Twin Star Exorcists is an ongoing supernatural shounen manga set in modern day Japan. The stage for the series is set with the introduction of ghoulish monsters called kegare, who infiltrate our reality from the evil realm of Magano. Opposing these creatures are exorcists, who train and fight to save people and banish the kegare. A prophecy is revealed that the two strongest exorcists, the Twin Star Exorcists, are fated to someday marry and produce an exorcist child that will purify the world. However, nobody said they had to like it!
The ‘Twin Star’ main characters are Rokuro and Benio, both talented exorcists at age 14. They meet by chance when Benio asks Rokuro for directions, little knowing that they would soon live in the same exorcist dorm and fight together. Benio is a girl of few words, but she’s powerful, determined and dedicated. She loves sweets in the form of ohagi (balls of sweet rice covered in red bean paste), and secretly craves friendship but takes her exorcist duty so seriously that she has little time to get to know others. During battle she wears a fox mask and dual-wields swords, and applies talismans to herself to enhance her speed, strength, durability and foresight.
Rokuro is a boy with no real talents in anything but exorcism, but he excels in that. He’s prickly and a bit cranky, but doesn’t hesitate to help others or express gratitude. He fights using a mysterious black talisman that transforms his right arm into a huge demon limb, clawed and covered in glowing runes.
Throughout the first volume of the manga Rokuro’s friends constantly rag on him for being bad at everything, and it makes you feel a bit sorry for him. Due to a mysterious traumatic experience as a child he no longer wants to be an exorcist, and he’s trying a new thing every week to try to find his calling in life. His friends criticising him for that makes you feel a little protective of the poor guy, but Rokuro gives as good as he gets and doesn’t let it get him down, and his friends obviously care about his wellbeing in their own way.
Benio holds the seemingly impossible goal of exorcising every kegare that exists, which shocks Rokuro as it was his childhood dream before the traumatic event that led to him rejecting his life as an exorcist. But when Rokuro’s closest friend Ryogo vanishes into the nightmarish kegare world during an exorcism gone wrong, Rokuro and Benio unite their exorcist talents to frantically attempt a rescue.
With just the first volume of the series we get hooked into caring about the characters and wanting to know more. There are references to the tragedy in Rokuro’s past but not the full story, and hints about a trauma in Benio’s past as well. We also don’t know the nature of the unusual black talisman that Rokuro uses, or why he considers it a “curse”. And, of course, there’s the overarching question of, “Will these two ever get along?!”
The art in the series is consistently beautiful, with battles on a grandiose scale, hard hits and cool character designs. The kegare are creepy, scary and downright weird. Between each of the three chapters in the volume there are author’s notes containing comments and useful insights into the Japanese mythology referenced throughout the series. The pace of the book shifts from serious in the first chapter, to funny and light-hearted in the second, and dramatic in the third. This tonal shift keeps the volume both fun and engaging throughout the course of your read. In the back of the book is a short bonus chapter showing a ‘day in the life’ style story about Benio, which provides an excellent insight into her character, as well as more author’s notes, sketches and comic strips with the Twin Star Exorcists characters.
Twin Star Exorcists is the second series created by mangaka Yoshiaki Sukeno (also known for manga-turned-anime Good Luck Girl!) This manga is currently serialised in Shonen Jump and at the time of review has had five volumes published in Japan since February 2014. Twin Star Exorcists Volume 1 was published in English by Viz Media in July 2015 and is distributed in Australia by Madman Entertainment. Volume 2 is coming in November 2015 and can be purchased on Madman’s site, at your local comic store or bookstores where manga is sold.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.