this group. While these kids are already prodigiously talented exorcists in their own right, it's one day prophesized that they'll get married and give birth to the kid who'll put a stop to the impurities forever. The problem here is that, at the moment, the two of them don't even like each other, much less look forward to their fated coupling. This odd couple situation, when compounded with their various personal traumas, constitutes Twin Star Exorcists' dramatic thrust. Containing the show's first 13 episodes, this release introduces us to their dynamic, as well as the conflicts that will play out in greater detail over the rest of the show.

I'll start with the good. For one, while Twin Star Exorcists sticks hard to the genre formula in pretty much all respects, its importation of a forced romance situation has succeeded in lightening things up. While it's hardly unique – this is basically a more serious and plot-heavy version of Ranma ½'s setup – I guess that I hadn't seen it done for a while, so it amused me. It helps that the characters are all likeable. Rokuro's hot-blooded and kinda dumb, but he's a nice guy, and has the surprisingly altruistic motivation (for a shounen protagonist) of protecting people from the impurities' threat. Benio, meanwhile, is a hypercompetent exorcist, but also overly serious and reserved for a girl her age. They have chemistry together, and their warming-up to one another is also fairly well-written, all things considered. Over the course of some monster-of-the-week shenanigans, they learn to support one another, confront the other's legitimate faults, and become stronger as people together.

I also appreciate that Twin Star Exorcists treats Rokuro and Benio as legitimate co-leads. I'm used to these sorts of shounen action shows sidelining their female “leads” (if they can even be called that) really hard, so it was nice to see one of these place roughly equal emphasis on its dude- and lady- protags. In combat, Benio is as tough as Rokuro, and she comes to rescue him as much as he does her.

As for the bad, it's mostly that the show is really quite generic. As of right now, I'd also say that Twin Star Exorcists is weak in the villain department. They really only pop in to say hello in this first season, but already one of the main bad guys (whose identity is a spoiler) seems like a total narrative afterthought. Another, Kamui, is similarly uninspired, but at least gets by on a cooler design and some genuine charisma. Either way, they don't factor into this season very much.

Please also note that this first release does not amount to a complete story at all, so don't go into Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 1 looking for an evening of self-contained entertainment. Otherwise, the show looks pretty nice. While Twin Star Exorcists isn't a sakuga-fest like My Hero Academia or Attack on Titan, its aesthetics are more than serviceable, with alright designs and some decent action every once in a while. This release also comes with a dub, which is mostly quite good. My main complaint is that Laura Summer is doing a bit of a weird voice for Rokuro's childhood friend, Mayura. Otherwise, Bryce Papenbrook and Cassandra Lee Morris turn out solid performances as the show's leads.

All in all, Twin Star Exorcists is a good show for anyone who's already burnt through the rest of Netflix and Crunchyroll's recent supernatural action catalogue. It doesn't quite win the title of Official Exorcist Show in the ongoing shounen grand prix, but it'll likely hold you over until the true chosen one arrives to claim their predestined crown. Whether Twin Star Exorcists will be part of that show's DNA, that I don't know. But for now, I can imagine it serving as an entertaining enough diversion.

That wraps things up for this week. We'll be back next week with another review and the first Shelf Obsessed entry in a while. Thanks for reading!

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