Full disclosure that I’m aware I’m a few weeks behind on these reviews. However, I did write them each week. I just didn’t have the time to publish, do the formatting, etc. I’ve split up my reviews per episode for ease of use to you, dear reader. Feel free to skip to the episode you’d like to know my opinion and thoughts on or straight to episode 10. If you know, you know.
Watching the Upper Six Demon Twins fight together means we finally get to see their full potential. It’s not so easy slicing off one of their heads and they have the strength to prove it (and the number of Hashira killed as well). But I’m less concerned about the pair in the episode than I am Zenitsu.
I’m a huge fan of this womanizer. When we first encountered him, younger and inexperienced, he was irritating, a bit of a wimp, and generally clueless. This season has shown us an entirely different Zenitsu. He’s strong, courageous, and advocates for those unable to stand up for themselves. A real live Demon Slayer at heart! He’s really stepped into his role as a demon slayer and he’s leading with his heart, just as Tanjirou is. It’s a welcome change after what we had to experience in season one. I wasn’t convinced back then we’d see much character growth so this version of him has been refreshing.
We also learn more about Tengen’s past. He lost all his siblings, except one, when he was fifteen years old. His father trained him and his last remaining brother to follow in his footsteps. But Tengen believe his father’s training to be too harsh which is why he’s chosen to live this path with his wives, one where they value their own lives above all else rather than sacrificing them to a cause. What’s interesting about this backstory is that we aren’t given a name for his brother and we aren’t told he died. So it seems there’s a potential character introduction included in this backstory. Very much looking forward to seeing how this unfolds!
Overall, the episode was great. Some more sword fights but not without their struggle. I’m quite surprised Hinatsuru just pulled a weapon out of a magic hat in the middle of a battle but this is a little detail I’m happy to ignore. Did the ninju mice bring it to her? Perhaps. We’re still in the middle of this battle so not much else from me until I get sight of the next episode.
「上弦の鬼を倒したら」 (Jōgen no Oni o Taoshitara)
“Defeating an Upper Rank Demon”
What the actual mashuga-nut was that? What a cluster-flubber of an episode. And no, I’m not talking about a horribly scripted or animated episode.
Just a note to all of us viewers out there: never, ever assume that the episode title represents the plot. I definitely sat down hoping that this would be the end of the Upper Rank Six Twins. That definitely isn’t what happened. If anything, we were given a sliver of hope for it to then be ripped away from us is a split second. Whoever wrote this story is a genius. I didn’t see it coming, and I’m pretty sure if you aren’t a Demon Slayer reader, you didn’t see this one coming either.
Before I dive into my astonishment towards the events of this episode, let me outline a few highlights I believe make the overall story and our beloved characters that much stronger:
- Tengen’s relationship with his wives is deepened when we get an intimate flashback of their time together.
- Tengen and Hinatsuru vow to retire from their careers as Shinobi and Hashira once they’ve killed an Upper Rank Demon, to live the rest of their lives as ordinary people.
- Zenitsu grows a pair and leads the battle between him, Inosuke, and Daki.
- Tanjirou realizes that he can use the hinokami kagura to strengthen his water breathing technique whenever he doesn’t have enough stamina to use it on its own.
Our three favourite demon slayers fight together as one, finally!
The above represents what I believe to be the most important character and story points in this episode. Overall, these will have a significant impact on the next part of the story. Will Tengen ever get to retire or will he join his siblings in the afterlife, finally reuniting to share sake together? Will Tanjirou finally be able to use the hinokami kagura regularly if he only uses it as a strengthening mechanic?
Aside from that, there was a lot more in this episode that coloured the screen. I’ll start with the animation. I know I sound like a broken record, always noticing the animation but how can I not? We’re into the 4th or 5th action-packed episode of the season and it’s impossible to sit back and relax. The thing I love most about visuals with animation is how much the creators can play with the camera angles, movements to emphasize or distort a scene. Go back and watch Inosuke dodging Daki’s belt and you’ll know what I mean. Or, rewatch Tengen’s ‘Constant Resounding Slashes’ as he deflects Gyutaro’s blood demon art. Let me ask you a question, have you ever been bored watching one of the Demon Slayer action sequences? Exactly my point. I believe this series is truly leaning into the full range of creativity that anime/animation can offer. I might be a little biased because this is the series featuring my treasured Nezuko but I stand by my opinion either way.
Now, moving on to the gory stuff. Yup, gore. The gore in Demon Slayer, if you ask me, is done in a very tasteful way. I’m not saying it’s for all audiences (rated G) but it’s not entirely traumatic. Until today. Watching Inusoke literally saw off Daki’s head was like…no, there’s no metaphor here. It was an experience and I wish I hadn’t had it, I think. It was disturbing yet satisfying to a certain extent. And then there was Tengen’s hand. I cannot believe he was defeated. We were pulled away from his fight for a split second and when we get back to him, he’s sprawled over the floor with a decapitated hand. They really should have just called this episode: “Decapitation.” Tanjirou even successfully sliced off Gyutaro’s hand when he almost crushed Hinatsuru’s head. And finally, Inosuke got his heart (or chest) pierced by Gyutaro’s poisonous scythe. What a mess. This battle was a mess. I was so pumped for about 21 minutes until that last-minute set in and it was like watching the apocalypse unfold right before my eyes, while I sat there powerless.
I don’t know what’s coming next and I’m so nervous for the release. I do hope that they survive this because I’m not sure the young slayers could live through the experience of watching another Hashira die before their eyes. Also, Inosuke doesn’t die… right?
「絶対諦めない」 (Zettai Akiramenai)
“Never Give Up”
I will be the first to admit that I was wrong when I thought Demon Slayer couldn’t compete with itself. This episode created shockwaves, huge tsunamis, extreme level earthquakes, the works.
I think I mentioned in my previous post that the creator, Gotouge Koyoharu, is a genius. Storytelling isn’t an easy art and when you have to pack it in full of meaningful confrontations between protagonists and antagonists, that can either be done well or not. And he does it well. I understand the anime is an adaptation of the source content but I imagine the manga readers were extremely excited to watch this come to life on screen. It was done so beautifully as well.
The level of destruction and chaos increased tenfold from the previous episode. The loss of life in and of the Entertainment District was so vast that it really did hit a chord in me. Tanjirou was at a complete loss and for more than a few moments, I was convinced he’d truly given up. I have to admit that I was extremely disappointed in the little slayer. But who could blame him? Gyutaro’s psychological warfare game was strong and if that had been me it would have been extremely effective. I would have gone down on my knees, face on the ground filled with soil begging for him to turn me into a demon. How Tanjirou managed to come up with his last-minute idea is unfathomable to me but I’m glad he figured something out. This is what I mean by the creator being really good at what she does, and the same for Ufotable who adapted the manga. I was sitting here thinking that Tanjirou had no other choice. If all his friends are dead or about to be, he’s got no choice but to run, save his little sister, and come back to finish the fight another day when he’d be stronger. I was disappointed but also holding back from shaming him because I could do no better. The psyche is strong with this one.
What unfolds after is what really blew my mind. Tanjirou succeeds in using Gyutaro’s defenseless demeanor to trick him and go on the offense with his trademark headbutt move (I was wondering when this would show up this season). Inosuke casually survives being stabbed in the chest, and Zenitsu is using his godlike power to finish off Daki. Even Tengen shows up and gives us the show of a lifetime as he fights Gyutaro one-handed! Another great example of a well-animated action sequence. What a hashira! The great thing is that we discover that he can use his affinity to sound to understand patterns in his opponent’s abilities. He turns their ‘patterns’ into a score so he can better deflect and detect them. I did have some lingering questions earlier on in the season but this gives off a nice rounded explanation for why he’s called the ‘Sound Hashira’. And lastly, Tanjirou seems to have a transformative moment when he truly embodies the physical traits of a legendary hashira (potentially this father).
After decapitating the Upper Six heads (low and behold, more decapitation), Gyutaro’s body explodes leaving only dust in its aftermath. It’s so unclear what’s to happen next but the season finale is next week and it’s only then we’ll learn the fate of our beloved characters. Will Tengen or Tanjirou succumb to the poison? Will anyone be left standing?
I want to know what you think so far about this season. Do you think it trumps the first? What are your thoughts?