Posted by Lenlo on 20 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kimetsu no Yaiba

Hello all, and welcome to a big week for Kimetsu no Yaiba. This is the week where I move it up from a “Competent” Shounen to a “Good/Great” Shounen. You see, Yaiba finishes up another arc, Nezuko kicks some butt and Tanjiro meets the big bad 8 episodes in. So let’s jump into it!

Starting off, production. Yaiba was as consistent as it always is on this front, beautiful with the occasional odd CGI walk. However it also had one of my favorite cuts this week. That being the flashback to the mountain, with Tanjiro running through the forest. I thought the camera movements/tracking and CGI was fantastic. Yeah, it wasn’t perfect but boy did I love that scene. On top of that, once again I want to bring up Yuki Kaijura. She really nailed the unease and tension of the 2nd half of the episode. Really elevating the emotions of a scene. There are some small gripes, for instance I think Yaiba wasted some potential in the underwater scene. And it was also overly dingy and dark. But it does its job, and with how good everything else is around it, that’s good enough. The story however, does far more than that.

Starting off, the continuation of last week’s fight. What with Yaiba’s excellent water effects, I was actually underwhelmed by this segment. It was dark, dinghy and a little hard to see at times. Don’t get me wrong, it worked and did what it needed to do. It established how versatile Tanjiro’s sword style is. But compared to the rest of his fights, it just wasn’t as strong. There wasn’t any real flash nor did it really show off Yaiba’s stuff in the unique environment. On the demon’s side it also made them feel a bit… weak? There is a clear power disparity between demons and normal humans, which Tanjiro used to be. But he has seemingly skipped past normal demons and beyond the weaker super powered ones. The new villain Muzan though looks to be addressing that, but we will get to him later.

Before talking about Muzan, and I have a lot to say there, I want to talk aftermath. Yaiba is putting a lot of emphasis on Tanjiro’s past experiences, and I like that. I liked how Yaiba just had Tanjiro give a solemn look at the Fiancee, instead of a long explanation. I liked the callback to his calluses and how they aren’t the kind of hands/face a child should have. It’s nothing groundbreaking or new, but given Shounen’s predilection for long explanations, it felt very tame. I mentioned her previously, but Yuki Kaijura’s soundtrack also really helped this scene. To sum it up, I am legitimately surprised for how well it worked, considering how much content Yaiba covered this week. It finished up a fight, closed the arc and immediately moved onto another without feeling to rushed. Even introducing its major Antagonist, Muzan. Speaking of, let’s talk about Muzan.

I loved his introduction, Yaiba did a fantastic job with him. Muzan is the reason I have moved Yaiba up from simply “competent” to “good”. First off, his slow introduction. Giving us just a name last week, to a flash of his face this week. Showing us how terrifying he is by how he intimidates other Demons. Mere mention of his name driving them to a frenzy. It feels like a drip-feed, like we will get information bit by bit as we go before WHAM. We meet him 7 episodes in, giving him plenty of time to be an actual character. Then there is his actual design, so dapper. Like an anime Michael Jackson, curly hair and everything. Compared to Tanjiro, it gives him a very modern and sophisticated appearance. Just looking at him, I find him interesting. And this is before we even get into his character.

Right when he started talking, I knew I was going to like Muzan. His voice is just so… smooth, and I love his cadence. Really, everything he does is smooth, almost unconcerned. For instance, his menace was jacked up when, in plain sight, he turned someone into a demon. He knew there was no purpose hiding in front of Tanjiro, so he didn’t even bother. Not hesitating for a second, it was portrayed as an almost lazy gesture. Really ramps up Muzan’s threat level when he can make minor demon’s at the flick of a wrist. Combined with the regular strength and speed of demons, fighting him in a public place is probably the worst thing you can do. However, I do have to wonder, did he do this to avoid a scene involving himself? Or to protect his family?

Because the family was the most interesting part to me. To be clear, Muzan isn’t the first villain we have seen do this. The first, and a personal favorite, to come to mind is Fuhrer Bradley from Fullmetal Alchemist/Brotherhood. But just like Bradley, it introduces a really interesting facet/question to/about Muzan’s character. That being, do they actually care? Personally, I enjoy it when a villain actually cares. It gives them a “weakness” of sorts, a point of vulnerability. Whether that be not wanting to be discovered by them or ruining the idyllic life they have. It creates stakes beyond perma-death. However, whether they care or not is really irrelevant in the end. Because simply having such a family is going to affect how the Hero deals with the villain. Something Tanjiro is now realizing as well.

What I mean is, Yaiba has given Tanjiro a moral question now. Assuming he can even defeat Muzan, *should he*? Because if Tanjiro kills Muzan, he does to this family what Muzan did to him. Demon or not, mind controlled or tricked or what have you, the fact remains. The wife and child will lose a husband/father, they will suffer. To them, Tanjiro will become the Muzan. Clearly Yaiba and Tanjiro know this, based on how he reacted. They are 100% human and haven’t actually done anything. Yaiba is also smart enough not to try and completely redeem/turn around our lead villain with this. It doesn’t try to make him sympathetic, just make combating him more difficult. All in all, it makes Muzan a really interesting villain to me and someone I look forward to seeing more of.

The last thing I want to talk about is almost contradictory to the rest of the episode. Yaiba is burning through content, entering into a seeming 4th arc in 7 episodes. And yet, we haven’t had a single new member of the posse. With how prevalent they are in the OP, and the Shounen genre in general, this is surprising. HunterxHunter had them by the end of the first episode. My Hero Academia the 3rd, Naruto by then as well. It’s an odd choice for a Shounen, but one I love. As it lets our lead pair of brother and sister stand and develop on their own. Pushing their story to the forefront, barely hinting at the other members to come. Really, I should stop expecting them at this point. Yaiba clearly has its own plans and they are working well for it. I am just enjoying the ride.

So all in all, how was the episode? Fantastic. The fight at the start was a little meh, but the story content later on was great. Not even mentioning the lead villain, who I spoke in length about, we also got more of the world. Reminding us that Yaiba is actually set in the early 1900’s, and that technology is spreading in Japan. How different Tokyo is from the rural countryside Tanjiro grew up in, and how different hunting Demon’s in such a location will be. Yaiba did a great job setting this up just with the visuals, with how bright it was at night. I am going on a tangent here at the end, but suffice to say, Yaiba did a lot right this week. With the decline of Dororo, it has quickly become my favorite of the season. I hope it keeps it up.

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