Posted by Lenlo on 17 August 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kimetsu no Yaiba

After last week’s episode, I had high hopes for Kimetsu no Yaiba this week. Sadly, I think I came away from it with more criticisms than complements. Perhaps natural, since living up to last week was nigh impossible. But I wasn’t prepared for Yaiba to undercut its best episode either. Welcome to Yaiba, episode 20, lets jump in.

Normally I start this off with production stuff, but at this point you know what I think about Yaiba. It’s a good looking series, the OST is great, nothing to complain about there. Instead I want to get right into the meat, start with my concerns. The first one being, I don’t like the return of Rui. I feel like his revival completely undercuts the fantastic emotional highpoint of the last episode. There are arguments that Tanjiro shouldn’t be able to defeat a Moon this early, and they are valid. The Moon’s are supposed to be the big bads right below Muzan. However, that doesn’t change how Yaiba presented these last two episodes. If Tanjiro isn’t supposed to defeat a Moon, then don’t make their confrontation so final. With all the fanfare and emotion of a series finale. Basically, don’t break your series only rule for no good reason.

What I mean by that of course, is once again a reference to Yaiba’s power system. Or lack-thereof. The one rule of combat the series has had so far is if you cut off a Demon’s head with the sword, they die. Of course, Yaiba tries to sidestep this by saying Rui cut off his own head with his strings. So Tanjiro failed to cut it off. However that doesn’t sit right with me. Rui’s threads were being burned by Nezuko, Tanjiro can cut them with his sword and Rui was being pushed back. The idea that he would be able to cut his own head off in that situation feels like a cop-out for the sake of holding Tanjiro back and letting Giyu show off. That said, Giyu did show off. I quite enjoyed his short segment, though I think the fan translation of “Lull” beats out “Dead Calm”.

Moving up the list a bit, there is another aspect I am 50/50 on, that being Shinobu. Let me open this by saying I think Saori Hayami, Shinobu’s VA, did a great job. She really sold the terrifying quiet of Shinobu’s voice. However, I don’t know how much I actually enjoy this new aspect of her character. I’d like to refrain from it, but the best word I can think of is “edge”. Something about introducing her as this character sympathetic with demon’s into a torturous monster just doesn’t gel with me. Had Yaiba introduced her as this from the start, I think it would work fine. But as it is now I feel a bit like Yaiba pulled a bait-and-switch. It still works fine in the context of the story. My complaint is entirely one of personal enjoyment with her character.

For all my criticisms though, I did still overall enjoy the episode. Sticking with Shinobu for a bit, her presentation during her conflict with the Sister was well done. Her Haori is beautiful and her floaty movements fit her character. The idea of poison being a valid way to kill Demons is an odd one. But it does fit her presented cruel character, and adds another way for our characters to fight the Demons. Even going so far as to give her a customized sword and presenting her combat style beautifully ala the bugs. In a similar vein, Giyu’s roaring ocean dying down to a calm and serene lake also fits his outward personality. And shows that, with his 11th form, there is still more for Tanjiro to learn. Still a ladder for him to climb within his own style and add to his Fire Dance techniques.

Moving on from our Demon Slayers, let’s turn back to Rui and his presented backstory. This was actually my favorite portion of the episode, because of how twisted and brutal its presentation was. I am sure I have said this every time Yaiba has done something like this, but I keep expecting some kind of censor. Some kind of cutaway so Yaiba can get around some of its darker scenes. But no, Yaiba just shows Rui ripping off his sisters face and reconstructing it to fit the family image. It throws a bruised and battered family member onto the front of the house so they can be burned alive in the sunlight. However I think one of the most haunting parts of it was the room of broken and battered formal dinnerware, with nothing on them. The entire family playing tea, terrified of their “younger” sibling.

I am a little worried that Yaiba is going to try and make him sympathetic at the end though. Based on the closing flashback of the “family” and how he doesn’t remember his time as a human. How he just wanted a “family bond”. I think this is a trap Yaiba is going to start falling into after this, where every major villain has to be sympathetic in some way. Not every bad guy has to get a tragic backstory, not every villain needs a sob story at the end of their arc. Don’t get me wrong, tragic villains are great, I enjoy them a lot. However they don’t need to be sympathetic. Their final moments don’t need to be framed in such a way that they are the victims. I get Yaiba is trying to make it morally grey with the Demons. I feel it tries to hard though.

So all in all, how was this weeks Yaiba? From an entertainment point of view, I enjoyed it. The presentation is still great, and outside Rui’s return I don’t have any major complaints. Even then, with his return, Giyu got a good scene, so it’s not like nothing good came out of it. This is just one of those things that I look at and think “This could have been done better”. So I want to make it clear that my criticisms come from a place of love. Even at its worst, I enjoy Yaiba, and I think it’s a very competent Shounen. And I see in it the potential to be so much more. Especially with Ufotable doing the adaptation. However when you love something, you have to be honest. On the off chance it ever actually reaches the ears of those who can affect it.

8 Responses

  1. Avatar jimtim says:

    I’m with you on Rui not being killed by Tanjiro. It was a bit of a cop out and tbh Rui dying wouldn’t be the worst thing since it involved a combination between Tanjiro and Nezuko. It wouldn’t mean that Tanjiro can take on the assumed weakest of the 12. Also the flashback was great because it showed the sister was irredeemable. I am starting to thimk the main points of these flashbacks is to show that Muzan is a force of destruciton like a natural disaster and the chaos he causes. Because it seems the only reason he makes demons is to serve him and keep him safe.

    As for Shinobu, I dunno. She seemed pretty insane from the start. The way she casually conversed with a dying Zenitsu explaining why people have flashbacks and mentioning its never happened to her would be out of place for a normal person. I like her character, but I strongly favor anarchist type characters.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      I can see it with Shinobu. I suppose I just had different expectations from her based on her first 5 second introduction at the start of the arc. Where she is talking with Giyu before heading out to the mountain and mentions she wants to be “friends” with the demons and such. I think that set what I expected her to be early.

      I can understand people liking her though. I think had I not placed expectations on her beforehand, I would have been at least neutral towards her.

      For the flashback, I agree on Muzan and the Sister. She became a much less sympathetic figure. Meanwhile I do like the continued buildup of Muzan via his minions. Its similar to why I like Rui a lot for the most part, because we get characterization of them via their minions vs some of the other demons who are solo. I think it gives them more… gravitas? But yeah, the flashback was good.

  2. Avatar anon234 says:

    “I think this is a trap Yaiba is going to start falling into after this, where every major villain has to be sympathetic in some way.”

    Unfortunately, starting here the series begins to follow a formula. An arc will begin, then end in a climactic fight, and end with a lengthy flashback from the villain’s standpoint. This pattern is followed for each of the 12 moons demons and the Pillars. The anime has been very faithful to the source material so far, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they continued following this formula for the rest of the series. Expect to see episodes like this one for the rest of the series run.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Oof. Thats a bit of a shame. I’ve said it before, but Yaiba keeps limiting itself to just being a “competent” shounen. Never really reaching for the stars. It hasn’t really innovate on any part of a being a Shounen, like HxH, FMA or (though much lower on the totem pole) MHA has tried to do with its most recent arc.

      The most outstanding part isn’t due to the original series at all actually, and is just Ufotable’s production.

  3. Avatar Đỗ Thành Thông says:

    I think the purpose of the flashback isn’t just to make use sympathy but also use to tell use that beinng a demon is a curse. Remember that most demon usually kill their family first while in their feral state, like Nezuko almost did to Tanjirou if wasn’t for Giyuu. Yeah in the manga most demon was given a flashback at the end, but some actually showed that these guys already a monster before turned in a demon. It never try to redeem them, only showed some of them is victim of Muzan.

  4. Avatar Karandi says:

    I didn’t mind Tanjiro and Nezuko ultimately failing. Given how new they are at demon slaying, I think if they’d succeeded here it would have made future fights feel relatively pointless and free of danger. By failing they still have a ways to go. That said, they possibly could have gone about setting it up better.

  5. amun amun says:

    Just looking at this episode from a power balance standpoint…if Tanjiro + Nezuko can actually defeat a General at this point as rookies…that’s insane. I suspected that head chop wouldn’t be enough to kill (since we just saw another demon get her head chopped off and not die). However, I think having Giyu just walk up and casually win is a little disrespectful.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Indeed. Yaiba tries to sell how threatening the Moons are by having Tanjiro have this incredibly epic moment and it still not be enough, only to have Giyu walk up like a sunday stroll and end it in a moment. Its conflicting messages.

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