Review for Twin Star Exorcists - Part 2
The long running shonen action genre is by its very nature one that relies on continuity. The long reaching storylines and multitude of characters work best when they remain fresh in the mind. It’s only recently that adaptations of such manga have opted for the seasonal approach. With shows like Naruto and One Piece, the animators tried to keep up a schedule of an episode a week, even if it meant resorting to filler and flashback, teasing out story arcs until they were wafer thin. Twin Star Exorcists is one such show, which All the Anime have been releasing in the UK. The problem is that Part 1, the first thirteen episodes were released back in September 2018. It’s taken nine months for Part 2 to get here, although the subsequent instalments should arrive in short order. It does however feel as if I’m starting from scratch again with the show, rather than picking up from where I left off.
A trauma in her past gave Benio Adashino cause to become an exorcist, the best exorcist there is, swearing to destroy all the Kegare demons that reside in the parallel realm of Magano, bringing havoc to this world. Rokuro Enmado is a natural born exorcist with an innate talent, but a trauma in his past caused him to shun the Onmyouji exorcist path, and search for something, anything else to do with his life. But it is prophesied that the two most powerful exorcists will marry, and have a child, and that child will be the one to destroy the Kegare once and for all. That’s why Benio and Rokuro are the Twin Star Exorcists, whether they want to be or not.
The next thirteen episodes of Twin Star Exorcists are presented across two discs from All the Anime.
14. Yukatas, Stars and Wishes – TANABATA SPECIAL
15. Goodbye to Being Alone – THE AWAKENING OF LOVE
16. As an Exorcist – SALVATION THEN WAILING
17. The Red Emblem Master Gave Me – NEW TALISMAN FROM MASTER
18. On the Eve of Battle – TRIUMPH OVER FEAR
19. Both Sin and Impurity – THE 10 SECONDS DECISION
20. Our Path – TO THE FUTURE WITH US TWO
21. Rebirth of the Twin Stars – SWEETIE FAIRY
22. It’s Impure, Y’know? – PHILOSOPHICAL FILTHY SERAPHIM
23. Westward, Twin Stars – HARD TO BE MOTHER
24. The Kegare’s Dream – WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL?
25. Celestial Avatar – COME BACK! SOUTHPAW
26. Twin Stars VS. Twins – BASARA TWINS’ STRINGS
Twin Star Exorcists gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these Blu-ray discs. The image is clear and sharp, with strong colours and excellent detail. The animation is smooth and expressive, and comes across well in this transfer, with no visible compression or aliasing or even digital banding. It’s a stylish, shonen action battle anime, with appealing character designs, and a comic book approach to its action sequences (plenty of dynamic freeze frames and text spelling out special moves). The Kegare initially seem a rather monotonous dark menace, but it isn’t long before you can see character and individuality in their ominous forms.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo Japanese with player locked subtitles and signs. I gave the English dub a quick try and nothing really struck me as painful about it, but as always I prefer the Japanese with subtitles. The dialogue is clear, the actors are suited to their roles, and the action comes across well, even through the stereo track. What impresses about this show is the incidental music, really driving that action with stylish and memorable tunes. The last time I heard music this good for a shonen action show was for Soul Eater. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typos.
The discs present their content with animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for Gintama.
Disc 2 autoplays a trailer for WorldEnd,
You get three more featurettes with Hanae Natsuki & Han Megumi’s Twin Star Room running to 12:00, 3:38, and 2:52 respectively.
You get the textless credits, and finally trailers for The Morose Monokean, Laughing Under the Clouds, Saga of Tanya the Evil, Tokyo Ravens, Norogami Aragoto, and Tales of Zestiria the X.
This is a schizophrenic release from All the Anime when it comes to Twin Star Exorcists, two discs of episodes that show the best the series has to offer, and the worst to date as well. That’s because Twin Star Exorcists does what so many anime adaptations of manga do, run out of original material to adapt. Up to episode 20 is the manga storyline, and thereafter you get a story created by the anime studio. The delineation between the two is more obvious than most. You’re not going to get the first Full Metal Alchemist again, but I was at least hoping for something on a par with the first Blue Exorcist series when it went off doing its own thing.
The good then, are the first seven episodes in this collection, which deal with Rokuro and Benio’s arranged relationship developing in the background of this existential threat posed by the Kegare, the parallel realm of Magano, and the ultimate villain of the piece, Benio’s estranged brother, and Rokuro’s childhood friend Yuto. With him comes the threat of the corrupted, as now normal people are being turned into Kegare, and Yuto starts by targeting people close to Rokuro and Benio. When it’s Mayura that is attacked, they are hard pressed to come up with a way to save her, and that requires Rokuro and Benio to actually move their relationship forward, work together more closely, and understand each other better.
As you would expect, it all comes to a head with a confrontation with Yuto, as Benio has to face her brother, and Yuto has to face the person who betrayed him at Hinatsuki. This really is the good part of Twin Star Exorcists, as it builds on what happened in the first collection, has a compelling dramatic arc, and sees the characters put through hell before they are tempered and forged into a team capable of dealing with Yuto. It also has the natural growth in Rokuro’s relationship with Benio, initially mutually antagonistic, but through circumstances developing an affection for each other than pretty much turns to love by the end of the arc.
There is still that plot point of a devastating conflict coming, that the prophecy says that Rokuro and Benio’s child will be the one to save them all, and Rokuro is still fighting against destiny. At the last, the council given Rokuro two years to defeat the menace by himself so that prophecy will no longer need to be fulfilled.
Episode 21 begins the anime original story after a two year time-skip, where Rokuro and Benio’s relationship has hit a reset switch, leaving them awkward around each other again if not exactly antagonistic, and both are starting high school, though not looking much different from two years ago. A mission to exorcise Kegare in Magano reveals a mysterious child, a girl with no memory, but who insists on calling Rokuro ‘Papa’. After being rescued from that demonic realm, she moves in with Benio and Rokuro, giving them instant experience of being parents without any of that icky stuff that comes before.
Her arrival signals a change in the battle facing the exorcists. Suddenly ‘Dragon Spots’ are opening up all over Japan, portals that are bringing the miasma of Magano into the real world, leaving people stricken. Worse, the Dragon Spots also unleash Kegare and Basara into the real world. Only the exorcists can deal with the Kegare, and only the 12 Guardians and the Twin Star Exorcists can seal the Dragon Spots. So Benio’s familiar possesses a camper van, and Benio, Rokuro and the little girl Sae go on a road trip. Every week they are in a different city, dealing with a different menace, shutting down Dragon Spots.
This is an utterly weak, monster of the week scenario which, while watchable pales in comparison with the adapted storyline. It takes a broad audience anime and suddenly pitches it to the Saturday morning ‘toon demographic, which is a jarring change to say the least. There is something of a new storyline developing with the Dragon Spots and the machinations of a villain named Kuranashi, but at this point, just six episodes in, it’s too early to tell if the story will come good. If it does continue in this vein, it will be a poor second half to an initially promising series.