Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba ?
“Tsuzumi Mansion” is a lot. It's the proper introductory outing for Zenitsu, who's just a white-hot mess of cowardice and insecurities, and it's also the first episode of “Demon Slayer” that I would say is actively trying to function as a comedy. There have been plenty of solid gags peppered throughout the show so far, but at least 75% of “Tsuzumi Mansion” is going out of its way to try and make you laugh, primarily by putting us in Tanjiro's shoes as he slowly reckons with the impossible magnitude of Zenitsu's idiocy. As you might guess, this involves a great many silly faces and a hell of a lotta yelling.
I might sound like I'm building a preamble for a grumpy review, but I honestly liked this episode. Zenitsu is a sniveling twerp of almost incomprehensible lameness, but that's what the episode is going for. From the moment Tanjiro meets the boy's exhausted little sparrow friend, to the ten solid minutes of Zenitsu convulsing in the road while a justifiably pissed village woman beats him within an inch of his life, Demon Slayer wants you to be on Tanjiro's side. Tanjiro's opinion of Zenitsu can best be summed up in one of his many aptly disgusted reactions.
Basically, Zenitsu is exactly the kind of ridiculous Scooby-Doo figure that would drive Tanjiro nuts, a boy whose utter inability to face down the horrors of his world is matched only by his abrasive and aggressive clinginess. The sparrow Zenitsu was awarded when he inexplicably survived the Final Selection shows up at the top of the episode to chirp many gripes about its partner, and Tanjiro has to literally pry Zenitsu off the girl who made the unfortunate mistake of checking to see if the orange vagrant collapsed in the street was okay. Zenitsu is the type to mistake literally any level of interaction with a woman as a cue to start begging them to marry him. He's an unlikable dork whose sole purpose is to complicate Tanjiro's upcoming investigation of a haunted mansion, but there are some genuine laughs to be mined from the premise. Many will doubtless be fed up with Zenitsu's crap by minute three of this twenty-three minutes, which is totally understandable and will definitely make the rest of the episode less enjoyable.
Thankfully, I'm happy to watch Zenitsu get dragged by every other character around him – it's a different style of comedy for Demon Slayer, and as long as the show can keep using Zenitsu without abusing him, I think he'll make a good addition to the cast. Another important character from the OP also makes his debut at the week's central mystery spot: Tsuzumi Mansion. Locals have been disappearing into its halls recently, and our pair of Demon Slayers finds a couple of kids outside the gate whose older brother has just been added to the list of victims. One unfortunate bloke gets his bloody remains tossed unceremoniously out of the mansion's window just as Tanjiro arrives, but he's not the kids' brother, which means the mission to slay the drum-tapping demon inside the mansion will also be a rescue operation.
We don't get much action inside the mansion outside of setting up our hulking baddie-of-the-week, but ufotable is still able to work in some wonderful teasers for the action to come. My favorite moment is definitely when Zenitsu's ass knocks Tanjiro and the local girl into the shifting labyrinth of the mansion's interior. The camera rotates around the two as the rooms shift instantaneously with the beating of the demon's drum. It's a simple but effective effect and a perfect example of how ufotable is able to make this television production feel positively cinematic.
At the end of the episode, Zenitsu also accidentally stumbles into the room containing the fellow in the Boar Mask, and the guy definitely looks like he could slice up a demon or two with gusto. At least he probably won't be as grating on Tanjiro's nerves as Zenitsu. Next week will likely have both Tanjiro and the Boar Guy going toe-to-toe with the head demon of the mansion, but I hope Zenitsu gets the opportunity to show some small measure of basic functionality. He's an alright enough character on his own, but he'll become ten times more interesting if it turns out that he's not that bad at kicking demon butt in his own way.
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