In the fashion of many anime openings, the first episode of Twin Star Exorcists (TSE) is solid, albeit simple and unadventurous. General rule of thumb is to not try too hard on a first episode or risk vexing your audience with unconventional tactics or a gross amount of exposition that might turn them away. TSE uses blatant dialogue and on-screen pop-ups to help the audience quickly come to terms with the main cast members, such as Enmado Rokuro and Adashino Benio (last name first, as loyal to standard Japanese name format) as well as recurring concepts like the Kegare (demon-like entities) and Magano (the Kegare world).
Love them or hate them, Twin Star Exorcists has no aversion to using the exaggerated, dramatic declarations and gestures which are popular in most shonen/shojo series. Artistically, you can see where the development team put most of their attention. While the art is normally pretty clean, the dark world of Magano endorses its own unique style, trading out the standard black outlines on characters for red ones, using muted lighting on characters, and granting the Kegare rough, sketch-like appearances. The Kegare have a bold, rough outline to contrast with everything else, even their own environment, emphasizing to the audience the sheer weirdness and abnormality of these creatures.
There was no opening cinematic for the first episode, which isn’t uncommon, but the ending cinematic is staggeringly simple. As the credits scroll, the audience is given a gentle spray of fire and sparks. The ED song is fine, but not particularly memorable.
Segueing from that, the music is alright. I try not to form an opinion of the soundtrack until several episodes into a series. I will note that one of the songs which played concurrently with the arrival of the Kegare was an intensely creepy bell-ensemble, which was cool. I’m biased in this regard, though, as I love creepy.
However, this series is not only creepy. It can be morbid when it wants. We are given an opening scene with Rokuro in the steep of loss, reciting the names of all his friends who have died around him, presumably in some type of battle (or butchery, more likely), which turns into a recurring nightmare for him over time. We are steadily introduced to a cast of characters, each occupying their own distinct roles and social circles in the Twin Star Exorcists universe. From there, we are given a fight-scene between exorcist Benio and several Kegare, as well as an introduction to the hell-world of Magano. Our two protagonists meet, develop immediate character tensions, and it’s hinted that Rokuro has a history with exorcists. A few scenes later, we see him take center stage in order to help Benio destroy a monolithic Kegare (several stories tall), stirring interest in his agenda as a character, the possible developments he’ll have with Benio, and the scale of battles to expect from this series moving forward.
Proverbs 15:21 – “Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight.”
I select this verse in conjunction with the following content guide. While Twin Star Exorcists is not the darkest anime on the market, it definitely has a spread of characteristics that warrant caution in viewing. As Christians, it is our responsibility to consume media with an earnest perception of conviction. There are demons and other occultic concepts implemented in this series. This does not mean you shouldn’t watch this series, or enjoy it, but it does mean it’s your responsibility to not haphazardly absorb ideas and concepts without regulating them against God’s Word and the discernment He has given you. Not everyone is impacted the same way by things they see and hear. Some can watch dark media like this with genuinely zero impact on their spirit or day-to-day interactions, while others are more susceptible. Also, do not fall into the false belief that “susceptible” here is meant as a flaw. In some cases it’s a strength, as it can be a result of (or result from) great spiritual discernment.
Spiritual Content: For starters, it has “exorcists” in the title, so you can expect there will be a considerable amount of demon-related material of one slant or another. The two protagonists are both exorcists (or will become them) and fight creatures called “Kegare” which are pretty evidently demons, or at least demon-inspired. The world in which the Kegare live is also resemblant of a hellscape, with blood-red skies and destruction everywhere. This world, also known as Magano, channels some serious Silent Hill vibes. Note: the word “Kegare” traditionally translates into/represents “negative spirit energy” or “uncleanliness.” I could not find any similar translations for “Magano” which made any sense, suggesting the name is unique to this story. If somebody more learned than myself knows differently, please let me know in the comments.
There are a few different glyphs and symbols of particular note, as I’m sure they will be recurring through the series. In lieu of the name of the series, there’s a ton of star-shaped imagery. Whenever a Kegare is destroyed, a glowing star form will appear over their body and dissipate them. Now, these are not *technically* pentagrams, being that they lack the outer ring, but the way the lines cross over one another to make a star shape looks close enough to a pentagram that I should probably bring that detail to your attention. I’m sure that was probably the artistic direction they wanted, anyways.
To execute some forms of magic, the exorcists will speak various chants and incantations. While the exact wording of the chants doesn’t seem to be of much concern (mostly just nonsense phrases thrown together), the very act of it is reminiscent of witchcraft and reciting other occultic texts. Similarly, large glyph portals are summoned for travel between the normal world and Magano. Some kind of glyph is used with a spoon for an apparatus to foresee events.
Aside from simply being demon-like, the Kegare are horrifyingly designed, with a characteristic, unsettling laughter and the ability to infiltrate and influence our world of their own will. On an unrelated note, their laughter and voices remind me of a creature from another anime, but I cannot figure out where. It’s quite a distinct noise.
Violence: A lot of blood in the beginning, with vague depictions of freshly dead bodies. Traces of blood later in the episode after main characters take damage in combat. Combat consists of fantastical swordplay, hand-to-hand, and magical combat. When enemies die, they explode into an atomized, black substance.
Language/Crude Humor: None in my translation (Crunchyroll). I expect this was coincidental. It’s not the type of show to remain light of tongue for long.
Sexual Content: One scene involves a woman bathing; however, she is clothed (it seemed more like a ritual than something scandalous, but they did not actually label it as such). Another scene involves main character Rokuro running face-first into a girl’s bust. Rokuro also regards Benio’s body with awe, with the camera isolating parts of her figure. This scene is short, but still noteworthy.
Drug/Alcohol Use: None
Other Negative Themes: Rokuro has the general behavior of one who is prone to being reckless and rule-breaking. Yay for Chaotic Good characters.
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