Manga: Twin Star Exorcists Volume 1
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Retail Price: $9.99
In the series Twin Star Exorcists, the world consists of strange monsters known as Kegare. These demons come all the way from an evil and quite dangerous demon realm that’s known to be named Magano. The only entity or force that has the ability to defeat the Kegare is none other than exorcists, who are trained for years on end. The main story itself quickly introduces us to Rokuro, a young boy who resides with a group of other exorcists that live in a special dorm room. Rokuro is mostly seen as a loser and he consistently envisions what could be the perfect path in life for him to achieve that includes a new profession every other day. He has horrid luck with girls as he is constantly turned down romantically, but one thing he does excel at is performing exorcisms, which he rarely shows up for. In the beginning, you learn that he doesn’t prefer to perform exorcisms anymore after becoming the only survivor (after 18 exorcists were killed) from his previous dorm, which clearly left him in a disconnected state of mind.
One day, his life begins to change when he notices a young girl falling from the sky into the ocean, who's named Benio. The girl is actually an exorcist very close to his age and he’s instantly intrigued by her and her quiet demeanor. Benio isn’t fond of typical small talk similarly to him, and she has a love for food, much like Rokuro who has an appetite to match. During their first encounter, Benio has the ability to take the two of them to Magano, where she proves her impressive abilities to Rokuro by exorcising the Kegare in their own home. When a Kegare that is larger than the average demon appears, she offers him a way out which is something Rokuro would probably take up, but he declines. Instead of fleeing, he snaps back into his natural ability as an exorcist, and uses one of his only defenses to save this Benio, whom he obviously cares for without much time.
One thing that I found very effective from Twin Star Exorcists, is that the plot begins to take off very quickly. You are introduced to their world within moments, and all of the essential characters manage to appear all within the early chapters, so there doesn’t feel like any time is wasted going into the action/horror series. Both Rokuro and Benio are two different characters (with some similarities) but their introduction accurately depicts them as lead character worthy, making you interested in where they will go next, and what they will have to face in the near future. Things do take a turn, when you learn of a prophecy between Rokuro and Benio that involves them creating a family that is supposed to spawn the ultimate version of an exorcist. Of course in the beginning, the two have a bickering relationship that pits them opposite romantically, but there are clear (and sometimes predictable) moments that show they will come to at least partially make progress to fulfilling the prophecy. It does make you wonder as a reader if their relationship will feel authentic, or forced to appease a higher plan, but only time will tell in Twin Star Exorcists.
Another point worth addressing is how Rokuro’s past actually keeps him from wanting to play into these prophecies, or heroism. This is something that is a believable storyline, and not always acted on. The trauma from witnessing the death of his friends and comrades has left a gaping mental scar, and it will take time to break down the walls he’s managed to build, and Benio’s appearance only makes him confront his past on a regular basis. Benio’s character isn’t as explored in this first novel, but I get the vibe that there will be more on her development in future installments.
The action is scattered throughout the first volume, but the highlight isn’t actually from fighting a Kegare, it is a full fledged fight between Rokuro and Benio. This particular battle spans between multiple pages, and shows of Rokuro’s brute strength (fuelled by his past rage) and Benio’s insanely fast maneuvers. This feels important to the story to remind you that they are worthy of being the prophesied exorcists. The art is eye-catching, with every character (and Kegare) having a sense of uniqueness that I find to be above average, and the writing further compliments the series as a whole. Overall, Twin Star Exorcists is a fun and serious read at the same time, that has a successful first installment to a manga series. I wouldn’t say the series is perfect, but it does have more positives aspects than negative.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Both Rokuro and Benio have moments where I pull for them as individuals, but there are other moments where they can also be frustrating characters.
-At this point, Rokuro feels like a more developed lead character, and I am interested to see where the series takes him
-A random side character that is an early favorite for me is Ryogo. He seems like a supporting character for Rokuro, who challenges him to be his best, but does so in a more subtle or secretive way. I hope there is more room for him to develop in the series.