「錆兎と真菰」 (Sabito to Makomo)
“Sabito and Makomo”
I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for predicting that it wouldn’t take long for Tanjirou to train and reach his full potential. There is no doubt that I am the master of accuracy. It only took a single sublime episode.
Except. I didn’t predict his training at Mt. Sagiri would last two full years. A little longer than I expected… During this time, Nezuko is fast asleep. I’m curious to discover what will wake her from her slumber in coming episodes. Perhaps sensing her brother’s life in danger might do the trick.
But aside from Nezuko’s comatose state, this episode is full of Tanjirou’s trials and tribulations. He spends half a year with Mr. Urokodaki learning various skills and techniques, or being tortured (depends how you want to see it). After a year’s time, Mr. Urokodaki tells him he has nothing left to learn but he must now slice a boulder to qualify for the Final Selection. Cue Sabito (Kaji Yuki) and Makomo’s (Kakuma Ai) entrance, two of Urokodaki’s foster children. Like Tanjirou, they were trained in order to defend themselves. Now, they’re spending half a year’s worth of time and energy helping Tanjirou master the techniques they each acquired at one time or another.
There’s a lot happening here. Although the episode’s main goal was Tanjirou’s evolution, we’re also learning about the Demon Slayer Corps. We now know their size, how they function, and the ground rules for qualification. This information as well as the introduction of two new slayers act as a good buffer between the various training clips. It was a balanced way to lump it all in one without being too overbearing. It’s the first time in a while that I haven’t felt rushed through a time-condensed episode.
I’ll also add that this episode is what solidified this thought for me: “Kimetsu has the best animation of the season so far.” I’m watching a few different series this spring, all with their unique styles which I appreciate, but Ufotable’s work gives me shivers from one shot to another. It’s not very often that I connect with a series solely based on its artwork.
I’m also pretty smitten with Tanjirou. I’m not often bought over so quickly by a lead character but there’s something about the way he sees the world that is contagious. He keeps his head strong no matter what. Even after Sabito gives him a knockout blow to the head, he wakes up and praises his counterpart. It’s refreshing. He’s mad when necessary but most of his energy is directed towards his goal, that of protecting his sister Nezuko. He doesn’t waste time or effort being furious about a situation he’s had no control over. Instead, two years down the road, with a sister who might never wake up, he finds it within him to praise an absolute stranger for knocking him out. That’s the Tanjirou I know.
Thanks to these two new friendships he’s acquired through his training, Tanjirou now qualifies for the Final Procession, the last step in determining if he will become a demon slayer. I’m glad we’ve gotten a quick episode into his training. It’s a sign that the real evolution could be about his psyche. I’m just hoping he won’t break as the pressure piles on. Right now, we’re seeing these events through his kind eyes, which is why there’s a touch of comedy to the tone. Let’s hope this delicate balance between light and dark doesn’t falter because the moment it does is when we might no longer recognize the Tanjirou we know.