Twin Star Exorcists – Married with Demons

The world is constantly under threat from creatures most people don’t even know exist… these creatures, known as Kegare, perpetually try to break into the ‘real world’ from where they reside in Magano. Only exorcists, humans blessed with extraordinary powers that allow them to not only enhance their physical abilities but also enter Magano itself, can fight them to try to save humanity. The war between humanity and Kegare has been ongoing for ages, with no signs of ceasing. The exorcists believe that the war will be won by the legendary Twin Star Exorcists.

The Twin Stars are two powerful married exorcists, and whose devotion to one another spurs them to greater heights and whose love will produce the most powerful exorcist the world has ever seen – the Miko. To that goal, the leader of the exorcists finds the two most powerful young exorcists he knows, forces them to marry, and grants them the title. Good plan, right?

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Unfortunately, our protagonists are pretty standard fare for this type of show, with almost stereotypical personalities. Adashio Benio fits into the naïve, arrogant, shy archetype we see all too often, while Enmado Rokuro is a virtual carbon copy of every other hard-headed, aggressive child with a tragic past you’ve ever seen. Their relationship is just as tropey as the characters themselves. They have that whole ‘completely clashing personalities’ thing going on, mixed with awkward attraction at times, and it just comes off as really fake. It’s funny at times, but mostly it just doesn’t work.

Sadly, the side characters are actually worse. Not only are they tropes, but they’re either absurdly powerful or completely worthless, depending on whether they’re supposed to be our protagonists’ mentors or their comrades. There was one scene I recall where a veteran exorcist who has been active significantly longer than Rokuro gets beaten handily by a relatively weak Kegare. Of course, Rokuro shows up at the last moment and nearly effortlessly takes out this Kegare, saving our poor cannon-fodder of a side character. There’s a clear divide and it is truly unfortunate how clear that divide is.

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Now this may make it sound like I hate the show… which is far from the case. Twin Star Exorcists has some pretty strong redeeming qualities. From the start of this show, it really appealed to me with a lot of its atmospheric choices. It’s very hard to describe, but it almost felt like a video game. In fact, I think a video game made from this show, if handled well, could turn out to be exceptional. It’s really a natural fit.

The other thing that is very interesting here is the way the action is oriented. Characters draw their power from a series of talismans, which amplify their personal power, and allow them to perform superhuman feats. This should allow for the show to have a long-term progression pattern that makes sense, provided they don’t go into Dragonball Z territory. The monsters are all distinct, and give me a sort of ‘Persona 4 shadow’ vibe, which is always a good place to reference. The combination of interesting abilities and distinct monsters has so far fueled a show that, when it chooses to flex its action muscles, has me on the edge of my seat watching the glory happen.

As far as presentation goes, I am of two minds. On the one hand, the overall visual aesthetic is incredible. The monsters look awesome, the character outfits are really interesting, and the animations are reminiscent of Kill la Kill without being quite so over the top. I can’t compliment their visual aesthetic enough. But the other side of the equation is pretty mediocre. I am not a big fan of Twin Star Exorcist’s sound design. The songs are bland, the effects kind of lose their impact, and the voice acting is a bit obnoxious at times.

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The last thing to mention is that, aside from the obvious character issues, the story is fairly interesting. The concept of an age old secret war between humanity and monsters is nothing new – it’s been represented in countless different incarnations of countless different genres – but Twin Star Exorcists does a relatively good job of finding a healthy place in that archetype for their story to sit. There are a few episodes that devolve into essentially meaningless drivel, but those are not sufficient to take away from the overall quality of the storyline, especially the events that shaped our protagonists pasts and the way they echo into the current story.

In the end, Twin Star Exorcists is a show with a few very damning flaws, but one that manages to overcome these flaws in a way that makes up for it. The visual design, the way the action is represented, and the overall flow of the story do a great job mitigating any damage caused by our Twin Star Exorcists themselves. I have high hopes for the rest of this series, and I definitely think it is worth a look.

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