Anime

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: The Bonds that Tie Us and a Family Affair

Welcome, and thanks for joining Irina (of I Drink and Watch Anime fame) and I for our review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba episode 19, Hinokami. This is one of those episodes that makes me glad that I’m reviewing anime, because I get to share it not only with Irina (and I’m dying to know what she thought of it!), but with all of you, too. And what an episode it was! We find out who was the real member of the Twelve Kizuki, and the power of one of those demons was truly on a different level. We witness a war play out over the meaning of something as basic yet profound as the idea of family. And we experience first the terror, then the wonder stemming from something I think we’ve all been waiting to see for weeks.

As usual, there will be spoilers. Very, very big spoilers. At least two and maybe more.

Before we dive in and let this episode sweep us away, any opening thoughts. Irina (who will be in bold)?

Last episode ended on such a cliffhanger. Not that we didn’t know who would win but we didn’t know who would win this time…

Also, I knew that hair was covering up something!!!!!

Yep — you called it! But let’s keep that secret a little longer!

The episode wastes absolutely no time in jumping right back into the action. Rui’s attack sliced right through Tanjiro’s sword. He spun frantically to avoid getting his skull sliced in two, and he ended up with only a slash across his cheek. Still, he’s now facing a frighteningly powerful foe with a sword that’s now about six includes long. That’s not a great position to be in.

The scene switched to Inosuke, where we find out three important details. First, Giyuu’s skillful defeat of daddy spider demon left a huge impression on Inosuke. So much so that Inosuke admitted the more experienced Demon Slayer’s power was on a whole different level. “I still have goosebumps, damnit!” Inosuke said. I can’t imagine him acknowledging someone else’s skills just a few episodes ago! 

Second, Giyuu confirms that no, daddy spider demon was not one of the Twelve Kizuki. It was funny how Inosuke tried to blame Tanjiro for that error. And finally, we learned that Giyuu has no patience for Inosuke’s brand of bravado — Giyuu tied him up and hung him from a tree. 

Irina, what did you think?

I was what I would call non-sexual fanservice and I loved it. Giyuu is a fun character and a much better foil for Inosuke’s overbearing exuberance than we’ve seen so far. I giggled a bit at the line “you speak too softly”.  I hope Inosuke decides to start imitating him.

I also really liked how Inosuke immediately blamed Tanjiro for misidentifying the Kizuki! It was silly fun but in a good way. This is the type of comedy I think Demon Slayer handles well.

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Inosuke was impressed with Giyuu's skills

Giyuu’s skills seriously impressed Inosuke! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

I kinda wondered if it was safe to leave an injured Demon Slayer alone in a forest that probably still has a lot of spiders wandering around…

Meanwhile, Zenitsu’s breathing has kept him alive, and Shinobu Kochou commends him. I’m still not sure if her gentle voice is alluring or terrifying. But she seems intent on helping our now quiet (i.e., not screaming) young Demon Slayer, and she injects him with what she says is an antidote. Irina, am I alone is wondering just what she injected him with? 

She clearly said it was the antidote. I’ve realized that this is the type of show where you have to accept quite a few conveniences. Then again, if this demon has been around for a while, maybe the corp really did develop an anti-venom. Why not? 

Maybe I’m being too suspicious…

Now, the really interesting parts of the episode begin. Tanjiro’s already tired; his breath is coming in gasps. He’s reduced to dodging attack after attack, and the only thing keeping him alive is that Rui wants an apology. When he sees that one’s not forthcoming, he weaves a web and hurls it at Tanjiro. There’s no way he can dodge it.

What I’ve been waiting weeks for happens, but not at all in a way I’d hoped. The attack landed; blood exploded all around. But it wasn’t Tanjiro’s blood.  

It was Nezuko’s

She stopped the attack, and something about her appearance stunned Rui into immobility, giving Tanjiro time to pull her behind a tree for cover. She was gravely wounded, though; her left wrist was barely attached.

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Nezuko took the strike to save Tanjiro

We finally get to see Nezuko again — only to see her get seriously wounded. Dang it, Demon Slayer! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

You’ll probably think I’m exaggerating, but the combined emotions of seeing her again after so long; seeing her save her brother; and seeing her instantly reduced to near death were almost overwhelming. What was your reaction to the scene, Irina?

It was pretty heavily foreshadowed. I did like it a lot, but for me there were a lot of technical aspects that kept nagging at me. Tanjiro was clearly out of his league, why did he keep the box on him? Nezuko could easily have gotten accidentally hurt. I mean spinning is part of Tanjiro’s fighting style. She would have been exposed to those threads a lot.

It was a nice scene but I don’t think it hit me as much as it did you. It was just a bit too ham-fisted for me.

Ham-fisted is probably in my strike zone!

Rui stood trembling. Kumo Oni Ane realized Nezuko has the aura of a demon, but her perplexed expression turned to terror, and she looked at Rui. Rui couldn’t come to grips with the idea that Nezuko had become a demon, yet she stood by Tanjiro’s side. Kumo Oni Ane was becoming more and more obviously frightened. Something serious was going on, and we didn’t quite know what. Then Rui clued us in.

He wanted the bond between Nezuko and Tanjiro. If it wasn’t clear just how much this idea had wound him up, until when Kumo Oni Ane asked him not to desert her, he sliced her into four large chunks. All the while, he lamented that the rest of his family hadn’t fulfilled their roles to protect him. As she reassembled himself, he gave her one last chance: she had to go kill the other Demon Slayers who were still on the mountain.

I almost feel like I’m spoiling the mood by wondering how she seamlessly reassembled her robes, because they’d been sliced into pieces, too!

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Kumo Oni Ane felt Rui's wrath

Rui’s treatment of Kumo Oni Ane showed just how brutal he could be. Well, okay, it gave us a hint, because he was just getting started… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

See this is the scene that hit me more. These are the villains I find truly chilling. Rui wants a family. Or rather a genuine connection. Someone who cares for him and to care for in return. A perfectly reasonable desire, one most of us will understand.

And yet he twists it into something unrecognizable. How can you deal with that? It’s beyond the scope of understanding. It’s not even a question of good and evil anymore, it’s basic misalignment of perception. And when there’s a huge power imbalance on top of it, the situation quickly becomes critical.

That’s a good point — Rui is incomprehensibly “other.” That makes a good villain!

Rui demonstrates just how different his view of the world is. He shares that seeing Tanjiro’s bond with Nezuko gave him chills, so he’ll give Tanjiro a chance to stay alive. All he has to do is give Nezuko to him. Tanjiro answered in a way that made me proud: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The idea that he would give up his sister has no place in his mind. It was simply unfathomable in the truest sense. 

It got worse. Rui said that Nezuko would become his little sister. He answered Tanjiro’s objections by saying the Demon Slayer shouldn’t worry, because he’ll “create a bond between us… I’m talking about a bond of terror.”

He was going to torture Nezuko into becoming his little sister, like he’d tortured Kumo Oni Ane. Like he’d probably orchestrated the beatings papa spider demon gave his “mother,” Kumo Oni Haha

Irina, what did you think of his understanding what it meant to be a family?

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Rui has completely the wrong idea about family

Rui thought he could just torture Nezuko into being the perfect little sister. I doubt she saw it that way. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

I think he may never have had one. He understands the motions but not the meaning and feelings behind them. Basically he’s putting the cart before the ox. I think that Rui believes that if he can make someone act like a sister, then the love and trust will just come from it, instead of the other way around.

And inversely, if he doesn’t feel it, then obviously the experiment failed and it’s time to move on to the next one…

Tanjiro had had enough. Faced with a direct threat to his sister, he came out from behind the tree and, with his broken sword, faced Rui. Laughing, Rui decided to show him exactly who he was up against. He pulled the hair away from his left eye. 

Rui was one of the Twelve Kizuki.

Not exactly a shock, but still a pretty cool reveal — what’d you think., Irina?

I was just happy it was a hair reveal. I would have been a bit miffed if such an obvious clue went to waste.

I was actually more surprised to learn that he was the youngest of the bunch. That explains a lot. He’s just a brat.

A brat with the power of one of the Twelve Kizuki. Damn.

Everything that Rui has done, from his battle technique to his views on family, have driven home one very clear idea: He’s operating on a different level than anyone else we’ve seen, except probably Muzan Kibutsuji himself. If there was any doubt, he decided to up the ante: Rui used his webs to ensnare Nezuko and pulled her into his arms. 

Still think he’s just a little kid…

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Rui is too fast for Tanjiro or Nezuko

It didn’t matter that Tanjiro had put himself between Rui and Nezuko. Rui just used his webs to pull her to him. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Furious, Tanjiro attacked. Nezuko did her part by raking her claws across Rui’s face. He didn’t even flinch. When he lashed out at Tanjiro, the Demon Slayer had to dodge and flip backwards. When he looked at his foe, he was confused; Nezuko was gone! 

Then he blood rained onto Tanjiro. Looking up, he saw that Rui had trapped her in a web about twenty feet off the ground. She was upside down; dozens of strands cut into her body. She was obviously in terrible pain.

Rui had begun her training.

Tanjiro reacted the way I would have. He completely lost control. He charged straight at Rui, who calmly kicked Tanjiro into a tree then backhanded him across the clearing. Then he taunted Tanjiro (who could barely stand by this time) and told him there was no way his sword could slice through his throat. Tanjiro’s reactions were lightning fast, but Rui still dodged him until Tanjiro reversed a swing and what was left of his blade slammed into Rui’s neck. It did absolutely nothing. Rui’s next kick sent Tanjiro a couple hundred meters. 

What did you think of Tanjiro’s odds at this point, Irina?

Awww, c’mon Crow, there’s 6 episodes to go, we both knew he was going to be o.k. I did think Giyuu might show up to help though. This said, big sister went off to “kill the people in the woods” so he may be a little busy as well.

It was a very pretty fight as usual. This said, I would like to see other people fight a bit more, the visuals for Tanjiro’s fights are very distinct and I feel like we’ve gotten to know them pretty well by now. I wouldn’t mind seeing Giyuu in action more or Inosuke. He’s fighting stance is really interesting and he has a lot of unpredictable mouvements. Visually, you can make something quite unique out of that character’s battle choreography.

It was a shame Giyuu defeated papa spider demon so quickly. We didn’t get to see very much of Giyuu’s technique!

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: It was hard seeing Nezuko tortured

It was tough seeing Nezuko captured like this. Not that it was easy watching the pounding Tanjiro endured… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

As Tanjiro tried to gather his wits, Rui continued Nezuko’s “training,” constricting the web until she bled freely and passed out. Or at least it looked like she passed out; Rui said something was unusual about her compared to other demons. Strangely, though I was incensed at how Rui treated her, this moment gave me my first hope: Nezuko heals when she sleeps. Even if she does, though, I’m still not seeing how they can beat this demon.

Tanjiro realizes that letting his emotions run amok is literally killing him. He invokes Water Breathing, Tenth Form: Constant Flux. I know we just spent the last fifteen minutes watching Rui slap Tanjiro around like it was nothing, but I had to admit, I was ready for something amazing. How about you, Irina?

You now, Demon Slayer has strengths and weaknesses. For instance, the characters can be charming or very annoying and some are both. The writing isn’t always great and there are conveniences and plot holes to deal with. The humour and characterization seems aimed at children but the action and gore is pretty horrific. 

It also has strengths. When at their best, the characters can win you over with a single line of dialogue. The visuals are stunning and the animation, beautiful.  It sustains tensions and creates actual disheartening horror despite bright colours and almost cute designs. The plot and premise are classics that keeps me wanting to know what happens next.

Why am I going on this tangent? When at its best, Demon Slayer has one of the qualities I appreciate most in an anime (and that generally few pope notice at all), it is exquisitely paced. 

By the time Tanjiro was stating his Constant Flux, there could have been 20 minutes left to the episode. Heck there could have been an hour for all I knew. The scenes had been strewn together so seamlessly. The moments of high emotional impact, of tension, of release, and arranged and timed in such a way that I got lost in the episode. I hadn’t even considered what would happen next, the moment was all that mattered.

This was a really long way of saying, I don’t know.

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Tanjiro unleashed Constant Flux

Tanjiro unleashed the final, most precise form of Water Breathing, Tenth Form: Constant Flux. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Turns out Constant Flux did two very cool things. First, it sliced through Rui’s webs. Second, it took the form of a water dragon — the one we’ve seen in the OP. The animation was glorious! For the first time this episode, I thought that Tanjiro might be able to defeat Rui without waiting for Giyuu’s rescue.

But if Tanjiro could power up, it’s only fair that Rui can, too. Sending his blood through the webs, he invoked Blood Demon Art Cutting Thread Cage. A sphere of blood-soaked super powerful strands began to constrict around Tanjiro.

Tanjiro knew even Constant Flux wasn’t powerful enough to cut through those strands. He knew he was going to die. He knew he couldn’t let Rui have Nezuko. In the tidal force of those two conflicting convictions, Tanjiro did what many shōnen heroes do in this circumstance: he switched to flashback mode!

He saw his dad, who was emaciated yet looked a lot like his son. He also wore the earrings that Tanjiro now wears. Through this flashback, we learn that daddy had learned amazing breathing techniques, and that he had passed on in particular on to his son. It had to do with ritual dancing that could turn him into hinokami — literally, god of fire

I have to say that the shots of little Tanjiro watching his father dance in the snow, surrounded by a ring of flaming torches, were beautiful. 

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Tanjiro's dead father held one of the keys to victory

Tanjiro’s father performed the kagura dance. After seeing this flashback, I want to know more about Tanjiro’s dad… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, what’d you think of the flashback?

I really liked it. Tanjiro’s dad is nothing like him. It’s rare to see. It was a sweet and cooling little interlude in the middle of a punishing battle.

I hope we get to know more about it though. Why does a simple woodsman(?) family go through shamanistic rituals? Did they offer their protection to a lot of people or just their house. Are they an ancestral family or did Tanjiro’s dad just pick it up?

Visually, I really liked the tapestry of memories right at the beginning. That kaleidoscopic image of scenes from the show. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a clever way to reuse images and I thought it was really pretty. 

We’re almost to the best part of the episode, and I’ve had a hard time not blabbing about it until now! If I can only hold on another few paragraphs…

Back in the present, Tanjiro starts his father’s special breathing technique, and the music gets super cool. Literally on the edge of my seat, I watch as the water dragon transforms into a fire dragon. Wreathed in that fire dragon’s tail, Tanjiro hurls himself at Rui. He explodes through Rui’s Blood Demon Art, and for the first time, the demon starts to retreat.

Flaming slash after flaming slash, Tanjiro drives the demon back. He finally sees Tanjiro’s trademark thread of fate path to slay the demon, and he strikes.

It’s not enough.

The blade still won’t cut through Rui’s neck.

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Even Hinokami mode wasn't enough for Tanjiro to defeat Rui alone

Even in Hinokami mode, Tanjiro on his own can’t slice through Rui’s neck. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Rui’s family was based on fear. Tanjiro’s family is based on love. In every flashback we’ve seen, his family was an almost idyllic representation of what a family should be. In this moment, Tanjiro’s family came through. His mother might be dead, but her spirit can apparently still talk to Nezuko, because she urged her daughter to wake up and help her brother. If she didn’t go to his aid, he would die.

I wonder if the lack of previously disclosed mechanism for this encounter should bother me. Or should I go with the flow? What do you think, Irina?

I’ve mentioned it before, Demon Slayer isn’t great at establishing its rules. If you want to enjoy the show, you probably have to let a few go. If you want to complain, then by all means, go ahead. There’s viable material here.

Based on how this episode made me feel, I’m giving it a pass!

I realized why we have seen so little of Nezuko for 19 episodes. It was to starve us and prepare us for this moment. The moment when Nezuko woke up. The moment when Nezuko spoke and declared her Blood Demon Art, Exploding Blood! The resulting explosion ran down the strands into Rui, knocking him back. Tanjiro launched himself again at the demon and slammed the broken sword against his neck. This time, fire exploded from the other side, but it still didn’t bite. 

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Nezuko called forth her Blood Demon Art

Looks like little sis has leveled up! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

But this time, several drops of Nezuko’s blood had graced the blade. She detonated the blood, and as Tanjiro declared that no one could sever their bond, the explosion propelled the blade cleanly through Rui’s neck. 

Between the fusion of visual art, theme, soundtrack, and character, that might have been the most beautiful fight I’ve ever seen.

Irina, what was your reaction?

I’m sorry, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it was bad. It’s just that we had been waiting for Nezuko’s blood art for so long and this just seemed so basic. And visually it’s wasn’t very interesting either.

Maybe I’m spoiled. I wanted something insane or just ridiculously corny. Like she can make demons remember their human lives and feelings so they lose the will to fight for a bit, or something like that. Then we’d get an excuse for all sorts of out of context scenes.

A couple things struck me about this episode. First, I thought it was great that Tanjiro was able to defeat Rui only with the help of Nezuko’s Blood Demon Art. That really hammers home the idea that they’re a team. Plus, it amps Nezuko’s power — she won’t be confined to slashing and kicking while Tanjiro has all the cool Water Breathing forms!

Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Tanjiro and Nezuko together defeated Rui

It took their combined strength and skill, but Tanjiro and Nezuko defeated Rui, one of the Twelve Kizuki. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Second, just watching the animation, listening to the sound effects, and taking in the music, it almost felt like the director told the other artists to go indulge themselves. I thought that was especially true after Tanjiro invoked Constant Flux.

Irina, any closing thoughts?

The music got overbearing at times and took me out of the moment.

Everything else was beautiful though. I can pretty much see what detractors of the series are going to say about the episode. I’ll admit it wasn’t perfect. But I thought it was great fun, and by the time it ended, I once again had to check if it was really the end of the episode because I could have sworn it started like 5 minutes ago!

I’m really curious where we go next with only seven episodes left. Guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out!

Reviews of the Other Episodes

12 thoughts on “Review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: The Bonds that Tie Us and a Family Affair

  1. i had your same impression about this show “Demon Slayer isn’t great at establishing its rules. If you want to enjoy the show, you probably have to let a few go” i mean, the anime its good, Ufotable animation and color are impressive, but you know, it have the same old Shonen Clichè, to protect his beloved ones, the young protagonis unlock a power up and defeat one of the strongest enemy in the series, it’s ok but for someone that have watched anime for a lot of years its a little more of the same (of couse the problem it’s mine, i should focus more on watching seinen)

    1. “it’s ok but for someone that have watched anime for a lot of years its a little more of the same”

      I’ve been watching for years, and I’ve watched about 400 series. I completely understand what you’re saying, and I will even admit that from time to time, especially in harem series or fantasy series, I start to get a sense of “been there, done that.”

      But this episode? It’s been over a day since I watched it, and I’m still getting goosebumps when I think about it.

      1. Yeah was just a personal thoughts, i respect all the opinion, to me, this sense of “been there done that” happen a lot with modern Shonen even the most brilliant one, maybe cause i grow up in the ’90? Anyway i havent drop this show, thanks to the Ufotable work, i mean, its ridiculously good, dont you think the same?

        1. “Anyway i havent drop this show, thanks to the Ufotable work, i mean, its ridiculously good, dont you think the same?”

          Absolutely I agree! I thought the last half of this episode was some of the most beautiful and dramatic and powerful animation I’ve seen. It’s a treat to watch this studio’s work!

          I think it says something that even though you’ve seen the tropes so many times before, you still enjoyed the episode. That’s pretty cool!

  2. “Why does a simple woodsman(?) family go through shamanistic rituals?”
    It said that it a good luck dance, like a new year ritual to pray for the gods protection.

    I also don’t think that is a big plot hole since there actually many hints throughout the story:
    – The swordsmith said that he came from a family of fire
    – The earings clearly have significant meaning to Muzan and the man who nearly kill him, the fact that Tanjirou father told him to pass down the earing and the dance mean that both share a connection with Muzan
    – Tanjirou family murder don’t seem like some random demon attack since the bodies was left untouch.
    – Even Nezuko Demon blood Art was kinda hinted at due to the fact that all demon when reach certain point will get it and it seem like the Demon blood Art have some connection to the user character and backstory.

    Also interesting to know:
    “Extraction of water is one of the key facets of creating charcoal, which is Tanjiro’s family trade and also an allegory for his black blade.

    Dry charcoal is mostly carbon but contains some of the hydrogren contained in wood fibers. When ignited by the energy of fire, charcoal mixes with air and catalysis the creation of water alongside the carbon monoxide and other gasses, releasing a torrent of energy that we exploit inefficiently for our needs. When compacted, the carbon atoms realign into stronger and more ordered structures until you are left with a shining diamond that refract sunlight beautifully.”

    1. “Tanjirou family murder don’t seem like some random demon attack since the bodies was left untouch.”

      I’m still really curious about that! Please don’t say anything — I want to be surprised! But not even knowing if it’s foreshadowing or not, I’ve been wondering why the bodies were left untouched.

  3. “Tanjiro did what many shōnen heroes do in this circumstance: he switched to flashback mode!” – Have to agree, this was such a standard shounen move and pulling a new power out after a flashback is exactly the trope expected.
    Honestly though, all the plot holes and contrivances this episode pulled out and yet it didn’t matter, it was just a great episode to watch. It was fun, dramatic and exciting and I just loved watching it. It is really hard to believe that I was considering discontinuing this show just 5 episodes ago, but the tone has changed that much and that pace that just kind of fell out of the show after introducing the new characters came back during the last couple and now feels like they’ve found their flow again. I wonder how long until it all goes back to silly no-stakes antics between the main characters and I roll my eyes at it again.

    1. “all the plot holes and contrivances this episode pulled out and yet it didn’t matter, it was just a great episode to watch.”

      I’ve been thinking a lot about that idea. I mean, I can see plot, character, continuity etc. holes in any series, including this one. In some cases, those things make it hard for me to enjoy the show. In others, like this episode, it just doesn’t matter. The sum total of the experience is overwhelmingly positive.

      I should probably stop trying to distill universal truths from that scenario…

  4. FateGo has a bullshit gacha that prevents me from getting the servants I want.

    But all dat money they made gave us this episode, which puts the series right back on track after the Zenitsu focused episode which were testing my patience. Demon Slayer is firmly tied with Love is War for anime of year, and it might beat it if they can keep it up.

    1. “Demon Slayer is firmly tied with Love is War for anime of year, and it might beat it if they can keep it up.”

      That’s high praise! I _hope_ they can keep it up, but I’m not sure my heart can take it! 🙂

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