Twin Star Exorcists First Impressions
Twin Star Exorcists (Sousei no Onmyouji) is an odd duck of an anime. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An awkward but gifted young man with supernatural abilities decides to try and live a normal life due to a tragic event in his past, and he receives emotional support from a close friend who clearly has a crush on him. However, things change when he meets a mysterious and aloof girl who also possesses supernatural abilities. In case you haven’t noticed, this is arguably one of the most generic plot outlines for an action-drama anime that you can get. Hell, two of the anime pilots I reviewed from previous seasons (Sky Wizards Academy and Hurled Cake: Nary a Purse for a Woolly Horseman) possessed very similar narratives, but Twin Star Exorcists sets itself apart by, well, simply being better. It is written better, paced better, and has better characters. It is impressive to see how something that could arguably be considered a by-the-numbers plot can be elevated by, quite simply, putting a bit more effort into it.
Twin Star Exorcists follows Rokuro Enmado, a rather impulsive individual who appears to be trying to figure out how to live his life to the fullest. Until he was 12, he was an extremely promising exorcist. This first episode only hints at the details, but it appears that Rokuro was the sole survivor of an incident called the Hiinatsuki tragedy. He now lives with a group of exorcists, but refuses to take part in their operations, much to the chagrin of some of his upperclassmen. Protagonists who are running away from their responsibilities is not an uncommon theme, but the opening scene, in which we get the briefest glimpse of the carnage of the Hiinatsuki tragedy, helps to explain and justify his desire to run away. However, when he ends up pulling an unconscious body out of a river (Screw a few seasons back. I saw this cliche just this week), he ends up encountering a young female exorcist who, despite her aloof and entitled nature, appears to embody the very ideals he once held. This would be the character of Benio Asashido, a skilled exorcist who has traveled to Tokyo to answer a summons. The narrative itself doesn’t really have much complexity going for it; as I mentioned before it is a pretty generic premise for an action series. Fortunately, I found both of our leads to be quite likable in their own ways. Benio’s quiet and somewhat self-focused approach stands in direct contrast to Rokuro’s boisterous qualities, and they work well off of one another comically. The show only reveals a limited amount of personal history for each of them, but I find myself quite eager to see more of the pairing.
One the production side of things, Twin Star Exorcists clearly isn’t going to be hailed as the best looking show of the season or anything, but it still succeeds in looking quite good. It has a rather distinct style, and, unlike the shows I referenced at the beginning of this review, there are no clears signs of corners being cut. The fight scenes also come with their own distinctive visual style are quite nice to look at. This is done by Studio Pierrot, and, while they may not be Bones or Production I.G., their name does come with a certain degree of visual quality. The voice actors all do an admirable job, and none of them feel out of place. I also have to acknowledge that the lack of any significant fan service is a major plus to me. It shows that the production team trust the material to be entertaining in its own right, and don’t feel that they have to resort to banal comedic relief and titillation in order to retain the audience’s attention. The episode has a single scene in which Rokuro runs headfirst into the chest of his friend, Mayura Otome. Had this been Unfurled Tape, we would have then been treated to an inane motorboating competition, but Twin Star Exorcists simply uses her brief and slightly embarrassed reaction to help illustrate the nature of their relationship. I hesitate to call it subtle, but it is definitely a more nuanced use of fan service than I would generally expect from a show with this premise.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Birdy has apparently been reading the manga for this series for a while, and he assures me that it gets dark and interesting. He gave it a decent endorsement, so if you are interested in reading ahead that may be a reasonable option.
- I do have to question Rokuro’s failure to recognize that Benio was an exorcist. When they got out of the river, her talismans were clearly visible… that is not an innuendo.
- Rokuro’s arm kinda reminds me of the main character’s arm from S-cry-ed. It took me a minute to place why I thought it was familiar. To be fair, I never really got into that series.
As much as I enjoyed this first episode of Twin Star Exorcists, there admittedly isn't too much to say about it. As fun and as polished as this first episode may be, it is still rather generic, though, from the looks of it, the show will likely go in some interesting directions. For now, I'm simply eager where this show takes me.