Anime

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 9 – It’s a Whole New Ballgame

Welcome to the collaboration review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba episode 9, “Temari Demon and Arrow Demon.” I’ll be in plain ordinary text this week, and Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime will be in bold type.

Hi Crow, always good to see you. I hope I didn’t screw up your editing by inserting myself here.

Nope! I trust your narrative sense!

If you ever thought, “Gee, Tanjiro has had it really easy until now; I wonder if he’ll ever see a real fight,” then I have great news! Tanjiro has a real fight on his hands this week. Not only that, but the gorilla in the room decides to speak up — loudly. Before that, though, Irina (who’s in bold!), any opening remarks?

I’m not sure who thought that. The show stats with Tanjiro losing his entire family, then going through punishing nearly lethal training for years just to barely make it through the entrance exam. That mutated demon was legit frightening and I thought for a second they may end up killing off the man character at episode 5…

Granted the kid is doing ok for himself but I wouldn’t call everything up to this point “smooth sailing”.

Also Imma gonna spoil this sucker (not that there’s much in ways of twists…well there is but not those twists…) You have been warned!

Okay, you caught me. My intro was facetious! But I thought it was a fun way to say that Tanjiro had his hands full in this episode!

Not only that, but this show had real educational value this week! We got to learn all sorts of things, starting with the word temari. Did you know it’s a Japanese toy? A temari ball (at least according to Wikipedia, and why would it lie to us?) was traditionally made from the remains of old kimonos. It later became an art, which explains why Susamaru’s balls were so pretty (and deadly).

I did not know but I also looked it up on Wiki as soon as the episode is over. No mention of its instant flesh and bone dissolving attributes. That’s why you can’t trust the internet. It just so incomplete.

Well, the “flesh and bone dissolving” part sounds considerably less kid-friendly!

As we saw at the end of the previous episode, the balls tore through Tamayo’s walls like they were made of paper (and it was a Western-style house, not a Japanese style whose walls often were made of paper!).

Tanjiro tried to project Nezuko; Yushiro tried to protect Tamayo; but the temari balls were moving unpredictably. So unpredictably, in fact, that one blew Yushiro’s head clean off.

Irina, were you as startled as I was?

I think Tanjiro reacted about the way we did to Yushiro’s wound! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Startled, devastated, screaming at my tv. Yes, yes I was. Just last week I was saying how much I liked Yushiro and what an actually well-balanced foil he made for Tanjiro and splat. Before we even get to know him properly. Writers what are you thinking!!!

Sure, I’m epically frustrated at this turn of events but it’s not like I had time to form a proper connection so that this would really hit me. Seems gratuitous. I was not happy about this. My favourite characters have a way of getting killed off (or turning evil). I may have a sore spot about that. Oh man, they’re going to discover Yushiro was a spy after his death or something like that….

It began to dawn on me at this point that Susamaru and Yahaba might be a bit more powerful than the demons Tanjiro had fought until now. Susamaru interrupted that thought when she gave us the second history lesson: Tanjiro’s earrings are like hanafuda, which are playing cards. In fact, when Muzan Kibutsuji sent these two demons (who we learn are members of Muzan’s elite called Twelve Demon Moons), he said they were explicitly to bring back the head of the demon hunter wearing hanafuda-like earrings.

Remember back in episode 2 when Irina said she wanted a pair of earrings (that we now know are called hanafuda) like Tanjiro’s? And then in episode 6 when she said she’d ordered them? Well, they arrived! 

And boy, did Susamaru look happy when she realized that they’d found exactly who they were looking for! And bless Tanjiro’s heart — when he heard that, he told Tamayo to run and hide, because he was the one they were after. He has the heart of a hero, he has! He didn’t seem convinced when she told him, “We’ll be fine without your protection.” The claim seemed faintly ridiculous since she was cradling Yushiro’s headless body!

Tanjiro caught Susamaru’s next attack on his sword, but the ball just spun away. I loved how Tanjiro was trying to think through how it could move like that. He just couldn’t figure it out. He was in a state of high consternation when he looked back to see that Yushiro’s head was growing back! What did you think of Tanjiro’s reaction, Irina?

I’m afraid I was too busy cheering and telling off my tv for scaring me like that. That was just mean! I figure Tanjiro, being in the heat of battle didn’t have too much time to process this but he did know for a fact that decapitation doesn’t kill demons. He has had first-hand experience with this exact situation before, after all. I guess I have as well. I was just too worried at the moment to remember properly.

A little before that though, as everything was exploding, even in my frustration I couldn’t help but notice how visually attractive this anime is once again. Everything from the familiar but just different enough character designs, to the bold outlines and saturated colours, to the classic decors and costumes, just speaks to me. And the CG was impressive. It flowed so well and added to the dynamic feel of the action.

Needless to say, I was very pleased with this development on every level. And the bio nerd in me enjoyed how the blood vessels were regenerating first. It was an interesting touch, although I can’t really find a reason why it would be that way. Did you like it Crow?

Yes, I did. Now that you mention it, the shapes were like blood vessels, weren’t they? At first reminded me of the Flood from the Halo games. Creepy! Even how the lower jaw grew back, enabling Yushiro to try speaking. It didn’t work out so well until his upper mandible had grown back. When he could finally speak, he loudly proclaimed that threatening his Lady was unforgivable.

Where do you figure he keeps his brain?

Just where does he keep his brain in situations like this? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

You know, I was wondering about that, too! Since most of their body can be destroyed, maybe it’s a non-corporeal soul like entity? Demon metaphysics must be a fascinating study.

Things were looking bad for our hero. Now, Susamaru took Yushiro’s protestations as taunts, and in response, she grew six arms. Two arms throwing two temari balls had been devastating. Now, they had to deal with six arms throwing six balls. Tanjiro had some great dodging moves, but he couldn’t keep it up forever. Not only that, but when he did manage to slash the balls, they’d often attach themselves to him, slowing him down. He could tell there were two demons, but he couldn’t find the second one because he had no time to think.

Yushiro, of all people, was able to help. He gave a talisman to Tanjiro that let him see the “arrows,” which were the demonic patterns of force that controlled the balls’ trajectories. Irina, what did you think of the animation of the temari attacks with arrows added?

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen it but it really reminded me of Soul Eater. More specifically of Medusa and Stens first, standoff. She has a similar looking power.

That’s it! I was wracking my brain trying to remember where I’d seen something that like before. It was Medusa!

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to help Tanjirou. The arrows also seemed to be going off in random directions and he couldn’t attack them either. It helped us, the audience. I guess it gave him a bit more warning.

Maybe a little; every little bit helps! Good audio effects, too! Now, instead of being completely at the mercy of Susamaru’s attacks, Tanjiro could begin formulating a strategy. He sensed the other demon, Yahaba, in a tree, and he sent Nezuko after him. As soon as she attacked, it became clear that Yahaba had provided the “arrow power”, and without him guiding the attacks, the temari balls were significantly less effective. He was able to use Third form, Flowing Dance, to slice through all six balls in flight. Gotta say: the animation was gorgeous. He was even able to slice off all six of her arms! You’d think that would be a hopeful sign, wouldn’t you?

But loose lips sink ships, as they say, and our heroes commit the first of two verbal blunders. Tanjiro says that since these two demons are part of Muzan’s Twelve Demon Moons, he would be sure to extract their blood for Tamayo to study. As you can imagine, Susamaru took exception to his plans and got all fired up.

Irina, what did you think of a) Yushiro’s suggestion that they use Tanjiro and Nezuko’s attack as cover to escape, b) her flabbergasted reaction to his suggestion, and c) his protestation that he was just kidding?

It reminded me why I loved the character. He brings a personality that doesn’t exist in any of the other characters. The scene made me smile. It was a split second moment but it really brought some levity. Oddly, it also made me think that this sprinkling of light-hearted humour even in the bleakest of situations actually brings Demon Slayer closer to what I think of as traditional action shonen. This isn’t a bad thing mind you, just a random thought I had

It was a very reasonable suggestion and I liked how quick Yoshiro was to adapt to Tamayo’s reaction.

Yeah, I’m not buying the “just kidding part.”

I’m pretty sure Tamayo is not on board with the whole “Let’s abandon our allies” idea. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Things got bad in a hurry. Susamaru grew all six arms back as Nezuko came flying through the air to crash into Tanjiro. She wasn’t merely not a match for Yahaba; she wasn’t even in the same league. He more or less just brushed her aside. That’s when Yushiro said they needed to get rid of the “arrow man” first.

I think he might have mentioned that earlier!

To be fair, they may have thought Nezuk was getting rid of arrow man.

Good point! And, to his credit, Yushiro added that he, Tamayo, and Nezuko would take on Susamaru.

Now something happened that we’ve never seen before. You know how Tanjiro’s technique can show him the precise angle and point to strike? It’s that spider-web/fishing line like thread. Well, he got that bead on “arrow man,” who used his power to slice it in two.

I didn’t know that could happen, did you, Irina?

Well, no but I also didn’t assume it couldn’t happen. He did “lose” the thread when fighting powerful demons before so why not snapping? I’m not entirely certain what the extent of Yahaba’s powers is yet, but he’s clearly the tougher of the two.

It got worse from there. Tanjiro couldn’t slice the arrowed lines. He couldn’t deflect them. They hurled him into trees and walls. They hurled him high into the air and dropped him onto the ground, where his only defence was using the Eighth Form, Waterfall Basin, to cushion his fall.

The camera switched to Nezuko as she evaded the colorful balls. Yushiro for a second looked like he might be a hero: He used his power to turn himself invisible and began putting the smack down on Susamaru. When she fell to her knees, he stopped — yes, he stopped — and told her that she’d pay for hurting the Lady Tamayo.

Yushiro, I get you want to protect the Lady Tamayo. But did you have to be so loud about it? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This is the second verbal blunder. The other two demons were delighted they’d found not only Tanjiro, but Tamayo the Fugitive as well! Dang it, Yushiro! Not only did you give the enemy important information, but you let the six armed demon get her wind back. Which she used to launch yet another attack. This time, Nezuko tried to kick the ball — and lost the bottom half of her right leg. Susamaru kicked Nezuko so hard that she flew into Tamayo’s partially destroyed house.

How is Tamayo a fugitive? I would have understood the word traitor but fugitive sort of implies laws, doesn’t it?

Maybe the Michael Jackson lookalike is a law unto himself?

On the bright side, we learned another interesting Japanese word: Kemari. It’s a game whose objective is to keep the ball always in the air. At least we’re learning as our heroes get the crap kicked out of them!

Tamayo followed Nezuko and discovered that her leg wasn’t healing like a proper demon’s leg should heal. She had to give Nezuko a hypodermic shot to stimulate the healing.

I’ll talk in a moment about how that scene was overshadowed by the gorilla in the room.

Tanjiro could not figure out how to attack Yahaba. It didn’t help that the demon’s physiology was so unnerving — he had arrowed eyes in his palms! Tanjiro even thought, “I hate to say it, but those eyeballs on his hand are creepy! Though I hate to say it.”

Irina, would you agree? What did you think of the two demons’ designs?

I touched on it last week I think. I find the demon designs consistently creepy. A particularly impressive trait as they tend to use bright colours and often childish touches. The mutated demon had moon eyes with star-shaped pupils and bright nail polish. Tooth grinder had symmetrical golden barrettes on purple hair and these two wouldn’t look out of place in a schoolyard. Yet there’s something uncomfortable in the way they come across that goes beyond their action.

Not that their actions aren’t super creepy, too.

It really looked like our hero was done for when he got slammed into the wall so hard that he lost his sword and coat. It got worse when Yahaba wrapped an arrow around Tanjiro’s right arm and said he was going to twist the arm off! That’s when Tanjiro ran up a wall and spun in the direction of the arrow, loosening it enough to throw off. Retrieving his sword, he had an idea: He couldn’t stop the arrows with his sword; he couldn’t touch them. He used a couple of his water forms to close in on his enemy, like Twisting Whirlpool-Flowing Water to redirect the arrows. Then he used Second Form, Modified, Horizontal Water Wheel, and separated Yahaba’s head from his body.

Tanjiro showed real ingenuity in this episode. He had to; his foes were formidable. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Do you think that’ll defeat the monster, Irina?

I really liked his spin jump to get rid of the arrow. It was smart of the character and really fun to watch in animated form. Good stuff.

And yes, I do think he will defeat the monster. But will Nezuko be asleep for another two years? I’m getting worried about her, which is what the show wants, so way to go writers!

Now for the 500 pound gorilla in the room: Nezuko’s condition. Irina, I’m sure you’ve read some of the comments on our reviews where folks aren’t happy with how Nezuko’s being treated. For the first time, I’m starting to climb on that bandwagon! When she attacked Yahaba in the tree, it was clear that as a demon, she’s relatively weak. Tamayo was concerned that she wasn’t healing as fast as a demon normally would. That suggests that physiologically, there’s something going on — perhaps related to how long she slept?

She missed out on two years of training that’s keeping Tanjiro alive. She’s hamstrung as a demon for reasons unknown. In this episode, we saw what that can mean for her: She can be defeated easily. Maybe worse.

Irina, what do you think?

I was quite relieved that she didn’t just attack everyone. As in Tamayo and Yoshiro included. They are definitely not human after all. I also noticed that Tamayo really does look a lot like her mom. The human character models are rather similar when you really look at it.

Nezuko is at a severe disadvantage. She and Tanjiro are going to have to do something if she’s to thrive. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I was never overly comfortable with the brainwashing, as you know. There was just so much opportunity for it to backfire. Is she going to start hating herself at some point? It would have been one thing if she was expected to live in normal human society and had to blend in. But with a Demon Slayer lifestyle, which constantly puts her in harm’s way and at the mercy of both demons and slayers, I think it was particularly short-sighted.

On a narrative level though, it can be used for good conflict but I wonder why neither Tanjiro nor Nezuko made any sort of fuss about it. At least complained a little. They just accepted it as if it was some perfectly ordinary news and went on with their lives (and um… deaths). This bothers me a bit. I think it may go into plot hole territory.

I’m really interested to see if Yahaba is really dead. My understanding is that Tanjiro’s sword has the power to dis-corporate demons, but it seemed to me that the water wheel attack is what inflicted the damage. Will that be enough? And we can’t forget that even without her ally, Susamaru is still very, very dangerous.

You know, as those beautiful spider lilies started to bloom I was flabbergasted. I know I say this every week, but I literally thought 5 minutes or so had passed. Maybe it’s because we didn’t get a mid-episode eyecatch to situate me but that ending caught me off guard. Can’t wait for next week.

It did go by fast, didn’t it? This was the most dangerous challenge Tanjiro has ever encountered. And we have to wait another week to see how it plays out!

Reviews of the Other Episodes

12 thoughts on “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 9 – It’s a Whole New Ballgame

  1. Other than the mid-fight flashback and then the recap of the fight leading up to the flashback, in case we had forgotten what happened five minutes ago, I really enjoyed this episode. Also is it just me or is Susamaru kind of hot… no… just me then… I’ll get my coat…

    1. “Other than the mid-fight flashback and then the recap of the fight leading up to the flashback”

      When that started, I thought maybe the video had glitched!

      “Also is it just me or is Susamaru kind of hot… no… just me then… I’ll get my coat…”

      Wasn’t just you. She was kind of hot. In a “I’m about to kill you” sort of way, but hot’s hot! When she took her jacket off, I wondered if we were going to get some really unusual fan service (and no, I wasn’t going to complain). But then she grew four more arms, and it kinda killed the mood.

      I mean, Rachnera Arachnera is one thing. She dangerous, but she’s not going to smash you to bits just for fun!

        1. It’s not the number of arms! It’s what she’s likely to do with them!

          That’s be quite the reveal for a first date!

  2. It was a really fun episode. My only issue is that we’re getting into clear shounen territory where a fight lasts the whole episode and still isn’t resolved. We’d previously avoided that in this anime with its fast pacing. That said, the fight was very cool to watch and there was plenty going on to keep things interesting this episode.

    1. “My only issue is that we’re getting into clear shounen territory where a fight lasts the whole episode and still isn’t resolved.”

      I was a little afraid of that exact same thing when we got the a reply of parts of the fight later in the same episode! I remember watching early episodes of Naruto where sometimes the flashback would be half the episode!

      Scary stuff…

      1. Still, this one, while very shounen has managed to minimise the amount of filler and padding so far so let’s hope it knows what it is doing.

        1. Yeah, the anime adaption started late in the manga’s run. I hope other anime studios start doing the same. At least Dr. Stone is over 100 chapters in so it should be filler free for at least the first season.

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