By Dustin Cabeal
There is an unfortunate element of shonen manga that involves the good guys all fighting each other at some point. It’s always a harmless battle, and usually, there’s some magical protection or other dimension excuse so that the character can’t fight without consequences. While this is all well and fun and usually full of backstories and motivation reveals, it also feels lazy. Good guys shouldn’t fight good guys, and yet it’s something that plagues manga, American comics and anything involving fantasy stories with powers. Apparently, the people fighting for our safety can only do so after a pissing competition.
That’s the premise of this volume. The entire thing is heroes fighting heroes and we as the reader learning about the different Guardians of the Twelve. Over half the volume is the women’s first round of fights, which does have some interesting aspects, but not too many. Mayura’s fight is only interesting because of the outcome in which she becomes another Guardian’s disciple. We’re treated to their thoughts which reveal that she might have to kill someone and looks towards Rokuro’s direction.
The fight with Rokuro and the Doctor barely begins before the volume ends, but Rokuro’s power has already increased a lot. Who knows how it’ll turn out, but considering he put his family membership on the line, it’s likely that he’ll win, and the good Doctor will end up a part of his household. If that’s the case, then expect a lot more of that to come. Their fight will be interesting, but it’s the classic, “You’re holding back, and I only want to fight you at 100%.” You might think I’m joking, but there’s a line that’s damn near verbatim in the volume. I know you don’t believe me so here’s the exact line, “And I want you to fight back at 100 percent too!” If I fought someone and they refused to fight at 100%, I would take the easy win and save my strength for the people that were, but I guess that would mean I had a strategy or something. We’ll have to wait for the next volume to see what happens with the fight.
While it's not a bad storyline, it does seem needlessly drawn out in the way that Shonen style stories love to be drawn out. The meat of the story involves all the demons and seeing if Rokuro can finally stack up to the demons of the island. This all serves as a distraction from that main story which is unfortunate. If the story would remain focused on the details it’s already presented, instead of finding ways to continue the series for longer, then it would be an all-time great. It’s popular for now, but it’s not vastly different from anything else out there. Rokuro and Mayura yelling “Don’t give up!” doesn’t compare to Astra of Black Clover making a bunch of deadbeats turn their entire life around with his battle cry/actions. That and it was almost mathematical of how many pages and panels would pass before we’d see them yelling. Predictability is only good when the writing is so strong that it’s actually fooled you into thinking you’ve predicted everything. To put it perhaps another way, you didn’t actually figure it out; the author just leads you to believe that. That’s not the case here, it’s textbook Shonen, which is fine most of the time, but when a story has so much going for it the way that Twin Star Exorcists does, it’s a shame to see it go the safe route.
The artwork continues to be consistent. It’s good, but it’s not beautiful. There aren’t these scenes or moments in which the art invokes strong emotions in me, but rather it serves the story well. It is entertaining and fun to look at, but there isn’t a lot of depth to it. This volume we see Rokuro and Mayura age a bit. They’re taller, more muscular and just adult looking which is unsettling considering they’re still high school kids. It’s a trend in manga as other series I’m reading, and reviewing have done the same thing. Maybe its boredom, maybe it’s just the unnecessary element of them being kids. Who knows, but it happens.
If you’re reading the series, by no means should you skip this volume. It’s an entertaining volume, but it does feel unnecessary to the overall story. That’s the only unfortunate thing about it. Otherwise, it has great dialogue, cool action scenes that don’t take five years to finish and plenty of backstory for characters that have felt one-dimensional or even just appeared in the background. It’s just that the series could be so much more than just heroes fighting heroes.
Twin Star Exorcists vol. 12