Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 23 – On the Mend

Now that’s more like it. After Shinazugawa Sanemi stabs her three times, cuts his own arm and lets the blood tempt her, Nezuko doesn’t take the bait. Memories of the past and her family flash through her mind. She turns away in disgust, Sanemi’s gambit fails, and the Master puts the matter to rest once and for all: Nezuko won’t hurt humans.

That said, Master understands that it won’t be easy for Tanjirou to convince everyone he encounters, so he’d better hurry up and prove he and Nezuko can slay demons by defeating a Twelve Kizuki. When Tanjirou goes one further and says he’ll kill Kibutsuji Muzan, the Master tells him not to aim so high so soon. When Tanjirou turns beet red, Kanroji Mitsuri has to hold back laughter. Also, like Tanjirou, the Master knows Tamayo, which is instructive.

With Tanjirou and Nezuko’s trial and business with the Hashira at an end, Shinobu summons two kakushi to escort the two to her family’s Butterfly Mansion for rehab. There, he meets Tsuyuri Kanao, who he first met at the Selection. Turns out she’s not Shinobu’s sister but her Tsuguko, or sword apprentice. Kanao notably doesn’t say a word to Tanjirou or the kakushi.

Instead, they’re led to the infirmary by another girl, where Zenitsu is already causing problems with his constant whining and screaming, while Inosuke is uncharacteristically quiet and depressed, recovering from a crushed throat. Tanjirou thanks them both, and later in Nezuko’s room he resolves to become stronger.

The episode ends by giving us a look at the evening Hashira meeting, where the Master tells them they’re the strongest unit of demon slayers ever assembled, and they’ll get Kibutsuji Muzan come hell or high water. It’s clear the master considers Kibutsuji a personal nemesis; I wonder if we’ll ever get any history about the two. Maybe his horrible facial scarring is Kibutsuji’s doing?

This episode was everything last week’s should have been, both introducing and resolving the trial in short order. Sure, last week introduced each of the Hashira we hadn’t met yet, but in the worst possible light, as only Giyuu, Shinobu, and Mitsuri didn’t come off as assholes. I’m glad they fell in line once Nezuko proved she’s harmless to humans, and it was good to see them in a more positive light here, united against their enemy.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 13 – Poetry in Motion

It was the previous episode combined with this one that I first started to notice Demon Slayer starting to develop some pacing issues. Yes, Kyogai’s (the name of the tsuzumi demon) ability to spin and change the rooms of the mansion Inception-style and launch fatal slashes is pretty cool…at first.

Then it simply goes on too long. Kyogai drums, Tanjirou is thrown around and gets frustrated, rinse, repeat. This episode tries to break up the repetition with a trip back to Kyogai’s past when he was still a human, and attempts to explain why he went bad: his editor/publisher thought the stories he wrote stunk. The anguish of failure curdled into hatred and Mr. Literary Critic was Kyogai’s first victim.

When psyching himself up doesn’t work, Tanjirou uses his nose and realizes that he needs to whip out a Water Breathing Form to get this guy, but first he asks him his name. There’s a lingering question of how much of Kyogai’s humanity is left, because he clearly reacts to Tanjirou not trampling on his pages as a sign the kid acknowledges his writing.

Before Tanjirou decapitates Kyogai, he also praises Kyogai’s Demon Art Form as pretty incredible, which it is, even if it’s a bit one-note. In fact, had Tanjirou not been suffering broken bones from his last battle, it feels like their stalemate would have gone on indefinitely. Instead, as Kyogai’s head slowly dissolves, he takes comfort that the opponent who defeated him finally recognized his dual passions of writing and drums.

When Tanjirou emerges from the house with two of the three kids, he finds Zenitsu shielding Nezuko’s box with his body as the boar-headed guy absolutely wails on him. It marks the second-straight episode where my opinion of the orange scaredy-cat has improved, as Zenitsu remembers Tanjirou saying the box’s contents are “more important than my life”, and protects them accordingly without hesitation, trusting in his new friend.

Zenitsu can hear things few people can, in the same way Tanjirou smells things others can’t. He could hear there was a demon in the box from the start, but could also hear such “kind” sounds emanating from Tanjirou, he felt he could trust him to explain what was in it if he asked.

Unfortunately, the scene of Tanjirou emerging from the house to find Zenitsu being beaten is repeated for no apparent reason, other than perhaps to pad out the run time. We watch Tanjirou react, then jump back to a few minutes ago when Zenitsu and the third kid ended up outside, then boar-man appears, then we watch Tanjirou react again. Finally, when Tanjirou decides to stop boar-man’s assault, his charge is almost comically drawn out, as that action ends up taking us to the credits.

Considering the promo art, OP and ED make it quite clear the boar-man will become a member of the “gang”, it seems odd to keep up the charade that he’s a “bad guy” for yet another episode. Had Kyogai’s backstory/demise and the scene with the two siblings throwing things at Tanjirou been tightened up a bit, there could have been more time at the end for Tanjirou to engage with the boar-man. Just some odd, clunky choices.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 12 – Bang the Drum Quickly

This week Tanjirou meets the boar-faced man with chipped blades while the guy is inexplicable stepping on poor little Teruko. Tanjirou throws him off and the guy is intrigued by his human opponent’s strength. Just when you thought this guy would help out, he doesn’t—but hopefully thanks to the tsuzumi demon’s room-spinning and slashing drums, he doesn’t have to deal with him too long.

For the record, I like the boar-man and his joyful belly laughing as he tears through the ever-changing layout of the mansion. He’s certainly less annoying than Zenitsu, for whom there is not enough cheese in the world to go with his whine.

It sure looks like Teruko’s brother Shouichi got paired up with the wrong demon slayer, as Zenitsu whines and quivers so much he only adds the boy’s considerable anxiety, especially when a long-tongued demon starts chasing them. Zenitsu eventually faints from acute terror, and we finally see his useful, dare I say badass side.

He’s able to literally defeat the demon in his sleep using his lightning breathing form, only to wake up freaking out with no memory of doing so. After an ignominious introduction, I like this new wrinkle in Zenitsu’s character, though it means that in order to be effective he has to be knocked out so his unconscious instincts can take over.

Tanjirou and Teruko eventually find the captive brother Kiyoshi, who has one of the demon’s tsuzumi that fell off when the three demons were fighting to determine who would eat him. Zenitsu destroyed one demon while boarman defeated another. The tsuzumi demon would seem to be the last demon standing. Tanjirou figures out which drums do what, but as he’s still recovering from his previous battle, he briefly loses his spirit along with his strength.

He has to remember Urokodaki’s training, in which he told his student that water can take on any form that could be needed. Even with limited mobility due to his injuries, as long as he trusts in his water breathing, he can adapt to the tsuzumi demon’s pattern of attack, dispel his fear, and go on the offensive.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 11 – The Pest House

How I wish Agatsuma Zenitsu stayed where he belonged: in the OP and ED and nowhere else. He was one note at the Final Selection when he was in constant fear of imminent death, and he’s one note here: a whiny, manic little creep who just. Can’t. Stop. Macking on some poor random woman who is already engaged. Apparently when she encountered him looking ill on the side of the road and asked if he was okay, he grew convinced she was in love with him.

Jesus Christ is this guy annoying. I’d rather watch an entire episode of nothing but Tanjirou’s crow yelling directions over and over again than listen to this sniveling little shit go on and on about how terrified he is of everything. Tanjirou is a saint for being as patient as he is. Nezuko is a saint for not bursting out of her box to kick him into the next prefecture.

Zenitsu is a serious irritant and a pest, and he drags down an otherwise decent episode involving a haunted mansion where the brother of two little kids and others are being held captive. The stakes are established when one of those captives is thrown out of the house from a height and falls to his painful, gruesome death. The kids are horrified, but he wasn’t their brother.

Tanjirou can smell that something’s not right in that house, but Zenitsu proves there might be something useful about him when he hears something Tanjirou doesn’t: a tsuzumi drum, as commonly used in Noh and Kabuki. Tanjirou heads in, and shames Zenitsu into following, but leaves Nezuko’s box outside to protect the little kids.

Once inside, Zenitsu has another exhausting tantrum. I really don’t understand why this character exists, why they made him so grating, and if there is any chance that he could ever be redeemed after this fiasco of a debut. The kids hear scratching from Nezuko’s box (Tanjirou should have explained his good demon sister was in there) and run into the house, and before long, Tanjirou and the little sister are separated from Zenitsu and the brother.

The room Tanjirou and the girl (named Teruko) occupy changes every time the tsuzumi is struck, and they eventually encounter a vicious-looking demon ignoring them and ranting about his prey being taken. Tanjirou rushes the demon and prepares to strike, but with another strike of one of the three tsuzumi growing out of his body, the entire room is turned 90 degrees, so that the floor is now a wall.

This Inception-style stuff is pretty neat, but before Tanjirou can adjust his tactics, a crazed shirtless man with a boar’s head busts into the room, bearing dual Nichirin blades. Zenitsu had encountered him previously and was—you guessed it—terrified of him. I can only hope going forward that Zenitsu learns to chill the fuck out, or otherwise gets an absolute minimum of screen time. Wishful thinking, I know…

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 10 – Just Like Family

Looks like Yahaba is toast, but before he’s destroyed he makes life particularly difficult for Tanjirou, shooting all his arrows at him one after the other and forcing the Demon Slayer to pull off a long chain of moves. By the time Yahaba is gone for good, Tanjirou can neither stand nor hold a sword. And because there’s still one enemy demon still very much standing.

Fortunately for Tanjirou, Nezuko’s leg heals and she re-enters the fray. For a couple of minutes that fray turns into a soccer match, with Nezzy and Susa kicking the ball to each other with increasing ferocity. When Yushirou looks at Tamayo, she insists this is Nezuko’s own strength.

Even so, Tamayo believes Susamaru is still only toying with Nezuko, and it’s only a matter of time before she becomes impatient and goes all-out. In order to preempt that eventuality, Tamayo uses her Blood Demon Art to deaden Susamaru’s senses, then provokes her by calling Kibutsuji Muzan nothing but a petty coward.

While essentially under Tamayo’s spell, Susamaru says her master’s name while defending him, which causes Kibutsuji’s cells within her to tear her apart from the inside out. When there’s nothing left of her but an arm and an eyeball, Tamayo notes that she and her companion weren’t Twelve Kizuki after all, as the real ones have their number emblazoned on their eyes. She also collects some of her blood in hope it will help with her research.

Tanjirou, ever the empathetic lad, comes to Susamaru when he hears her death throes, and makes sure she has her beloved temari ball when the sun comes up, and with it her time. Like him I couldn’t help but feel bad for her, as she was merely a naive child used as a tool for the monstrous Kibutsuji’s whims.

Tanjirou is again reunited with Nezuko, who is once again healed up from Tamayo. While Urokodaki’s hypnosis makes her see all humans as family, Tanjirou is heartened to see she still has a measure of free will, because she’s chosen to see both Tamayo and Yushirou as humans and thus family as well. Tamayo tears up as Nezuko hugs her, and even Yushirou can’t help but blush when she pats his head. Who can blame them? Nezuko is a nigh-unbeatable combo of adorable, caring, and absolutely badass—all without uttering a word.

Tamayo offers to let Tanjirou leave Nezuko with her, as she’ll likely be safer than if she stays with her Demon Slayer brother. Before Tanjirou can respectfully decline, Nezuko does it for him, again making her own choice and taking his hand as a sign she wants them to stick together. They continue on to their next assignment, running into the blond kid from the Final Selection on the way. I see a team-up in the offing…

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 09 – Balls to the Walls

We learn that Susamaru and Yahaba are two of the Twelve Kizuki (Demon Moons), Muzan’s most trusted generals. When they say they’re going to do something—like bringing their master Tanjirou’s head—they usually get the job done.

But that doesn’t mean Susamaru isn’t going to have a little fun, sprouting four extra arms and pummeling the house and its occupants with her six temari balls. Whenever anyone tries to dodge the balls, they change directions, seemingly breaking the laws of physics. Despite appearing to be toys, one of them decapitates Yushirou, forcing Tamayo to fall back.

Tanjirou can’t slash away the balls and protect the others at once. Once Yushirou’s head grows back, he lends Tanjirou his sight, enabling Tanjirou to see that Yahaba is using his arrows to affect the trajectories of the balls. He adapts his offense and defense, gets in close, and lops off Susamaru’s six arms.

Nezuko, who sees Tamayo and Yushirou as family even though they’re demons, attacks Yahaba in the trees, but when she tries to kick one of Susamaru’s balls, it claims her leg, and unlike Yushirou she doesn’t heal nearly as quickly. Through trial and error and suffering quite a pummeling, Tanjirou eventually learns that dodging, countering, or slicing the arrows is useless; he has to make them work for him. 

By popping off a number of different Water Breathing Forms, he manages to finally crack Yahaba’s code, decapitating him with a new lateral water wheel that contains Yahaba’s own arrows. Of course, as Susamaru quickly grew her arms back and Yushirou grew his head back, Tanjirou’s victory could be short-lived.

These demons are beyond anything he’s fought before; if they fall to a relative novice demon slayer they’re going to seem like pushovers. That’s why I’m glad the battle doesn’t end here. I’m sure there will be more twists and turns before the night is one. Maybe he only needs to hold out until sunrise? But however things shake out, this episode was a showcase for the series’ trademark heart-pumping, inventive, balls-to-the-wall combat animation.

There’s a fair bit of CG, but it’s used well: smoothly integrated so it doesn’t distract from the fighting in the least. It’s truly a delight to watch Tanjirou and Nezuko dance through the air dodging balls and arrows, while Yushirou’s head re-growth is wonderfully gross. I’m not sure how Susamaru’s tube top stays on when her extra arms punch through the sides…but that’s nitpicking.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 08 – Doctor Tamayo, Medicine Demon

Tanjirou pounces on the man Kibutsuji Muzan transformed into a demon, while urging bystanders to keep pressure on the wife’s shoulder wound. The police arrive, and demand Tanjirou get off the man. When he refuses (for their sake), they whip out the batons.

A woman in the crowd scratches her arm and from her blood a flowery screen of illusion occludes the cops’ vision. Tanjirou locates the source of the magic: the ethereally beautiful woman and her boy attendant…both of whom appear to be demons.

Last week demonstrated that Kibutsuji Muzan can turn humans into demons with one scratch and has no qualms about doing so in public. This week we learn a little more about the man. To his wife and adorable daughter he appears to be the model husband and father, and they’re rich enough to afford a car and fancy western-style clothes.

But when his family isn’t around, he doesn’t hesitate to bear his claws, easily killing a drunk kid and his big brother and then burying his clawed finger into the brain of a poor woman, transforming her into a demon so quickly her body can’t bear it, and turns into a horrific mass of blood and viscera that collapses into red dust.

After making things right with the udon vendor by eating two bowls, Tanjirou encounters the lady’s attendant once more. Things between the two boys don’t start out smoothly, as he calls Nezuko a “hag”—which is just objectively false, by the way—but the attendant was order to fetch him, and he follows his lady’s orders. He leads Tanjirou and Nezuko through an apparent brick wall to reveal a hidden medical clinic.

It is the refuge and laboratory of Tamayo (Sakamoto Maaya), a doctor who was transformed into a demon by Kibutsuji but was able to sufficiently modify her to survive on only a small amount of human blood to survive. Her attendant, Yushirou, whom she turned into a demon, can survive on even less.

Tamayo is excited by Tanjirou and Nezuko’s arrival, because they each have something they can offer one another. Tamayo tells Tanjirou something he desperately needed to hear—it is possible to turn Nezuko back. But the means to do so must be thoroughly researched and tested. To that end, Tamayo asks for permission to study Nezuko’s blood, and also asks that he bring her the blood of demons that were made by Kibutsuji or his creations.

In a beautiful little moment during Tamayo’s proposal, Tanjirou tenderly places his hand on Nezuko’s lovely forehead and she affectionately takes it into her hands. It says all that needs to be said about their bond without words, as do most of their interactions, as she is no longer verbal.

He agrees to the deal, but no sooner is it struck than two demon henchmen Kibutsuji ordered to find and kill Tanjirou (whose earrings reminded him of someone he fought in the past) crash their way through Tamayo’s illusory barrier, ready to fuck shit up.

These two look like tough customers, but as we know well by now, so are Tanjirou and Nezuko…and Yushirou and Tamayo are likely no slouches either. I like the good guys’ odds.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 07 – Taking the Plunge

Nezuko emerges from her box to viciously attack the tripartite demons, but when Tanjirou tells her to cease her attack, she dutifully returns to his side. He has her protect Kazumi and the young woman he rescued while he dives into the soupy bog where the demons dwell and devour.

While the demons are confident of their aquatic home-field advantage, the because Tanjirou trained in the thin air of the mountains and his attacks are water-based, he has no trouble executing a devastating whirlpool attack that chops the two demons into rustic chunks.

He returns to the surface just in time to stop the third and final demon from further harming Nezuko, who’d already received a nasty slash to the forehead. Before dispatching him, Tanjirou asks about Kibutsuji Muzan, but the demon start to smell strongly of fear—a fear so intense he literally can’t say anything about Kibutsuji.

While Tanjirou was able to defeat the demon and save one of the women, that woman wasn’t Kazumi’s fiancée. Tanjirou tries to comfort him by saying he must keep living despite life’s devastating blows. Kazumi lashes out in anger—how could a boy know what he’s feeling? But Tanjirou gently takes Kazumi’s hands in his and smiles a gentle smile, and Kazumi realizes Tanjirou knows all too well, and his hands aren’t those of a boy.

A Demon Slayer is always in high demand, so within moments of completing his first official assignment, his crow arrives with his second. He and Nezuko travel to Asakusa, Tokyo, and he is immediately overwhelmed by the densely packed humanity and the lights that make it as bright as midday.

Since this is the Taisho period, electricity is commonplace in the capital and there’s a vibrant streetcar network; we don’t see any cars buzzing around, but only because they’re still pretty rare. The huge city looks and sounds fantastic, and seems to pulsate with a modern energy Tanjirou has never before encountered.

Tanjirou is only one slurp into some therapeutic udon when he detects a scent that quickens his pulse and has him leaving the sleeping Nezuko at the stand. He dives into the crush of Tokyoites, following the very same evil scent that was present when his family was murdered, and it leads him to a fair-skinned man in a western black suit, a white hat, and reddish eyes.

This is it: this is Kibutsuji Muzan, the progenitor of all demons whom Tanjirou has been seeking. It’s almost too tidy that he’d locate someone so reluctant to be found he threatened other demons not to talk about him, but then again maybe he simply doesn’t consider Tanjirou a threat and would just as soon dispatch him.

As for Tanjirou, before he can unsheathe his sword, Kibutsuji makes a quarter-turn to reveal he’s holding a young human girl, his daughter. Soon, his wife appears, wondering who the boy in the checked coat is. To the mother and daughter, Kibutsuji is their husband and daddy. To Tanjirou, they’re his hostages. But that’s only the beginning: Kibutsuji quickly slashes a passing man without his wife or daughter noticing.

That man instantly transforms into a demon and bites his wife, starting a panic in the chaos of which Kibutsuji will no doubt slip away while Tanjirou tries to clean up the mess. Perhaps this was just a matter of Kibutsuji’s guard being down, in which case he won’t be so careless next time.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – 06 – Live and Direct

Tanjirou’s got his special Demon Slayer Corps uniform (most of which he covers with his signature aqua checkered coat), his black sword (the properties of which are mysterious), and a new lightweight cedar box in which to carry Nezuko.

In other words, he’s ready to set off on his first official assignment: rid a town of a demon that is abducting young women. While making his way to the town, the vistas along Tanjirou’s travels are beautifully rendered with parallax scrolling, in which the foreground moves faster than the background, just like real life.

Once in the town, one of the larger settlements we’ve seen in the show thus far, it doesn’t take long for Tanjirou to locate Kazumi, whose fiancée Satoko is among the vanished women. Tanjirou puts his nose to work, eventually detecting a demon who can hide in floors and walls.

When the sun goes down, Tanjirou manages to pluck a recently-abducted girl from the demon’s clutches, but he soon learns there isn’t just one or two but three such demons, all with different personalities. The more gluttonous of the three shows off his collection of hairpins from those women he’s devoured…among them Satoko.

Tanjirou becomes enraged by the idea these demons are destroying families just like they destroyed his, but because he has to protect Kauzmi and the girl, he can’t stray far from them and thus can’t swing his sword freely enough to cut very deeply. It’s a valuable lesson: depending on the circumstances, he can’t always go all-out.

When the three demons surround Tanjirou and one attacks from behind, they get a little surprise: Nezuko pops out of her box, wide awake and ready for battle. We also learn that Urokodaki performed hypnosis on her while she was asleep, so that she’d regard all humans as her family and only demons as the enemy.

Needless to say this is incredibly useful, but Tanjirou’s true goal is to change her back into a human, not simply make her harmless to them. According to Urokodaki, the only one who might be able to help him with that is the progenitor of all demons, Kibutsuji Muzan. Something tells me no other demon will be in a hurry to volunteer Muzan-san’s whereabouts.

Rating: 4/5 Stars