Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc
Episode 8

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc ?
Community score: 4.5

One of the most exciting things about “Gathering” is exactly what it implies with its title: Finally, after weeks of buildup, every major combatant of the Entertainment District Arc has arrived on the battlefield. Daki and her brother Gyutaro are out for blood, and Uzui, Inosuke, and Zenitsu have all come to help Tanjiro take them down. Even one of Uzui's wives shows up to get in on the action! You know that specific wife, whose name is… wait, one sec, let me check the wiki really quick… right, Hinatsuru! Yeah, we all remember her! She's got the big kunai gun, and…um…

Okay, so compelling side characters still aren't Demon Slayer's strong suit, but you know what is? Providing a lot of really cool-looking fight scenes of people getting cut up real good with big swords. Demon Slayer is freaking great at that, and in that sense, “Gathering” is another great serving of spectacle from the master chefs of animation at ufotable. Do you want to see Uzui slicing and dicing Daki while he fends off Gyutaro's poisonous blows? I sure hope so, because we've got a ton of it here. Do you want to see Inosuke be charming and cool as he also does his best to kick the crap out of the demon siblings? Why wouldn't you! Have you been clamoring for a Zenitsu-focused action scene that lets the dork have his moment in the spotlight, at long last? I won't pretend to understand your love for the Definitively Worst Boy of All Time, but dammit, I guess I at least have to respect it, because even the little orange nerd gremlin gets to be kind of cool here.

Joking aside, I'm genuinely happy to see that Zenitsu was not only afforded the opportunity to do something in this arc, but he even got to have a few spoken lines of dialogue that weren't actively annoying or stupid! I won't pretend that “being obsessively protective of girls, except now with a more serious voice” is a revelatory bit of character development or anything, but whatever. I figure that we can either get some Zenitsu lines that don't actively suck, or we get rid of the goofy snot bubble, and Demon Slayer probably isn't gracious enough to give us both, so I'll take whatever we can get. Zenitsu's powers are some of the most visually satisfying to see too, on the rare occasion that he is allowed to use them.

Other than Zenitsu having the closest approximation to a Big Hero Moment that he's ever likely to get, there isn't a whole lot by way of character development or interesting drama to analyze this week. Uzui gets a decent flashback that explains how he and his antagonistic brother were the sole survivors of their siblings in a dying clan of shinobi, which caused their father to push them to extreme and cruel lengths in their training. I can't say that it much swayed the needle on my opinion of Uzui one way or the other, but the guy still feels significantly more interesting and human than Rengoku ever did, so I'm less inclined to feel like Demon Slayer is wasting time by exploring more of his past.

There's also the bit where Tanjiro figures out that the Water Breathing Technique is more useful for fending off blows than his fire powers, which seems like a significant step in his evolving battle strategy, though I've never been the type that considers “Learning New Ways to Use Powers Against Enemies” to be the same thing as “Compelling Character Development.” Given how decompressed this season's pacing has been, Tanjiro is basically in the same place he was when Rengoku died: he feels angry at himself for relying on people like Uzui and Nezuko to fight his battles for him. I can only presume that means we should expect Tanjiro to make some sort of personal breakthrough before too long, though we still don't know exactly how much longer this season has to go before it is finished.

If it sounds like I'm spending more time on the stuff I am critical on than the stuff I enjoyed, I promise, it isn't because I suddenly hate Demon Slayer or anything (in spite of what some of y'all in the comments seem to think). I like Demon Slayer! It's beautiful to watch, the action is cool, and it usually manages to make a half-hour fly right by. It just isn't very interesting to sit down and write a bunch of paragraphs on how good the animation is every week, so I inevitably end up writing more about the show's plot and characterization, and I'm sorry, but Demon Slayer just isn't the most well-written anime. That's okay, though! Not every show is banking on its script to succeed. Demon Slayer is one of those stories where the thinly-written characters and barebones plots are used as hooks upon which to hang very Big Emotions and Even Bigger Fights. It's like anime's very own The Fast and the Furious. If all you want to hear is whether or not this show delivers on the “Cool Shit Happening On-Screen” Quota this week, then here you go: it does.

That said, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't point out the areas in which Demon Slayer could improve on its storytelling ambitions, as modest as they are. I would love it if Uzui's wives felt more memorable and fleshed-out as characters; I would love it if Inosuke, Zenitsu, and Nezuko had more to do in this story than hop into fights every now and again; and I would love it if I was even half as excited by the story in general as I am about all of the incredible visuals we get to feast on every week. I don't know if Demon Slayer will ever truly overcome some of these hurdles, but even if it never does, at least we can bank on being decently entertained every week in the meantime.

Rating:

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.


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