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Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc
Episode 2

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 2 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc ?
Community score: 3.7

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“Water Hashira Giyu Tokita's Pain” is an episode that delivers exactly what it says on the tin: Outside of a couple of scenes reminding us that Lady Tamayo is going to be working with Aoi and the Demon Slayer Corps, the vast majority of the plot is focused on us learning about the Water Hashira Giyu Tokita and his titular pain. To be specific, it's focused on Tanjiro being an annoying little weirdo and bugging Giyu incessantly for days until he finally breaks down and provides a brief flashback explaining why he's so hesitant to help out with this whole training deal.

To be clear, I'm using “annoying little weirdo” as a term of endearment rather and not a venomous pejorative because, unlike Zenitsu, Tanjiro's particular brand of overwhelming stupidity always manages to stay on just the right side of the line that divides “charming” and “infuriating.” Sure, it's infuriating for Giyu, but his suffering is our entertainment (unlike the plain old insufferable bits featuring certain other crimes against humanity who will receive no further mention in this review). There are many things about Demon Slayer that I have grown weary of over the years but I doubt I'll ever get tired of seeing Tanjiro go all Peanuts on us with those beady little eyes and appear in the dark corner of the background like one of the killers from The Strangers.

Speaking of things about Demon Slayer that I've grown weary of, though, I do have to take off my "Good Time Hat" for a second and complain about the strange and sloppy way that this show uses its secondary characters. I barely even remembered who Giyu was when this episode began, so I guess I should be thankful that Demon Slayer is taking the time to share some of this guy's backstory before we're smack in the middle of an exciting fight or an already drawn-out death scene. Still, I can't be the only guy who thought it was weird that Giyu's whole backstory revolves around being besties with Sabito who died back in a botched training mission when the two of them were just young teens. What, you don't remember Sabito? He was that one random-guy-who-may-or-may-not-have-been-a-ghost who helped train Tanjiro back in Episode 3. You know, the episode that aired five years ago?

I'm not saying that Giyu's backstory was terrible or anything. I'm just befuddled by how brief and unsurprising this storyline is—even as it feels the incredibly odd need to tie everything together by reminding Tanjiro of that one ghost he met back in the day. All of this serves to drive home the point that… people die when they are killed, I guess?

For those of you that don't know, a lot of television writing (at least in the West) can be broken down into multiple tiers of varying degrees of significance: “A Plots” are the stories that form the driving focus of the episode—and they often wrap up in a complete beginning, middle, and end; “B Plots”, conversely, usually feature characters and storylines that might very well be important but they don't require a full episode of attention; then you have the “C plots”, which are all of the little bits of “stuffing” that often require several episodes to come together. Plenty of great TV shows from all over the world have gotten away with episodes that defy this convention and it should go without saying that there are no hard and fast rules for success in storytelling. That said, my biggest issue with “Water Hashira Giyu Tokita's Pain” is that it feels composed entirely out of “B Plot” and “C Plot” material. The whole episode, I was patiently waiting for the episode to cut to the important and interesting stuff that would carry the story forward—and then suddenly the credits started rolling. It's fine for an anime to have a week where it just focuses on “vibes” over anything more concrete, but I'm really hoping that this isn't going to be the status quo for the entire season.

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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