Anime

Demon Slayer Season 2, Episode 17: The Entertainment District arc comes to an epic conclusion

Demon Slayer Season 2 Episode 17, “Never Give Up,” opens with a scene of despair. Tengen’s unconscious, Inosuke lies motionless with a gapping hole in his chest, while Zenitsu struggles under rubble. All of the Yoshiwara District is enflamed. Tanjiro is the only one awake and is in shocked at the surrounding horrors. He blames himself. If he wasn’t so distracted he would have been more useful. He apologizes to everyone before Gyutaro appears. The Upper Rank Six takes joy in the predicament Tanjiro and the others find themselves. In a flashback, Tanjiro is reminded by Nezuko that humans “can never expect everything to go their way.” He should stop blaming himself and fight harder.

Gyutaro asks Tanjiro if Nezuko is his sister and when confirms that she is, the Upper Demon mocks him for failing to protect her. Gyutaro’s cruelty is on full display. He breaks several of Tanjiro’s fingers and begins pulling his hair, and slapping him. It’s like he’s pulling wings of a butterfly. His arrogance may be well founded but it’s also allows Tanjiro to gain the upper hand. Fleeing with Nezuko, Tanjiro grabs one of Tengen’s poisoned kunai’s. He uses one of his headbutts to distract Gyutaro from noticing the kunai in his leg. Caught of guard, Tanjiro is able to cut Gyutaro’s neck with Hinokami Kagura.

Daki watches her brother torture Tanjiro in Demon Slayer Season 2 Episode 17
Daki watches her brother torture Tanjiro in Demon Slayer Season 2 Episode 17

The sibling relationship between Daki and Gyutaro and Nezuko and Tanjiro is made explicit when Tanjiro mistakes Daki’s voice for Nezuko. He envisions himself as a demon, believing that the Demon Slayer Corps would “have the mercy to kill him.” Unfortunately for Tanjiro his cut isn’t instant and Gyutaro struggles while Daki looks on concerned. She finally attempts to stop Tanjiro with her Obi, when Zenitsu erupts from the rubble to stop her with Thunder Breathing. Confident she can handle a move she’s seen so often, Daki is taken by surprise when Zenitsu uses Thunder Breathing, First Form: Thunderclap and Flash, God Speed.

He manages to cut the obi in Daki’s neck. Zenitsu hopes that he can decapitate Daki at the same time Tanjiro cut’s Gyutaro’s neck. However, Gyutaro is able to overcome the weakened Tanjiro and put him on the defensive. Enraged, Gyutaro increases the speed of his attacks and prepares to gouge Tanjiro’s eye out when Tengen appears. The Hashira stopped his own heart and in doing so the poison. Tengen declares the he can now use his “Musical Score Technique.” He’s able to hear Gyutaro’s blood blade as if they were parts of a score. This allows him to deflect them.

Tengen and Gyutaro clash in a fire display of explosions. Meanwhile, Tanjiro stalks in the background, looking for the chance to decapitate Gyutaro. When Gyutaro stabs Tengen and cuts his eye, Tanjiro leaps up and slashes at the Upper Demon’s neck. However, Gyutaro manages to stab Tanjiro through the jaw. Tanjiro is determined to use everything he has to kill the demon and his mark ignites granting him enough strength. Gyutaro assumes his sister won’t be decapitated, along with him. Zenitsu runs out of strength but Inosuke appears. He strikes from the opposite direction. In a epic moment, the trio manages to send the Upper Rank sibling heads flying. But the celebratory moment is short lived as Gyutaro explodes.

Demon Slayer remains one of the best anime series and this episode is certainly evidence to this fact. The animation was stunning. I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between this fight and the one with Rengoku. The trio were simply bystanders then but this time they were active participants. The same limitation between humans and demons was present. As Gyutaro notes, human are inherently weaker than demons. He also offers to turn Tanjiro into a demon just like Akaza did to Rengoku. Of course the outcome seems different. The demons are dead and the Hashira is alive. Had Tengen fought alone, he would have joined Rengoku. Next weeks episode will be the final one of the season, I’m looking forward to seeing Daki and Gyutaro backstory.

Check Out Demon Slayer Season 2 Episode 16 Review.

Anime

Demon Slayer Season 2 Episode 1: Kyojuro Rengoku emulates his father

When I heard Demon Slayer Season 2 was going to be split into two cours and the first one would be a retelling of the Mugen Train Arc I was disappointed. It feels lazy. It’s also unnecessary. Why waste the first seven episodes? Sure maybe some fans haven’t seen the movie, but release the film on the streaming services if you want fans to see it. For those that don’t know a “cour” is, it’s an “essentially one production block of episodes that may or may not have a break in between it and the next block.” Anyway, the first cour is called, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Mugen Train Arc. The first episode is brand new and focuses on Kyojuro Rengoku hunt for a demon prior to boarding the Mugen train.

The Slasher

The first episode adds greater context for the Mugen Train Arc. Rengoku is altered to a demon attacking people at night. In Demon Slayer most of the people are ignorant of the existence of demons. This means society doesn’t respond to demons at all, instead people assume that people just disappear. It’s convenient to the plot as well. If humans avoid demons, then there might not be much conflict in the series. However, in this episode the people are aware of the demon presence. Fuku is the exception at first. She doesn’t believe demon exists even though her grandmother does. Rengoku buys all of Fuku’s bento and pretends to be a salesmen to get close to the Mugen train. In the maintenance station, he finally encounters the demon.

Referred to as the “Slasher,” the demon is bald and gray with a body covered in blue tattoos. When he uses his Blood Demon Art these tattoos glow. The Slasher has sharp dark blue nails and moves quickly due to his Demon Art. The Slasher claims that he’s “the fastest demon,” and taunts Rengoku as he holds a boy hostage. Rengoku warns him not to get too cocky. Before the Slasher can harm the boy further, Rengoku rushes forward and cuts off both of the demons hands. The Slasher flees, as Rengoku treats the boy. Once the demon detects the scent of Fuku and her grandmother, he uses his Demon Art to give chase.

Echo’s of Shinjuro Rengoku

Leaving the boy in the care of other demon slayers, Rengoku follows Slayer using his Total Concentration Breathing. With the headstart, Slasher terrorizes Fuku and her grandmother before Rengoku appears. The arrogant demon challenges Rengoku’s speed. Rengoku turns out to be faster and quickly decapitates Slasher with his Flame Breathing, First Form: Unknowing Fire. Watching from behind, Fuku’s grandmother is reminded of the moment when Shinjuro Rengoku saved her and Fuku’s mother. She initially mistakes Rengoku for his father, as the latter has the same clothing and mannerisms his father does.

It’s a moment that reminds us that each demon is a threat to innocent people. This series epic fights with demon can focus to much on the action. We should remember that the Demon Corps have a noble cause and they have profound effects on the lives of humans. I remain disappointed in the retelling of the Mugen Arc, but appreciate the new episode. Demon Slayer Season 2 Episode 1 perfectly blends in with the movie already covered. I not an impressive episode but one that adds to the arc.

Top 10

Top Ten Anime, Manga, and Movies of 2020

Jujutsu Kaisen

I’ve heard about Jujutsu Kaisen, but I thought it was just another demon manga/anime series. Considering my history with anime (Yu Yu Hakusho and Demon Slayer), I should have known not to prejudge based on tropes. Regardless, I Iove this series. It’s still in the middle but I like the world building, characters, and animation so far.

Jujutsu Kaisen Episode 1: Recap and Review


Tower of God

Manhwa (Korean comics) has become an important source for anime adaptation. Tower of God was my first exposure to the series by Lee Jong-hui. The story centers on Twenty-Fifth Bam. Trapped with his friend Rachel underneath the mysterious Tower, he follows her into the Tower. Bam encounters challenges on each floor of the Tower as he searches for Rachel. The first season is phenomenal, ending in a shocking cliffhanger.

Is Tower of God Good?


Deca-Dence

Deca-Dence is a series set in the distant future, insect-like creatures called Gadoll have forced humanity towards extinction. I had no expectation for this series, so it was a surprise when Deca-Dence turned out to be far more sophisticated. The series was full of twists and turns, while making a critique of capitalism. Its themes are topically for 2020, and it was one of the most original anime of the year.

Deca-Dence Episode 1: Recap and Review


Pokemon: Twilight Wings

One of the biggest surprises of this year was Pokemon: Twilight Wings. A seven episode limited animated series, set in the Galar Region, the short anime series follows the citizens of Galar. Despite the short length of the series and each episode, Pokemon: Twilight Wings was impactful. All seven focused on side characters expanding the Pokemon universe through the eyes of Galar citizens. Pokemon: Twilight Wings was an emotional series with great animation.

Pokemon: Twilight Wings, a short anime series based on Sword and Shield games


The God of High School

I was excited about The God of High School from the moment they announced it. I wasn’t disappointed. Like Tower of God, it based on the series created by Yongje Park. While the series doesn’t reinvent the wheel, there are enough surprises to keep you interested. The God of High School balances humor with high octane action.

‘The God of High School,’: An instant hit


Burn the Witch (Manga/Movie)

The most expected manga for me was Tite Kubo’s Burn the Witch. The series also released a movie of the same name. Both cover the same material, but I preferred the anime. We’re introduced to the principal characters, “Noel and Ninny, the world of Reverse London, and it all ends with a battle with an ancient dragon, Cinderella.” With the addition of music, sound effects, and explosions, Burn the Witch is a unique experience when animated.

Burn the Witch Episode 1–3: Recap and Review


Kimetsu no Yaiba : The Movie – Mugen Train

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie–Mugen Train is the first film from the Demon Slayer series. A direct sequel from the anime series, the film retells the Mugen Train arc. Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke join the Flame Hashira, Kyojuro Rengoku in investigating disappearances on the Infinity Train. The movie centers on the themes of humanity and accepting death. Once again, Tanjiro emotional intelligence stands out.

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie–Mugen Train Review


Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep

I can’t wait for the Made in Abyss series returns. In the meantime, Abyss has produced three movies. The first two were recap movies, with Dawn of the Deep telling the Ido Front Arc. Made in Abyss continues to flush out the harsh universe, as Nanachi, Reg, and Riko head down towards the center of the Abyss. Like the Demon Slayer movie, using a film to tell an arc is proving to be a wonderful decision.

Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul, Recap and Review


Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro follows Kaiman, a man with a lizard head, as he tries to find the one magic user that cursed him. Kaiman also has amnesia, making his search even more difficult. Dorohedoro is an odd series with a strange world. Each character has unique designs and powers to match. Dorohedoro is a stylised violent series with a intriguing mystery at its center.

Dorohedoro Episode 1 Recap & Review


Haikyuu!! To the Top

I wasn’t into anime sports series until Yuri on Ice. I was so impressed with the series I wanted to give another popular sports anime a chance. Haikyuu!! To the Top is the fourth season of the volleyball anime. It separates Hinata and rival Kageyama as they develop apart. Hinata learns more about volleyball without playing and Kageyama sharpens his skills with Japans best. Once reunited, Hinata, Kageyama and the rest of Karasuno battle in the Spring Tournament.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 1: Recap and Review

Anime Movie

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train Review

Demon Slayer – The Mugen Train Arc

The Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga was first published in Weekly Shonen Jump from February 2016 until May 2020. The series was written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotoge. Demon Slayer tells the tragic story of Tanjiro Kamado and his sister Nezuko, who become orphans after their family is massacred by a demon. Nezuko herself is turned into a demon. Driven to return his sister to normal, Tanjiro embarks on a journey to find a cure. The series became a hit especially after the anime adaptation in 2019. As of December 2020, the manga had over 120 million copies circulation and surpassed One Piece as the highest-selling manga of 2019 and has gone on to sell over 82 million copies in 2020. 

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train is the first film from the series. A direct sequel from the anime series, the film retells the Mugen Train arc. In the anime, Enmu was given Muzan’s blood after the demon leader disbanded (and killed) the lower Twelve Kizuki. Meanwhile, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke are sent to join the Flame Hashira, Kyojuro Rengoku. The Hashira is investigating disappearances on the Infinity Train. Enmu is the cause of these disappearances. Enmu’s demon ability is dream manipulation. He can enter and control someone’s dream, it’s possible to kill them if he can destroy their “Spiritual Core.” Zenitsu, Tanjiro, Kyojuro, and Inosuke all get trapped in vivid dreams. Tanjiro dreams of his family, Zenitsu dreams of dating Nezuko, Inosuke dreams of being a “cave explorer” with Tanjiro, Nezuko, and Zenitsu as animal helpers, and finally, Kyojuro dreams of his family, particularly his father and brother. 

Kyojuro’s dream

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train has the task of humanizing Kyojuro. At this point in the series we only just meet him. It’s important to make us care about him, especially considering how this movie ends. His father, Shinjuro Rengoku, was the previous Flame Hashira. Shinjuro seems nihilistic, responding to Kyojuro’s announcement that he became a Hashira, with “it was pointless.” It unclear what made Shinjuro this way but it’s obvious that Kyojuro wants his approval. As the four children enter the dreams and locate the spiritual core’s they’re attacked by Kyojuro, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke. After everyone awakens, Tanjiro heads to the roof of the train to face Enmu. Tanjiro attempts to cut Enmu’s head off, but the demon keeps putting him to sleep. However, Tanjiro can wake up almost instantly each time. 

Eventually, Tanjiro decapitates Enmu using Water Breathing 10th Form: Constant Flux. However, Enmu is still alive because he’s merged with the train. The concept of a demon changing its form and therefore its anatomy is interesting. I wonder if the series will explore this further or if this is a one-off. However, the following fight between the demon slayers and Enmu wasn’t interesting. The use of CGI was distracting and I found the repetitive hacking of Enmu computer-generated flesh boring. Only when Inosuke and Tanjiro worked together to defeat Enmu did it become enjoyable. After the train crashes the most exciting fight begins. After Kyojuro teaches Tanjiro to stop his internal bleeding, something lands behind them creating a dust cloud.

Akaza, the Upper Rank 3 was revealed in the first Demon Slayer movie.
Akaza is the Upper Rank 3

Upper Rank 3 Akaza verses Kyojuro

It’s revealed that the Upper Rank 3, Akaza was the cause. He instantly tries to attack Tanjiro, however, Kyojuro uses Flame Breathing: Second Form – Rising Scorching Sun, splitting Akaza’s arm in half. The demon attempts to recruit Kyojuro, asking him to become a demon. Kyojuro refuses and Akaza attacks with his Blood Demon Art: Technique Development – Destructive Death – Compass Needle. Akaza and Kyojuro move so fast that Tanjiro can’t follow them. Throughout the battle, it becomes clear that demons have a natural advantage over humans in battle. No matter how much damage Kyojuro delivers to Akaza, the demon simply heals and does so quickly. It’s still possible to win but it must be done quickly. Until Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train, those of us that only watch the anime was told that Hashira’s and Upper-Level Demons are at another level. 

Akaza and Kyojuro’s fight is a good display of the difference between the lower demon’s like Enmu and lower slayer’s like Tanjiro. Furthermore, the Upper Six can fight recklessly since the loss of limbs isn’t a concern, whereas, Demon Slayers much pace themselves, be disciplined, skilled, and cautious. Akaza and Inosuke note that Kyojuro’s form is flawless. When the fight reaches its climax, Kyojuro uses his Flame Breathing: Ninth Form – Rengoku verses Akaza’s Destructive Death: Annihilation Type. Kyojuro wounded both externally and internally is at his limit. After the dust clears, it’s revealed that Akaza has stuck his arm through the chest of Kyojuro. Undaunted, Kyojuro swings his sword into Akaza’s neck, Akaza tries to punch him but Kyojuro grabs his forearm. Akaza can’t break free and the sun begins to rise. After the blade digs deeper into Akaza’s neck he finally pulls free tearing his limbs off. He flees into the forest, as Tanjiro calls him a coward. 

Demon Slayer is about heart

Anime movies are often non-canon, creating lore that doesn’t impact the main series. In a lot of ways, this allows for more creative freedom. However, because Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train is adapted from an arc in the main story it has an impact on the story. This movie feels more “real.” This movie’s central themes focus on the “beauty of being human,” and “the sorrow of death.” Kyojuro argues for humanity’s value. He says that “growing old and dying” is beautiful and humans are only “loveable and precious” because of this. He notes that the strength in humans isn’t based on the body. The film opens with Ubeyashiki and his wife, Amane walking through a graveyard for demon slayers. He laments all the death and hopes that it will end with the next generation.

It’s a foreshadowing of Kyojuro Rengoku’s death. I expect that Demon Slayer is going to kill off more of the “good” guys, Tanjiro and Nezuko might be safe but I’m not sure anyone else will be. What has set Demon Slayer apart from other shonen series has been the emotional maturity of Tanjiro Kamado. He is willing to sacrifice himself to protect others, however, unlike other shounen protagonists, he does pursue power for power’s sake. Tanjiro’s heartbreak at the end was probably the most impactful part of the film, he barely knew Kyojuro but was devasted as he knew him for years. Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train tells a story that emphasizes that it’s not strength that matters, it’s the heart.