Should You Watch 'Twin Star Exorcists'? Episode 1 Spring Anime 2016 Review

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'Twin Star Exorcists' key visual. (c) Studio Pierrot

Twin Star Exorcists is an interesting, vivid little show centering around a pair of young exorcists who battle sin-fueled demons called kegare in order to protect humanity.

Episode 1 of Twin Star Exorcists starts off with a good ol’ generic anime massacre, or at least its aftermath of fire, blood and children screaming. Maybe it’s just having watched the terrible Hundred first, but Twin Star Exorcists’ opening, intended to instill us with a sense of high stakes and higher drama, left me unaffected.

Immediately after this, we see white text on a black screen. “The world is stained with sins and KEGARE but worth fighting for.” I’m not sure I understand the logic behind fighting for a world so torn with sin that it literally spawns monsters, but sure, if you say so.

More powerful than its overwrought opening is the rest of the episode, which explores the effects of that massacre on its sole survivor, our boy exorcist Rokuro. He’s drawn with shark teeth and red eyes that literally give him the same sharp edge that the show’s tone has. Traumatized by what he’s lived through, Rokuro has hung up his exorcist gear and refuses to fight. Instead he lets his power sit unused and wastes his time chasing after girls.

As for our girl exorcist, Benio is a hyper-competent prodigy whose knowledge and speed against the kegare demons lacks only the raw punch of power possessed by Rokuro. This is what makes them such a powerful pair and indeed, destines them to be Twin Star Exorcists -- a future married couple. (This isn’t mentioned in the first episode, but it’s all over summaries for the manga and show, so I’m sure they’ll get to it soon.)

There are stylish character introduction screens all throughout the episode whose style I actually like more than the show’s simple and sometimes childish style itself. But the potential in Twin Star Exorcists really shines in the alternate world where the exorcists fight kegare. Like the alternate worlds in Silent Hill, the rusted, gritty, crimson hellscape screams bad news (even the line-art blares red). The kegare themselves are scary too, with their first appearance slammed up against train windows straight out of a horror movie.

Twin Star Exorcists does suffer from some mood whiplash. The art of varying a show’s mood is critical and hard to balance: some shows, like this season’s Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, manage to go full throttle for a full episode, while others aren’t so successful. Every time the mood falters in Twin Star Exorcists, it’s due to some ill-considered sophomoric joke that’s supposed to appeal to kids. There has to be a better way to work the kiddie humor in because as it is, the transition from fighting in the grim alternate world to gags about candy is jarring.

But the world of Twin Star Exorcists has interesting lore, an arresting look and a great tone that’s just dark and edgy enough to be compelling. The masks Benio wears in the other world, the way she wields her spells against the demons and Rokuro’s inevitable moment of triumph at the end of episode 1 are all deeply satisfying. Twin Star Exorcists can be rather unskilled about its info dumps at times, but it’s definitely dumping interesting info.

 

Should you watch Twin Star Exorcists?

 

Twin Star Exorcists is going to be overshadowed this season by its shonen brother title, My Hero Academia, which is too bad. Behind some childish humor that falls a little flat, this stylish title shows a lot of promise. The buddy comedy and kiddie romance won’t light the world on fire, but for straightforward supernatural action, Twin Star Exorcists is really well-executed. I had a fun time watching episode 1 and look forward to watching more.

Twin Star Exorcists streams on Crunchyroll here every Wednesday at 7 AM.

 

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