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Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: Challenge Accepted and Be Careful with that Thing!

Hi everyone, and welcome to our collaboration review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21 – Against Corps Rules. Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime and I want to share out reactions and thoughts to the 21st episode. Irina will be in bold, and please be aware there will be spoilers. 

There will also be mini Nezuko. We can’t forget mini Nezuko. She’s very important.

Irina, how was your week? Any thoughts before we dive into the episode?

Let’s see… you covered mini Nezuko so it seems like the essentials are here…

Hi Crow, I hope you’re enjoying your weekend! As I hope all the readers are as well!

We can divide this episode into four sections: Challenge Accepted, A 180 Degree Turn, Mini Nezuko, and Color Me Unimpressed. We’ll start with Challenge Accepted.

Interesting, I wonder where this is going…

As the episode started, we meet a young Rui, apparently when he was a young human, trying to play in the snow. He couldn’t because his body was too frail. Pretty sad, right?

Wrong. In that moment, I was done with Rui. I’d seen him die at the end of the amazing episode 19. Then I saw him not dead and then killed again in episode 20. I don’t want to see any more Rui, okay, Demon Slayer? Let’s move on. I am absolutely not going to fall for your tricky schemes to get me to feel sorry for Rui. 

I might be wrong, but I thought I heard Demon Slayer, in a smug little voice in the back of my mind, say: “Challenge accepted!” 

Was it just me, Irina? Or were you done with Rui, too?

I liked it… I mean I liked the next scene but I also kinda liked that he isn’t dead. I want these demons to be a huge, almost insurmountable challenge.

I’m ok with the never dead bit. To be honest I didn’t understand why he died last episode. His head was still on strings, wasn’t it?

“Almost insurmountable challenge…” I like that!

So the narrative launches into touching and poignant moments from Rui’s life. How his mom was worried sick about him. How his father seemed to feel responsible. How Muzan Kibutsuji just showed up one day (looking less like Michael Jackson than he does now) and said something along the lines of “Hey, little weak dude, I can fix that!”

Next thing you know, little Rui was eating people. Kids grow up so fast! His parents, predictably, were upset and near the end of their ropes. So one night, his mom weeping beside his sleeping form, his dad raised a knife to kill him.

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: Murzan showed up one day to "heal" Rui

They really should teach kids not to trust men who show up in the middle of the night with glowing red eyes. It’s a bit of a giveaway, isn’t it? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Well, even then, little Rui had a temper, and he killed both his mom and dad in a fit of rage. He reasoned that if they wanted to kill him, their family bond must have been weak or a joke. Uncle Muzan was proud of him and said he should feel proud of himself, but as he pondered that, he heard his mom speak. Though surrounded by a pool of blood, she was only mostly dead. And all joking aside, she said she was sorry. He didn’t understand her, and it got worse when she said she was sorry she had given him such a weak body. That chilled his anger enough for him to remember what his dad had said as he tried to plunge the knife into his son.

His dad had been saying they’d follow him quickly into death. The family was going to die together. In that instant, he realized that their family bond had been real, and he had been the one to destroy it. “I couldn’t bear the weight of what I’d done,” he said in spite of Muzan’s encouraging words.

But, I stayed strong. I wasn’t ready to give in. How about you, Irina? Or did your keen eye for character prepare you for this?

Eye… forget it, I was ballin’ the second his mom started worrying about him. Also, he seemed sort of sweet and weak. I’m a sucker for a nice boy. The idea that this Rui would eventually turn into the monster we’ve gotten to know was painfully fascinating. But it of course made perfect sense.

Of course this broken and scared little boy would spend the rest of his life trying to put back together the family he’d shattered. They did want to kill him, he was defending himself. Children can’t always understand. But Rui did love his parents, so much so that he spent the rest of eternity trying to find them again even after he had long forgotten them.

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: Rui was shocked at his mother's last words

Rui was unprepared for his mom’s dying apology. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

He was nostalgic for a past he no longer knew.

It was particularly cruel because Muzan actually tried to help in his way. Because his parents were doing what they thought was best. Because Rui reacted as most people would. It was horrible because it was so predictable.

Yushiro was turned by Tamayo in very similar circumstances but she took care of him. Rui simply didn’t have that. The difference is quite striking.

Support is important, isn’t it? 

I said I stayed strong, but I was a little shaky. I could feel my facade crumbling. Rui’s head had fallen so he could see Tanjirou collapsed with Nezuko. Rui’s body, already starting to turn to ash, was stumbling towards the pair. “I missed my parents so much that I could barely stand it,” Rui thought as his body collapsed, its outstretched arm falling short by inches. 

Tanjirou’s super powered sense of smell told him that Rui’s body was “giving off the scent of a grief too overwhelming for him to bear.” And Tanjirou, proving once again he’s too good and pure for this world (and is, I have said before, I think he’s the combat form of Tooru Honda), placed his hand on Rui’s back.

The gesture triggered Rui’s memory. He remembered that he had wanted to apologize to his mother and father. Realizing that he had killed so many people he was likely going to hell, he despaired, realizing he could never go to the same place they were going.

Remember that quiet and smug little voice I heard earlier? It laid its trump card on the table. In his vision — and I don’t know if this was “reality” or Rui’s dying imagination — his father placed his hand on Rui’s shoulder and said, “We’ll be going together even if it’s to Hell.”

He was incredulous. Turning, he saw his mother, who said, “No matter where you go, we’ll be with you.”

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: Demon Slayer managed to humanize even Rui

Dang it, Demon Slayer! You got me again! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

And that damned smug little voice wasn’t done. Rui’s white hair turned black, and the spider whites and reds vanished from his face. Collapsing into a family group hug, he tearfully apologized to them as his body and head finally disappeared into ash.

They got me. Again. Irina, how’d you fare?

Bawling like a baby. I was already sniffling but man… That was it, it was all over.

Demon Slayer has been going out of its way to humanize the demons with each death, but this time, I almost forgot that Rui was a monster. He was. It’s a good thing they stopped him.

“Almost forgot that Rui was a monster…” Because of Tanjirou’s mercy, in that instant, I had forgotten, too. Rui was just a little boy, scared, reunited with his loving parents.

Now we move into the 180 Degree Turn. Giyuu was, as we’ve seen, was quite a bit less sympathetic to the plight of demons than Tanjirou. The two of them got into a bit of an argument over it. At one point, Giyuu looks down and saw Nezuko. The recognition shocked him. Until that moment, he didn’t know this was the young man whose sister had been turned into a demon — a demon who had protected her brother! 

Even as he recalled their first meeting, he saw butterflies — and knew Shinobu Kochou was coming. Sure enough, she came flying in, literally, and Giyuu had to deflect her sword slash aimed at Nezuko.

Let me say that again.

She was trying to kill Nezuko! Last week, she was becoming one of my favorite characters. This week? She just committed an act of war!

Irina, what did you think of that moment?

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: Well, Shinobu's off my Christmas list after trying to kill Nezuko

Really, Shinobu? You tried to slash Nezuko? What is the matter with you? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I though, hmm Crow’s new favorite character is trying to murder Crow’s old favourite character. Wonder how he feels about it. 

Considering how Shinobu has been portrayed so far, it would be a bit of a betrayal to her character to make her reconcile with Nezuko. So the two aren’t likely to be sharing much screen time together.

Considering how protective the fandom is of Nezuko, I also wondered at large what the reaction would be. I will never know as I don’t socialize…

What is this “socialize” you speak of? Does it have alcoholic content? 

In that same upbeat, bright, and seemingly innocent voice, she asked Giyuu why he’d protected a demon. She immediately made it personal, too, saying that he had just got done telling her they could never be friends with demons, and yet here he was defending one. That’s why no one liked him!

She asked him to step aside. He said that he was not… disliked by people. Even Tanjirou, as injured and as worried about Nezuko as he was, caught the disconnect. That was what Giyuu was worried about?

Seeing she was getting nowhere with Giyuu, Shinobu tried to tell Tanjirou he was protecting a demon — as if he didn’t know! Trying to explain that she was his sister, Shinobu feigned (okay, it may have been genuine, but she tried to kill Nezuko, so I’m not cutting her any slack) sympathy and said, “I shall use a gentle toxin to kill her so she won’t suffer, all right?”

I’m pretty sure you can guess Tanjirou’s reaction. Giyuu’s reaction bordered on terrifying. “Can you move?” he asked Tanjirou. “Make yourself move even if you can’t move. Take your sister and run.”

I must say, I felt proud of Giyuu. He was standing up for Tanjirou and Nezuko against Shinobu. What did you think of his reaction, Irina?

I loved that Giyuu is a bit of an insecure dork. Not only did it suddenly give him a lot of personality, and make the character way more relatable — but it lightened the episode a lot. Good use of character development.

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: Giyuu gets points for trying to protect Tanjirou and Nezuko

Giyuu gets major points in my book for going out on a limb to protect Tanjirou and Nezuko. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Giyuu has in fact been protecting Nezuko (reluctantly) from the start. I wasn’t surprised that he would stand up for them now that they have proven themselves a bit. 

What was surprising was to see just how easily and immediately slayer turned on slayer. I hope we find out more about the inner workings of the corp.

There’re some cracks in their cohesion, aren’t there? That’s interesting. 

Now we’re getting closer to the promised Mini Nezuko. And yes, it’s as adorable as it sounds. Tanjirou picks up Nezuko and runs, but he’s in complete agony. He has no idea what’s around him. He can only run and run and run. As he does, we caught sight of someone following him. Someone wearing a Demon Slayer shirt, a cape, and a skirt. It can’t be Shinobu, for two reasons. First, she doesn’t wear a skirt.

Second, she’s fighting Giyuu, and for the first time since we’ve met her, her smile’s gone. She looks serious! She and Giyuu seem evenly matched, so she says doesn’t have time to waste with him, and leaps into the canopy to follow Tanjirou and Nezuko. She’s nimble. Running on the ground, Giyuu could barely keep up! She made a mistake, though. She took the time to taunt him. Judging by the look on her face, she didn’t know that Giyuu could jump so well!

Meanwhile, someone crashed onto Tanjirou’s back. It was Kanao Tsuyuri, one of the Demon Slayers who had survived the night on demon mountain with Tanjirou and Zenitsu back in episode 5. She had crashed into Tanjirou so hard that he’d dropped Nezuko. Now, she prepared to decapitate his sister!

Tanjirou managed to grab Kanao’s cape (I can just hear Edna Mode: “No capes!”), which made her swing go wild. He screamed for Nezuko to run, and she did. Before Tanjirou could do anything else, Kanao knocked him out and sprinted after Nezuko.

She caught up to the exhausted demon quickly, but as she swung, Nezuko shrank, turning herself into a harder target. She was really fast, too! 

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: Mini Nezuko raises the bar for cuteness

I present to you: Mini Nezuko! She’s even more cute in action. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, what did you think of mini Nezuko?

It was the most adorable thing ever. Although, I’m just an all around Nezuko fan. I know she’s basically just a collection of tropes that are appealing to young men but it works for me too, what can I say?

I am afraid of butterflies though so these latest two slayers are less to my particular tastes.

I thought the sounds of her little breathing were hilarious!

The fighting on both fronts came to an end when the Crows showed up (we often break up parties, but it’s usually by accident!) and announced that Tanjirou and Nezuko are to be apprehended and brought back to headquarters. Good thing, too — Giyuu and Shinobu’s fight was getting dangerous. 

Now we come to Color Me Unimpressed part. Tanjirou’s jarred awake, and he’s surprised to find himself face down with his arms tied behind his back. Standing over him are 7 figures, one of whom is Shinobu. One of the minion Demon Slayers tells him he’s in the presence of the “Hashiras.”

The music swelled. The minion was annoyed with Tanjirou for not waking up sooner. Apparently, they’re supposed to be a big deal.

Color me unimpressed. If these people are so freaking great, why did they force an unhealed Tanjirou to lay face down with arms bound — after everything he’s done? 

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: The Hashiras would have been more impressive if they would have treated Tanjirou better

You know, I’d be a lot more impressed with these people if they hadn’t ordered a battered and broken Tanjirou be brought to them bound — before he was even treated. I think I’m quite cross with them in fact. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, what was your take?

I was surprised they let him live and didn’t immediately execute him or throw him in a cell. Harboring a demon all this time. Colluding with two more. Constantly showing visible signs of attachment to them. Using slayer resources to help his sister… That’s gotta be treason, right?

Giyuu may be in trouble too. We didn’t see him and I think he should be part of the group.

I wonder where Zenitsu and Inosuke are…

All good points. Makes me wonder about the Demon Slayer chain of command. Who supervises the Tanjirous of the world? Just turning kids like that loose doesn’t seem like a great idea…

You know, until I saw the rising sun hit her back, I could have sworn Shinobu was a demon. It was a combination of her eyes and her adoration of torture, I guess. But no, she’s one of the Hashira (which we knew from a previous episode). She just acts like a demon.

Maybe you just wanted her to be because of your soft spot for demons… You are so Tanjirou like!

I’m only like Tanjirou in my dreams! But I do admit that the older I get, the more mercy appeals to me. 

And now we wait another week!

Reviews of the Other Episodes

9 thoughts on “Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 21: Challenge Accepted and Be Careful with that Thing!

    1. I’ve been avoiding reading the manga so as not to spoil any surprises! So I think I’ll just keep waiting. It’s not easy, though!

  1. For a fun little fact, I wish Hashira was translated, but it literally means Piller. So they are the Pillars of the Demon Slayer Corps.

    1. “So they are the Pillars of the Demon Slayer Corps.”

      Cool!

      I’m interested to see how they treat Tanjirou and Nezuko. One thing’s for sure: Tanjirou can’t fight them on his own. I hope they can come to some kind of agreement…

  2. So, I felt nothing for Rui. Nothing at all. Like you initial impression I was over it and stayed that way.

    As for Shinobu, it’s worth remembering that Giyu tried to kill Nezuko the first time they met. It’s unreasonable to expect a Demon Slayer to not have that as their first instinct. Who knows what blood magic the demon has?

    I’m going to anger the Nezuko fan-club here but I also didn’t care for mini Nezuko one bit. I like demon Nezuko with claws and teeth.

    And finally, with the crows bringing information back to the leader all the time, they had to already know about Nezuko so this all seems over blown and nothing will come of it.

    1. “As for Shinobu, it’s worth remembering that Giyu tried to kill Nezuko the first time they met. It’s unreasonable to expect a Demon Slayer to not have that as their first instinct. Who knows what blood magic the demon has?”

      If I put on my leadership hat, I have to admit that you’re right. But if I try to see things from Tanjirou’s perspective, I find it’s easy to go all in. I’ve bought into his vision of demons and his mission to save Nezuko. Do you know what removed my last inhibitions? When he said he wouldn’t hesitate to strike if humans were in danger. I advocate for sympathy, but I’m not blind to one of the dangers!

      “I also didn’t care for mini Nezuko one bit. I like demon Nezuko with claws and teeth.”

      It was just so unexpectedly adorable that yes, I fell for it. And yes, I recognize it was designed with that kind of reaction in mind. Irina is right when she says Nezuko is mostly a set of tropes. I still like her character even while I hope we see more development.

      “they had to already know about Nezuko so this all seems over blown and nothing will come of it.”

      I’ve come to trust your instincts on plot developments. If they didn’t bring him back for Nezuko, I’m curious why they did bring him back. And like Irina asked, where’s Giyuu in the final shot? Shouldn’t he be with them?

      1. It’s possible that Giyu is telling the leader the two year story he was about to tell Shinobu…

        I like Nezuko when she bursts out of boxes and kicks demon’s heads clean off.

        It also seemed odd that after the crows made the announcement, she just crouched down next to the demon she was trying to kill only seconds ago and calmly asked ‘her are you Nezuko?’

        I really like this show, but every now and then they seem to do odd little things like this. Talking of odd things it was nice to see Zenitsu’s new form – mummy-boy!

        1. “Talking of odd things it was nice to see Zenitsu’s new form – mummy-boy!”

          He was much quieter, wasn’t he?

          I’m hoping that’s a trend.

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