We’re done building up, he’s, she’s, and they’s. Time for the fighting! Because at the end of the day, that’s all we shounen fans really want.
Confronted with Daki’s overwhelming strength and his own weaknesses, Tanjiro accepts that the only chance he has is the Hinokami Kagura. But can his body handle it, and can he truly fight with a technique he barely even knows? Meanwhile, Tengen’s search for his missing wives begins to bear fruit and Inosuke starts to tear things up.
Seeing Tanjiro finally go all-in on the objectively better Hinokami Kagura is a pretty amazing moment. And no, not just because we get a flash of Rengoku and his theme kicks in, blending with Tanjiro’s to create a beautiful harmony that activates all the neurons in my brain. It’s a decent pay-off to the last season and a half of buildup. But it doesn’t let Tanjiro immediately keep up with an Upper Rank; determination alone doesn’t let him overcome the weaknesses of the technique, nor his inability to use it properly. It makes for an incredibly engaging exchange; Tanjiro now has the key he needs to win, but he still needs to find the proper way to make it work.
Tanjiro doesn’t get all the action, though. Inosuke gets his own moment to shine. One that makes beautiful use of his uncomfortably flexible body. It doesn’t have the character growth that makes Tanjiro’s section so impactful, but it’s still a great action scene that makes excellent use of Inosuke’s strengths. Granted, his time in the spotlight is short-lived, as he quickly receives back-up.
Speaking of whom: we finally meet Tengen’s wives. They’re all suitably cute and fun to watch. Even if their personalities are just carbon copies of the main three. That’s so obvious that even Inosuke is taken aback by it. It’s kind of an interesting move to make; it shows why Tengen felt so responsible for the main three, as they’re so similar to his wives.
I just hope he doesn’t get as violent with them as he does the three boys.
Which brings us to Tengen himself. He doesn’t get much screentime. But hoo boy, does he command presence in this episode! We finally get to see the demon-slaying badass side of him, albeit briefly. More importantly, we can see the kind and caring side of him as he interacts with his wives. Not only that, but we get a very small glimpse of his backstory through the three girls’ perspectives. I love how he balances selflessness with selfishness; he’ll protect the innocent, as any Demon Slayer should, but his wives come first and foremost.
The narrative in this episode is pretty solid. My only real complaint is that a large part of it is built on happy coincidences. Tengen just happens to wander onto one of his wives, Inosuke just happens to set two of them and Zenitsu free during his struggles, so on and so forth. Is that a nitpick? Absolutely. But I’m a critic. Nitpicking is basically all I do anyways.
Side note: I love how this episode establishes Tengen’s incredible hearing. It’s yet another parallel between Zenitsu and him, which gives further reason for Zenitsu disliking the Sound Hashira. He really is just a bigger, handsomer, and better version of Zenitsu. It’s a subtle detail that gives their relationship a fun bit of depth and highlights the envious nature of our favorite Lightning swordsman.
Being the most action-heavy episode of the season so far, the animation needs to be top-notch. Luckily, it is. You really shouldn’t be surprised by that. Granted, they haven’t broken out the sakuga cannons yet. But we still get some really incredible stuff. From Tanjiro unleashing the Hinokami Kagura to Inosuke slithering around to Tengen’s flashy entrance, the action in this episode is top notch.
Also, the music is great. I alluded to it earlier with the Rengoku theme blending with Tanjiro’s. But that’s not the only fantastic piece we get. Granted, it is the most memorable of the lot. That might just boil down to my own personal bias, though.
We stan Rengoku on this blog. Sometimes to a problematic degree.
Overall, I found this episode to be really solid. From great character moments to great action, it’s a fantastic way to start out the action. I’m excited to see where it goes from here, now that all the setup is complete and we can go all-out on the fighting.
Like I said: we shounen fans ultimately only want one thing.