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Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc
Episode 7

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc ?
Community score: 3.6


I'm going to let you all know up front: This week's Demon Slayer made me grumpy. Usually, when an anime decides to break protocol and turn out an episode with an extended runtime, that means that the occasion is special in some way. Like a damned fool, I got my hopes up into thinking that this Hashira Training Arc season was finally going to give us something memorable and compelling. Hell, I would have been fine if the episode had just felt meaningful different in some way. Aside from one very…notable exception, though, this was just business as usual for the Hashira Training Arc, and business is as mediocre as it has ever been.

About the "one exception," though? Don't worry; I'll be getting to that. In due time, my friends. All in due time…

First, though, I need to air my gripes about the regular stuff this episode spends most of its thirty-ish minutes on. In short: It's all just as functional and forgettable as the rest of the season. I'm sorry; I know that the show thought it would hit us in the gut with Gyomei's requisite tragic flashback, but the problem lies entirely within that "requisite" bit. At this point, it has become clear that none of the show's flashbacks are ever meant to work as a compelling story in their own right, nor do they serve as especially interesting parallel narratives that enhance the themes of the present-day plot, like the way it was done in the TV show LOST. Instead, they function merely to give us the barest minimum amount of "development" possible to communicate that these people all have backstories that technically elevate them above the status of background characters and featured extras. Historically, Demon Slayer has only ever done this to try and convince us that a recently or imminently dead person is worth feeling sad about, so I can only guess that this entire misguided season is some half-assed attempt to make us feel extra shocked and upset when every single one of these Hashira gets turned into a blood smoothie or something.

As you can probably tell, my cold stone heart remains unmoved. I knew exactly where this whole story was going from the second that the guy began the flashback with, "Years ago…I was raining children in an orphanage…" It's the same song and dance we've done a dozen times by now. The one thing that I kind of appreciated was the slightly twisted way that Gyomei's takeaway from getting blamed for the demonic slaughter of an entire orphanage was, "Kids are selfish little liars that you should never trust." The episode barely does anything with that potentially interesting bit of characterization, though, since the entire scene was mostly just a pretense to draw out the already overlong conclusion to Tanjiro learning to push a boulder with whatever random repetition technique he learned one episode ago.

And that's it! There's some dumb lesson about how Tanjiro proves to Gyomei that some kids are actually pure of heart, and then it's on to the next stop for our boy. The rest of the episode doesn't even have the benefit of there being a specific skill for Tanjiro to practice, either; he just helps Zenitsu foreshadow some character conflict that I couldn't possibly care less about because Demon Slayer has done too much damage to Zenitu's basic humanity to get away with suddenly pretending like he's a real character, and then we get a misplaced action scene starring Giyu and Sanemi. I just have to wonder if the crew at ufotable realizes how badly they're watering down their whole brand by injecting such a self-important amount of spectacle into these random sparring matches. By cramming all of this needlessly flashy animation and music into literally any scene that could even remotely be described as containing "action," Demon Slayer has devolved into a parody of itself that believes that enough slow-motion and distracting VFX additions will make fans freak out regardless of context. It's like if someone watched that old Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions video and thought, "Yes, we should unironically make an entire television series out of this! The youths will love our Cool Guys, right!?"

Speaking of self-parody: We need to talk about Muzan. I've already seen my colleagues and mutuals taking well-deserved potshots at the fact that Demon Slayer dedicated a significant portion of its additional eight minutes to a scene of Muzan, the villain who has barely spoken a complete sentence or accomplished a meaningful goal in the last three years, just…walking into the Demon Slayer headquarters to meet Kagaya. That's it. Over two minutes of Muzan just walking along.

Sure, you could argue that the very sight of Muzan making his grand entrance on the home turf of our heroes is the kind of huge deal that should completely upend the paradigm of this story, and I might even agree with you if it weren't for these key facts:

#1. Muzan is a gaping void of personality who would struggle to drum up excitement in a crowd of desperately lonely octogenarian widows at a Meet-n'-Greet Bingo Night. He has, in no way, shape, or form, earned the kind of show-stopping entrance befitting of an all-time badass.

#2. Kagaya is somehow even less interesting and/important to this story than Muzan is. If this whole scene was building up to, say, Muzan walking in on Nezuko playing with Shinobu and Tamayo, then sure, I'd be willing to meet the scene halfway. But Kagaya? I thought that guy already died! Who cares what happens to him?

#3. Finally, Demon Slayer is doing itself no favors by editing this sequence like a melodramatic hard-rock AMV from the early 00s. Shit, it may have even played a little better if we had some 3 Days Grace or Breaking Benjamin blasting all over those embarrassing slow-motion pans and jittery cuts. At least then I'd have something to bang my head to.

I'm just going to call it now: This is officially the worst season of Demon Slayer so far. I cut it some slack before when I compared it to the previous contender, the Swordsmith Village Arc, but I think I've changed my mind. I'm not convinced that next week's double-length special will be able to cram in anything so inspiring and entertaining that it will make up for putting up with seven straight weeks of Demon Slayer dicking around for no good reason. Why the hell didn't you make this into a movie, ufotable? Was milking the cash cow down to its skeletal bones worth all of this wasted time?


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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