What They Say:
Master of the Mansion
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Demon Slayer entering its final stretch, I was hoping for a little more momentum than we got here. True, introducing the Hashiras is important since at least some of them seem poised to play a larger role later on, but what we get here is about half an episode’s worth of content stretched out into a full episode. Demon Slayer has had this problem before, and it’s exacerbated here since the content being stretched out isn’t especially engaging for the most part.
The chief issue is that, by introducing so many of the Hashiras at once, none of the new characters are able to stand out the way Shinobu and Giyu were. Most of their dialogue ends up being “here is my quirk” lines that mostly serve to give them a quirk the audience can latch onto rather than make them feel like real characters. There’s the creepy snake guy, the energetic guy, the woman who falls in love with everyone, the guy who just stares at clouds, etc. Most of the dialogue amounts to various asides and arguing over what to do with Tanjiro and Nezuko, which is important, but not substantial enough to take up the majority of an episode.
More interesting than the Hashiras is our introduction to the leader of the Corps, a man the Hashiras refer to as The Master. In spite of his soft-spoken demeanor and apparent frailty, even the Hashiras stop their bickering and bow as soon as he arrives. There’s clearly more to him than meets the eye if people like that are willing to bow to him, and we get a sense of his leadership as much from what he doesn’t do as what he does. Even though he speaks in Tanjiro’s defense and says he’s allowing the siblings to go free, he also doesn’t react when one of the Hashiras refuses to accept his order and decides to “test” Nezuko by tempting her with his blood. It seems like The Master might also have doubts, and is addressing them by simply allowing his subordinate to act as he wishes.
The test in question serves as the climax of this episode, with decidedly mixed results. I like the idea of Nezuko having her demonic nature challenged and being forced to control herself and hold on to her humanity, but the entire concept is undermined by her lack of presence in the previous couple of arcs. If we’d seen her struggling and overcoming her demonic desires throughout the series (much like we did in episode 1), this would be a great capstone to a story arc. As is, though, she hasn’t been active enough in the story to really earn this climax, and the memory of Urokodaki’s hypnosis robs it of much of its impact. This one unnecessary plot point continues to be a sticking point that undermines Nezuko’s character and struggles, and it’s damn frustrating. All the ingredients for a compelling storyline are here, Demon Slayer just refuses to use them properly.
If this review seems shorter than usual, it’s because there’s just not a lot to talk about. The main purpose of this episode, to introduce the upper echelons of the Corps and set up Nezuko’s challenge for next week, could have been accomplished in half an episode without much difficulty. I can only assume it’s being dragged out so the season can end at a certain point, which doesn’t exactly make for a great watch. Even so, there are enough solid ideas here, particularly involving Nezuko’s challenge and The Master’s introduction, that I’m hoping the next episode picks up more and Demon Slayer is able to stick the landing.