Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 20 Review

Originally published on The Fandom Post

What They Say:
Pretend Family

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Well, color me surprised. I thought Rui was done for after last week’s climactic scene, but it looks like he still had one trick left to play. Using his threads to cut off his own head is a clever ploy since it’s easy to forget that even beheadings can’t kill demons unless it’s done by a special sword. I was concerned that the show had made things too easy for Tanjiro, so it comes as a relief to see that he still has a lot of improving to do before he’s able to compete with the elites of his world. Giyu also gets another chance to show off what he can do, and doesn’t disappoint. The way he effortlessly cuts through Rui’s threads and dispatches him is awe-inspiring after the last two episodes spent so much time building up Rui’s strength. The Hashira ranked Slayers are clearly a cut above everyone else, so it’ll be interesting to see where the anime goes now that we’ve seen what the top fighters can do.

Shinobu also gets a chance to shine here, and turns out to be even more intimidating than Giyu. Her fight (if something so one-sided can even be called one) against Rui’s sister demonstrates both how strong Shinobu is compared to an average demon, and how twisted she is. Her graceful movements and soft voice give her an almost ethereal air, which makes her talk of torturing the demon (whose name we never learn) all the more unnerving. She seems to be sincere about wanting to be “friends,” but her conception of friendship looks to be as twisted as Rui’s idea of family. Her poisoned blade fits perfectly with her deceptively gentle personality; it seems harmless to demons because of its lack of an edge, but the poison on the tip makes it a far crueler way of killing than a simple beheading. Shinobu’s portion of the episode is far and away the most compelling, so hopefully, she’ll be more of a regular from here on.

On the other hand, Rui’s sister’s flashbacks, which take up the bulk of the episode, are far more hit and miss. The individual parts work, particularly its portrayal of how fear of Rui drove her to betray one of her “sisters” to Rui out of fear and self-preservation, but it starts to show cracks when viewed in context. It doesn’t do much to flesh out Rui’s character since the idea that he built his “family” as a way to try and recapture his memories of his real family, while interesting, doesn’t get explored enough to leave much of an impact, and the fact that his sister ends up dying by the end of the episode makes it feel like yet another example of Demon Slayer giving a character a backstory for the sole purpose of making their death feel more tragic. It’s a real shame since the way she was introduced as more of a victim than a killer gave me hope that she’d turn into more of a character than the demons we’ve seen so far. Unfortunately, now she’s just one more entry in a series of wasted characters. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but Demon Slayer needs to stop developing its villains and killing them off before there’s any kind of payoff. It’s frustrating, and one of the main issues holding the show back from what it could be.

In Summary:

Though I have misgivings about how Demon Slayer treats its villains, this was still an overall solid episode to end the current arc with. Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke have all gotten their chance to shine, so now its time for the Hashiras to mop up what’s left. Seeing Shinobu and Giyu in action makes it clear just where Tanjiro and his friends fall compared to the elites, and it looks like they all have a long way to go. Though the choppy writing is still holding it back from being anything special, Demon Slayer’s action and cast are enough to keep it entertaining. As we’re starting to enter the home stretch, I’m curious to see how they choose to end the season and whether it ends up getting another one to continue the story. Flawed as it is, I’m still enjoying my time with Demon Slayer, and it’d be a shame if the story is left hanging.

Grade: B

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