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Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc
Episode 8

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc ?
Community score: 4.3


If you're reading this review of the season finale of Demon Slayer: Hashira Training Arc and you're the type that tends to get sad or irritated when folks have critical things to say about the series, I'm just going to warn you right now that I have some thoughts about this episode. In fact, just so we don't end up parting on poor terms, I'll go ahead and start with some positives! As always, on a technical level, the work that ufotable is putting into Demon Slayer is pretty damned impressive. Do I have some hot takes on how the studio is choosing to use all of that technical polish? Oh boy, do I ever. Still, the show looks and sounds just as wonderful as it ever has. Also, there are a couple of damn fine cuts of primo, Grade-A action here. That's not surprising, at this point, but you know what? There is a bit about halfway through this finale where Muzan gets his body blown into bits and regenerates it layer by layer in grotesque and horrifying detail; all of this, only to have his new body impaled by a dozen blood spears before his head freaking explodes like that guy from Scanners!

That whole part? That was sick as hell. I had fun with it. It's Demon Slayer spectacle at its very best. There! I think I've provided a very generous helping of genuine and enthusiastic praise of this last episode of the Hashira Training Arc. If this is where we part ways, I wish you nothing but the best, and hey, there's going to be a few movies to close out the series, I hear! Hopefully, those will be fun too. Go in peace, my friend.

…are they gone? Alright, good. Now that I've gushed about the four minutes and thirty-five seconds of this overstuffed mess of a finale that actually brought me joy, we can talk about the other thirty-five minutes and fifty-three seconds. You can probably guess by now how I felt about those.

Where do I even begin? Well, I suppose I can start with the literal beginning, since it's just a repeat of the obnoxious and hilarious slow-motion Muzan scene that ended last week's episode, except with some new credits spliced in so that someone out there can claim that the sequence helps build up the episode's atmosphere. Between this, the five minutes of ending credits, and the ridiculously out-of-place Taisho Era Secrets skit that comes afterward, it sort of does end up making for a perfect season finale, thematically speaking. In a self-indulgent and wasteful season filled with meandering padding, here we have a self-indulgent and wasteful season finale that is itself filled with meandering padding (and also about four minutes of a decent action scenes).

Look, I don't want anyone who isn't familiar with my tastes to get the impression that Muzan and Kaguya's nearly fifteen-minute-long conversation is a failure because I simply lack the patience for dialogue-heavy storytelling. Hell, the last two entire episodes of YATAGARASU: The Raven Does Not Choose Its Master have been nothing but a bunch of people standing in a circle and talking at each other—and it's the most riveting anime of 2024! No, my problem with this entire opening scene of the finale is that it is representative of everything Demon Slayer is bad at, all in one handy exemplar. I would love this scene if the story had put even a bit of effort into establishing the characters of either Muzan or Kaguya before this moment but this is the most meaningful interaction with another character that either of these two has ever been given. I would love this scene if Demon Slayer could come up with something more interesting for these two to talk about for nearly the runtime of a regular episode of the show. I would love this scene if ufotable's flashy presentation hadn't devolved into self-parody like it so clearly has (I know I couldn't have been the only person who was laughing at the way that the show treated Kaguya's murder-suicide of his entire family like something out of a Zack Snyder action scene).

Unfortunately, we live in a world where Demon Slayer has fully committed to treating a script that has all of the substance of a middling episode of The A-Team—as if it is Prestige Cinema for the Ages. Hell, maybe if this whole season had been edited down into a single 90-minute feature, it really would feel prestige enough to earn all of that pomp and circumstance. A single movie can get away with a lot more than four hours of chopped-up television episodes can, after all! I am more than happy to talk the ear off of anyone who will listen about why James Cameron's Avatar movies freaking own because they're just ridiculously expensive remakes of Dances With Wolves, etc. It's all about pacing, tone, and whether or not the creators in charge can wrangle the vibe of a story in such a way that they can justify the choices they make to their audience.

In this season of Demon Slayer, we spent weeks watching Tanjiro wander around while the story occasionally tried to insist that it was building to something incredibly climactic and intense—only for the finale to bungle Muzan's first (and possibly only) chance to be a real character instead of the sneering villain on the back of a cereal box. Meanwhile, the Hashira spend the entire episode running to the scene of the crime and methodically taking the time to introduce themselves and their attacks. Then, the finale ends by pulling the most predictable “Psych! The villain isn't going down that easily!” card ever and trapping everyone in Muzan's Computer Generated MC-Escher Funland. Is it so much to ask that a season dedicated to an entire training arc at least gives the main character of the show the chance to demonstrate anything at all that he gained from that training?

In other words, no, I do not feel like Demon Slayer has justified its choices or the story it is trying to tell. Not in this finale, and, if we're being honest, not for the last couple of seasons. To tell the truth, I was glad when I heard that the show was going to be capping off its run with a trilogy of films. Even a trio of two-hour movies will be easier to sit through than this letdown of a season.


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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