Sometimes, a show can hook you with a moment, like episode 1 did when Nezuko sprang in front of the fallen Tanjiro to protect him from the demon hunter. Other times, it can hook you with the ingenuity of an entire sequence, as episode 2 proved as Nezuko and Tanjiro fought the demon — you remember, the demon that grew arms out of its severed head?
Who could forget? Zombie comedies are one of my favourite weird niches.
Anyway, sometimes, a show hooks you by giving you just a little bit more than it strictly needed to; or giving you something you expected, but in a way that was delightfully unexpected. This episode did both.
But before we get into that, welcome to to collaborative review of episode 3 by Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime and this site, Crow’s World of Anime. I’ll be in normal type (where I’m most comfortable, to be honest) and Irina will be in bold.
Irina, before we dive in, any opening remarks?
I will be bold this week. In case that wasn’t amply clear. As for my opening remarks: Good call with this show Crow! I realize we’re only 3 episodes in but there is a lot to sink your teeth into. (Get it…because you know….)
I love puns and dark humor!
Also, I’m not sure why I insist on calling the demons zombies. They just seem so zombie like to me.
Since I’ve already mentioned Is This a Zombie, and now that you mention it, demons do seem to have a lot of the same powers that Ayumu Aikawa did. Though, to be fair, he’d less grow back limbs that be able to reattach the old ones…
Can I just take a moment to bask in the awesomeness that it the OP? It’s “Kurengeby” by the incomparable LiSA. I like her work so much that I have to wonder if part of why I like this series so much is that her OP puts me in the right frame of mind?
Ok the song is decent but that link doesn’t even have the animation. The OP visuals are fantastic. That woodblock styled wave that comes in and out through transition shots is nothing short of beautiful! Wow, I did not think I would get this passionate about it.
I thought about linking to the Youtube of the OP with the visuals, but I went with the full version of the song. But there’s nothing saying I can’t link to the other, too!
The show (after the OP) starts with a quick essay on how demons heal almost instantly, can regenerate limbs (and apparently entire bodies if given enough time), and eat humans as their “staple.” By contrast, the humans that fight the demons heal slowly and once a limb’s severed, it’s gone. Doesn’t seem fair! We learned two other important things: First, that the demon hunters aren’t under government control, and second, no one knows who the leader is — even the demon hunters.
The political part of my brain suggests that ripe for misuse! Talk about a lack of checks and balances…
Well, they get eaten by demons a lot, which has got to stifle the organization’s growth. Also there’s like a 60% chance they’ll die during training. Oh and they don’t seem to get paid in any way. Forget checks and balances, how has this thing survived at all? The recruitment drive is very suspicious too.
The more I think of it, the more I’m starting to believe all humanity will be devoured by demons before the end of the series…
I stand corrected! And now I feel existentially despair, too!
It’s pretty obvious that Tanjiro has zero fighting skills. Well, he can fall well, and he knows a little about being sneaky, but when it comes to disciplining his body to the point where it’s an effective weapon? Might as well duct tape arms on a punching bag. So, it’s obvious we needed a training episode — even beyond what we got in the previous episode.
Man you’re harsh. You’ve already forgotten that brilliant axe flinging move? Just because the boy isn’t a skilled swordsman doesn’t mean he has zero fighting skills… sheesh. But yeah, I guess it is good he gets a bit of training.
When I said “sneaky,” I meant his axe move! But I guess I did downplay it, so it’s only fair you point that out!
And more training? That’s exactly what we got after the essay. Tanjiro’s constantly getting better at avoiding traps, but Sakonji Urokodaki continuously improves the them, to the point where it’s not just dirt at the bottom of a pit, but actual steel blades!
Irina, I seem to remember you objecting to how rough the training was before. What did you think of this development?
I repeat myself, this organization cannot survive.
Jokes aside, demon slayer is clearly becoming more and more of a comedy (weird sentence to cast joking aside on…) So I decided to take those traps as ridiculous shonen tropes and no one that has a name can ever die!
Though I have to wonder if fatal traps are the best way to train a demon hunter, I have to admit that I personally can’t think of a better way. Regardless, to this point, the show felt like any shōnen series that had to mark the checkbox for training. But this show impressed me. Instead of just running down the mountain again and again, Sakonji made Tanjiro start carrying a sword. That altered his dynamic so much that he started getting trapped again. Why is that impressive? Maybe I’m easy to impress, but I’ve never seen that subtle point addressed before. Of course running with a sword is different than running without one; of course it would change your balance and how you avoid traps, especially when you’re running down a mountain. I love little details like that!
Do you train to capture dangerous criminals by having live bullets shot at you without any protection or warning? I’m actually asking, I have no clue. I figure whatever way SWAT teams train, it should be similar.
I also really liked how much of an impact the sword made. I think it was beyond the simple physical aspect maybe. The responsibility and symbolism of that sword are way heavier than the metal it’s made out of. That’s gotta weigh on a person. There’s an emotional and intellectual adjustment to make.
Speaking of traps, what, I didn’t say anything about traps, but go on… this episode continues what it’s establishing as a tradition by giving us some great Tanjiro expressions! He really hated hanging upside down after getting his ankle caught in a snare. He didn’t like it much better after swinging the sword 1000 times, Sakonji ordered him it was time for 500 more.
Tanjiro trying to run in mid air after Sakonji pushed him into the waterfall was pretty entertaining, too.
If the show was all doom and gloom, it’d be less interesting!
After a quick lesson about swords (which setup the ending, but that wasn’t clear until later) and some basic sword training for our hero, the show touched on something that had been bugging me. We got several scenes where Nezuko’s lying asleep, and she’s still gagged. I thought to myself, “Does she sleep all the time?”
That’s when Tanjiro said, “And now it’s been six months since Nezuko was last awake.”
Huh? Irina, do you think she’s malnourished? Is this something we don’t understand about demons?
One of my delightful readers, who is acquainted with the manga, says they don’t need to eat at all. But you know, maybe they should try to give her some broth or something. Even with the lighthearted tone, the very specific dread of having someone you love being sick was unmistakable. And sad. After all, Tanjiro doesn’t want to kill demons. He’s doing all this to save his sister. And now, she won’t even wake up.
Tanjiro was worried enough to call a doctor, who said nothing was wrong with her — though I wonder if they noticed the “Oh, she’s a demon!” aspect of the situation…
Soon after that, after increasingly dangerous descents and after about a year of training (if my math’s right), Sakonji announced that he had no more to teach Tanjiro. Good news, right? Well, not really, because Sakonji lead him to an enormous boulder and said that once Tanjiro sliced it in half, he’d consider allowing him into the Final Selection, without which he couldn’t be a demon hunter.
I had to admire Tanjiro’s reaction: “Is a boulder something you can slice?”
Damn good question if you ask me! Irina, what’d you think at this point?
I thought it was snowing. Stupid thought right?… In three episodes, all of the pivotal moments in Tanjiro’s life have happened while it snowed. As a northerner, I have a sense of snow. It carries a particular magic. You either get it or you don’t.
This series is lush and rich in color. They could have easily set the action mainly in pink washed spring, golden summer or multicolor fall. They chose winter and snow yet rarely mention the cold. I think there must be a reason for it. But I don’t know what it is. I really like it though.
Winter suits Tanjiro…
The cold certainly doesn’t seem to dismay him!
But the boulder? I’d’ve been tempted to walk away. However, this is Tanjiro we’re talking about, so you knew he was going to try. And try he did! The good news is that he’d learned his to swing a sword so that even a blow to solid rock didn’t shatter it. The bad news? The boulder was immovable. He couldn’t even chip it. He reacted as well as we could expect by doubling his efforts at exercise and training. But it was no use; his blade would not penetrate the boulder.
In exasperation, thinking that he just wasn’t good enough, he slammed his forehead against the massive stone. Irina, did you almost think that his skull would be hard enough to damage the rock? Because I did!
Well, he attacked the demon in the last episode with his skull, so I thought that maybe…
Yeah. My brain set me up for that, didn’t it?
Suddenly, as his head had to be hurting from multiple impacts, Tanjiro heard a voice above him saying to shut up and stop whimpering. The voice belong to another masked individual, Sabito, who said, “No matter how you suffer, bear it in silence if you’re a man.”
He then proceeded to beat the crap out of Tanjiro with a wooden sword.
Remembering that Sakonji had given him only basic sword training, I have to say that I think Sabito was a bit of a jerk. Sure, the burned hand teaches best, but come on! I think only two things kept Tanjiro going. First, Sabito mentioned that he, too, was a disciple of Sakonji. Second, he casually mentioned that he’d already sliced a boulder in two. That seemed to help Tanjiro accept that Sabito could teach him how to do the seemingly impossible.
There was a lot of manly man talk. And Tanjiro is pretty small, yet Sabito was the some height. I really thought he was a child rather than a jerk. You know how kids can be short sighted sometimes…
Sabito landed a particularly hard blow to Tanjiro’s jaw. When he awoke hours later, Tanjiro saw a young girl, Makomo, who also had a mask. Instead of wearing it on her face, she wore it to the side of her head.
I had to admire Tanjiro’s focus in that moment. Instead of bemoaning his lacking abilities, and instead of berating himself or lashing out at Sabito, he gushed about the skill of the blow that knocked him out. He was amazed that it had “Not a single bit of wasted motion… It was really beautiful!”
I think this was an important moment for him. Even his own well-being was now in second place to the mission, which was to learn to be a demon hunter.
But since when does he actually want to be a demon hunter? Don’t get me wrong, it was a great scene and it made me smile but I feel like we’ve skipped over some of Tanjiro’s development here.
Makomo also looks very young. Younger than Tanjirou (who is 13… I looked it up). These are all children we’re dealing with. Sort of explains some of their more erratic reactions.
Makomo also confirmed that a little later. And you raise a good point. Tanjiro’s goal is to recapture Nezuko’s humanity. The only path available is to become a demon hunter, so that’s the path he’s on. If he could find another way, he might well take it. But what other path could give him the skills to beat information out of a demon — which is what Giyuu Tomioka said he’d need to do in the first episode?
Makomo was the polar opposite of Sabito. She was gentle and quiet and spoke encouragingly to our hero. She plainly told him what he needed to fix in his sword technique, and not by yelling or pounding him with a wooden sword.
She also filled in some narrative blanks: she told Tanjiro that she and Sabito were orphans, and that Sakonji had raised them. Apparently, that was common in this world.
Irina, did you think of The Promised Neverland at this point? I mean, I wonder where all of those orphans came from….
Orphans used to be extremely common, I figure if there’s demons roaming around eating people they would be even more common. You’re gonna protect your kid right. But I think there may be something more to it…
Those masks, that attitude. I watch a lot of Yokai anime…
I think you’re right. As we saw with Tanjiro’s family, the kids died, too. So there’s something else going on…
I also wondered what Makomo meant when she told Tanjiro that “They’re always watching you, Tanjiro.” I wasn’t sure if I should feel reassured or creeped out.
But Makomo was a very interesting girl — she spoke authoritatively about deep breathing techniques in such physiological detail that Tanjiro was utterly confused. In that way, she reminded me a lot of the kids from The Promised Neverland!
But even though he was confused, he recognized that she knew what she was talking about, so he asked her what he needed to do. “Train to death. At the end of the day, there’s nothing else you can do.”
So he redoubled his already intense training. For six months, he trained against Sabito. For six months, he lost to Sabito. And then came a snowy day. Tanjiro’s hair was much longer; his expression more grim. Almost as if it were in answer to his mood, Sabito wore a real sword, not the wooden version he’d been using.
Cool moment or what?
Very cool. Cliché you might say but classics become classics for a reason! We all knew where it would go but I still held my breath a little as I watched what happened next:
Each man went into his stance. This was going to be one of those head-on battles: one move, one strike, one winner. Tanjiro used the breathing technique that Makomo had tried to explain to him, and they lunged at each other. It’s a forgone conclusion who will win, right? After all, this is Tanjiro’s story, yes?
Well, now’s the point where the show did something delightfully unexpected. We got a beautiful look at their attack in slow motion. We got to see Tanjiro’s sword flick Sabito’s mask in two. The strike was so precise that it didn’t touch the man’s skin.
Sabito smiled — sadly. Tanjiro called it a relieved smile. From her vantage point watching the fight, Makomo smiled, too. As they did, a mist started to form, so subtly that I didn’t even see it at first. As the mist started to obscure her, Makomo congratulated him and urged him not to forget what he had just accomplished. She disappeared. By the time he looked back at Sabito, the other man was gone. The mist had swallowed him.
Then it began to recede, and as it did, Tanjiro saw the boulder. In two pieces. With his sword at the bottom of the gap.
Irina, what’d you think of that?
I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it. I did not look this up…
The obvious story is that Sabito and Makomo are simply skilled demon hunters and Tanjiro could do all those things for a new recruit himself some day. But I’m not entirely sure. The story insists on their oddness and the Kitsune masks do have some associations to them.
Another answer could be that they are ghosts of fallen Demon sayers looking out for the next generation. They could even be helpful spirits who regard demons as an intrusion on the world and have some history with Urokodaki.
I like that interpretation!
My elaborate headcanon is that they are actually former demons. As in they were children that got attacked and turned into demons and were eventually put down by Sakonji. Something that could have come as a relief. Their spirits from then on stuck to who they would see as a savior, someone who they love very much, and they got imbued by his lifestyle and skills.
That almost sounds hopeful for Nezuko! Well, except for the “former” part…
The analytical part of my mind wondered at the physics of what had just happened. Surely all of his training with Sabito and Makomo wasn’t imagined, because even when he’d been unconscious, they had interacted. So I started trying to understand how Tanjiro’s sword thrust had been redirected from Sabito to the boulder, until another part of my brain patiently pointed out that I’m watching a fantasy with demons who grow arms on their severed heads. And I’m worrying about the particulars of two young sword teachers?
The moment was unexpected. It was wondrous. It was something that should have been impossible, and it was the reward for Tanjiro’s relentless and painful training. Moments like that are something to treasure, not analyze away!
So now the analytical mind’s a little embarrassed, and, in an attempt to regain favor, it pointed out that the results of Tanjiro’s strike violated no known rules of this universe, and yes, the analytical brain can enjoy cool things, too.
I’m still worried about Nezuko — she’s been asleep for what, a year and a half? That’s a heck of a nap! But one thing’s for sure: Tanjiro’s now lethal with a blade. It’s time for him to start interacting with his peers!
To me this show remains absolutely visually dazzling. It’s so beautiful in a way that particularly appeals to me. I quite like the unusually stocky character models and this may be some o the best integrated CG I’ve ever seen.
The tag just before the OP had no music. It was all slow movements and atmospheric sounds and it was downright fantastic. (Thee music can be a bit much occasionally).
Once again, the episode was over before I knew it and I can’t wait for the next one.
We just learned that the show’s slated for 24 episodes! If it keeps on this course, it’s going to be a heck of a ride!
Reviews of the Other Episodes
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Episode 01: Cruelty
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Episode 02: Trainer Sakonji Urokodaki
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Episode 03: Sabito and Makomo
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Episode 04: Final Selection
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Episode 05: My Own Steel
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Episode 06: A Friend fo All Humans