What They Say:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Demon Slayer’s latest episode is marked by the end of the current mini-arc and the start of what looks to be a longer and more involved storyline. The latter is decidedly the more impactful of the two, as we’re introduced to someone who I expected to be the final villain: Muzan Kibutsuji, the demon who killed Tanjiro’s family and turned Nezuko into a demon, as well as the only person who can create more demons. But before that, we have to wrap up last week’s battle.
Now that Nezuko’s involved, the fight against the cloning demon splits into two battles: Tanjiro’s in the demon’s “swamp” and Nezuko’s in the street. Both fights are solid, albeit not the show’s best, as they make use of the two’s different fighting styles. Tanjiro waits for his enemy to leave an opening before trying to end things in a single deadly blow, while Nezuko pummels her opponents with raw strength. The two complement each other well, and I’m hoping we’ll get to see them fighting in tandem soon rather than their own separate battles. The demon’s shadow-like swamp also makes for an interesting setting, letting Tanjiro take advantage of his training in high altitudes while the demon is able to swim around him. It’s not as intense as some of the show’s previous fights, but is still a solid battle all around.
Though he kills the demon in the end, that doesn’t bring back its victims. Tanjiro’s path is a difficult one, as it looks like slayers are most often called in after the demon has already started killing. As someone who’s lost people to a demon, Tanjiro is the perfect person to comfort Kazumi after the latter realizes his fiancé isn’t coming back. Kazumi’s initial anger is understandable, as being told that all you can do is keep on living isn’t always what people want to hear, but that doesn’t make Tanjiro’s advice any less true. Seeing Tanjiro in this position really emphasizes how much he’s grown since the start of the series. He’s gone from the scared kid who lost his family to demons to the calm slayer comforting someone in the same position. With that demon taken care of, we move on to the next villain: Muzan.
Even before we actually meet him, Muzan makes a strong first impression via the cloning demon’s reaction to his name. Here’s a murderous demon who’s been killing people left and right and is faced with a demon slayer’s sword, and he’s still too terrified to say anything. Muzan doesn’t even do anything too special in his flashback-just holds the other demon up and orders him not to give any information-but the combination of Muzan’s stone cold tone and the eerie choirs in the background give weight to his presence. Just seeing him, you can believe that this is a millennium old demon who even other demons fear, a feeling that only becomes clearer when Tanjiro encounters him in Tokyo.
Even confronted by a slayer in a crowded street, Muzan doesn’t seem to break a sweat, while Tanjiro barely knows what to do. Here’s someone with the ability to turn an ordinary passer-by into a demon with a flick of his wrist, and the speed to do so without anyone noticing until it’s too late. On top of that, he’s apparently been masquerading as a human, and even has a human wife and child. Whether they’re just a convenient way to hide his identity, or people he genuinely cares about, his family complicates things for Tanjiro. Empathetic as he is, it’s still relatively easy for Tanjiro to attack the raving monsters and murderers he’s encountered up till now. It’s far harder to strike down a man in front of his family. It’s a problem that Tanjiro will have to come to terms with sooner or later, as Muzan clearly isn’t afraid to involve innocent bystanders if it helps him escape quietly.
Amid the surprise of Muzan’s introduction, Demon Slayer also takes the opportunity to expand its historical setting. We’ve been told before that it’s set some time in the Taisho era (1912-1926), but everything before this point has been in rural areas where it could just as easily be set a century or two earlier without changing much. Now that Tanjiro’s moved on to Tokyo, the show is able to do more with its setting. Tokyo is a buzz of busy crowds and bright lights, a stark contrast against the dark forests and alley’s we’ve been seeing. The city also captures the era’s blend of modern and traditional in the people’s clothing, which is a mixture of traditional kimonos and suits. Small details like this do a lot to bring the setting to life, and I’m glad it looks like we’ll be spending more time in Tokyo. There’s a lot to explore there, demons and otherwise.
After a bit of a stumble last week, Demon Slayer is back on track with a promising new arc. Muzan is far more threatening than any of the one and done villains we’ve seen prior to this point, and from what Urokodaki’s said about his age, he’s far stronger than Tanjiro. Introducing an end-game villain so early is an unusual choice, but it helps to have a clear goal now. With Tanjiro having to deal with both Muzan and the demon he just created, the next episode looks like it’s going to be a big one.