Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba ?
“The Master of the Mansion” sees Demon Slayer asking a question the creators of Danganronpa likely wrestled with years ago: “How much story can you get out of a bunch of flamboyantly dressed weirdos standing in a circle and yelling at each other about murder?” While Danganronpa managed to build an entire franchise out of that premise, Demon Slayer unfortunately struggles to get through a single twenty-two-minute episode before the story starts running out of steam. Once again, Nezuko is stuck in her box until just before the credits roll, Zenitsu and Inosuke are nowhere to be found, and poor Tanjiro is stuck flailing about on the ground as he screams all of the reasons there are to not murder his sister. All the while, we have the Hashiras, most of whom we've never met, and all of whom spend the whole episode either griping at each other or yelling at Tanjiro about why it totally is a good idea to murder his sister. Suffice to say, this does not make for the most compelling Demon Slayer episode.
The Hashiras are the most powerful Demon Slayers in the Corps, and the show makes the disappointing choice to spend most of its time just running through their various characters, giving us a roll call of their names and personality gimmicks. That being the case, it probably makes the most sense to just do the same thing in this review, breaking down the necessary details bullet-point style. We've already met Water Hashira Giyu Tomioka and Insect Hashira Shinobu Kocho, so in addition those two we have:
- Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku: he's excitable and he's got big hair.
- Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui: he's purple and flamboyant.
- Love Hashira Mitsuru Kanroji: she's the timid one, and I guess she uses love to fight Demons somehow?
- Stone Hashira Gyomei Himejima: he's blind, he says prayers, and he cries a lot.
- Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito: he's a real space cadet.
- Serpent Hashira Iguro Obanai: he's got a snake.
- Wind Hashira Sanemi Shinazugawa: he's a dick.
If it sounds like I'm being reductive, it's only because the episode doesn't give us much to work with in terms of character. Sanemi really hates demons, and he tortures Nezuko to get a rise out of Tanjiro, which gives Tanjiro cause to throw down with nothing but his skull. While Giyu and Shinobu have been given more time for us to get to know them, the rest of the Hashiras are presented as little more than broad archetypes, either yelling or whispering their arguments on killing the siblings with dutiful respect to the “everyone gets one line at a time” rule of writing a debate. Whatever nuances or dynamic relationships these folks might have is apparently being saved for later. We'll just have to settle for caricatures for now.
The other main player this week is the titular master, a blind man with a disfigured face who is guided by the twins we met way back at the Final Selection. He seems to be a reasonable and level-headed man, and he also brings some perspective from Tanjiro's old teacher, Sakonji Urokodaki, who thankfully took the time to put in a good word for Nezuko. In addition to offering this defense on the demon girl's behalf, The Master also reveals to the Hashiras that Tanjiro is the only Demon Slayer to ever come face to face with Kibutsuji, though that doesn't persuade Sanemi, He continues to stab at Nezuko until she's forced to leave her box and confront him with a devilish glare. Roll credits.
In short, this episode is even more focused on table-setting and lore-dumping than last week's, with little entertainment or intrigue to be found. Outside of Tanjiro's one cathartic headbutt, the rest of “The Master of the Mansion” is nothing but dialogue and exposition, and it isn't terribly interesting at that. It's a shame too; with the season wrapping up in just a few weeks, the last thing Demon Slayer needs to be killing is time.
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