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.
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Twin Star Exorcists
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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.
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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