Despite being a fine shounen anime, not much different from recent hits like Demon Slayer, Sousei no Onmyouji or Twin Star Exorcists is an obscure anime. Less than 90k users on MAL reported watching it; compare that to 550k and more that watched Re: Zero. Speaking of which, Re: Zero (Starting Life in Another World) came out in spring 2016, just like Twin Star Exorcists. I admit Re: Zero is a better anime than Twin Star (at least so far), but anime series that were overshadowed by big hits in the same season still deserve a at least a little attention.
What Is It About?
The sins and impurities of humans give rise to demons called Kegare (meaning dirty or defiled). They live in a dimension similar to the real world, but barren and ruined; that place is Magano. Kegare often attack humans, pulling them into Magano and killing or eating them to absorb their power. For a thousand years, exorcists have battled Kegare using their spell power, talismans, enchanments, and magical armaments. An ancient prophecy says that the Miko, child of the Gods, will one day appear to eliminate all Kegare. Also according to prophecy, the two who will give birth to the Miko are called the Twin Star Exorcists.
Rokuro was already an extremely powerful exorcist with great potential when he was 12 years old. But something tragic and traumatizing happened then, so for two years, Rokuro stopped all activities as an exorcist and tried to live a normal life. One day, quite literally, a pretty girl falls from the sky. It’s Benio Adashino, another young exorcist prodigy who had been fighting a Kagare in Magano. The two fight a few battles alongside each other and Benio starts living in the same excorcist dorm at Rokuro; however, the two don’t get along so well under normal circumstances.
A sudden meeting is held, hosted by the leader of all excorists, Arima. He tells the everyone that Rokuro and Benio are the Twin Star Exorcists, according the oracle he recieved recently. Much to their displeasure, Benio and Rokuro are officially engaged without their consent and made to live alone together. As they bicker at home, and continue to fight Kegare in Magano, the two begin to respect each other and get along better when it really matters. But Rokuro’s world is thrown into chaos again with the reappearance of Yuto, the evil child who mastered the forbidden dark art of turning living humans into Kegare.
Story and Narrative Quality: 7/10 Good
A shounen show about a boy who fights demons is too common. Add a cute female protagonist with equal fighting strength and character growth, and you get something a little more creative. And there’s more to Twin Star than that. A corrupt dimension, Magano, layered over or under the reality dimension, is a fascinating concept. Also interesting are the Kegare, how they come into existence, how they become stronger by eating humans, and how some very powerful ones can take human forms called Basara. There are really a lot of interesting story concepts.
The story is also original because of the combination of classic shounen action (with dark elements like character death) and a funny, endearing romance story. Maybe that combo throws people off sometimes, but I like it. It’s also refreshing that there isn’t much fanservice compared to modern romantic comedies. The storytelling quality in Twin Star is good enough to mention, too. Instead of using a lot of narration, info dumps, or exposition, Twin Star develops its world by revealing information little by little at the right time, usually using character dialogue. The pacing is excellent and the plot twists are great.
Characters and Their Development: 6/10 Fine
Characters are fine. Rokuro’s constant shouting seriously annoys me, but other than that, he’s a likeable main character. His past and trauma are interesting, and the way he battles with those things regularly is quite realistic. Besides that his dark past, though, he’s a fairly standard shounen protagonist. Benio is a character type I don’t see too often, and I like it. She’s withdrawn and quiet, but earnest; formal but sincere; and cute but fiesty. In episodes 1-12, Benio’s personality and background are developed well enough.
The side characters are types I know all too well from dozens of other anime. For example, Arima is the “pervert” with a goofy side and a somewhat evil side, who is always plotting in the background. Seigen is the cold, handsome, and harsh “cool” older guy. Mayura is the childhood friend and the boobs character, etc. I do like Ryogo, the “big brother to everyone” character, but he doesn’t get much attention in the first twelve episodes.
Art and Animation 7/10 Good
It’d be tough for any anime to stand against the wide popularity of its rival, Re: Zero. But it’s even more difficult if the show has an unusual art style, like Twin Star Exorcists. Characters all look strangely cute and young, even for anime. They have huge eyes in their baby faces, and narrow body frames. In addition, the colors really stick out in this anime. They’re so bright they’re almost neon, with a lot of red-spectrum colors. I don’t mind the look of neon anime or the way the designs of the characters, but they’re not to everyone’s taste.
Action scenes are satisfactory, but really nothing special. The use of Japanese text over the screen to spell out the names of attacks may prove annoying. Also, the way all the lines are drawn in red while the characters are in the Magano world can be off-putting.
Audio Components 7/10 Good
Several talented and memorable seiyuu that I’m familiar with appear in Twin Star Exorcists. Hanae Natsuki, best known for playing Kaneki Ken in Tokyo Ghoul and now Tanjirou in Demon Slayer, is the voice of male MC Rokuro. Arima is played by Namikawa Daisuke, voice of Hisoka in Hunter x Hunter, Waver in Fate Zero, and Squealer in Shin Sekai Yori. Famous seiyuu Suwabe Junichi voices Seigen. The young talent Serizawa Yuu does a great job as Mayura. A favorite of mine who recently played Kazuki in Sarazanmai is Murase Ayumu; in this anime, he plays Yuuto.
Overall Score: 6.8/10 Fine/Good
My review and ranking works like this. Five categories, such as art and sound, are discussed and each is given a number from 1 to 10, with 1 being apalling/shouldn’t exist, and 10 being perfect. Then I add those numbers up and take the average. The categories are art (7/10), sound (7/10), story (7/10), characters (6/10), and personal enjoyment (7/10). Thus the overall score for Twin Star Exorcists episodes 1-13 is 6.8/10.0. Anything in the 6s category is Fine or Satisfactory. Anything in the 7s category is Good/ Entertaining. This anime is right on the borderline. I think you should check it out yourself to see if it’s your cup of tea or not.