Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 24 of
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba ?
If you've been feeling deprived of your weekly dose of Zenitsu antics lately, then boy howdy does Demon Slayer have an episode for you. If last week saw the show dipping its toes back into Demon Slayer's love of wacky dork antics, then “Rehabilitation” is a full-blown cannonball into the deep end. We've got some Zenitsu shrieking, some Zenitsu crying, some Zenitsu fawning over women, and more hilariously horrifying Zenitsu faces than you can shake a stick at. For some viewers, this might sound like the worst Demon Slayer episode possible – but for my part, I thought it was pretty funny.
Don't get me wrong, I still stand by my earlier criticisms of how Zenitsu's obnoxious characterization hurt the overall tone and pacing of the show, but now that Demon Slayer has given the spotlight to some other characters and grafted Zenitu's innumerable foibles onto something resembling a three-dimensional character, I'm much more inclined to forgive the show's sitcom indulgences. It's okay to be abjectly wacky if your story's found the proper balance between silliness and stakes, and I think Demon Slayer has gotten much closer to achieving that balance than in the past. For almost the entirety of this twenty-fourth episode, "Rehabilitation" is exactly what it says on the tin. Inosuke's voice and body have been broken to hell, Tanjiro's mashed-up insides need some serious TLC, and Zenitsu has spider-web snot and little baby spider arms, which means it's off to rehab for the lot of them. At Shinobu Kocho's mansion, “rehab” means watching the boys get bent, broken, and demeaned by the girls who work under the Insect Hashira, including Kanao, the preternaturally gifted young woman whose swift reflexes astonish Tanjiro.
There are numerous funny bits throughout the boys' extended recovery montage, all animated with ufotable's typical brand of devotion to making even the dumbest gags pop on-screen. My favorite is probably when Zenitsu, witnessing the pain that the Insect Hashira girls are putting his comrades through, drags Tanjiro and Inosuke out to berate them in a rant that I can only describe as the caricatured id of everyone who has ever fallen too far down the well of loving anime girls. It's the kind of irritating horny fanaticism that's so beyond the pale of reason that it loops back around to being amusing, and it proves that characters like Zenitsu can work as comic relief when used properly.
Aside from that, the major plot development of the episode involves Tanjiro discovering the secret behind the strength of the Hashiras, as well as the gifted Kanao. They have practiced their Total Concentration Breathing techniques to the point that they're never not using them, a feat of strength and endurance that Tanjiro can barely wrap his head around. To achieve this next level of mastery, Tanjiro must work his butt off at rehabilitation while his friends sulk, and he must also practice using his breath to explode hardened gourds from the inside. Okay sure, we'll go with it. If anything, this gives Tanjiro a tangible next step to work toward in helping his sister, which has become a vague mission lately, especially since he didn't even bother to collect any of the Spider Demon's blood from the forest fight.
Finally, we end on a quiet discussion between Tanjiro and Shinobu, who pops up to reveal that the scent of anger Tanjiro keeps picking up comes from the rage she harbors over the death of her sister. While that pain will never truly go away, Shinobu also acknowledges that her sister, like Tanjiro, believed demons were worthy of pity and sympathy, which only underscores the point Demon Slayer has been trying to make all season. It's basic and straightforward character development, but it means that Shinobu is officially the most fleshed-out Hashira so far, so I hope we'll continue to get the same treatment for the rest of them. Even if we don't see such developments in this season, which is set to conclude in just a couple weeks, I'm almost certain that Demon Slayer will continue. Hopefully, ufotable will continue to remind us that rock-solid production values and confident direction can make even the silliest stories into a worthwhile experience.
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