「心を燃やせ」 (Kokoro o Moyase)
“Set Your Heart Ablaze”
Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Ressha-hen’s finale captures the heart-breaking end to Rengoku’s fight with Akaza as he succumbs to fatal wounds he received from battle. Though we are left on a somber, despairing note, it won’t be the end of Tanjirou’s journey as he hardens his resolve to charge forward as Rengoku’s undying will.
AN UNWINNABLE FIGHT
Akaza is a pretty unique demon in that his desperation comes less from wanting a nice meal and more from craving the excitement that came from fighting a worthy opponent. The animation and the legendary Ishida Akira’s voiceover work help to hone in on his exasperation as Rengoku plans to die from his wounds and prevent himself from becoming a demon. His enthusiasm wavers erratically as he comes to realize that he can’t risk his own safety for the futility of selling Rengoku on the demonic life.
Another thing of note is how Tanjirou reacts to Rengoku gradually losing his fight against Akaza. His pure-hearted motivations are often put to the test the moment he becomes untethered by the rage he’s had to bottle up through his journeys. Playing through the Hinokami Chronicles reminded me of a past moment when he chased after Muzan to tell him he’ll put him six feet under soon.
This tenacity follows him when he sees Akaza fleeing the battle to avoid the sunlight. His anger might be a friendly reminder to younger audiences that an honorless fight is a cowardly fight, but it’s interesting to see how Tanjirou is the kind of protagonist to have his resolve regularly challenged because he’s still a kid who has to put on a brave face for everyone as he endures one tragic happenstance after another.
In his eyes, an impenetrable wall slammed right in front of him the moment Rengoku died. Even as Inosuke tries to get him back to training to keep his mind off of the grief, it takes a lot to muster up the strength to trudge forward after learning a new technique came at the cost of Rengoku’s life.
RENGOKU’S LAST FLAME
With his last fight, Rengoku stuck by the selflessness that he valued as he resolved to give his life if it meant saving those around him and protecting innocent people caught in the crossfire of a demonic ambush. He was the shining ray of light in an otherwise bleak demon hunt and tries his best to uplift Tanjirou and his friends through his last words.
The comical sobbing of Inosuke, Zenitsu, and the crying crow might’ve diminished an otherwise impactful scene with Tanjirou grieving Rengoku’s death, it’s always a tearjerker when a dying character is elated to see their long-lost loved ones again. In Rengoku’s case, seeing his mother express how proud she is of her as he follows her lead into the afterlife would definitely be the moment I’d ugly cry in the movie theaters if I saw it in person.
Through the struggles he faced growing up, Rengoku would go on to place value in the positivity, effort, and potential his family, friends, and peers exemplified. Even though he’s had to deal with the consequences of his father’s depression, he’d continue to look up to his mother and used her stern motivation to put it upon himself to act as a protector and fulfill a promising life for her sake.
Even in his last moments, he wanted to praise Tanjirou and his friends for how much potential they had to carry on the ideals he held close to his heart. Nezuko, in particular, struck a chord with him, and it was heartbreaking to hear how much faith he had in Nezuko’s humanity in spite of the other Hashira believing her to be a clearcut threat. Above all else, he also wanted to have Tanjirou look out for his family on his behalf, requesting him to offer words of encouragement for both his young brother and his troubled father.
Although the remaining Hashira are either distraught or demand vengeance after hearing about Rengoku’s death, the borrowed time that Kagaya is currently living on makes him prouder of the bravery Rengoku exemplified for using the best of his abilities to save everyone on the train. Up until the very end, Rengoku made the best of the little time we had with him by being a fun, ravenous warrior who used his flame abilities to act as a noble, watchful protector.
It was surprising to see how well the Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Ressha-hen film translated as an extended TV miniseries. While some of the sequences that segue from one episode to the next might have had a trickier time making an impact, it was an admirable effort to help make the Mugen Train film more accessible while the state of the pandemic has been going through peaks and valleys.
The Mugen Ressha-hen arc, in particular, feels like a point in the story where the stakes rose higher than ever before. There were still tense fights that happened throughout Tanjirou’s journey, but by the time he becomes better integrated into the Hashira, the demons continue to get exponentially fearsome from this point forward.
The fragility and sacred nature of life don’t go unnoticed as each fight winds up being a battle that could prove to be a life-or-death situation. It was shocking to see Rengoku be the first Hashira to die in the series, especially since we had only started to learn about his background and abilities shortly before he fought Akaza. There’s little doubt in my mind that the adaptation will continue to do justice to the manga’s emotional highs, especially with Tanjirou having to inform Rengoku’s family about his untimely fate.
But as we bid farewell to the Mugen Ressha-hen arc, it’ll be exciting to see how Kimetsu no Yaiba’s second season will look animated since the Entertainment District arc does an amazing job at capturing the action and drama that make Kimetsu no Yaiba such a worthwhile shonen.
I won’t be covering Season 02, but the upcoming anime is in safe hands as MissSimplice will continue the great work she’s been putting into covering the main Kimetsu no Yaiba series since Season 01. Still, I had a good time writing about the Mugen Ressha-hen mini-series, and I’ll be looking forward to reading about the next chapters of Kamado Tanjirou’s journey as the Entertainment District arc explores the next steps Tanjirou takes to reversing Nezuko’s demonic curse and defeating the Demon Moons that Muzan has at his disposal.