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Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc
Episode 1

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc ?
Community score: 3.9

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I have to admit it: Demon Slayer almost had me. It's no secret this show has a strange and remarkably consistent track record of stumbling hard out of the gate. It hasn't had a single good premiere since its very first season, and that is mostly because the show is so stubbornly insistent on sticking to the formula of kicking off every new arc with a deeply lame round of exposition and bad comedy routines. These episodes only exist to kill time before Tanjiro and the gang head out on their next mission, so they are always the weakest part of any given storyline.

For a minute, though, I was nearly bamboozled into thinking things might go differently. Sure, there is nothing particularly novel or urgent about the opening sequence that sees the Wind Hashira (Sanemi Shinazugawa) and the Serpent Hashira (Obanai Iguro) cut down some random demon goons, but the scene shows off some sweet swordplay and a moody atmosphere that is actually fun to watch. 'Could it be…' I found myself thinking. 'Is Demon Slayer actually going to give us a good season premiere, for once!?'

My questions were answered and my hopes were dashed almost immediately, however, when the episode decided to dedicate the next twenty minutes of this double-length episode to an excruciatingly boring Hashira meeting that serves no purpose other than to remind the audience of who most of these characters are. Well, to be fair, it also dumps whole bunch of exposition about demon marks and the fact Muzan's team of baddies is going to be hellbent on getting to Nezuko—you know, now that the girl is the first demon ever to spontaneously develop SPF powers. Let there be no doubt, friends and neighbors: Demon Slayer is most definitely back on its bullshit. For some, this will be a cause for celebration. For me, well, all I can do is lean back in my chair with a disappointed sigh and think of "The Episode That Could Have Been."

Oh, and don't worry, the show doesn't forget about the “bad comedy routines” part of the equation. The fact that Tanjiro literally spends this entire episode sitting in bed and stuffing his face while being pestered into recapping the events of last season almost makes me feel like the series isn't just in on the joke, but is specifically targeting me, along with anyone else who has grown tired of this shtick. In addition to the main character being reduced to another mere exposition machine, the end of the Swordsmith Village Arc also means the return of Inosuke—which is fine, we love the boy—and Zenitsu—which is a crime against common decency that ought to be punished to the highest extent of the law. No, it doesn't help that every other character in the show seems to be fully aware of how fundamentally awful Zenitsu is to be around. Lampshading how much the little twerp sucks doesn't make him suck less. If anything, it just pisses me off even more.

That said, I do have to give credit to the most positive development that this premiere has to offer: Nezuko! Not only is the girl allowed to live outside of that godforsaken box after all these years but she even gets lines. Like actual, intelligible lines! I never thought I'd see that day. On top of that, Nezuko also gets the privilege of delivering the one joke that made me laugh out loud—which are the first words she ever speaks to Zenitsu: “Welcome home, Inosuke!” Does it make me a mean-spirited grouch with a shriveled heart on account of how I derived so much pleasure from watching Zenitsu's heart rip in half, Ralph-Wiggum-style? God, I hope so. With any luck, the sweet little princess will bring so much more trauma to Zenitsu's heart in the weeks to come.

Another minor point in the premiere's favor: Tengen is back! I won't pretend like the thought of an entire season devoted to a training arc brings me anything other than a pressing need to buy a deluxe-sized box of Tums but I'm surprisingly happy to see everyone's favorite polygamist back in action, along with his delightful harem. Time has honestly warmed me up to the Entertainment District Arc; I guess the bloated and wasteful mess of the Swordsmith Village season made me realize how good we had it in the good old days of 2022. I'm feeling generous today, so I'm going to award the premiere with a whole extra star since it brought back some fun characters like Tengen and Mitsuri—and then went to the extra effort of making Zenitsu sad on my behalf.

That said, Demon Slayer, I'm going to offer you a free bit of advice: If you're spending almost an hour trying to build up how much the good guys have to prepare for the upcoming battle with the "Big, Scary Villain"…then maybe you ought to have your "Big, Scary Villain" actually do something? Like, on screen, with dialogue and actions and stuff? It might help us care a little more. I'm just saying!

Rating:

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training 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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