Anime

Demon Slayer Season 2, Episode 18: The tragic life of Daki (Ume) and Gyutaro

Demon Slayer Season 2 Episode 18 is the final episode of this season. I’ve been eager to see the backstory of Daki and Gyutaro and wondered if would change my view of them. Demon Slayer has a way of redeeming it’s villains. All tragic figures forced to serve Muzan. This arc gave hints at what life was like for the siblings. The consequences from Gyutaro’s explosion wasn’t nearly as devasting as I assumed but it was an opportunity to reveal Nezuko’s new ability to heal with her fiery blood. She rescues both Inosuke and Tengen from probably death. The bulk of this episode centered on the past of the Upper Six demon siblings. Gyutaro and Daki berate each other. She calls him “ugly” and he retorts that she’s “weak.” Daki’s tears up as she does it, giving the impression that she doesn’t mean what she says. It’s a subtle moment that Tanjiro confirms when he stops the two from fight further. He tells them “with all they have done, they will be despised and resented by all in the world without anyone but themselves.”

In the end Gyutaro and Daki will only have each other. Gyutaro and Daki’s whose real name is Ume, were born into the Rashomon Riverbanks, the lowest caste of the Entertainment District. Due to the extreme poverty, children were considered a burden. His mother tried to kill him multiple times, he was constantly berated by the civilians for his appearance, dirtiness, and his voice. However, this changed when the beautiful Ume was born. In the Entertainment District, your value is determined by your looks. This means Ume has a lot of value compared to her brother that had none. With his natural fighting ability, Gyutaro becomes a debt collector. He derived a greater self-worth from his sisters beauty and the effect it had on others. Life was looking good until Ume got on the bad side of a samurai. When returning home one night, Gyutaro finds Ume’s charred body.

Demons are the result of a cruel human society

Ume’s madam and the samurai collude to get revenge on the siblings. The samurai slashes Gyutaro from behind. Enraged, Gyutaro leaps into the air killing the madam. Gyutaro compliments the samurai on his kimono and skin complexion. Gyutaro kills the samurai by slicing his face in half. He carries Ume’s body through the district but no one would help. Suddenly, a Upper Rank Six appears carrying the corpse of a partially eaten woman. He offers to turn the siblings into demons and wonders if the two can “become a Twelve Kizuki demon and rise up like him.” Demon Slayer has made a point of showing how demons take advantage of suffering to fill their ranks. In a weird way, the demon population is fueled by the consequences of a cruel human society. I would argue that if humans treated each other better, it would be difficult for Muzan to recruit. Demons are a product of human society as much as they’re a product of Muzan.

Gyutaro blames himself for Ume’s death and wishes he had never taught her to take from others before they take from her. In the afterworld, Gyutaro and Ume meet again. He tells her to leave him and go into the light. Ume shows that she’s not as vapid as previously characterized. She reminds him of their promise as children to always stay together. The two cling to each other as they walk into the fires of hell together. Demon Slayer balances these moments well. It always clear that the series doesn’t think a tragic childhood excuses future behavior but without such tragedy maybe there’s no destructive future. My view of Ume and Gyutaro didn’t change but my understanding of their relationship was greater.

The rest of this episode serves to set up next season. Obanai Iguro appears a little to late to help and praises Tengen (kinda) for defeating an Upper Six. With his left eye and hand gone, Tengen decides he’s going to retire. Iguro is concerned that with Rengoku’s death another Hashira vacancy is unacceptable. Tengen suggests that Tanjiro would one day reach the potential of Hashira. As the crows spread the news of Tengen, Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke’s triumph a sickly Kagaya Ubuyashiki is excited. An Upper Rank hadn’t been defeated in over a century. He believes this moment is “an omen that fate is taking a dramatic turn,” and that Muzan will fall during this generation. Finally, we get a short scene with Akaza being summoned to the Infinity Castle. The last time this happened it didn’t end well for Muzan’s demons. I don’t think that will be the outcome this time, but as Kagaya states it does mark a dramatic turn. Demon Slayer once again doesn’t disappoint. I can’t wait until next season.

Anime

Attack on Titan Season 4, Episode 20: The power of the Attack Titan

Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 20, ends with a major reveal. Zeke takes Eren through the memories of their father, Grisha Jaeger. Zeke has one goal to show Eren how his father’s ideology is manipulating him. Zeke is clearly bitter for being “abandoned,” accusing Grisha of forgetting he “had a first son.” Zeke tells Eren that their father of using his position as a doctor to “cozy up to those in power,” so he can “hunt down the king,” and “steal the Founding Titan.” If Grisha fails his wife and son (Eren) would suffer as well. It’s Zeke not Eren that is shocked early in this episode. Eren and Zeke learn that Grisha found the King’s hideout years before they expected. Grisha appears to have stopped the pursuit of the King at this point. Zeke assumed that Grisha never loved any of his children, but he realizes that he did love Eren.

Eren gets more intense in Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 20
Eren gets more intense in Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 20

After travelling through several more memories, Eren tells Zeke that the reason he betrayed him wasn’t because Grisha manipulated. He’s always destroyed those that tired to “steal his freedom.” We also learn that Eren wanted to join the Survey Corps since childhood. Eren doesn’t want to remain ignorant of the outside world. His father is terrified at the revelation. He goes to beg the royal family to stop the Titans and save his wife, daughter, and son. Eren begins to rage in the background as Grisha explains the significance of the Attack Titan, to “defy self-righteous kings.” Furthermore, Grisha claims that the Attack Titan “allows its holder to glimpse the memories of its future inheritors.”

The past can’t be changed

Grisha removes a scalpel from his jacket and prepares to eliminate the royal line. However, he can’t bring himself to do it. Grisha is a doctor. He can’t bring himself to take lives especially children. While he hesitates, the royal family beg their sister Frieda to kill Grisha. Eren tells his father to stand up and remember what he’s fighting for. To avenge his sister, comrades, Dina, and, Kruger. It turns out Grisha killed the Reiss family on the orders of Eren. With the Attack Titan’s ability to see the future, Grisha tells Zeke his dreams are dead. He’s seen the future, Eren wins, and it’s horrible. He tells Zeke, he have to “stop Eren.” Suddenly, Zeke returns to the Paths, with Eren looking down on him.

I will admit, I find the fact Eren is responsible for everything to be confusing. Time travel always has the potential to confuse. Eren is given more agency that everyone else and turns out to be the manipulator of events. It’s farfetched. Attack on Titan also rewrites it’s own story. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Regardless, I’m excited to see how this series ends. Eren violent behavior is getting worst. I guess he’s still the “good” guy, but I’m not sure what that even means in this series.