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Twin Star Exorcists Vol. #01 Manga Review

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Twin Star Exorcists Volume 1 CoverWhy do you always have to do as Fate dictates? Why can’t you, just for once, be yourself?

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Yoshiaki Sukeno
Translation/Adaptation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki/Byrant Turnage

What They Say:
Rokuro dreams of becoming anything but an exorcist! Then mysterious Benio turns up. The pair are dubbed the “Twin Star Exorcists” and learn they are fated to marry… Can Rokuro escape both fates? When Rokuro’s best friend Ryogo goes missing, Rokuro is forced to ask Benio for help to enter Magano, the realm of the evil Kegare, to rescue him!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Rokuro Enmado was your typical fourteen year old junior high schooler, aside from the fact that he could never make up his mind of what he wanted to do: become a world cup soccer star, a comedian, a pop idol … however, he was always told that he had no talent in any of those fields. The only thing he ever showed talent was being an exorcist, until a traumatic event at Hinatsuki Dorm two years ago left him the only survivor; after that disaster, he was emotionally scared and vowed to never become one.

After another session of his roommates ridiculing him for his latest failure, Rokuro storms off, remembering happier times when he did love serving justice by purifying the kegare, but those days are long past. As he begins to wonder what he should do next, a young girl suddenly falls from the sky and into the river below; he tries to rescue her, but of course, forgets that he can’t swim and in turn needs to be saved himself. While she dries herself off, he is shown a map and she points to a location – wishing to be taken there. But after several hours, he finally admits that they are hopelessly lost. While they try to find their bearings, a pair of siblings ride past them and then are suddenly gone. As Rokuro tries to figure out where they went, the girl takes out a talisman, chants and opens a gate to the world of the kegare: Magano.

Sinister laughter cackles all around them as they see the children about to be devoured by a monstrous kegare and without hesitation, the girl dons protective charms and charges in, easily banishing the foul terror. But as soon as one is gone, two more appear, only to fall to her enchantments. All seems fine until a gigantic demon emerges, and the girl has little effect on it with her weapon. She furiously yells at Rokuro that if he is an exorcist, he should do something; to which he vehemently denies that he will never be one, ever again! But, seeing that she is exhausted and if he does nothing, they will surely be eaten, Rokuro pulls out a black talisman and applies it to his right arm. With a massive release of power, his limb changes into a demonic appendage, which makes even this behemoth cringe, and with it he easily puts down the terror.

After returning to the real world, the girl’s guardian addresses her as Benio Adashino, and rebukes her charge for going off on her own. She calmly brushes off her ranting and they walk off, leaving Rokuro to wonder what had just happened and if they really were in the world of the demons. As he arrives home, he is greeted by the idle chatter of his friends and is told that they will now have a new exorcist in their midst – a girl his age and hopefully they will get along. When he opens the inner door, he sees her, the person who chided him in Magano, that stubborn exorcist named Benio! Why is his luck always this bad?

As the animosity between the two grows, they are summoned by chief exorcist Arima Tsuchimikado to prove who will be the Prophesied Child – the one who will be able to exorcise all the kegare once and for all, and the only thing they have to do is duel. Benio gladly strikes first since she wants to confirm that she is the strongest, but Rokuro does nothing until he is goaded by Arima; once he uses the black talisman, the fight is over, Benio easily overwhelmed by his power. But this contest was not to find the Child, the pair before him shall be now known as the Twin Star Exorcists: the ones who shall bear the child! In other words, Rokuro and Benio need to get married? Why her?

In Summary:
I can’t help to think that I have read this story before: A young child is prophesied to be the saviour and all he/she has to do is prove their worth, it sounds like: Naruto, Shakugan no Shana, Tsuki no Ko or more in this sense – Burakku Bādo. Although the material may seem to be gleamed from like works and conclusion of the fight was anticipated, the backstory of the characters is what makes this story worth reading.

While the Twin Star Exorcists may seem contrived by running through the formula of establishing these characters and using the same supernatural genre to drive the story, Rokuro and Benio are both weighed down by the responsibility of a debt, one for surviving and one to honour their family. These burdens are what make their journeys to being the best exorcist so goal oriented and at the same time, it looks like they both have the Hinatsuki Dorm tragedy in common; perhaps this event will help to bring them to the same conclusion or it may drive them even further apart.

But the piece that drove this forward is the artwork and the usage of the visual sound effects. The innocence that Rokuro had before the tragedy is shown in the still childlike joy he had after defeating the kegare and the pleasure he had of bringing them to justice; this happiness is also reflected in Benio in the bonus chapter from playing a video game to being able to indulge in the simplicity of being an ordinary school girl. But those of those worlds were shattered after they had to face the realities from Magano. From the darkness on their faces, to the monstrous demons oozing evil and even the subtle cackles of laughter and the crunching of their feet, these all added to the atmosphere of the book. And it turn, it adds an ambiance of the story; but at the same time, it is also a burden since they felt the need to translate and display every sound effect. We don’t need to see each effect to know that it is echoing in the background.

Twin Star Exorcist is an interesting turn on the romantic comedy/supernatural genre, but the using that same boy meets girl, boy fights girl, boy learns he must marry the girl is getting pretty old. Hopefully the upcoming issues will add some more interesting twists to make this story not as predictable and a more enjoyable read.

Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
MSRP: $9.99