Viz Media is bringing us another new Shonen Jump series, which also happens to be another book about exorcists and demons, called Twin Star Exorcists. There’s not a lot of information about this title in particular, outside of the fact it currently runs in the same magazine as Blue Exorcist and Seraph of the End. Let’s take a look.
Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 1 (Viz Media)
Written and drawn by: Yoshiaki Sukeno
Translated by: Bryant Turnage
In this world, strange monsters known as Kegare exist. They come from a dangerous and very evil realm known as the Magano and the only thing that can stop them are exorcists. From there, we’re introduced to Rokuro, a young boy who lives with this group of exorcists in a dorm. He’s pretty much a loser and is constantly dreaming big about finding the right path for himself to go down. The only thing he’s apparently good at is performing exorcisms, but due to a tragic incident a couple of years ago, he lost interest in pursuing that field. However, his life changes when he crosses paths with a girl named Benio, an exorcist around his age.
The first volume of Twin Star Exorcists is a solid, satisfactory introduction to the series. It does a fairly good job of introducing the main two characters of Rokuro and Benio, while showing them in action. It sets up the plot and focus for the series and even establishes some storylines and mysteries to be built upon in future chapters. On the flipside though, while it isn’t bad, it’s not something that’ll strike you as something new or fully original. It’s a series built upon plenty of tropes and trends we’ve all seen before that may not excite long time manga readers.
This volume contains the first three chapters. The first chapter establishes the characters and the setup for this world. It’s a fairly standard first chapter for a typical Shonen manga series in a lot of ways, like how characters are introduced and how details are given, but there isn’t much in the way of a hook in the story. The second chapter is where we learn more about the exorcist society, the concept of the Twin Star Exorcists, and the main conflict of the series between Rokuro and Benio. The conflict is that the two are to get married and have a baby that’ll become the prophesized Ultimate Exorcist (since they are the strongest exorcists around, thus they produced the best exorcist ever). Naturally, since the two don’t like each other, they are not into it… though you can guess that they’ll soon start growing to like each other. This whole plot point feels questionable to me, like how it reduces the two characters to sort of being babymakers or making the whole romance come off as pretty forced.
The final chapter in this volume builds up the dynamics between the main leads as they fight and work together. It also builds up a side character by building his connection with Rokuro and while also planting the seeds for future storylines like with the villain at the end. Outside of the big point in the middle, it’s not a bad book when it comes to the story. It’s just a bit standard fare and doesn’t really get that intriguing until the end.
Now, let’s switch focus to the characters. Our male lead is Rokuro and he has many of the traits we’ve come to see from Shonen protagonists. He’s a loser, not very smart, constantly gets himself into trouble in various ways, he’s rather annoying with how overexcited and loud he gets, and has a tragic backstory. He’s rather typical in that way, but also has sort of a uniqueness to him. Most protagonists of this particular genre of manga usually use their sad backgrounds as motivation for them to push themselves forward to avenge their fallen friends/family or become the best at something (like the leads of Blue Exorcist or Seraph of the End). Rokuro’s tragic past actually had the opposite effect on him. It psychologically damaged and broke him. He used to feel that he could do anything as an exorcist and felt fully confident he could save anyone. However, when he lost everyone and nearly died himself, it destroyed and horrified him, making him turn away from this dreams. It’s an interesting choice that I don’t often see from Shonen protagonists and I hope it leads to a good character arc.
Benio is our second lead and she’s pretty much the opposite; much more serious, straightforward, and confident in her abilities and where she is in her life. She’s often rather quiet and cold, shut off from most people and seems to be under enormous pressure to keep up her family’s legacy. Like Rokuro, she appears to have her own tragic past, but instead of breaking her, it appears to have made her try to become the best exorcist to destroy all of the Kegare. We see her rag on Rokuro a lot for not taking the exorcist job seriously and not having a sense of justice to him, but her frustration does seem to come from her past as well, which makes her a tiny bit more complex. We don’t know many of the details of her history like our other lead, but she does show some promise to be an interesting character for the series.
The story structure and pacing are both good and neither make the story feel like it’s rushing itself. It’s not like Seraph of the End where everything is constantly on move and not allowing for you to take it all in. This one is more slow-moving and thoughtful in its approach so far. The dialogue reads fairly well and there’s no real, obvious awkwardness with the translation as far as I can tell. Some of the humor in the book can be really funny at times, like with Benio’s introduction with how she refuses to chat or say much because she doesn’t like small talk, communicating through gestures and expressions. The small touches of drama here and there are fine and nothing comes across as too hokey or cheesy. Ultimately, the manga does have any big flaws to it. The only thing I do question about any of the content is the manga’s presentation, where Viz Media pretty much spoils all of the plot on the backcover in five sentences.
The artwork on the manga overall isn’t too bad at all. Sukeno has a style that is pretty standard Shonen manga-ish, like we’ve seen before with other titles in the past, but there’s nothing bad looking about it. The characters are drawn pretty well, with no odd body proportions or strange expressions that don’t fit the scene (though one of the characters does look like a grown-up Gon from Hunter x Hunter). The layouts are easy to follow for the most part, but during some of the action scenes, it can feel too hectic at times. Speaking of which, the action looks decent with how the characters move and use their abilities. Last to note are the Kegare enemies, which sort of look like a basic and familiar type of monster design at first. However, Sukeno does give each of these monsters their own individual looking traits that make each one distinct looking from one another. It makes the enemies more unique in their own way when it could be such a simple thing just to have one standard design. It’s a small thing, but a nice thing.
Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 1 is a good start to a series that’s pretty standard Shonen Jump fare. It’s a manga where I don’t feel that there is too much wrong with it outside of a couple of points currently. However, with so many other good and exciting action series out there or even with just Shonen titles, this is one that I feel isn’t all that special or unique at this point. If you are huge fan of these kinds of series, you want to try another Shonen Jump book, or just starting out with manga, I could recommend this for sure.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently available from Viz Media. Yoshiaki Sukeno has worked as an assistant for another Viz Media series, Rosario+Vampire. Sukeno also wrote another manga called Binbō-gami ga! (not available in America), which was adapted into an anime. The anime, Good Luck Girl!, has been translated and is currently available from Funimation.