Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 1 Review

Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 1 Quick Summary

In Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc episode 1, “Someone’s Dream,” even as the Demon Slayer Corps tried to make sense of the wreckage of the Entertainment District, Muzan Kibutsuji called together the most power of the Upper demons to express his opinion regarding the battle – and the loss of one of his minions. Can you guess what kind of reaction he had? Two months later, Kanao Tsuyuri made a shocking discovery in the room where Tanjirou remained in a coma. For two months, she had been worried sick because Tanjirou remained unconscious. Now she discovered a fateful change! What was that change? Did Tanjirou’s companions recover yet? And just why did Mitsuri Kanroji decide to become a Hashira?

Collaborating with Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime!

Great news, everyone! Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime and I are collaborating to review Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc this season! I’m really looking forward to her insights about this show!

Hi, Irina! How are you doing? Any thoughts before we kick off the review?

Everytime there’s a new season of Demon Slayer, I discover how beautiful this anime is all over again. I understand that this much CG isn’t going to be everyone’s cup ‘o tea but I love how it’s integrated. I find that Muzan’s infinite palace is one of the most striking and memorable settings I have seen in anime. It has this real sense of presence, you know? 

Not to mention the colours, designs and well… just everything else. It was still the opening scene and I was already texting friends telling them how awesome the episode is. It’s a good thing it didn’t completely go downhill after that.

Review of Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 1

Ufotable and the powers that be decided on a double-length episode this time around. I’d divide it into three major sections: Wrath of Murzan, Tanjirou’s Recovery, and Journey to the Swordsmith Village.

The Infinity Castle and Its Demons in Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 1

I think the first thing we should mention is the Infinity Castle, that place that defies geometry, where Muzan has at least his lab if not his lair. Ufotable seemed to be showing off their animation prowess, and I have to say it impressed me. It was like an M. C. Escher dream come alive, then twisted to evil. What did you think of that set, Irina?

Oh oops, I already talked about it… ;P

We have seen the Castle before though. There were a few episodes where we saw it last season and I think it was int he movie as well. But this time we really go a good view of the place. I hope we get to explore it more. I’d like to see if humans can exist in that place.

We got to meet several of the Upper demons in this episode. We’ve met Akaza before. Except for some skin colorization and his eyes, he looked mostly human. Then we met Gyokko, Upper Moon Five, and the first thing that I thought of was Cthulhu. That demon might be the most disturbing one we’ve seen. I think it had something to do with having mouths (yes, plural!) where his eyes should be, a single large eye where his mouth should be, another eye in his foreheads, and way too many hands and arms and legs at just the wrong spots.

We also got the meet the apparently cowardly and horned Upper Four Hantengu, the friendly and outgoing (well, friendly for a demon)Upper Two Douma, and the most powerful Upper One Kokushibo.

Demon Slayer’s character designs have a certain flair. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, I seem to remember you admiring the design work that had gone into some of the previous demons we saw. What did you think of the Upper Moon demons we met in this episode?

Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 1’s New Demon Designs

Most of them were fairly tame design wise. But that’s not a bad thing. I say that and I’m about to contradict myself. 

Personally, I quite liked the jar demon Gyokko but I would never have thought of Cthulhu. I do think there are several of these distinctly Jar demons in asian folklore. I’ll have to look it up. In any case, they were striking. The others were generally humanoid and not that striking although Duoma’s friendliness has something terrifying about it.

I did really like Kokushibo here. When we first see him, all I could think of was: Kenshin. It can’t just be me. Rouroni Kenshin is a very successful anime with a long history and an extremely distinctive protagonist. That long red hair over a purple hakama is so iconic that it’s all I could think about when seeing his back. And I wonder if it’s a nod to the show or to just classic anime altogether. 

Of course then we got to see his face and the illusion is shattered. The six eyes it a fantastic design. Not just the fact that there are six eyes but six large eyes all the same size. No dominant pair, no crowding where you would expect the eyes to be. They take up the entire face which makes it so much more unsettling. 

Very unsettling… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Murzan and the End of the Beginning

This section ended on two notes. First, Murzan said that Gyokko was to take Hantengu on a mission. And second, we saw that the demons all hate each other – but that Akaza probably hates the other the most. He even promised to kill Kokushibo. And I don’t care how much plot armor I had – I would be very reluctant to go up against Kokushibo.

Irina, any thoughts on how this section played out?

Again, I think Douma might actually be the really though one here. There’s something about a guy that doesn’t feel the need to prove himself, intimidate or even stand on principle that makes me think he’s just disgustingly powerful, you know?

Tanjirou’s Overly Long Nap in Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 1

I found the next section absolutely endearing. Through multiple seasons and movies, we’ve seen Tanjirou treat others with kindness and gratitude. You figure that would make an impression on people, wouldn’t you? One thing I appreciate about Demon Slayer is that they show the impact Tanjirou has had on people. That drove this section of the episode.

Tanjirou had what is probably a prophetic dream – or at least one where he relived a scene from his father or his father’s father’s past. He saw a man with wild hair and earrings just like Tanjirou himself wears. When he came to, he heard a crash.

Whoever animated Kanao’s expression deserves a raise. She looked so relieved and so overwhelmed that it took my breath away. It looked like that young woman had been in absolute agony for two months while Tanjirou was in his coma.

The others who came to visit, like Naho, Kiyo, Sumi, and even Aoi (which almost surprised me – but her stern exterior hides a kind heart, I think) were in tears they were so happy to see him awake.

What did you think of that scene, Irina? And what did you think of Inosuke’s entrance?

Inosuke Returns!

I thought Inosuke’s entrance was a bit of fun little fanservice. I have a few friends that are particularly fans of the character and I’m sure they got a kick out of it.

Hey, look who’s on the ceiling! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I didn’t think the dream was prophetic, I think it’s more likely the second option, in that it was a memory. But maybe not a real one. I’m going entirely on appearance here and I have not read the manga. That guy with the same earrings as Tanjiro, is the upper one, no? Like they have the same hair and very similar face markings. It could have been him before he turned into a demon, no? At least it’s what I got from it. Or potentially it could have been his father or brother or something like that.

I guess it could also have been a prophetic surreal dream and this was actually a future Tanjiro with his own child after leaving the Demon Slayer corp… seems like a bit of a stretch though and it’s creepy that he would have married someone that looks identical to his mother. And that guy didn’t have his scar so… This theory only works if you go with the “dreams are weird” explanation…

Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 1 Presents The Swordsmith Village

The third section, Tanjirou’s journey to the Swordsmith’s Village, seemed to lay the groundwork for Tanjirou’s portion of the arc. The village chief granted him permission to visit, and the journey entailed Tanjirou having to be blindfolded with ear plugs. And because he’s Tanjirou, he had to have nose plugs, too. The Demon Slayer Corps apparently worked out an elaborate way of taking people to their hidden village – involving multiple couriers and crows. Of course, I appreciated the contribution of the crows.

Tanjirou wanted to meet his swordsmith, Hotaru Haganezuka. But he had disappeared, and even the village chief, Tecchin Tecchikawahara, didn’t know where he was. But he appeared pretty serious about finding him. I also expected Tecchin to side with the swordsmith regarding Tanjirou constantly breaking swords. So I wasn’t prepared for Tecchin saying (34:11), “He’s the one who forged a faulty sword, so it’s all on him.”

Any thoughts on the village so far, Irina?

Not really, that was pretty much what I expected to be honest.

Nice Guy Tanjirou and Mitsuri

If I had any doubts that Tanjirou is a Nice Guy(™), he dispelled them as his guide was showing him to the hot springs. Mitsuri Kanroji came bounding down the stairs, and at first, I thought she was just happy to see him. But no – she was upset. She was upset because she had spoken to someone who ignored her. 

She seemed quite upset that someone had ignored her. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

She ran with wild abandon and too loose fitting a top. Did Tanjirou break out in a nose bleed? No. That came later. He saw a problem and acted immediately.

“Watch out!” he called out to her (36:01). “Please be careful! Your breasts are this close to spilling out!”

He raced forward and helpfully closed her front. 

Now, I’m of two minds about this. We haven’t seen any male Hashira in a similar circumstance, so this feels a bit, shall we say, over-sexualized. At the same time, it was a good character moment for both Mitsuir and Tanjirou. What do you think, Irina? 

Sometimes I forget that the target audience for this show is teenage boys. I’m not sure how I forget that, it’s pretty obvious. In any case, scenes like this that go one a bit too long and don’t really make sense are pretty easy to ignore or even laugh along with since the rest of the show is so much fun for me.

Like I said, I’m not the target audience for this so I might be wrong but the scene just seemed a bit out of place. Like it didn’t quite match with the rest of the episode and the tone they were setting up. 

That’s actually a common thing in Demon Slayer. I think it’s one of the reasons anime watchers can sometimes have a very though time with Zenitsu. He really doesn’t follow the tone of the series and he can feel like he belongs in a different show in certain scenes. 

Mitsuri as a Character

I had the same feeling when we learned why Mitsuri had become a Hashira. It was because she wanted to find a strong man who could protect her. Where else better than the Hashiras? Though I’m not sure she wasn’t just kidding with Tanjirou.

Irina, did that seem odd? Or is it just a part of her character?

Tanjirou asked Mitsuri why she had become a Hashira. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Actually this I loved. For a long time fiction tended to portray strong female characters in one or maybe two ways at most. Either shying completely away from traditional feminine tropes or so stoic as to be almost robotic. 

I loved that Mitsuri leans into the stereotypes so deeply without being robbed of her very traditional strength for it. It’s nice to see you can be those two things. Not that we didn’t know that already but, you know…

Before Mitsuri left to test her new sword, she said something that struck me. She said (40:22), “We might not live to see each other again, but let’s fight the good fight!” Another sign that Demon Slayer takes violence and death seriously.

But before they parted, she told him that there was a secret weapon in the village – a weapon that would make him stronger. Again, I’m not sure if she was just messing with him and meant the young woman attendant who was obviously swooning over Tanjirou’s humility. What do you think, Irina?

I don’t think she was messing with him. I didn’t even notice the swooning to be honest. Now I have to rewatch the episode.

Tanjirou in the Closing Scenes

In the final scenes, Tanjirou set out with Nezuko to find the secret weapon. He came upon Muichirou Tokitou, the Mist Hashira, trying to strong-arm a young villager out of something. That something seemed to involve the figure from Tanjirou’s dream – the figure who wore the same earrings as Tanjirou. Irina, what did you make of that?

Ok so was he really there? I assumed that he had died and Tanjiro got his earrings. The fact that there are two identical sets of earrings ina pre industrialized fantasy world sort of breaks my brain. I know it’s entirely possible but you never see stuff like that. 

Was that guy really present? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

It bothered me so much that I went on a little brain journey and thought about it way too much. Ok, so this is another long shot but hear me out. The dream has to mean something, they spent way oo much time on it to be just a throwaway scene. And the entire episode was titled for it. So this guy is important. If he is the upper one and Tanjiro has some connection to him, it might be setting up the climax of the season or something. 

But also, both Tokitou and the boy weren’t paying any attention to this large armed (possibly six eyed) guy standing right there. Neither of them acknowledged him or looked at him at any point. Could that be because they can’t see him. Like Tanjirou is the only one that can. Because that guy is dead (or a demon now) and whatever past connection they share is what is allowing Tanjirou to see him? Is that crazy?

It’s a cool idea. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out!

The Love Hashira’s Fighting Style

Irina, I want to ask your opinion about something, but first, I left out a tremendous amount of detail about this episode. Did I skip anything you called to talk about?

Why was Nezuko in the men’s bath? Isn’t it weird? They usually let her do that sort of stuff with one of the attendants or the lady Demon Slayers. I don’t mind I just found it odd.

I’ve been thinking about the Hashiras. I have an idea of the kind of powers Shinobu Kocho, the Insect Hashira, has. I can imagine what kind of powers the Mist Hashira would have. But I’m having a hard time imagining the kind of powers Mitsuri, the Love Hashira, would have. What do you think?

Mist seems pretty obvious. Obfuscation, smoke bombs, rogue like fighting style. Maybe that’s too obvious? 

As for Mitsuri, I always assumed she was just really really strong. As in Mitsuri Smash! Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why. I think it’s because they make it a point that she eats a lot and Tanjiro mentioned he wants to do it too to become strong. Also anime loves to have small lady characters be super physically strong. It’s a classic trope and Demon Slayer likes those. So that would be my guess. I think the love part is about her personality not her powers.

I didn’t mention that most of the time, I felt like I was watching a theatrical release. Or that the incidental music seemed spot on. Same with the new OP! Any closing thoughts, Irina?

I actually got the exact same impression. I wonder if we will be getting these 50 minute episodes each week. I hope so but I doubt it.

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4 thoughts on “Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 1 Review

  1. I’m not particularly fond of Kimetsu no Yaiba as I find it a very well-animated but boring show with too many on-the-nose tropes filled with humour that lands with a complete thud to me.

    What I really enjoy is analyzing things and finding out the secrets of stories through the foreshadowing, and it seems Kimetsu no Yaiba is introducing something like that now in this arc. I suspect that whatever the connection between Kokushibo and Tanjirou is likely hints at how the story will end.

    1. That “connection between Kokushibo and Tanjirou” does seem interesting, doesn’t it? I’m looking forward to seeing what the show does with that.

  2. The Infinite Palace CGI was fine for about ten seconds, but after that it was just ufotable needlessly flexing. As a sequence to be played during a lofi or synthwave stream on YouTube, it’s fine, but it felt overwrought and excessive here.

    Ditto the ridiculously drawn out dialogue between our Big Bad and his frankly ugly minions. Like, if you’re so dissatisfied with their performance, just take care of business yourself, dude! You clearly have the ability!

    Kanao and Mitsuri go a long way towards saving the episode, and are my co-MVPs for this episode.

    Like Nezuko, Kanao is criminally underused throughout the anime; I wish we could get more of her in the field with Tanjirou.

    I too love how Mitsuri is such a dazzling, unapologetic girly girl looking just for her white knight, not yet another tortured soul, and how well she gets along with the similarly affable Tanjirou. Looking forward to her getting more screen time and showing off her skills.

    1. I can’t disagree with your reaction to the length of the CGI. I enjoyed it, because it was great to see again. But looking, back, it’s like the shots of the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It probably went on for about twice as long as it should have.

      It’s interesting you mention Big Bad not just taking care of things himself. Why doesn’t it? Does he know that without completing his research, he’d fail? Or would the chance of failure be too high to be acceptable? I think there’s a plot point in there somewhere!

      That shot of Kanao’s reaction to seeing Tanjirou awake might be my favorite instant from the whole series. Mitsuri’s growing on me, too! I’m glad Irina put my mind at ease for enjoying how expressive Mitsuri is, too. I was afraid to embrace what might be a cliche. Mitsuri just seems so expressive that she steals every scene she’s in.

      Oh, and seeing how well Mitsuri got along with Nezuko was great. Nezuko responded enthusiastically to Mitsuri’s natural warmth. Like you said, she and Tanjirou get along because of how innately good they are.

      I really, really hope her arc ends at least as happily as Tengen’s.

Please let me know what you think!

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