Anime

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 5 – A Cool Sidekick and the First Mission

In honor of the time-tested traditions of shonen anime, I almost feel like I should spend the first few paragraphs recapping the previous episode. After all, that’s what we got before the OP in this episode! But I can feel you recoil even from here, so I think instead I’ll opt to welcome you to the collaboration review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba episode 5, “My Own Steel.” I’ll be in plain ordinary text this week and Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime will be in bold type.

Irina, any opening thoughts about this episode?

Demon Slayer continues to be just a pure decadent feast for the eyes. The technical merits might end up overshadowing the story but the narrative is holding its own. It’s predictable and cliché to be sure, but it has tons of heart and this episode opened up a lot of questions that are going to be interesting to answer.

This episode was all about endings and beginnings. Some were easy to see ahead of time. Others were a little more of a surprise. Plus, we get a cool new sidekick that I immediately liked for reasons that’ll be clear in a moment. Let’s dive in!

There will be spoilers, so please be cautious! All the spoilers!

And speaking of spoilers, here’s one if you haven’t seen episode 4 or 5: Tanjiro defeated the demon that had murdered too many of Sakonji Urokodaki’s disciples. That included Makomo and Sabito, whose deal souls had taught Tanjiro how to slice the boulder with his sword. After the flashback and opening song, the monstrosity of a demon began to burn away, just as we’ve seen others burn away. As it did so, it muttered, “How did it come to this?”

I’m thinking, “Crap. I don’t want to know about this monster’s past! Let it be a monster so I can feel good about it dying!” Am I a terrible person for that, Irina?

Yes Crow…yes you are!

Creating conflicted villains to play with the audience’s feelings and perceptions is a staple. Personally though, I find very few stories manage to pull it off properly.

At the end of the day, no matter how sad a childhood you had, you still ended up murdering a whole bunch of kids. Their childhoods weren’t all that great either thanks to you. It’s very easy to get on my nerves when a narrative suddenly wants my to feel sympathy for some monster just cause they had a bad day.

You are not that bad a person Crow!

That’s a relief — kinda! I guess I could always be worse!

But again showing that he shares a lot of good traits with Allen Walker from D.Gray-man, Tanjiro took pity on the demon’s soul. To help us understand how Tanjiro could do that, we got a flashback to the demon just after it had become demonized. The little boy wept because his brother was not there to hold his hand — because he had killed his brother. “Why on earth did I bite you to death, Big Brother?” he asked. The memory was a shock to the demon, who had apparently buried those memories. So, okay, that scene made me feel a tiny grudging sorrow. The little boy hadn’t aspired to become a demon. We’ve seen how demons are made!

How morally strong does Tanjiro have to be to have compassion even for this demon? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’ve only read D.Gray-man and I’m not sure how faithful the anime is. The manga (which I haven’t finished but I read a lot of it and plan to continue) was harsh. To the point where I would regularly need to set it aside. It was a bleak and cruel story. It had this sharp almost hopeless tone to it and it carved out a place in my mind. I think back to it often. I liked it quite a lot.

And yet, despite the harshness, Allen remained Allen. Now I want to go rewatch it again…

Although to me Demon Slayer is a completely different animal at its core. It’s hopeful and bright. The reasoning is naively optimistic and the motivations almost unbelievably pure, unlike the constant choosing of lesser evils in D.Gray-man. I still do see those similarities you are talking about.

Urokodaki may not be Cross Marian (one of my favourite mentor characters) but he is still a powerful warrior slowly being crushed under the weight of tragedy and guilt. They have that same slightly haunted look. They bear their curses stoically, not letting the pain show, as warriors do.

And both stories do remind us that people don’t start out bad. Demon Slayer is much more black and white, but it is avoiding flat, unknowable evil.

Maybe that’s why this scene made me remember the Blast-Ended Skrewts that Hagrid had raised in the Harry Potter series. They were dangerous. They were ugly. They would harm anyone they could for pretty much any reason. But that was their nature. Hagrid understood that. His understand informed how he thought of them and how he treated them. Are demons that much different? Well, sure, it’s their nature to consume human flesh, but we’re starting to see with Nezuko, there are demons, and there are demons.

But I’m off track. Tanjiro proved how much better he is than I am (morally, at least) by clasping the demon’s fingers even as its body disintegrated. And he prayed that the soul’s next reincarnation would not be as a demon. We see the boy reunited with his brother, even if was only in his dying imagination.

Praying for his enemy? He’s strong… Crunchyroll stream.

In the space of 6 minutes, the show made me feel sorry for the demon. What did you think of that point, Irina?

I mentioned up there that for me, stories don’t manage to pull off humanizing their monsters too often. Well, this one did.

Maybe it was the juxtaposition. Tanjiro looks so much like the young Urokodaki that I got confused for a second. But then, as the flashback progressed, that young boy started to look like Tanjiro as well. Especially once he started turning and his hair got wild.

It really spelled it out for us that had Tanjiro just gotten home a few hours earlier in that first episode, this boy could have been him. He could just as easily have slipped into this existence. Doing what he could to survive, spurred on by hunger and blood lust.

But to me, the most devastating moment was seeing the young demon forgetting that he had a brother. That lost little boy, finally losing the most important part of himself. It’s a good thing I’m such a strong girl or I would be a sobbing mess right now.

And Tanjiro gave that memory back to him. He’s turning out to be quite the hero!

That was the first ending. Now we come to the second, and the first was merely a prelude. In the mists, perhaps even in his mind’s eye, Tanjiro sees many children with masks like his. Makomo was in the crowd standing around the boulder. Sabito was sitting on top of the bolder, which was still split in two. They were surrounded by mist. Freed from the demon’s clutches, their souls could now rest. Sabito was the first to leave. The others turned and walked away, one by one, until only Makomo remained. Then she, too, turned and walked away into the mist.

He’s not even a demon hunter yet, and he’s having that kind of impact on the world!

This shot was eerie and melancholy and heart-breaking, all at once. Crunchyroll stream.

I particularly enjoyed Tanjiro’s inner monologue here. More specifically, he was saying how they would go back to Urokodaki, who they loved and how, if he had fallen there as well, he would be joining them. It was a slightly wistful line. Said without fear or even pain. A simple statement of who Tanjiro had become and how, despite everything, he had found a home again. One he could haunt.

It might sound grim, but I found it comforting.

Grim comfort is better than no comfort.

Now, a beginning. Remember how Tanjiro vowed to Giyuu Tomioka that he would find a way to turn Nezuko human again? And how Giyuu said he’d have to beat that information out of the demons? Well, killing the monstrosity still left Tanjiro with the mission to stay alive on the mountain. A mountain crammed full of demons. He took the opportunity to try to question them. He tricked one into running to some vines, but it completely ignored his questions. So did the rest of them that he encountered. He gave it a try, but no plan survives contact with the enemy, and Tanjiro learned that he’s going to have to modify his tactics. Great quote

At the end of the test, only four candidates remained. Of course, Tanjiro made it (otherwise, it’d be a pretty short series unless it turns into the Adventures of Nezuko). I suspect the other three represent the beginning of long relationships. I don’t say friendships, because one of them, Genya Shinazugawa (who I declare to be Angry Man) immediately started making demands of the two charming guides who had welcomed them to the exam. It got to the point where he physically assaulted one of them.

Irina, did you expect the guides to take some action? Like maybe vaporize him?

I actually found it creepier that they did nothing. Not even flinch. Considering the ordeal of the final selection, and the type of people drawn to a life of endless killing, I have to assume this happens a lot. I don’t know what those twins are, but I’m going to bet human is not it.

On a technical level, I really liked how her hair remained all disheveled even after he let her go.

They were just scary beings.

Irina’s right — her hair is still messed up. Angry Man had to be an advanced level of stupid to mess with a being like that! Crunchyroll stream.

Fortunately, Tanjiro stepped in and told Angry that if he didn’t unhand the charming guide, Tanjiro would break his arm. And what did Angry say? “Let’s see you try it!”

So Tanjiro did.

Tanjiro’s a good guy, so he built pressure slowly until Angry realized that yes, he was about to feel both his radius and ulna snap, and that he’d probably need them given the line of work he was in. He wisely decided to unhand the charming guide.

I wonder what path led him to store up so much anger?

Another character who I think is going to very interesting is Kanao Tsuyuri. Serene and quiet, she just observed the proceedings and didn’t seem inclined to take any actions. She had a butterfly hair tie; she also seemed to attract actual butterflies. Wearing a pink kimono, you’d think she was just some random little girl, or maybe a daughter of nobility. Yet, there she was, untouched, smiling, while Tanjiro and Angry (and the other survivor who I’ll talk about in a second) were disheveled and dirty. And she’s survived the same ordeal they had.

I had to wonder, just how powerful is she?

What kind of vibe did you get from her, Irina?

I actually wrote down the exact same thing “Why is this girl pristine?”. And that smile. I don’t trust her. Maybe I’m being catty but there’s something going on here and I don’t know what it is.

Also, no matter how you look at it, dozens of children just got slaughtered. Sure, you’re glad to have survived but you shouldn’t be acting as if you were attending a pleasant Sunday afternoon picnic either. She’s going to do a heel turn, I’m calling it based on nothing.

The other survivor will shape up and be a good ally though. I’m calling that based on the OP.

She just came from a harrowing battle. She looks like she came from a spa! That ain’t right! Crunchyroll stream.

I think the OP counts as evidence! Also, he seems more honest, which is a great way to introduce who might be my favorite secondary character, Zenitsu Agatsuma. He’s a skittish young man. He jumps at the slightest sound. Even standing before the two charming guides, he said “Even if I survive now, I’m gonna die in the end anyway!”

I have to respect someone who, in spite of knowing he’s going to die, in spite of being afraid of his own shadow, remains in the fight. That’s real bravery, it is!

I agree, although here they seemed to be playing it a bit like PTSD. Which would be a reasonable reaction to the circumstances. I am reserving judgement on this kid. The character design is great though. Yellow for cowardice and all that!

I have a feeling they may end up using this kid as a comedy relief which could rob him of proper development. We’ll see, though.

Remember that I mentioned cool sidekicks? Well, get this: They all get a Kasugai Crow! Yes, a Crow! I could not be more proud. It’s always nice when a series acknowledges the innate greatness of the Corvidae family.

Crows are fascinating creatures with complex and interesting behaviour patterns. Some of the smartest birds out there. Too bad they grow up to be so guarded and skittish. I bet they could be socialized into making great companions if they were raised from birth alongside humans. I’m going to assume that’s what happened here.

You are absolutely right! Circumstance drives them into anti-social behaviors. At our core — ahem, at their core — they are very social creatures!

Tanjiro didn’t know what to do with his. Angry tried to shoo his off. Kanao started petting hers; obviously, she’s a young woman of refined taste! And poor Zenitsu didn’t get a Crow. He got a sparrow instead! Not that there’s anything wrong with sparrows. They’re great little creatures! But they aren’t Crows…

There’s nothing wrong with a sparrow! I mean, it’s not a crow, sure, but other than that… Crunchyroll stream.

This was a great touch!

We also got one of those cryptic unknown character scenes as we saw someone from the back learn of the results of the selection from what I assume is their crow. It seemed like they were a higher up in the organization, maybe even that secret leader of the demon slayers as they referred to the survivors as their children. I say they because although I think it was a man, I’m not entirely sure.

But more, much much more, interestingly. They said that there were 5 survivors. Did I dream that? Who is the 5th?

I noticed that — and am no closer to an answer. Interesting little plot thread, isn’t it?

Now we come to part of the show I didn’t really get. We see Tanjiro returning home, but he can barely walk. His head is bandaged. He’s using a walking stick. He even falls over in exhaustion. Irina, do you think he was just exhausted from the ordeal on the mountain?

I think it was a combination of that and a release of pressure. You know, when you’ve been running on high stress for a long time and it suddenly gets lifted. It takes a while to process but when you do, everything just sort falls.

That makes sense. Adrenaline eventually dissipates.

When he finally makes it home, it’s dark. He stops when the door gets kicked outward, and Nezuko walks out, pretty as you please! His exhaustion drops him to his knees when he tries to run to her. She sprints towards him.

Want to know how jumpy this show makes me? I wasn’t thinking, “Awww, touching reunion!” I was thinking, “Dang, I hope she doesn’t eat him! I hope she hasn’t already eaten Sakonji!”

I was much relieved (if still a bit jumpy) when Nezuko just hugged him. I was even more relieved when Sakonji came into sight carrying wood. I found it touching that he just dropped the whole bundle and joined in what was now a group hug. You could even see the tears behind his mask!

Why does this remind me of Lilo & Stitch? “This is my family… It’s little, and broken, but still good.” Crunchyroll stream.

All of his disciples — who he considered his children — had perished. Until now. Tanjiro had come home.

Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry…. Dang it, I’m not as strong a girl anymore. You know, I am quite naive sometimes. I was just so happy to see Nezuko had woken up that I forgot about everything else. I would have been eaten by a demon on the first day.

And kidding aside I really did tear up when Urokodaki hugged them both. There was such a sense of relief in that moment.

Finally, we come to the last beginning that we want to talk about. Hotaru Haganezuka, who is wearing a mask that is, let’s say, unique (is he a clown tea-pot?), delivers Tanjiro’s new demon  hunting sword. As he draws it, his Kasugai Crow arrives and gives him his first mission. He’s to head to a town where young women have been disappearing, and he’s to kill the demon there.

So now Tanjiro is a full-fledged demon hunter. He has his new fancy demon hunting sword. He has a Kasugai Crow as a long-distance telecommunications device. Seems like the first arc closes as we embark on Tanjiro’s new career!

What did you think of the ending, Irina?

Why is the sword black? I really want to know. Don’t you. They were acting like it means something!

If only clown tea-pot had settled down, we might have found out!

Dang it, Clown Tea-Pot guy! Now we’ll have to wait at least another week to find out why a black sword is so unusual! Crunchyroll stream.

My feeling is that the show is about to settle into monster of the week territory for a few episodes. This will help organically establish the characters a bit while giving us fun acton filled little stories to chew on. We can forget their details as they won’t matter to the greater canon. I like this possibility. Just like I like training episodes in sports anime, I like the build up fighting episodes in action shonen.

But we have so many great set up questions here. A 5th survivor (unless I heard that wrong). A black sword. A small skittish boy who somehow ended up at and passed the final trial. A quiet young woman who survived a week of demon slaying without so much as a scratch. Any one of these could mark the start of a great adventure. And we haven’t even dug into the inner workings of the organization at all.

Can’t wait to see more.

A great show can bring all these things together. So far, I think we’re on the right track!

Reviews of the Other Episodes

20 thoughts on “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 5 – A Cool Sidekick and the First Mission

  1. I’m not watching the show, though I sort of want to. In this slim season, anything halfway decent is welcome, and at the very least I liked demon Nezuko and I’m neutral enough towards Tanjiro that he’s not a turn off, though parts of him irritated me. I’m still following your posts, though, and nothing I’ve read so far balances out the camera queasiness I got in episode 2. And I still don’t think the show looks good.

    Why I’m replying, though? It’s the idea of “strength” that you put forward in the captions. My world view seems to be very different in that respect. None of these scenes (from what I can gather from this post) sound like a show of moral strength to me. I’m a moral relativist, in the sense that I think that morals are related to both personality and upbringing. So, if you’re naturally compassionate then showing compassion towards an enemy may require little strength, while performative cruelty might. A non-relativist might define moral strength as sticking to your convictions, but that only makes sense to me if your ethics don’t fit your personality.

    Take episode 2, where Tanjiro negotiates with the farmer for the basket and ends up forcing the money onto him: this behaviour was, to me, one of moral weakness, because he seemed to stick blindly to his believes without taking into account the farmer’s kindness when making a decision. Or in other words, he didn’t have the moral strength to even consider accepting the farmer’s kindness. (The analysis here is more complex than that; I’m simplifying to make the point clearer. For example, Tanjiro could have felt tempted to take the basket for free, but that could have clashed with a self-imposed ethical rule, and it might take a modicum of strength to stick to his morals. That would still leave the possibility that the way he pushed the money onto the farmer and dashed shows he didn’t have enough strength left to consider the situation from the farmer’s point of view [as it doesn’t look to me that ignoring other people’s points of view is a core value of his].)

    So are Tanjiro’s actions of compassion towards the demon a sign of moral strength? Maybe. But the measure isn’t the action itself, to me, but Tanjiro’s psychology. It doesn’t take much strength to give in to your impulses, and that might be what happened here. (I’d have to watch the show to actually have an opinion on this, but in the first two episodes left me the image of someone who’s stubbornly sticking to his own priorities but gets away with it because of a natural compassion. A rather common shounen fighter protagonist type.)

    So how morally strong do you have to be to have compassion for a terrible being? Depends on what comes natural to you – there’s no non-pyschological threshold here (says the relativist).

    1. “and nothing I’ve read so far balances out the camera queasiness I got in episode 2”

      I’m really sorry to hear that! That’s gotta be tough.

      “I’m a moral relativist, in the sense that I think that morals are related to both personality and upbringing.”

      So we’re going to have divergent views — if I can boil your position down to its philosophical elements, you seem like a Platonist. I’m the polar opposite — an Aristotelian. Over simplifying it a ton, it’s subjective versus objective drivers.

      In this context: I think morals have little to do with upbringing or personality. Now, in all fairness, I think the truth is more complex, but that’s a good starting point.

      That’s just background. I think the crux is here:

      “So, if you’re naturally compassionate then showing compassion towards an enemy may require little strength, while performative cruelty might.”

      Regardless of whether morality is subjective or objective, practicing it under circumstances, whatever the inner harmony, can cause strife — strife the character will need to be strong to get through.

      We’ve seem the demon hunters’ perspective on demons: they’re evil, kill them. Giyuu Tomioka lambasted Tanjiro for protecting his demon-ized sister; only the strength of Tanjiro’s conviction saved her.

      Well, that and her protecting him. Together, they convinced Giyuu to stand down.

      “So how morally strong do you have to be to have compassion for a terrible being?”

      This is where my Aristotelian perspective reasserts itself. Strength is needed in all aspects of the decision, from the initial act of will to the execution and follow through. I’ll grant you that for Tanjiro, the initial decision might be easier than it would be for, say, Giyuu. But persisting in what appears to be a very controversial and divisive act, I think, does take strength.

      It’s been awhile since I had to dust off my philosophical education! I kinda miss it now…

      1. I’m not an expert in philosophy, so forgive me if I make mistakes here. It’s definitely true that I’m not an Aristotelean, but neither am I a Platonic. Both are idealists, and I’m more of a materialist (though not quite). [If you want to get technical, the closest philosophy gets to my world view is Husserl-derived Phenomenology – neither idealist, nor materialist: all we have is phenomena.] So:

        **********We’ve seem the demon hunters’ perspective on demons: they’re evil, kill them. Giyuu Tomioka lambasted Tanjiro for protecting his demon-ized sister; only the strength of Tanjiro’s conviction saved her.

        Well, that and her protecting him. Together, they convinced Giyuu to stand down.***********

        I agree that there is some sort of inner strength in Tanjiro that saved Nezuko, here. I’m not sure I have enough information to say it’s about “conviction”. The interplay between what you want to do, what you think you should do, and what you think that others think you should do is what gives rise of morals, and conviction usually is a certain mental stubbornness when you face the difference between what you think you should do and either of the other two elements, maybe both. However, if what you want to do and what you think you should do aligns, it’s very easy not to see that there is a difference at all, and in such cases the inner strength is more a test of wills, or a show of determination – something that can bypass moral considerations. (It didn’t in this scene for various reasons, I don’t have time to go into.)

        I think Tanjiro’s actions in this scene were fueled by (but not controlled by – as he has seen Nezuko cry and made a conscious judgement call) emotional attachment. It’s very difficult to puzzle out the particulars, here, but the force of will Tanjiro exhibited in this scene seemed pretty primal. It would have taken more “moral strength” to decide to give up on Nezuko, because the what-I-want-to-do aspect is out of sync with the what-I-think-I-should-do aspect of the decision. It might also have been the “wrong” decision (as in “I thought that’s what I should have done, but I changed my mind retrospectively”).

        I don’t think of “conviction” as moral strength: more as a tool I use to supplement lack of strength, and a source of moral weakness if taken too far. The idea that, in any given situation, there is a right and a wrong that is independent of any particular judgement is psychologically both useful and dangereous, and that’s where it ends, for me: that’s what makes me a relativist.

        For example, when you say in your post:

        *************I’m thinking, “Crap. I don’t want to know about this monster’s past! Let it be a monster so I can feel good about it dying!” Am I a terrible person for that, Irina?**************

        Than that’s just the mental background radiation that gives meaning to your moral decisions. Without recognising that you have these reactions, you can’t make moral decisions. There’s no difference between what-I-want-to-do and what-I-think-I-should-do aspects of a decision.

        I have different reactions in such situations. I don’t know what I’d feel like watching the scene, actually, since I react differently, but generally, I always want to know any backstory – curiosity drives me a lot more than anything else. I generally don’t feel good about anything dying; instead I tend to resent the situations that lead to these kinds of situations. It’s possible to push me to far and make me loath a person, but then I grow extremely cold and cruel, and no amount of backstory will change anything.

        For me, Tanjiro’s actions as described in this post are intimately relatable. I might react similarly (if I don’t break and go cold). But it’s automatic. It’s the very structure of how I’m built, and how I engage with the world. It might, for me, take moral strength to take the demon’s hand, but that’s about overcoming a revulsion in the face of something grotesque-looking, and it has little to do with what that monster has done: there’s a difference between what I want to do (aesthetic motivation) and what I think I should do (moral motivation). But wishing the demon well? Not hard; just an impulse. Before: does bad things – rage; now: suffers – sympathy. My impulses are that simple, and I can switch pretty quickly. [And again that impulse can require moral strength to overcome: for example, a demon might be begging for its life, and my instinct would be to spare it, but I don’t for a second belief it’ll stop being a danger. In that case what I think I should do is different from what I want to do, and thus it requires moral strength.]

        So in the end:

        *************But persisting in what appears to be a very controversial and divisive act, I think, does take strength.************

        That’s about what-I-think-others-think-I-should-do primarily. Tanjiro doesn’t strike me as someone who cares much about what others think about things (the farmer scene is very telling here); he’s just a stubborn git that way. I’d argue, accepting the farmer’s gift with good graces would have taken more moral strength for him than defying the farmer, which he did with embarrassment (as evidenced by his dash).

        I don’t deny that being stubborn requires strength; I just don’t think it’s moral in kind.

        1. “I’m not an expert in philosophy,”

          Is anyone, really, an expert in philosophy? 🙂

          “the closest philosophy gets to my world view is Husserl-derived Phenomenology – neither idealist, nor materialist: all we have is phenomena.]”

          See, to me as an Aristotelean (empirically based), speaking of phenomena feels a lot like the shadows on the cave wall — one of Plato’s hallmark mental experiments!

          When it come to philosophy, I like to categorize by major western traditions. Of course, that falls apart under some circumstances, especially in this fandom! But that’s why I tend to trace western thought back to either Plato (and forward through folks like Augustine) or Aristotle (and forward through folks like Aquinas).

          Old habits die hard, I guess!

          “The interplay between what you want to do, what you think you should do, and what you think that others think you should do is what gives rise of morals,”

          I view it more an an evolutionary development — which might at first seem inconsistent with my Thomism; but to that, I’d argue that no fact can contradict faith; if it seems you, we’ve done the math wrong somewhere.

          “However, if what you want to do and what you think you should do aligns, it’s very easy not to see that there is a difference at all, and in such cases the inner strength is more a test of wills, or a show of determination – something that can bypass moral considerations. ”

          For me, the conviction doesn’t come from his inner alignment (which, as you said, would mean nothing if his desires and will align) — it’s from the external conflict.

          “I don’t think of “conviction” as moral strength: ”

          I kinda want to invoke CS Lewis here and say something like conviction is the testing point of all virtues. Granted, Lewis said “courage” instead of conviction, but I see Tanjiro exhibiting both.

          “That’s about what-I-think-others-think-I-should-do primarily. ”

          I don’t see that as a separate and distinct aspect of a decision. I really liked Aquinas’ dissection of an action, which I apply in this case as the stages of a moral decision:

          http://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/philosophers/aquinas/

          That link is as concise as anything I can find off hand. Most of my philosophical reference works have either fallen apart (stupid paper backs!) or are in boxes in the attic, so thank goodness for Google!

          I would promote the idea that the interplay between the intellect and will at each of the 5 stages is part of the single act of decision. I see that as meaning Tanjiro deciding to take an action knowing the consequences requires some form of conviction and courage.

          I’d go so far to say that even if you’re right that Tanjiro is “a stubborn git,” stubbornness also takes strength — and sometimes, depending on the environment, a lot of it!

          Sorry this response is so disjointed. I’ve been programming too long; the philosophical pathways are too lightly used!

          1. Not being an expert in philosophy mostly means I don’t have the termonology present and might make a lot of mistakes.

            *****************See, to me as an Aristotelean (empirically based), speaking of phenomena feels a lot like the shadows on the cave wall — one of Plato’s hallmark mental experiments!**************

            As far as I recall, the distinction here is being and seeming, and philosophy opening a pathway to better understanding. I’m a pessimist here. “Phenomenon” as word has a long history, what with the Kantian distinction between phenomena and noumena, but I have little context here. I think, in Husserl-derived terms, you can never leave the cave; in fact, you’re not in one. What you see is what there is: but seeing is always already a creative process. It’s a form of psychologism, and not very concerned with the traditional distinctions between epistemology and ontology. I think. In terms of the cave analogy: philosophy just leads you in circles. Rather than trying to figure out any ideals, or deny them outright, try and trace the seam where the world and the mind connect. Not easy.

            I do think I’d gravitate more towards Augustinus than Aquinas, but I say that with a very vague sense of what they actually said, and with a lot of anxiety that I don’t know what I’m talking about (I’ll read the link later, when I have more time). But you may well be on to something here.

            ***************I view it more an an evolutionary development — which might at first seem inconsistent with my Thomism; but to that, I’d argue that no fact can contradict faith; if it seems you, we’ve done the math wrong somewhere.************************

            I’m not sure what you’re saying here, and how that connects to the topic at hand. One key problem I have here is “faith”: I don’t understand it very well, and I’m suspicious of it. Is it like a power-upgrade of trust? Or is it: choose (or know) your axioms and stick with them?

            *************I kinda want to invoke CS Lewis here and say something like conviction is the testing point of all virtues. Granted, Lewis said “courage” instead of conviction, but I see Tanjiro exhibiting both.***************

            Well, since I’m a relativist, this doesn’t appeal to me much. Virtues (to the extent that I understand what virtues are: for example, is courage a virtue, and if so is it its own test?) are only virtues to the extent that you’re convinced they are, and you can use courage to quell your doubts. Whether that’s good or bad can only be judged from a world view, and such it’s almost always circular, anyway. In any case, I don’t deny that Tanjiro has both conviction and courage.

            In any case, I value trust as well as doubt; I dislike conviction, but grant that its useful from time to time.

            As for the rest, I’ll need to read the link first. I’ll be back later (maybe).

            1. “In terms of the cave analogy: philosophy just leads you in circles.”

              Absolutely, some philosophy not only can, but seems designed, to do that. That’s why I’m not a fan of nihilism, and I’m not a fan of Platonism.

              “Rather than trying to figure out any ideals, or deny them outright, try and trace the seam where the world and the mind connect. Not easy.”

              That’s exactly why I like Aristotelian Thomism. Perfect it ain’t, but it tries to understand that relationship and use it to better understand the world.

              But there’s a flaw in interpretation and approach. Which is…

              “I’m not sure what you’re saying here, and how that connects to the topic at hand.”

              I can’t maintain the separation of disciplines: philosophy as science revealed only empirically, and theology as science based on revelation. My statement that “which might at first seem inconsistent with my Thomism” is a reflection of the reaction I get in theological discussions and bring up the science of evolution. Too many folks still treat it as a theological issue.

              Maintaining the separation between the two disciplines is hard for me, especially when I get rushed!

              “for example, is courage a virtue, and if so is it its own test”

              This is where my programming background comes in handy. I see courage as a class. Other classes can inherit it; or it can itself be instantiated and act on itself.

              Java informing philosophy/morality? There are stranger things…

              Very interesting discussions. I could feel ancient memories becoming reacquainted with my brain!

              1. ****************I can’t maintain the separation of disciplines: philosophy as science revealed only empirically, and theology as science based on revelation. My statement that “which might at first seem inconsistent with my Thomism” is a reflection of the reaction I get in theological discussions and bring up the science of evolution. Too many folks still treat it as a theological issue.

                Maintaining the separation between the two disciplines is hard for me, especially when I get rushed!************

                It is hard to keep thing separate, but that makes communication difficult, too. As an atheist, theology has really no place in my worldview. It’s not so much a rejection as a general practical and unreflected irrelevancy. (The question here is, then, do I lack experiences others have, or do I simply order experience into different concepts? How much of the divide is semantic, and how much substantial? I’ve never found good answers here.)

                In any case, I tend to get lost when things move away too much from specific topics. Science, to me, is paricular method of finding and revising knowledge, and the test of it is applicability. Meanwhile, philosophy is concerned with meaning: how to make sense of things. Without philosophy we wouldn’t have science, because as a methodology it rest on some basic assumptions, and its value of objectivity is pretty good for arbitration between various philosophies. Anyone can do science, because it interferes little in actual philosophies.

                “Evolution” is mostly a loaded term, even outside of theology, because people very easily take it as a teleological term. Science doesn’t say one way or another, but it’s really just a description of change. And disciplines such as evolutionary psychology often sound more like philosophy than science.

                I’ve read the article about Aquinas, but I’m a little a confused, because there appears to be a triad (intellect/will/passions), and the article pretty much only talks about intellect and will, leaving me to wonder what the difference is between will and the passions, and how they connect. (I only skimmed the section about free choice, since that’s a non-issue for me.)

                In any case, I brought up my relativism to position myself on the topic of “moral strength”. If you believe, for example, in God, then God can function as an ultimate relatum: everything relates to God, and – sorry, if I get this wrong – as humans striving to do good is thus objectively hard, and requires some sort of strength. Sort of like a boulder has a weight, and if lifting boulders is easier for you, that just means you have more muscle mass and technique. So, under that perspective, if it comes natural to Tanjirou to be compassionate to an enemy, then that already implies moral strength,. (Is this close to your position? If I’m making mistakes, what are they?)

                As a relativist, I have no ultimate relatum. Not God, not anything else. If something comes easier to you, then that’s your baseline. We’re social creatures, and such we learn to live with others as a we grow up. If we don’t learn to live with others we die, because as babies we can’t fend for ourselves. So that baseline inherently has a moral aspect, a right-wrong dimension we’ve adapted to our emotional make-up. So there’s also a certain degree of rock-liftiness baked in here: the degree to which we integrated into society. But morality is both a social and a personal thing, and in your life you have the last word: you might decide, for example, that might-makes-right is a good philosophy, even if you lack in the might department and are frustratingly often wrong. In that case, based on your moral goals, both accepting being wrong and striving for dominance would demand a lot of moral strength. Thus, under my relativist position, the moral strength required for any action is the differential between what you want to do, where what you want to do is defined as your first emotional impulse (you can then have impulses about that impulse, and may have to sort out confusions.) See now, why the triad between intellect/will/passions confuses me? I subsume will under the passisions; it’s not its own thing.

                My estimation, then is this: If Tanjiro were in the place of the farmer, would he have given the basket away for free? Does he believe in the Golden Rule? If the answer for both is yes, then he should have accepted the gift. Insisting on paying is a show of false humility: he appeared to be a little embarrassed as he dashed away, so that’s what makes me think he was indulging in a decision he had doubts about. Note that him being stubborn isn’t the issue here: the farmer was being stubborn, too. It’s that he seemed to be less comfortable in this situation of asking for a favour. I think I might be hard on Tanjiro, because I can sort of identify with his actions here: I had to learn to accept favours, too, and I certainly was terrible at it at his age. I speculate, that Tanjiro needs more moral strength to accept favours than to show compassion for a demon, because of the relative strenth of his first emotional impulses.

                So that’s, then, why I brought up my relativism. Not sure it makes sense, since it’s difficult to explain. I don’t want to move away too much from the topic at hand, because the more abstract I get, the less what I have to say matters to me, and then I may reach the alienation threshold and think “what nonsense am I saying?” (I had to learn not to row back too much, as that confuses listeners.)

                1. I think this conversation is a great example of how communication can be difficult — and I mean in a good way.

                  Too often, folks hurl worlds at each other and walk way.

                  Glad that didn’t happen here.

                  A few quick clarifications:

                  ““Evolution” is mostly a loaded term, even outside of theology, ”

                  I should have said biological evolution. It has a solid amount of tested scientific theory behind it, and it at the same time generates so much “theological” backlash, that it’s often on my mind.

                  “So, under that perspective, if it comes natural to Tanjirou to be compassionate to an enemy, then that already implies moral strength,. (Is this close to your position? If I’m making mistakes, what are they?)”

                  In this case, I was more thinking that Tanjiro has seen how other demon hunters react to any action other than kill to a demon. Tanjiro’s a social creature in the sense you described; he’d know he was causing conflict, and it would bother him. And the more I think about your example of Tanjiro’s interaction with the farmer, the more I think it’s related to this conversation — after considering what you said, I think Tanjiro _was_ conflicted.

                  “See now, why the triad between intellect/will/passions confuses me? I subsume will under the passisions; it’s not its own thing.”

                  I see it a little differently, and freely admit I might be wrong: The intellect is reason; passions are the emotions; the will is immaterial and takes input from the intellect and the emotions to make decisions. I guess I’m equating the will (volition) with the soul. If you reject the concept of soul, then I’d say will is most related to intellect, but even then, I’d suggest it’s a separate entity, because there are times when the intellect and emotions are not in alignment, and we will make a decision. I’d say the will is what makes the decision.

                  1. ******I see it a little differently, and freely admit I might be wrong:******

                    I think we’re talking at a level of abstraction where it’s impossible to be wrong. It’s just different ways to arrange and make sense of information. Well, you can be wrong, but more in the sense of being mistaken about what you actually feel/think than in any absolute terms. There’s a web of meaning that we need to connect to the real world whenever we act, and it’s that seam that matters most to us. Example:

                    Teal is…

                    a) A shade of green.
                    b) A shade of blue
                    c) its own colour.

                    Any position on that will allow you to live your life. I’m actually undecided on that for myself, and I get away with being undecided because the distinction holds little practical relevance for daily life, and the act of making the distinction holds no emotional significance.

                    [quote]The intellect is reason; passions are the emotions; the will is immaterial and takes input from the intellect and the emotions to make decisions. I guess I’m equating the will (volition) with the soul. If you reject the concept of soul, then I’d say will is most related to intellect, but even then, I’d suggest it’s a separate entity, because there are times when the intellect and emotions are not in alignment, and we will make a decision. I’d say the will is what makes the decision.[/quote]

                    That sort of does make sense to me. But:

                    “There are times when the intellect and emotions are not in alignment,” is, I think, where the difference between our position comes out the most. To me, Intellect figures out and emotions want. Intellect on its own is inert; it always acts on emotions. There’s always something we want, or the intellect wouldn’t activate to begin with. This means emotions are invested in the outcome, don’t trust themselves, and employ more intellect to a supervision layer. There are broadly two types of actions the intellect can engage in: problem-solving (figuring out what’s best) and rationalisation (figuring out to convince myself or others that what I want is best). So out emotions don’t always trust the outcome of the intellect’s operation, but has no means other than intellect to check up on it. The result is incredibly comples:

                    Say there’s one cookie left:

                    a) Different emotions want different things. (the desire to eat the cookie, the disire to see someone else enjoy the cookie, the desier to be thought of as generous by someone, the fear that there’s something wrong with the cookie…)

                    b) All those desire vie for intellectual resources.

                    c) The resulting conflict leads the person to get fed up with the inner conflict, adding one more desire to the mix (in a cells-at-work type of show, that’s the uniformed guys start showing up, rather than the regular residents).

                    And so on.

                    Any decision is the outcome of that sort of interaction, where emotions give direction and motivation and intellect forms the raw material. A decision, to me, is just the outcome of the entire process. There’s no such thing as a unified will – that’s itself just an illusion we create for ourselves, because humans like to have a nice, safe identity to fall back on, which in turn is probably a result of us living together with others.

                    So, to me, what happens when the intellect and the emotions aren’t in line, is that emotions that aren’t in charge vie for intellect resources with emotions that are: So for example, if the intellect tells me that if I eat the last cookie my little sister will be sad, then that’s one of many desires (or a coalition) reigning in the desire to eat the cookie. Think about it: if I start to feel bad about my desire to eat the cookie, then that’s a new emotion that is about that desire, and one that naturally aligns with emotions that point towards the outcome of “don’t eat cookie”.

                    Even without accepting the existence of a soul, I could re-order this by redefining emotions not as component-parts of the “Will” but as motivations for the “will”. Then it would be the will, and not the emtions themselves who employ the intellect. That would make sense, too, but I’d be constantly struggling with the danger of reifying the “will”. “Will” under this interpretation (without accepting the soul) would be black-box model for a process. The entire system would work differently. (In my model, it’s the emotions who contain the biggest black-box model, and I’m used to dealing with that).

                    To me, the point of talking about these things isn’t to convince others. It’s to better understand others, and in turn (by making new distinctions) yourself. For example, I’m starting to realise something about the original impulse to post a reply to this thread: “moral strength” to me, seems to be something like the strength of emotions about emotions you have. So during the farmer scene, Tanjiro ran away in emberrassment. I took this as a sign of moral weakness. I now think it’s because he developed doubts (starting to feel bad about not accepting the favour) and not properly resolve them. In contrast, he seems perfectly at peace with himself in that screenshot of him taking the demon’s hand. Lots of emotions wanting the same thing; no conflict – no particular strength required. That might be how I saw it. Hm…. I’m starting to see that’s a little incomplete.

                    1. I had to bump up WordPress’ depth of discussion to 10 to reply to this! That’s the max!

                      Very interesting discussion.

                      I’m coming away with two (relatively) clear ideas:

                      1. We have different frameworks that we’re using to try to understand ourselves and the world
                      2. No matter what framework we use, we’re trying to understand the same world

                      I appreciate you taking the time to describe your perspective. Even when I was in college studying theology and English, I was never comfortable when people took the position that thought processes were wrong. Or that people were wrong, even if two people claimed diametrically opposed positions on what appears to be a forced option. We’re all trying to understand who we are and how we relate to others. Sharing perspectives without judgement gets us a lot farther than the alternatives.

                      Most of the time, anyway!

  2. Tanjirou’s black sword actually have symbolism and story reason. A hint about what it symbolize: What was Tanjirou family sell ?

    1. He sold charcoal, if I remember it right. But no more hints! I want to be surprised! 🙂 I thought Urokodaki’s reaction was interesting.

  3. I spotted the mention of a fifth swordsman and also loved the moment that Urokodaki hugged them both, tears slipping out from beneath his mask. This show is great.

  4. One of my favorite after watching the show is seeing you guys talk about it. You picked up on a lot of details that I missed.

    1. Thanks! Much appreciated!

      “You picked up on a lot of details that I missed.”

      That’s the same reaction I have when I read the first draft for Irina’s contribution!

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