What They Say:
The Smell of Enchanting Blood & Temari Demon and Arrow Demon
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Building on what we saw two weeks ago, Demon Slayer continues to expand its world in these two episodes as the direction of the overarching plot becomes clearer and clearer. As it does, however, it becomes clear that Tanjiro’s goal to avenge his family and cure Nezuko is going to be far more complicated than simply finding and killing Muzan. Episode 8 continues to build up Muzan as someone leagues above the other demons Tanjiro’s encountered, and nowhere is that clearer than when some thugs try to pick a fight with Muzan in an alley.
Muzan dispatching them with no trouble is to be expected-he is a demon, after all-but the way he kills them hammers in just how dangerous this guy is. There’s a casual brutality to the way they both instantly die from one blow, no fanfare, nothing flashy, just him hitting them and the thugs dying. In a show where most of the fights have involved flashy direction and choreography, Muzan’s workmanlike approach to it is actually more intimidating than if he’d used any special abilities. No, he saves that for killing the woman with them. The way he melts her just by injecting her with too much of his blood is downright horrifying, especially with his borderline unhinged ranting about his own perfection. There’s obviously far more to Muzan than his cool exterior, and I can’t wait to see what he’s hiding. His sheer presence gives every scene he’s in a kind of gravitas that’s exactly what I look for in a great villain. Even though we don’t know much about him, Demon Slayer’s already established Muzan as real threat to Tanjiro beyond any of the demons we’ve seen before.
Speaking of demons, we’re also introduced to Tamayo and Yushiro, the first friendly (or at least non-murderous in Yushiro’s case) demons we’ve seen other than Nezuko. The way Tamayo talks about modifying herself and Yushiro to only need a little blood instead of human flesh and how she became a doctor, she seems to have quite a story behind her. In spite of her reserved mannerisms, her kindness is clear to see in how she treats patients and seems to abhor violence. Like Muzan, the little we’ve learned about Tamayo only makes her a more interesting character going forward. Yushiro is far less interesting, as his only discernible traits are that he’s excessively protective of Tamayo and doesn’t like Tanjiro. Most of his content is just hitting and/or yelling at Tanjiro in between Tamayo giving important information, which gets old fast. There’s probably more to him that we’ll learn later, but for now he’s decidedly a weak link here.
The majority of episode 9 is a fight between Tanjiro and the two demons Muzan sent to kill him, both of which have interesting abilities. One has six arms that she uses to throw temari (a kind of ball made from silk wrapped in fabric) with incredible force, while the other has a form of telekinesis that involves creating and manipulating arrows that move things in the direction they’re pointing. The two make a formidable duo, with one attacking with the temari while the other controls their trajectory with his arrows. It’s a clever fighting style that utilizes their distinct abilities, and one that poses a real threat to Tanjiro.
The sequence of Tanjiro moving around the room to dodge them is rendered almost entirely in CG, with better results than you’d expect. Ufotable’s CG is typically more fluid than most anime, and doing the entire scene that way keeps it from clashing with the 2D animation as much. Using CG for this allows for far more 3D movement than would normally be feasible in a TV anime, which adds a lot of energy to the fight.
Even once Tanjiro and his new allies get out of the confined space and start to engage the two demons for real, it’s a tough fight. Both of them are far more skilled than the other demons Tanjiro’s encountered before, and he almost seems out of his league. Even when he ultimately defeats one of them by exploiting the momentum from his arrows, it feels far closer than any of Tanjiro’s other fights, and that still leaves one enemy left. Furthermore, the two call themselves members of the Twelve Demon Moons, meaning there’s probably ten more enemies around the same level that Tanjiro’s going to have to fight eventually. This ties into Tamayo’s previous request, that he get her blood from demons close to Muzan’s level show she can continue working on a medicine to revert demons back to human. It feels a bit too much like a videogame fetch quest, but it’s still a decent way to give the plot a clear path going forward. With the way things are going, it looks like we’ll be in Tokyo for a while longer yet.
These two episodes continue to build on the strengths and weaknesses we’ve seen up till now. Demon Slayer’s plot has more or less settled into standard shonen fare, but the strong cast and flashy fight scenes keep that from dragging it down too much. Muzan, in particular, has exactly what I look for in a villain, and we’ve only just met him. If future episodes are able to keep the same air of menace around him, he might very well be the best part of the show going forward. And on the more immediate front, we’ve already gotten one engaging battle here, and there’s still one opponent left for Tanjiro and the others to deal with. If it’s anything like the first fight, then I’m 100% game for it.