As we close in on October 31, AiPT! will be reviewing and recommending various pieces of underappreciated scary media—books, comics, movies, and television—to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way to Halloween.
The latest volume of the Twin Star Exorcists has arrived folks. After a huge showdown and time skip in the last book, things seem to be heading off in a new direction for the series.
Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 6 (Viz Media)
Written and drawn by: Yoshiaki Sukeno
Translated and adapted by: Tetsuichiro Miyaki & Bryant Turnage
Lettering by: Stephen Dutro
It’s been two years now since the showdown with Yuto, and Rokuro and Benio have been training nonstop to become better exorcists. Their goal is to go to Tsuchimikado Island and face down Kegare and possibly fight Yuto once more, since it is the epicenter of the war. However, they need to prove they are strong first and to do that, they need to pass a qualification test. Let’s see how that goes.
The sixth volume of the series is a bit of a missed opportunity in some ways. While it continues to set things up for the inventible journey to the island, the story didn’t make much progress other than that. Instead, the focus was more on the characterization. We met a new character, expanded on one that was briefly seen before, and we got to see how much Rokuro has grown over the past two years. We also got a hint at something rather peculiar and intriguing in regards to Rokuro’s powers, but only at the end of the regular chapters in the volume. The best way to look at this volume is that it was a stepping stone; a necessary piece for showing how far our characters have come since the time skip, but it doesn’t really go too far past that either.
Essentially, the volume is divided up into two halves: main story and bonus chapters. The main story chapters are obvious and self-explanatory, the chapters that focus on the story. Bonus chapters are chapters that don’t add anything to the main story, but are more just one-off tales about the characters. The main story chapters are better written and keep things moving (not as much as previous volumes, but they do regardless), while the bonus chapters are disappointingly rather weak. The bonus chapters are more humor focused, but they’re not particularly funny. The timing is off, things feel very forced and awkward in the wrong ways, and the characters act like complete idiots during them. Of the three bonus chapters though, the one that focused on Shimon Ikaruga, introduced last volume, was the best, focusing on him before he became one of the Twelve Guardians. It expanded on his character and motivation from the main chapters, while also allowing us to see all of these mysterious Guardians (lots of memorable designs in this lot). It’s a bit abrupt in its ending, but it’s not bad and makes me wish the other two bonus chapters were that good.
Let’s focus on the characterization, since that’s what this volume put a lot of focus on. Rokuro, Shimon, Mayura, and Shimon’s sort-of-younger sister Sayo Ikaruga (same family, but younger cousin in a sense) end up getting the most development. Benio, yet again, gets the shaft in any focus and it’s honestly rather frustrating. The chapters we got with her focused more on her development into a “good wife,” learning to become a better cook for Rokuro or becoming insanely jealous of any woman that gets near him. It’s so awful and really reduces such a strong, powerful female character (who should be an equal protagonist) down even more. It’s even more disappointing since we really don’t get to see her fight much and an interesting development comes up regarding her that got no follow-up on. We learn that her family lost their status after her brother’s murderous mayhem and she’s really looked down upon. That’s an intriguing route to go with her, seeing how she handles things and maybe how she wants to restore her family’s legacy (especially since she’s the only one left alive or not evil). But the writer keeps dodging away from good things and just continues to go down this very sexist route with her that it is very frustrating.
It’s even more frustrating when you see the other characters that got development or focus and see how well it has turned out for them. With Rokuro, we got to see how he’s developed and improved as an exorcist, getting to fight against Shimon and prove his strength and skill. Then we also got an intriguing development regarding him at the end of the main story chapters, which I’m curious to see where they’re going with it. Mayura has her own character arc regarding her goal of being an exorcist and the mental barrier of not being able to dispel a spirit. It just started and it’s a bit clichéd, but it’s decently executed so far. We got a lot more with Shimon, who was barely a character in his introduction last volume, and see got to see what makes him tick here. His devotion to living up to his master, his very serious personality that easily shatters if he feels an ounce of embarrassment, and the minor hints of his backstory are interesting. Lastly, there’s Sayo, who I’m mixed on. She’s got a solid and sympathetic backstory, a crush on Rokuro that makes sense (she sees him as this knight in shining armor that offered her the first chance to see some other part of the world), and provides some amusing humor. On the other hand, the creator really makes or shows her in a rather creepy light with her advances towards Rokuro and her nude scene, especially given that she’s eleven years old.
Then there is Sukeno’s artwork and like always, it’s the same level of good quality as before. Its weakness lies in depicting people’s correct age and the very awkward fanservice. The fanservice just gets to a new level of awkwardness with the prepubescent character of Sayo, who is full-on nude in one scene and some of her behavior towards Rokuro at points is suspect. The strength of the art lies in its action and its character design. While static looking, the action is very energized and intense to look at, with some flashy and powerful looking attacks going on. There’s a good deal more of it in this volume than the last, so people who like action should appreciate that. The character design gets a special mention due to the amount of characters introduced in the volume and how vastly different they look in what they wear, their hairstyles, and their physical appearance. While certainly silly looking in parts, everyone in the comic is very distinguishable and memorable looking.
Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 6 feels like a step back after such a big climax and intriguing developments in the last volume. There are some positives to be sure, like a lot of the characterization, the minor plot progression we do get here, and artwork. However, the flaws of the series are starting to hurt the manga the moment it slows down a bit and the fanservice is just gross at this point. It does end on an interesting cliffhanger though, so hopefully the next volume really ratchets things up.