「本当なら」 (Hontō nara)
“Should Have Been”
We’ll have to wait a while for the next episode due to the upcoming elections, but in the meantime, we still have Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Ressha-hen’s third episode to ring in. As we start to dive into the dreams of each of the characters, however, it calls into question what exactly each of the demon slayers will have to channel if they want to wake up and save themselves.
EVERY TIME I CLOSE MY EYES…
To start off on a lighter note, it was fun to see how different all of the demon slayers were based on what dreams they had to overcome. Although Tanjiro and Rengoku’s dreams tried to startle them by projecting their wishes and ambitions onto them, it seems that Zenitsu and Inosuke’s dreams were more about scratching the itch they had towards what they want to do once the world is at peace.
The most amusing one was Zenitsu’s dream of hooking up with Nezuko once her curse has been lifted. Even with his cowardly personality, he manages to have a wholesome good time with a peppy, energetic Nezuko. It was a treat to see Nezuko having actual lines to work with beyond a few internal thoughts or muffles, even if they were flowery words to encourage Zenitsu to show her a good time.
Meanwhile, Inosuke has an even less serious dream about a cave side expedition where his friends act as his bumbling underlings. I can see it serving more as a means to entertain Inosuke into diverting his attention to something more exciting than camping out on the train, but it was funny to see how everyone’s personalities shifted except for his. Shimono Hiro has always captured Zenitsu’s essence to a fault, but so far in Mugen Train, he’s been giving it his all with all the different interpretations of Zenitsu in everyone’s dreams. And with Inosuke’s dream and last week’s Rengoku praise scene, he did a great job at channeling the doofus energy that others project onto him in their dreams.
On Rengoku’s end, it’s interesting to see that, rather than dreaming about events he wished would happen, his dreams served to remind him of why he fights and who he fights for. The fall from grace that Rengoku’s father Shinjurou contends with is an unkind one as he finds himself repulsed that Rengoku would try to put in the effort to become a Hashira as he did. Where he’s so far withdrawn from life that all he can do is turn away from his eldest son and tell him he wasted his time on a worthless pursuit.
It’s especially sad because his descent happened as his youngest son Senjirou was growing up. With his younger brother having no memories of his late mother, the only frame of reference he has towards his father are the few years he was supportive of their ambitions before he closed himself off to the world.
Because of this, it marks a point where Rengoku makes the conscious decision to use his status as an older brother to offer Senjirou the support of an older parental figure that he hasn’t received from his father in years. It’s also an unfortunate circumstance for the hostage that has to infiltrate his dream because his dream was about a moment in his life where his resolve grew stronger and stronger. When your dream is about collecting yourself and becoming a role model to help your younger brother grow even stronger than you are, of course, you’d be able to wake up and put an enemy in a chokehold out of reflex.
SNAP BACK TO REALITY
The same luxury couldn’t be given to Tanjiro, whose fight to wake up is marred by how traumatic his current dream is. Where he’s at, he could stay with his family, eat the Senbei that he and his siblings loved, and live out the family life that you were robbed of. Tanjiro starts to see messages where his subconscious is telling him to snap out of his dream, but because he’s fully aware that he’s stuck in a dream, it all feels worse to be stuck in a fabricated dream about his family.
He already knows there isn’t a family to return home to aside from Nezuko, but it doesn’t make running away from a fantasy even more difficult when it’s painful to accept the truth. Hearing his deceased family members scream for him to come back twists the knife further and further as Tanjiro can only tearfully run away from their wails if he wants to save his heart from being broken.
As painful as it is though, Tanjiro has enough of a support system that his drive was never going to entirely falter. He quickly becomes aware that he’s asleep on the train when Nezuko headbutts him as a way to get him to snap out of it. On top of having Nezuko call attention to his presence in the outside world, the dream version of his father is surprisingly not trying to sucker him into dying in his sleep as he tells him that he needs to search within himself for an answer to severing the border between dream and reality.
Yes, this might involve having Tanjiro slash his neck, But at the same time, it also shows that in Tanjiro’s mind, he uses his dad as a means of offering him guidance that he knows he needs to listen to at the end of the day. The omake helps support this as well when he lectures his son on remaining compassionate and driven if he wants to protect those around him and heal Nezuko’s demon affliction.