「音柱・宇髄天元」 (On Bashira Uzui Tengen)
“Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui”
If you haven’t watched Kimtesu no Yaiba Mugen Ressha Hen movie or episodic arc, stop reading now and go watch.
I can’t put into words how happy I am that Kimetsu no Yaiba Yuukaku-hen arc has officially premiered today! It’s been almost a year since the Mugen train arc and I’ve done my absolute best not to read past the event in the source content. As it turns out, I’m glad I kept myself in the dark this time around. The double-episode premiere didn’t disappoint, pulling me right back into a demon-filled Taisho-era. Once more, we’re joining Tanjirou and Nezuko, Innosuke, and Zenitsu as they journey to become the strongest Demon Slayers they can be and uncover the mysteries about Tanjirou’s father’s death and his family’s murder.
Let’s get right into it! We’ve got a two-part premiere with the first half focusing on the aftermath of Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku’s death and the second half jolting us forward in time to the trio’s next collective mission alongside Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui (Konishi Katsuyuki), newly introduced. I want to turn our attention to the first half because I think it’s where the meat of the episode is. I have some specific things I want to hone in on but let me know in the comments if there are any key moments you think I missed! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Right after the recap, Muzan Kibutsuji makes an unwelcomed appearance. Something about the entire scene gave me the jitters. I credit this to the amazing sound design and visual quality of the show. If you take a few minutes to rewatch the scene, there’s an immediate uneasiness that takes over. It isn’t the idea of a child walking around alone at night that keeps us on edge. Rather, it’s the combination of eerie music, darker visual tones, camera angles, and pacing that makes the sequence that much creepier. Muzan unleashes a small fraction of his power as he brings his hammer down on Upper Rank Three demon Akaza, the one who took Rengoku’s life. It’s in this moment that his authority is reestablished for both viewers and Akaza as absolute, making his reintroduction as a ‘sickly’ adopted human child that much stronger and complete. Let us not forget that the demon now personifying a child wiped out a handful of lower rank demons in a split second.
Tanjirou’s first appearance, in contrast, is an emotionally charged exchange between himself and Rengoku’s kin now left behind. Only days after the train fiasco and still badly injured from his fight with Akaza, he travels to the late Hashira’s family estate where he hopes to find more answers about the Hinokami Kaguya, the latest technique he’s unlocked. But instead of finding answers, he finds a broken family stricken with grief. In Senjurou, Rengoku’s younger brother, grief emerges as sadness and guilt. In the boy’s father, Rengoku Shinjurou it takes on the form of anger, alcoholism, and violence. Tanjirou refuses to hear Rengoku’s name slandered by his father and as a result, goes head to head (literally) with the retired Hashira knocking both of them out cold. He wakes to find Senjuro tending to him and they exchange stories about Rengoku. He doesn’t walk away with answers but he leaves knowing he has an ally in Senjurou and the knowledge that the Hinokami Kaguya, also known as the Sun Breathing technique, was the original and most powerful of all breathing techniques.
The second part of the premiere may not have been the heaviest, might have had one too many ‘filler’ scenes, but, it was my absolute favorite. If you followed my reviews a few years ago when I first covered the series, you know that what ‘sparked joy’ in me was my main girl, Nezuko! When she shot out of her box, claws sharp, my heart immediately went *big thump*. True we got to see a breathing technique in action but it was Nezuko’s animalistic slash combined with her cute demure that stole my heart. Seeing the siblings fight side by side again was a great tease of the challenges that await them and a great reminder of the episode that changed everyone’s lives. Just writing about it has me all excited for this season. I can’t wait to see what Ufotable has in store for us.
In addition to watching the boys train and fight again, we are finally properly introduced to another Hashira, Uzui. It’s four months after Rengoku’s death, the boys have been training to exhaustion every day, and they are finally ready to embark on their next team mission to the Entertainment District (Yoshiwara District) where the most sinister of demons reside – according to Uzui. It’s unclear if he is going to be of much guidance to the younger slayers (regardless of what Tanjirou’s nose hints to in the Omake) but one thing’s for sure: Uzui has no idea how to handle a woman. Tossing them over his shoulder like sacks of potatoes and throwing them from rooves hint to how he’ll be handling the women in the district. I’m a little less excited about discovering more about his character but who knows… He might get a redemption subplot somewhere in the season.
Well, if you hadn’t already gathered from my tone, I very much enjoyed this premiered. It was a soft introduction to the series but we did just get a 7 episode arc of Mugen train to set up this next arc. I’d be much happier though if slower, more artistic scenes had been included (re: Demon Slayer’s opening scene). I could also do without the incessant comic relief. That isn’t to say I don’t value and have a soft spot for the relationship Tanjirou, Innosuke, and Zenitsu have developed but it will be a relief when we have a more robust story carrying us through the episode. It’s all about balance in my books.
I’m really looking forward to this next chapter. I can’t say that my expectations are extremely high but I haven’t been disappointed yet by Ufotable’s adaptation. I think there’ll be a lot more to explore in upcoming episodes whether that be new enemies, more mature themes, or discovering who Uzui is. I already have so many unanswered questions, as you do I would imagine. Why has Muzan chosen to take on the appearance of the adopted son of the head of a pharmaceutical (?) company? Why would Rengoku’s father destroy such treasured historic Flame Hashira records? Why do we only ever get one minute of Nezuko on screen (this is more a personal request)?
But I guess there’s nothing left but to wait for next week’s release.