What They Say:
The House with the Wisteria Family Crest and Mount Natagumo
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
You know, I wish Demon Slayer would stop shooting itself in the foot. I’ve enjoyed most of it, so it’s frustrating to see it continually repeat the same mistakes. I’m speaking, of course, of Zenitsu. His heroism at the end of episode 13 gave me some hope that he’s starting to improve, but episode 14 goes right back to the same tired gag. I don’t like beating this dead horse so much, but it needs to be said: Zenitsu is annoying. His core gag wore out its welcome long ago, and is now just an anchor weighing the show down. Scene after scene of him getting scared (usually at nothing) and yelling made episode 14 a tedious watch, which is the last thing you want for a denouement episode, since the idea is to give the audience and the characters a chance to relax after the main conflict is done. It’s hard to relax and enjoy the characters’ interactions when one of them is shouting constantly and generally being an irritant. I’m sure he’ll have some purpose in the narrative later on, but for now Zenitsu is far and away Demon Slayer’s biggest weakness.
It’s not all bad, though. These two episodes also give Inosuke a chance to establish himself, and his quite a bit better than Zenitsu. He’s just as one-note, true, but the crucial difference is that he’s actually funny. His single-mindedness and general obsession with fighting make him a good character for Tanjiro to bounce off of. Inosuke continually acts belligerently and tries to provoke Tanjiro, but Tanjiro’s so nice that he completely misses that and tries to help out. Maybe it’s just the relative lack of yelling, but I found Inosuke’s gags to be much funnier and generally less annoying than Zenitsu’s. It’s also nice to be reminded what a good boy Tanjiro is, so there’s that too.
Episode 14’s other highlight is the brief fight between Tanjiro and Inosuke, which marks Demon Slayer’s first outright fistfight. The choreography is downright excellent, particularly on Inosuke’s side. Even before Tanjiro points it out, you can tell that he relies on a lot of low blows and his near-superhuman flexibility, which complements his strength as well. Ufotable’s animation gives every blow, from both of them, real weight that lets you feel how strong both Tanjiro and Inosuke must be. All in all, it’s surprisingly good for a relatively minor fight.
Thankfully, episode 15 is an improvement over episode 14’s over-emphasis on Zenitsu, and features the start of a new mission that’s already showing some intriguing threads (pun intended). The spider demon’s ability to control the other Demon Slayers like puppets is one of the creepiest yet, particularly in the dark forest where our heroes find themselves fighting. Unlike the others, it seems that she prefers to control her opponents like puppets rather than engage directly, although the hints that she might be part of the Twelve Kizuki mean she’s likely a formidable fighter in her own right.
It’s also looking like she’s not Tanjiro and Inosuke’s only opponent, since she seems to have other demons who look to her as a mother. There’s potential here for Demon Slayer to draw parallels between Tanjiro’s devotion to his family and the spider demon’s children, who also seem to care for her. It’s too early to say if that’s where things are going, but it could be an interesting idea that would give the arc more thematic weight than just another demon of the week.
Zenitsu is thankfully given a more secondary role here, as well as a bit of variety in his jokes. His crush on Nezuko, while not particularly original, is actually kind of funny, particularly with Tanjiro’s reaction to Zenitsu chasing after a confused Nezuko. To me, this is a sign that Zenitsu can work as comic relief as long as the show uses him in moderation and comes up with new jokes every now and then. Though his whining and yelling returns in the second half of the episode, it’s still nowhere near as frequent as before, so at least there’s progress.
If this review seems a little shorter than usual, it’s because there’s not as much to talk about. I don’t want to spend too much time beating the dead horse that is Zenitsu, and he’s a big part of these two episodes. Though episode 15 was a marked improvement, Zenitsu remains the show’s biggest weakness. Inosuke, on the other hand, is turning out to be a solid addition to the cast. I generally enjoyed his interactions with Tanjiro, and it looks like he’ll be around for a while yet. Demon Slayer still has room to bounce back, so long as it goes back to emphasizing its strengths rather than its weaknesses.