Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train Arc
Episode 7

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train Arc ?
Community score: 4.3

“Set Your Heart Ablaze” is the seventh and final episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train Arc, and the biggest lesson I've taken from both its successes and its shortcomings is that I now definitely understand why ufotable initially chose to adapt this storyline as a feature film. As the seventh episode of a mini-season that has taken nearly two months to see through, “Set Your Hear Ablaze” is more than a little shaggy, barely managing to fill it's 25-minute runtime even after you take into account the nearly 8 minutes' worth of recaps, opening credits, and extended ending credits that we get. As the emotional and narrative climax to a single feature that you could finish in just one sitting, though, “Set Your Heart Ablaze” works pretty okay.

There were certain elements of this conclusion that I was never going to love, regardless of the format. Even with the extra solo episode he got at the beginning of the season, Kyojuro was never anything more than another in Demon Slayer's storied lineup of mid-tier Good Guys, whose only purpose was to show up, be loud, kill some demons, and then die tragically in order to satisfy the story's plot and Tanjiro's character arc. To the show's credit, the absolute assault of cheesy pathos that “Set Your Heart Ablaze” throws at the viewer almost got me to kind of care, a little bit. Still, I wish the show understood that the manga trope of dumping a characters' most emotional backstory details during their very last moments of life is something that works best when it isn't the go-to formula for every character that isn't a part of the main trio. Even then, it primarily serves the demon characters, since their lost humanity is a baked-in part of their whole monstrous nature. Who cares about what Mama Rengoku had to say to tiny Kyojuro once upon a time? He's dead now, and his parting words to Tanjiro basically amounted to “I just remembered that my crappy dad might have a cheat code to help you unlock your fire power-up, okay byeeeee.”

As for the new demon enemy, Upper Three? Well, his absolutely random appearance at the end of this arc still feels really sloppy to me, especially since this episode actually managed to make him kind of interesting. There's something very sad and specific about his desire to turn Kyojuro into a demon, just so he can have a beefy rival to fight with for all eternity. Granted, since Kyojuro is dead, it isn't like that dynamic is going anywhere cool in the future, though, yes, once again, his brief second bout with Kyojuro is super cool and badass; kudos to the animators, all around. Really, it makes me wish that this dude was the main villain of the whole arc! It's just so weird that, when the movie/season are named after the big fight on and technically with the Mugen Train, that whole aspect of the story feels like an afterthought compared to all of the work that went into these final two episodes.

The important thing to remember is that a lot of these complaints are the kinds of things that would be much easier to overlook, even temporarily, when all you've got to lose is a couple of hours and maybe the cost of a movie ticket. The big, emotional highs hit a lot harder when there are only a handful of minutes separating them, instead of literal weeks, and the annoying parts don't have time to stick in your craw and remind you of all the criticisms that might steer your attention away from the shiny fire punches and whatnot. I like how Kyojuro's death and Tanjiro's crisis continue to push the story further along the themes of surpassing one's limitations and striving to defy all of your limitations and weaknesses, even if you have to crawl across the finish line with bloody hands and broken bones. I don't really think everything preceding Kyojuro and Upper Three's fight had much at all to do with those themes, but again, that is something that would sting a whole lot less when you're taking the story in as a single whole.

In the end, I still believe that the Mugen Train Arc was an underwhelming way to continue the Demon Slayer story; nothing about its plot or characters lived up to the highs of the crew's fight against Rui's Spider Demon Clan. The action was certainly something to behold, but I'd be more surprised if Demon Slayer somehow didn't deliver the goods on the spectacle front. It could very well be that some of the seeds from this arc will pay off in a big way when the Entertainment District Arc gets going, and if that is the case, Mugen Train may end up feeling like an invaluable link in the Demon Slayer chain, someday. Until then, I'll consider this arc a decent time-killer, and a fine excuse for ufotable to flex its muscles and show off its moves, but that's about all the credit I can give it.


Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train 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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