Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 26 Review

Originally published on The Fandom Post

What They Say:
New Mission

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This may be Demon Slayer’s final episode, but with a movie sequel confirmed, the story is far from over. Since it doesn’t need to tie up any loose plot threads now, this episode is able to completely focus on setting the stage for the movie, which it does beautifully. Across the board, this episode showcases so many of Demon Slayer’s best aspects, with virtually none of the flaws. A lot of why that is comes down to one character: Muzan.

It’s been a while since we last saw him, but he still steals the show as much as ever. His meeting with the lower ranks of the Twelve Kizuki is nail-bitingly tense as he starts murdering them one by one for any perceived slight. Muzan never once raises his voice, which only makes his sudden bursts of violence even more shocking. His declaration that he’s the one who determines what’s true is yet another reminder that, however composed he might seem, Muzan is still a fundamentally twisted person. Equally striking is how easily he murders his subordinates. These are lower ranking Twelve Kizuki, the same as Rui, and yet he’s dispatching them like they’re ordinary humans. That, combined with his comment that the upper ranks are strong enough to kill Hashiras, gives a lot of perspective to what we’ve seen so far. For as strong as the lower ranks are, there are still enemies far above them.

Beyond Muzan’s sheer presence, the animation and direction for that scene is top notch even by Demon Slayer’s standards. The building they’re speaking in, which seems to have been created by another demon’s ability, looks like something straight out of an M.C. Escher painting, with twisting staircases, disorienting architecture, and seemingly no consistent gravity. It’s the perfect setting for such a disturbing scene, and the show makes the absolute most out of it with slow pans to create a sense of unease, punctuated by tight close-ups to highlight characters’ reactions. When one of the Twelve Kizuki tries running, the camera tracks him as he jumps and dashes through the house, making perfect use of Ufotable’s high-quality CGI backgrounds.

The rest of the episode is dedicated to setting up the next arc for the movie, which looks like it’s going to involve Tanjiro and co. fighting a demon on a train, as well as dealing with the surviving lower rank Twelve Kizuki, who was enhanced with Muzan’s blood. The train looks to be a cool set-piece for a battle, particularly now that all of our heroes are back together. Rengoku, the Flame Hashira, is also going to be involved somehow, so we might even get some answers about the nature of Tanjiro’s Fire Breathing style.

Even the comedy, which has typically been Demon Slayer’s weak point, is on point this time. Inosuke trying to pick a fight with a train because he thinks it’s the top beast of the area is downright hilarious, as is Tanjiro’s suggestion that it might be a benevolent creature. Zenitsu has to be the voice of reason this time, which reinforces how much better the humor is when these three can bounce off each other rather than leaving it all to Zenitsu.

The one other scene of note is Tanjiro’s conversation with Kanao where he learns about her coin, which ends up being rougher than the rest of the episode. His solution to her inability to act on her own desires is to just flip the coin to have her decide if she’s going to do so from now on, which feels a little too simplistic an answer for a character with such deep trauma. To the show’s credit, Kanao doesn’t completely turn around after this, but it is framed as a major moment. Hopefully subsequent arcs will build on this to let her develop more gradually rather than having Tanjiro come in and fix everything instantly. Still, it’s only a minor blot on an otherwise excellent episode.

In Summary:

Though I’ve had my criticisms of Demon Slayer, this episode reinforces all of the things that originally drew me to the show. It’s likable cast, menacing atmosphere, and stellar villain are a welcome reminder of what Demon Slayer can be at its best. With this much improvement in one go, I’m optimistic for the movie and whatever comes after that. Demon Slayer can be inconsistent at times, true, but it also has these flashes of potential that keep me hopeful. It may fall short of the top-tier shonen like My Hero Academia and The Promised Neverland, but Demon Slayer is still a fun watch that I’d solidly recommend to anyone in the mood for a good shonen.

Grade: A-

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