Welcome back to Twin Star Exorcists. Our heroes are about to making a daring rescue attempt against some truly powerful, threatening foes in the latest volume. Can they win? Is it good?
Writer/Artist: Yoshiaki Sukeno
Translated/Adapted by: Tetsuichiro Miyaki, Bryant Turnage
Lettering by: Stephen Dutro
Publisher: Viz Media
The name of the game for the latest volume of Twin Star Exorcists is action. This is an action-packed book as our heroes try to take down the Basaras who kidnapped Sayo, so focus on plot development is mostly sidelined. It’s all about high-stakes fighting and brutal attacks between the heroes and the villains. It makes for a rather breezy and quick read, especially compared to previous volumes in the past. We do get some minor development plot-wise towards the end of the book (easily the most shocking cliffhanger we’ve had to date), but most of the growth or advancement made in this volume resides solely with the characters. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that we weren’t heavy on the story this time around, but I expect we’ll be stuck with fighting for at least one more full volume given what happens.
Like stated, there was definitely some growth and development with a few of the characters. There were some minor bits with Shimon, showing how far he is willing to go to rescue his pseudo younger sister, and a moment at the end between Hijirimaru and Higano that gives the impression that there’s more to the Basaras and their motivation than meets the eye (wish we got more of this between the two earlier though). There are nice moments that help flesh the individuals out, but they don’t compare to the significant growth of Mayura. She’s been slowly trying to become an exorcist over the past few volumes after the incidents of the past and we constantly see and get told that she’s no good at it. She’s just weak and lacks the willpower to be in this line of work. However, she finally gets to step into her own and fight against Higano to protect her friends, using both strategy and gaining a significant powerup along the way that marks a character change within. While I would say her development and character arc are very standard for the shonen genre, its execution and pacing have been handled very well and it is greatly satisfying to see her reach this point. Easily some of the best character development for a side character in this series.
But of course, as always, we must turn to Benio, the character who could be so amazing and wonderfully written if only the creator let her actually shine in the story where she’s the second protagonist. She feels so underutilized and treated horribly throughout the series, and that continues in this volume. She’s pretty much knocked out early on and out of commission for most of the volume until the last chapter. That’s where things take an interesting turn and we meet her spirit guardian, which is essentially the exact opposite of Rokuro’s and raises a ton of horrifying questions about Benio. It’s both plot and character development that I approve of greatly, giving the character so much more potential going forward. However, the creator still finds a way to screw her over and has her lose in her big defining moment. Not even a draw, just a loss and it’s irritating. I understand that if Benio was to win outright, it would prevent the big cliffhanger and shock we get at the end. Unfortunately, it just feels all pathetically typical and similar to past events where Benio, despite being shown to be an incredible fighter or getting an upgrade, still gets the crap kicked out of her.
Since the book is all about action, how does the artwork hold up this time around? The action is fairly drawn well overall and even a bit better than in past volumes. While the action is usually fairly static looking, the art is doing better with depicting movement and flow. You can see how kicks, punches, or other attacks are moving and transition between panels, which makes things more lively and exciting. Even the static shots are impressive at times, making this easily the best we’ve had in terms of fighting for the entire series. Everything else is drawn very fairly well too and most of the egregious fanservice has thankfully been toned down, outside of one moment, with the last chapter of the book standing out as the best. Overall, Twin Star Exorcists has never looked better.
Twin Star Exorcists Vol. 8 is an action-heavy outing for the series, sprinkled over with character bits and development. The story itself takes a backseat to characters and villains duking it out in over the top and wild ways, leading to a book that goes by in a flash. It has problems, but for those who enjoy the series, you are certain to like this new volume and you’ll no doubt be raring to go for the next volume.
Twin Star Exorcists is currently available from Viz Media. The ninth volume is scheduled for release in July 2017. An anime adaption of the series arrived in the spring of 2016 and has recently wrapped up, streamed by Crunchyroll. A video game based off the series was created by Bandai Namco Entertainment and just released over in Japan in January 2017. There’s no word on whether or not it will be released in North America or elsewhere.