Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 11 Review

Quick Summary of Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 11

In Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc episode 11, “A Connected Bond: Daybreak and First Light,” Tanjirou, Nezuko, and Genya had had enough of Hantengu’s constant attempts to escape. As Tanjirou and Nezuko gave chase, Genya hurled uprooted trees at the demon until finally, they cornered him. Then they could that Hantengu had not quite exhausted his bag of tricks. Meanwhile, Mitsuri Kanroji kept Hantengu’s Hatred incarnation and its wooden dragons busy, though the fight began to take its toll. And then they encountered a problem none of them had foreseen.

Collaborating with Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime!

Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime and I are collaborating to review Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc this season! Welcome to our review of the final episode in the Swordsmith Village Arc! I’ll apologize up front: it’s a double-length episode, so this review might run long.

Before we begin to break down the episode, do you have any opening thoughts, Irina?

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather these past few days. I broke a tooth and it’s bumming me out. It also makes it tough to eat and sleep so I’m just generally meh. I was looking forward to this episode to cheer me up. But then for a while it looked like it might be a bummer ending…. What a rollercoaster!

So sorry to hear about your tooth! Dental pain is just the worst!

Review of Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 11

Three Major Movements in Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 11

I am dying to know what Irina thought of this episode – several key points in general. So much so that I want to jump right to those questions! But if you’ll bear with me, I’ll try to calm down and proceed in a calm, orderly fashion.

The episode delivered three majors movements: Tanjirou pushed right over the brink of despair, Mitsuri Kanroji’s last stand, and the hope of Muzan Kibutsuji. Let’s take them in order.

Interesting! See I didn’t think of Kanroji’s scene as an independent moment but I thought Genya’s demon consuming ability was striking. I also might have added a couple of sections after Muzan’s arc but you might be holding back to not spoil anything so I’ll just wait for those.

The Calm Voice of Zenitsu

You remember where we left off in the previous episode, right? Tanjirou, Nezuko, and Genja had mini-Hantengu on the run. But the little guy showed surprising speed, and he managed to stay ahead of them. Things looked bleak until they looked impossible: Tanjirou’s leg finally gave out.

Then a miracle happened. Something so amazing and unexpected that I cried out in delight – no, joy! Forgive a little sarcasm, because I really did like the moment: Tanjirou heard Zenitsu Agatsuma’s voice. 

Hey, look who showed up to offer Tanjirou some advice! Useful advice, too! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

And get this: he wasn’t screaming. Not even a little! All joking aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Zenitsu explaining how Thunder Breathing worked – and how Tanjirou could use it. And use it he did. Despite his likely shattered leg, Tanjirou used Zenitsu’s technique to flash past Nezuko and Genya (their shocked expressions made me laugh) to catch up with the demon.

Irina, what did you think of this development?

It was a reminder that we haven’t seen the two main supporting characters all season. Since it was just one big fight it wasn’t as striking but still, Demon Slayer without Zenitsu or Inosuke is a little lopsided isn’t it?

And yet, like I said, we hardly even notice. At least I didn’t. That says something about the season’s construction. They really kept us busy the entire time!

Tanjirou Caught Up with Hantengu

Tanjirou caught up with the demon. His sword connected. He push his might and technique into slicing off the demon’s head. Then Hantengu did something I did not expect. He grew. He grew to about two meters tall. And he started to crush Tanjirou’s throat and head.

I should note, though it probably goes without saying at this point, that the animation pulled its weight. Ufotable ended on an artistic high note.

Genya and Nezuko had to come to Tanjirou’s rescue. Nezuko lit the demon on fire with her Blood Art and Genya ripped its arms off. Pretty effective teamwork, if you ask me! As orchestral music swelled, Tanjirou tried to complete the decapitation he’d already started.

But the demon started backing away, towards the cliff. Nezuko tried to save Tanjirou, but all three ended up crashing into the ground below. Points to the audio effects – I felt their impact in my bones!

The sound effects and voice acting in this scene — this whole episode! — were emotionally effective. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Nezuko was down. The demon still had Tanjirou’s sword stuck in its throat. As the sky above grew lighter as dawn approached, the demon tried to get away to eat some humans. You know, to regain its strength. That’s when we discovered that a tree had stopped Tanjirou’s fall. Now, he called out in justified fury, saying (09:18), “’ll chase you down even if you flee to the depths of hell!”

What were your thoughts at this stage, Irina? 

Genya’s Demonic Abilities in Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 11

See this is where Genya also caught on fire because of the demon flesh he consumed. Which means that his body becomes demonic on some level at least. It’s not going through him intact without any effect since he draws strength from it. Obviously he’s breaking it down. But he’s not destroying the demonic nature of it in the process since Nezuko’s fire works. So what are the implications here? I still want to say he’s part demon although not in the traditional sense. In an accumulated and parallel sense if you know what I mean.

I did enjoy they teamwork. Because of the flashy fighting styles and Ufotable’s expansive choreographies in this show, I find that whenever more than one demon slayer is fighting a single enemy, they either have to take turns or it looks really messy. But this time, I thought it worked well. Grant it was still sort of messy but it felt like that’s how it was supposed to look. I hope we get more of those.

This set up the conflict that came close to breaking Tanjirou. Remember I mentioned the sky getting brighter? Remember what the sun will do to demons? Demons like Hantengu… and Nezujo? Hantengu smelled villagers nearby and rushed to turn them into breakfast. A greatly weakened Muichirou Tokitou showed up and threw the fancy sword from earlier episodes to Tanjirou – despite Hotaru Haganezuka saying it wasn’t quite ready.

I’m glad Muichirou had good aim! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

So, I’m thinking, cool – Tanjirou has the super sword. He used Zenitsu’s breathing technique to catch up to and behead the demon. Cool, right? The demon’s done for, yes? The body was still standing, though, but Tanjirou forgot about that. He noticed the sun was about to rise. And Nezujo was unconscious at the foot of the cliff.

Nezuko in Peril

He tried to run to her. He tried to tell her to get to cover. But his body was too damaged. Instead, she ran towards him – much to his horror. But she ran to him to make him look behind. Where the body of Hantengu now chased three villagers.

Tanjirou tried to run to their aid as the sun risen above the mountains. Nezuko’s flesh began to burn.

Remember the shot in the credits where we see Nezuko’s mouth piece on the ground? But she’s nowhere to be seen? In this moment, I remembered that scene.

Irina, what did you think of how this scene developed?

So this was a very tropey scene, wasn’t it? And calm down folks, I’m not saying that in a bad way. It’s just that this is almost an homage scene. Nezuko running towards Tanjiro was maybe a tad too long. I loved it, I thought it looked beautiful and it was touching and important at that moment. But like we all know right from the start that there was something going on behind Tanjiro, right? She was looking over his shoulder and just the way the scene played out, it was the perfect set-up for a look out behind you moment. And that’s what we got. 

It finally dawned on Tanjirou that Nezuko was trying to tell him something. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

It’s still effective and I liked that they reminded us of the demonic nature of Nezuko in a gentle way. Early on, the conflict was on whether Nezuko would ever become a violent demon and what right did Tanjirou have to protect someone who for all intents and purposes was already dead and a huge potential threat to everyone, just because he wasn’t ready to let go. It was a selfish act and a huge conflict that I thought was interesting to explore. But Nezuko is so cute and the story presents her as an almost impossibly perfect angel that the conflict is negated. The audience can’t possibly disagree with Tanjiro on his choice and therefore any other consideration becomes moot. If people knew Nezuko, they wouldn’t fear her and of course she’s not going to go feral. 

Raising the Stakes for Nezuko

So with that conflict pretty much abandoned since season 2, we need something else to make Nazuko more than just a magical girl type character that’s not allowed to speak… 

Insisting on her demonic traits, like the fact that she can’t be out in the sun is a good way to go. Because instead of marking her as other through her demonic strength and abilities, it separates her from the rest through her weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It reminds us that no matter how unusual the situation may be, at the end of the day Tanjirou is just taking care of his sick sister and looking for a cure. 

I’m probably reading too much into this.

Tanjirou had to decide: try to save Nezuko and doom the villagers, or go after the villagers and let Nezuko burn. No, that wasn’t it – Tanjirou would not let her burn, so he turned his back on the villagers and tried to shield Nezuko from the sun. He even told her to get small so he could shield all of her.

I did not like the shots of her burning; I didn’t like the sound of her screaming. And by that, I mean the animation and voice acting Akari Kitou hit hard. No way was this scene not going to be emotionally powerful. But this was just the start. 

These scenes were hard to watch. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Tanjirou heard the villagers screaming. He looked back to see the demon had almost caught up with them. He looked around for help. Genya was too far away. Muichirou was unconscious. Tanjirou was the only demon slayer close enough to help them. He thought through other options. Even then, he knew. If he protected Nezuko, the villagers would die.

His agonized breathing and the extreme closeups of his bloody face conveyed how frantic he felt. But I think we all knew what he would decide. Tanjirou, Nezuko’s brother, could not abandon her. And you know what? That knowledge made his actual decision even more poignant.

Tanjirou’s Painful Deliberation

What did you think, Irina?

That was hard to watch, wasn’t it? I’m not sure if it was more suffocating that Muichirou’s backstory. Mercifully it was a lot shorter but I caught myself getting extremely tense in that moment. And I really liked this dilemma. I like that it dealt with limitations and weaknesses that are other than Demons are monsters! And I liked the idea of the show letting us know that the Demon Slayer corp can fail. That though decisions have to be made and a lot of sacrifices were necessary to get to this point. 

I feel like in the beginning of the series it felt like no one was safe and the demons were an overwhelming threat. Tanjirou was lucky to survive even a random encounter. Now there are two upper ranks in a small village and we’re thinking everything is going to be alright… I’ll get back to this point later.

Tanjirou would not abandon Nezuko. But Nezuko had something to say about this. She kicked Tanjirou away from her, so hard and so far that he could not get back to her in time. He flew away in slow motion; the soundtrack went utterly silent as he flew through the air. There was no way Tanjirou could let her burn; but there was no way she was going to let the villagers die. The only thing she could do as flames and smoke consumed her, was to get Tanjirou into position – away from her.

Tanjirou couldn’t decide what to do. But Nezuko could. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

We’ve come so far with these two. Again, I remembered the bamboo mouthpiece on the ground. I’ve trained myself to play two roles when it comes to fiction: the writer and the reader. I turn the writer off as much as I can when I’m watching so that the reader in me can enjoy the experience unencumbered by thoughts of merchandising or plot armor or audience reaction to a character. That lets me fully immerse myself in a given work of fiction. The net effect was that in this moment, I thought Nezuko could die. 

I was not happy about that.

Tanjirou Finishes His Mission

Tanjirou used his scent ability to discover that mini-Hantengu had hidden in the heart of the bigger model. So, he slashed the bigger model in half. The smaller version thus freed, Tanjirou screamed (21:53), “Atone for your sins!” and sliced the demon’s head off. We got a small flashback (small flashback for a small demon) that explained Hantengu had been a lying, thieving monster all his life. So, no sympathy for his passing at all.

Irina, any thoughts on the end of Hantengu? 

And this is the later. Maybe it’s just me but somewhere in the past few seasons, I feel like Demon Slayer has lost its stakes. 

Nezuko kicking Tanjirou off her was touching and significant. Seeing her, in her little form at that, getting slowly burned by the sun was devastating. I teared up, because of course I did. 

But never for one second did I think that Nezuko was in any real danger. I didn’t think it would turn out quite like it did but I figured one way or another she would be alright. Someone would have come along with her box or she would have rolled into the shadows. And it wasn’t just that I refused to believe anything bad would happen to Nezuko, it’s that I was just confident that there was no way the show was going to go into that direction. The character is way too popular and merch for her is selling well.

Nezuko’s resolve was moving — but undermined by plot armor. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

So far Demon Slayer tends to be very skittish about killing off main characters. Sure we lost Rengoku but that’s it. In all those seasons he’s the only important character to die and even then, he was just introduced and developed right before his fall. Cynically you could say that narratively his entire character arc only exists to make the audience feel something at his death. Because outside of that, he really did not have any impact on the story.

The Drag of Plot Armor on Tension

And like I said, lately it feels like the characters have such thick plot armor that the stakes are laughable. You could have had Muzan show up right then and there and I would still be fairly confident that everything was going to be ok.

So for all those reasons, what I was tearing up about is that Nezuko was willing to make the sacrifice because she an almost impossibly perfect character, not that she was in any danger because I didn’t think she would be. 

The fact that they never even showed us how she was turning to ash was a big tell as well. I mean c’mon. You expect me to believe that you are going to have one of the main characters (and potentially the most popular one) die just offscreen? Just a foot to the left? Even I’m not that naive!

Exhausted by the battle and by despair, Tanjirou fell to his hands and knees. That’s when we got a shot from someone else’s perspective – someone walking hesitantly towards Tanjirou. The villagers finally got his attention and pointed. 

I think ufotable blew about a year’s budget on the next twenty seconds of animation. Each blade of grass moved in the wind; the camera wound around Tanjirou and the villagers until it showed Nezuko, her flesh quite unburned, walk up them. Her bamboo mouthpiece hung by a single thread.

This scene had some emotionally impactful animation. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The Voice of Nezuko

Tanjirou couldn’t speak. But guess who could? Nezuko took a step forward, the mouthpiece falling to the ground, and after a couple of attempts, said (26:52), “Morning.”

The villagers had to help him get to her, because Tanjirou was pretty much broken by now. But what followed was much hugging and crying.

Irina, this is the first of two scenes I’m dying to get your take on. I want to know what you think in general, of course. But I’m very curious to know how you reacted to this scene in particular (and one later). What did you think?

I’m split here.

Obviously I didn’t want Nezuko to die or be gravely injured. No one wants that. But it would have been a way more logical outcome and one that resonated more with the narrative. The idea that these are characters fighting for their lives against impossible odds and all that. Like I said, I never thought Demon Slayer would go that way and I would have been crushed if they did but I would have respected it and it would have raised the stakes in the show, considerably resetting the threat level to high. 

Instead, having Nezuko magically be immune to the sun is.. Well.. It’s a Disney ending isn’t it? They should have foreshadowed it a bit at least. It comes out of nowhere and feels unearned. It was just a little too perfect for my tastes.

This really was a Disney moment — and I’m equal parts relieved and disappointed. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This Changes Everything

ON the other hand! The implications of a demon that can walk in the sun is fantastic. I think it really opens up the story. It also gives Muzan and by extension all demons under his sway a very good and tangible reason to target Nezuko specifically which means that Tanjiro & co will now always be at the center of the action. And who knows, there’s no need to kill Nezuko to get some of her blood. Even Tomayo has some. So it’s not unthinkable that Muzan or other Demons could get their hands on some of her blood to also gain some partial sun immunity. And it’s a whole new ballgame then!

I do like that a lot.

So I’m split.

On a purely emotional level, I bawled like a baby. It was cute.

I should also mention that around this time, something else amazing happened: Genya smiled. He was so happy to see Nezuko alive that he smiled. I thought that was a nice touch.

This is the second bit I want to get Irina’s opinion on. Mitsuri Kanroji came running up the group, battered by very much alive. She was also happy to see Nezuko, and there were more hugs. Very happy scene and all – but the flash back to the end of her fight against the wooden dragon happened just in time to see her give up. In fact, she started crying and said (29:30), “I can’t take it anymore!”

It’s not that I don’t think she had a rough time of it. It’s that Tanjirou and Muichirou didn’t start crying and just give up. She’s a Hashira! She demonstrated a strength and determination equal to anyone we’ve encountered in this series. To see her so reduced bugged me.

Irina, what do you think?

Kanroji’s Honesty

I saw it very differently, I guess. Like I didn’t see her reduced, it just didn’t occur to me. Kanroji is someone who expresses her thoughts and emotions very openly and freely and I just thought she had had it rough. She had a rough day and she wanted to whine a little and maybe shed a few tears. Nothing wrong with that. 

Kanroji’s shock at hearing Nezuko speak made me laugh. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Maybe I’m misreading your thoughts here Crow? Did you mean that the scene made her look less strong or something? Maybe that’s what they were going for but if so, it went way over my head. I thought they were just showing her being true to herself and I like Kanroji a lot, and in no small part due to the fact that her personality is so different from the other Hashiras. But I could have just missed some subtext here, I admit. 

I’m glad you saw it that way – I feel a bit better about it now. And it was nice to see her not dead or anything!

At this point, the battle’s over. Our heroes won. But Demon Slayer wasn’t done with us yet! We get a scene of Muzan Kibutsuji in young adult form. He was apparently staying with a rich family, because the lady of the house and a maid brought him tea. To thank them, he sliced off their heads.

Okay, the tea and decapitations were probably unrelated. But the timing suspected me might have had enough of that particular kind of tea.

The message in this scene was that somehow, Muzan saw that Nezuko could now walk in the sunlight. We got a flashback to Muzan’s past to show that having to go out only at night was an insurmountable obstacle. Now, he said that if he could consume Nezuko, he could become the supreme being – a homicidal human killing machine that could stroll about at will day or night.

A New Direction for Muzan

Oh, and now that he has an attainable target, he won’t have to make any more demons. They just annoyed him, anyway.

How did this development strike you, Irina?

It was almost like we got two episodes, wasn’t it. They could easily have divided this into two separate weeks and it wouldn’t have felt incomplete. 

I’d hate to be a minor character in this show. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Muzan has always been a pretty great antagonist. The fact that he’s used sparingly helps a lot. But now that we even have a bit of a backstory for him, I think it elevates the character even more. Underdeveloped, unthreatening and/or dull villains are a common flaw of anime, and really stories, like Demon Slayer, but I think Muzan is actually one of the strongest parts of the show. I hope they don’t mess it up.

This is just a small thing, but after killing the lady and maid, Muzan now back to his adult form walks out of the room and as he’s just casually strutting towards the door, he kind of kicks one of the maid’s now lifeless legs out of the way. Not specifically or anything, he doesn’t aim at it and kick it, it’s more like his foot just hits against it as he walks and he doesn’t even pay any attention to the body. As if it was any other piece of litter on the ground he accidentally kicked.

For some reason that small but very intentional little animation just captured my imagination. It was just such a perfect visual representation of who Muzan is. Of how inhuman he has become (maybe always was). He no longer regards life as anything really. It’s meaningless to him. And they managed to get that message across in a split second, in a more powerful way than any grand speech I have ever heard. 

Bonus Scene with Tamayo

Oh, there was a bonus scene! We got to see Tamayo again! She was writing a letter to Tanjirou. In it, she explained her theory that Nezuko had decided not to talk because she had to dedicate her mind to some other problem, and that her cells were in constant flux. Maybe her mind was developing the ability to walk in daylight? But it was nice to see her again. I missed her quiet calm.

It was nice seeing Tamayo again! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

That’s the end of another season of Demon Slayer! I give it full points for animation, and the scenes with Tanjirou and Nezuko in this episode hit hard. It was nice seeing Muichirou get his memories back. If I had to name two regrets, it’s that Mitsuri Kanroji faltered on the landing and Tanjirou didn’t get to keep the super sword. At least, I think he had to give it back to Hotaru Haganezuka.

Closing Thoughts about Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 11

Irina, any closing thoughts on the episode or the season?

So the next season is going to be the “Hashira training arc”. I’m not sure if their success against an upper demon means that Tanjiro and Genya are considered Hashira material now or if they are going to be trained by Hashiras or if this is something else. I hope we get to see Zenitsu and Inosuke again and I really hope it’s not just one more long fight. I’m getting a bit tired.

Still, it feels like a return to form right now. The story really took a big leap in the last few minutes, and the future is full of possibilities. 

Maybe Tanjiro’s sword will finally get finished!

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4 thoughts on “Demon Slayer – Swordsmith Village Arc Episode 11 Review

  1. I thought Muichirou was dead and rejoining his family in the afterlife. I kind of hoped he was dead because I was expecting someone to die, and I didn’t want it to be Mitsuri. She and Nezko make a cute couple!

    In the first battle with an upper rank, a hashira died. In the second, they lost another hashira to injuries. I figured in fight number 3 they’d lose another one, especially since they went up against two upper ranks. Maybe this is getting easier.

    1. They did seem to get off easy, didn’t they? Rengoku had a considerably rougher way to go.

      I say this half-jokingly, but maybe they didn’t lose anyone because the Tanjirou-Effect is getting more powerful! He’s starting to share his plot armor.

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