Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 14 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba ?
Let's talk about Tanjiro's fight with Inosuke, the Boar Guy. It takes up entire the first third of “The House with the Wisteria Family Crest”, and it does exactly what it needed to do, which is give Tanjiro and Inosuke a chance to throw down so ufotable can flex their muscles and remind folks why so many consider them to the producers of some of the best fight scenes in the business. There's not a lot to analyze about the sequence, outside of marveling at all of the little animation cuts that make Tanjiro and Inosuke's movements feel weighty yet effortless, but there's virtually nothing to complain about, either. It's a quick and brutal tussle between two expert fighters, and the simple satisfaction that it provides is exactly what I come looking for in a good Demon Slayer episode. However, if action and drama is your primary hook as an audience member, then this episode of Demon Slayer is likely to disappoint you, because once Tanjiro and Inosuke finally call off their bout, the rest of “The House with the Wisteria Family Crest” is devoted completely to broad, wacky hijinks.
It starts when Tanjiro finally headbutts the boar mask off Inosuke to reveal that, underneath his beastly guise, the monstrous fighter is really pretty. It's a goofy joke, and definitely not the kind of thing I'd spend three whole weeks building up to, but Demon Slayer isn't out to rock anyone's world with its jokes this week. Inosuke is a beautiful but insane brawler, Zenitsu is a screeching oaf, and Tanjiro is the straight-man type that desperately tries to hold all of the insanity together. The rest of the episode has no plot to speak of – Tanjiro's raven simply guides the bickering boys to a local Inn that can help them rest and recover their wounds (all three of them managed to break their ribs over the past few episodes). The script isn't concerned with laying track for future plot threads or crafting deep moments of character development – this is Demon Slayer the Sitcom, through and through, and all you need to get out of this week's story is that these three dysfunctional Demon Slayers are just so much.
I can already predict a lot of viewers dismissing this episode entirely, and I wouldn't entirely blame them. Zenitsu has already proven to be a divisive character, and Inosuke is just a different brand of loud, buffoonish crazy person. Over dinner, Inosuke reveals that the only reason he's a Demon Slayer is because he's a literal Crazy Mountain Man who robbed an actual Demon Slayer of his weapons and fought in the Final Selection just to see what killing demons was like (as you might have guessed, he really likes it). Later, when Zenitsu discovers that the demon Tanjiro has been carrying around all this time is his ridiculously cute little sister, Zenitsu flies off into an uncontrollable rage. There are many choice reaction faces from nearly every character involved and, to absolutely nobody's surprise, a hell of a lot of yelling.
As for me, I actually dug this episode a lot. I think it veers a little too hard into pumping out comedic relief, but Demon Slayer was never going to last with just Tanjiro and Nezuko as our leads, and even though Zenitsu and Inosuke are incredibly obnoxious in their own ways, I like the dynamic they share with our hero. The show has done such a good job handling its mythology and the more serious episodes that I'm willing to indulge its wackier instincts, at least for now. I wouldn't want to watch week after week of Three Teenagers and a Little Demon Lady, but given how gory and morbid Demon Slayer can be, there's no harm in the show embracing its goofier side. Humor is subjective, though, so I won't be surprised if fans decide to fast-forward through episodes like this one so they can get to the actual demon slaying that Demon Slayer does so well.
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