I skipped reviewing volume 2 of Twin Star Exorcists because while I was reading it, I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot to say. There were some interesting developments, but nothing too spectacular. Then wouldn’t you know it, the ending happened and everything I thought I knew about one of the characters was flipped on its head. So I’m back for the third volume to see what happens next.
Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 3 (Viz Media)
Written and drawn by: Yoshiaki Sukeno
Translated and adapted by: Tetsuichiro Miyaki and Bryant Turnage
Lettering by: Stephen Dutro
While I was a little unsure of what to expect going into this one, I must say that the third volume is an improvement from the second book. We had new aspects and revelations come to light, a new villain appeared, and one of the leads in the story underwent a lot of development. I was feeling more fascinated and wanting to continue this series after reading this book. That being said, I did had some reservations about what I read and some of its execution.
What I rather liked this time around was the story and its developments. The last two volumes were all about the setup, establishing the series’ rules, advancing the questionable romance, and a bunch of the characters. While necessary to get this series going, these parts of the manga weren’t all that exciting (outside of the big battle with one of the villains) and everything was very standard and in line with all of the familiar Shonen manga tropes. However, Yoshiaki Sukeno really spiced things up majorly in this volume and flipped the story upside down by dropping a bunch of bombs on the readers with what happens. (Also, it sidelined the whole romance plot, which has been the weakest part of the story).
For instance, we learned the truth behind the Hinatsuki Tragedy. Now given the ending of the last volume, I thought that Rokuro had killed everyone at the dorm because of his Kegare powers awakening. It’s a fine twist and would have added more to his desire not to be an exorcist anymore. However, it really turns out that everyone had turned into Kegares, because of one of Rokuro’s friends no less, and our lead was forced to put everyone down, while also having his arm go all Kegare. I find that to be an even stronger twist and it makes things far more tragic, really making it believable that Rokuro would just want to leave the Association of Unified Exorcists. Such an incident would break a lot of people’s wills, especially since he was a child at the time.
These twists and surprises, like the new villain entering the scene, really excited me. Helping things is the creator’s work on the character side of things, which felt better here. We have Benio’s brother turning out to be alive and also the antagonist to Otomi’s situation as she almost becomes a Kegare. These are surprising moments and offer some good potential for further developments with the two characters, especially given the ending. There’s also the fact that Seigen gets some more depth, showing him in a much brighter light than before. Sure, he was shown as a complete dick to Rokuro and a hardass in the last book, but here, he’s shown to care somewhat and does not want our lead to risk his life, like preventing him from getting back into the exorcist game since the teen is still an emotional wreck. Plus, his big and rather devastating move at the end felt right and I think it has gone towards making him more sympathetic and redeemable in some ways.
However, I have to give the highest praise regarding the characterization to Rokuro this time out. This volume felt like the culmination of everything that has been building since the very beginning for this character. He started off refusing, very understandably, to answer the call to be an exorcist after a terrible tragedy, but slowly found himself getting pulled more and more into it once again when friends and others started to get in danger. Then it all reached the tipping point here when his past came back and literally mocked him right to his face. He then came to realize what needed to be done after seeing all of the stakes involved, plus having a flashback montage of everything people had said to him over the course of the series. He finally came to accept what has happened and returned to being an exorcist, ready to face the evil from his past. It hit all the right notes for me execution-wise and I’m ready to see where this character goes from here.
The artwork looks pretty good too, outside of some questionable moments where fanservice was inserted. The characters are drawn relatively well–everyone is distinct enough in their clothing, eyes, and hair styles (though admittedly, some of the younger characters have similar faces). The action is laid out and displayed nicely, putting a good amount of detail and energy in the attacks and blows dealt out. Though most of the volume is set in the Mangano, Sukeno does a good job with drawing this world. I love its deathly and destructive vibe and feel with all of the rubble, warped landscapes, and debris. Lastly, I also like the designs of Kegare here. Like with previous volumes, I do appreciate the creator giving every one of these demons a unique design, so they all don’t end up looking the same, even in group shots of them.
Despite all of my praise of the story and its developments, I do have a major problem with both of these. The pacing of this story is bothersome in the sense that everything is happening way too soon. All of these moments in the story, while good and definitely get you excited, should be happening one or two volumes after this book (we barely made it to double digit chapters). Doing so would allow these moments to be built up more and would allow them to have a bigger impact on the readers. Hitting a few points in particular: Benio’s brother and also Rokuro’s former friend, Yuto, being a bad guy? Great idea and gives both leads a similar personal issue that they can deal with together instead of seperately. However, this character was just introduced before this volume and we’ve only briefly seen him in flashbacks. As such, it’s too soon and we really should have seen more of the characters in these flashbacks to make the reveal more shocking. Seigen putting his life in danger to protect the leads, potentially losing his ability to be an exorcist because of that? Also a great move and it gives him more depth, but it’s too soon of a change from douche to nice guy. We should have had him around longer, seeing him be this asshole towards Rokuro, but slowly learn there’s more to his attitude than he lets on. So when the time comes to sacrifice everything, it feels more natural and powerful.
Speaking of disappointments, there’s Benio. When I read the first volume of the series, I thought she was a great character with a lot of potential, plus had a decent sense of humor. However, I find that she’s been rather underused as of late, especially in this volume. She hasn’t had any big fight that she could do by herself without needing backup or having to be rescued. She didn’t get to do anything this volume outside of assist Rokuro in some moments, which is especially frustrating since her brother is introduced here and he’s a big bad guy now. However, instead of exploring how she really feels about this, other than crying about it, this whole situation is all about Rokuro and how he deals with it. This should really be a reveal that matters to both of them and help develop them equally.
Speaking of which and last negative I have to discuss is the new villain. While I like the idea of this villain and what he can mean for the character growth of our leads, Yuto just feels rather bland as a villain, coming across as the type of stereotypical evil that I’ve seen from a lot of Shonen Jump series. He looks down on everyone and is extremely full of himself, super powerful, power hungry, and even makes a “join me” speech to the hero. He just doesn’t come across as interesting or memorable here, even after wiping the floor with Seigen (you know, as one of these big and tough 12 Guardians, you think Seigen would be much stronger). Right now, Yuto really needs more of a personality or some sort of trait to make himself distinguishable. I guess I kind of like how SUPER arrogant he is, even calling Rokuro a puppet to be used for his own purposes when Yuto deliver that speech to him. Other than that, I’m not really feeling Yuto at this very moment.
Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 3 is a big step up from the second volume. New advances with the story and development with Rokuro were great, renewing my interest in the series. However, the manga moved forward with some of its plot way too soon and some characters didn’t end up looking so great in the end. All in all, I’m more hopeful for the future after this book, but I still have some reservations about the pace it’s moving at. If the next volume can fix the pacing issues, though, this series will be in great shape.