Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yuukaku-hen – 11 (End) and Series Review – Lost in Anime

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Well, I managed to get through a full season of Kimetsu no Yaiba.  Two in fact, if you count Yuukaku-hen and Mugen Train as separate (which I kinda don’t TBH, but never mind).  And I even enjoyed it for the most part, sometimes a lot.  There weren’t many occasions when I felt lost as a result of the gap in my viewing history.  Truthfully of course the reason I got through it comes down to what I say back at the very beginning of Yuukaku-hen: “There’s a certain level below which the elements of Kimetsu no Yaiba that drive me nuts don’t cancel out the ones I like.”  And because those elements were largely absent from this arc, it was a positive viewing experience.
It’s sort of ironic that those elements were back in full force in the finale, though not so much as to overwhelm the good parts.  Truth be told there’s an awful lot of screaming and crying in Kimetsu most of the time, which is why I think it fares better when it’s going really big.  All that background noise tends to drown out the annoying bits – when you get extended slow moments like this week, that stuff is all you hear and pretty unbearable.  It also tends to highlight how the core performances in this series aren’t exactly stellar for the most part, since there’s nothing for them to hide behind.  As for the Nezuko magical healing ability, I’m so inured to asspulls in Kimetsu by now that they elicit little more than a resigned shake of the head.
Ironic too, then, that perhaps the single biggest reason Yuukaku-hen clicked – though the shock and awe visuals can’t be overlooked either – is casting.  Both Sawashiro Miyuki and Ohsaka Ryouta were, in a word, spectacular – easily the best part of the season for me.  They’re both great actors so that’s not much of a surprise, but they were actually given pretty good raw ingredients to work with here character-wise (especially Ohsaka).  In KnY the demons get both the best writing and the best seiyuu, and the humans can wind up really suffering by comparison.
I know I’m not alone in feeling that way, as a lot of fans have echoed those sentiments, and it may even be intentional on the part of Gotouge Koyoharu.  That said, this highly unusual narrative trick she uses in generally giving the demons their backstory only just as they’re about to bite it is a bit vexing for me.  In the sense that I find myself caring more about the oni than the slayers it clearly isn’t a problem, but I find it to be something of a cheat.
Here’s my issue in a nutshell.  I think Gotouge is trying to have it both ways with Tanjirou – she makes these oni sympathetic and (more than the humans) complicated characters. Tanjirou being a softie feels guilty for killing them.  But she kind of lets him off the hook with these redemptive moments at the end of the fights.  You can’t (or shouldn’t try to) have your cake and eat it too – if Tanjirou is going to go around killing sentient people for what you’re telling us are valid reasons, let him suffer existentially for it.  I get why he’s doing it – the demons kill people (including his family).  I get why he feels bad – he has empathy.  His story has more pathos if he has to bear the karmic burden of that, rather than giving him a get-out-of-jail free card in a Hallmark moment every time he kills them.
Be that as it may, Gyuutarou’s deathbed flashback was obviously the best part of the episode, with some truly fantastic work by Sawashiro and especially Ohsaka here.  It featured an appearance by a demon I don’t remember seeing before (played unmistakably by Miyano Mamoru) giving the siblings their second chance as demons.  Like most of the oni in Kimetsu no Yaiba they got no breaks in life, which is sort of a subtle reminder that the humans in this story are hardly paragons of goodness and charity in the main.
It does strike me a s bit unlikely that this motley crew could take down a supposedly upper-rank demon, even if they were the lowest of the upper.  The power balance in a battle shounen is a tricky thing, and when you undercut it that can be like dry rot in the foundations of a house – you might not notice it, but it’s taking a toll on the structural integrity.  I’m not sure I’m invested enough in the mythology for it to make a huge difference to me, personally, but where the series goes with this will be interesting to see.  It certainly created an opening in the upper ranks, which it seems Akaza is being drafted to fill (maybe help choose a successor?) despite his rather underwhelming performance in Mugen Ressha-hen.
In the final analysis Yuukaku-hen stands as a definite positive for me.  Not only because I rather enjoyed most of it, but because I finally got an answer which makes sense to me for this franchise’s truly insane commercial success.  When a series like Kimetsu or Shingeki no Kyoujin needs an odd episode count or length (this was 32 minutes), no one asks why, and when a season ends it’s only a matter of when the next one will be confirmed.  This time around it happened in real-time, as Katanakaji no Sato-hen (“Swordsmith Village Arc”) was announced as Yuukaku-hen ended.  When it will air and for how long is still unknown, but what’s certain is that Kimetsu no Yaiba will get a complete adaptation and probably then some.  As for me, for now at least I’ll be back to follow it whenever it returns.
1. Nezuko didn’t heal, her power only purge the poison that is killing them. Like Uzui didn’t grow back his hand or eye. It have been Nezuko power to burn anything came from demon ever since the Spider Mountain Arc back in season 1. We even saw she use it again many times back in the Mugen Train Arc. Naturally she would be able to burn the poison came from the demons.
2. What Tanjirou feel isn’t guilt, it’s pity. He view human and demon as 2 separates entity. The human that was lost after they turn into a demon and then commit countless act of murder while losing more of their humanity. However bad their lives were, their no excuse for them to cause so much deaths of innocents over the course of their existence. The flashbacks are mainly for the demons to reflect back on their choices that led them to this pass.
I think you’re arguing semantics when it comes to Tanjirou tbh. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but it’s a natural human reaction to feel guilt over killing intelligent beings with their own life stories. I still argue Gotouge is trying to have it both ways in this respect.
I am sorry for what I am going to say (or repeat) but you not caring about KNY characters really has a strong impact on your will of wanting to analyze things (no offense here). I say that mainly for the so-called Nezuko asspull. Really? I will repeat what I said already in my comment of episode 5 of this season and watching episode 19 of season 1 : 1/ the “behavior” of another character in upcoming episodes may seem strange or “new” to you.
What is even weird is the fact that even without having watched that episode, Mugen train and that arc should already make clear that this is not an asspull. But anyway, maybe she should be a queen drinking mysterious drink. (edit: Archaon was faster and more direct than me as asual)
Regarding pathos and Tanjirou, this is pure relative perception so I will avoid to debate too much on it as unless we have one day an interview of Gotouge (so, never), everyone is entitled to his interpretation. But I personally do not see Tanjirou as conflicted about killing demons or that being the idea here. He’s mourning what they have been, not what they are (if we even consider that he can see what they are because I highly doubt. This is not as if he was reading/watching with us their backstory). Another illustration of that is…in the skipped arc. But again, as I said, I can perfectly understand if someone prefered the tortured traumatized full of guilt protagonist.
I mean, once again, the demons illustrate one of the key message of KNY (yeah, I said message) which has been illustrated again yesterday. The moment for the Demon Slayer corps to illustrate it even clearer (at least to me) will come (even though, at least one of them already did).
I am not sure to understand your comment about Akaza considering he’s already upper moon 3. And something that I understand even less is your point about power scaling. At least, if your interrogation was what the hell happened to Tanjirou, I would understand a bit, but I honestly do not see how a motley crew (this is another reason why I like this blog, my English vocabulary improves!) is a problem? And that one is a serious question to me, as every week, I still do not understand it. BTW, we are already halfway of the series.
If I may interject, I believe the Power Scaling issue with Demon Slayer is somewhat analogous to something along the lines of Shiratorizawa vs. Karasuno. In both scenarios, an opponent was hyped up to be this seemingly unstoppable force.
The problem is (at least for me) twofold:
1. The rate of progress for Inosuke and Zenitsu is extremely accelerated to the point of breaking immersion. We are suppose to believe that 2 arcs ago, Inusoke and Zenitsu could barely survive UNDERLINGS of a LOWER MOON (the lowest moon if I remember correctly), but somehow they can now stand up against an Upper Moon?
Lets keep in mind that though Daki is the weaker of the two, she herself killed Hashira on her own (I think it was mentioned that she killed 6), so u mean to tell me that these two bridged the gap that previous Hashira couldn’t in a few months of training while it takes (I’m assuming) YEARS of experience to even achieve Hashira status? That’s a little much.
(BTW, the only reason I don’t include Tanjiro in this is because he’s clearly got some special MC power related to that scar of his and his sun-breathing, so that gets a bit of a MC pass)
2. The “1-in-a-million shot” trope can become REALLY boring if overused. Inosuke just HAPPENS to be able to move his organs around. Zenitsu SOMEHOW manages to hit Daki with a Hashira-level attack (I’m assuming since it cut her head it must be around that level) despite egregious injuries (and NOT wake up from them), Tanjiro being capable of using SUN Breathing multiple times despite its debilitating effect on his body while he was fighting Daki. Tanjiro and Uzui not bleeding to death despite one being Stabbed through the chin and the other losing a whole hand (I’m pretty sure theres a limit to this whole “healing breathing” thing, specially in the heat of battle).
If I missed something with loli-in-a-box explaining why she can do this, fair dos – that’s entirely possible. As for the rest of your argument I think it’s just agreeing to disagree. But you are missing my point with Tanjirou to an extent, because these redemptive moments are more about making the readerviewer feel better on his behalf than anything else, so in that sense it doesn’t matter whether Tanjirou sees these Hallmark montages or not.
Also, now that I think about it… If this is some long-established Nezupower from my blackout period, why is Tanjirou so confused by it?
To be more precise, he was aware of the burning blood (mugen train) but not that it could interfere with (as it seems now) almost all demon derived art. And even without going back to blackout, as I said (and as said above), in the train it is shown when she “interfered” with the dream and even in that entertainment arc, it is shown and specifically stated by Daki how Nezuko fire affects only demons when she got burned by it (and have glimpses of her trauma btw)… But well, at least it doesn’t repair severed limbs…
Regarding Tanjirou, as I said, I will avoid to debate too much on it. This is indeed agreeing on disagree. And as I can totally understand if someone interprets things like that…
I want to say that my big problem with the post-mordem flashbacks is that they feel like a haphazard attempt to add complexity or nuance to its villains. There’s a good chunk of character to them; Daki is extremely shallow when it comes to judging people by their looks and immature, specially when facing a stronger foe. Gyutaro has a HUGE inferiority complex but loves his sister. That’s fine, that WORKS. What is also well understood is that they’re both CRUEL, and selfish. Daki kills as she pleases and Gyotaru won’t even bat an eye so long as his sister is unhurt. Not every villain needs a “woe-is-me” tragic backstory, specially when it has no relevance to their character since almost none of this is evident in the fight or before the fight.
Adding a sad backstory right at the moment of death doesn’t excuse their past actions, nor does it provide any substantial emotional weight to Tanjiro if he’s gonna go, “That’s pretty sad… well, anyways…” and go about his merry way onto the next fight.
One thing that I will point out is that I’m not sure how “sentient” the Upper Moons are. From what the treatment the Lower Moons got, it seems like Muzan could kill them at any time if he felt like it, so I doubt they have too much of a choice when it comes to following Muzan’s goal. Now, WHAT that goal is? Fuck if I know, but it seems like they gotta keep eating people to keep their powers up (they didn’t get the Nezuko sleep benefit I guess). On the other hand, they don’t seem too hesitant to kill, so maybe the fact they can’t explore the possibility of rejecting Muzan is irrelevant if they enjoy killing people in the first place.
Your 1st point missed the fact that both Zenitsu and Inosuke is their own kind of genius, Zenitsu is better at absorbing knowledge and in fact his 1st style due to him so focus in it had reached the point that no other Lightning user can. Meanwhile Inosuke literally self-taught the skill that took Tanjirou 2 years to mastered. Also it never stated how Daki kill those Pillars (could be that her brother do most of the work at let she finish them up) and how strong those pillars were, in fact the requirement for been a Pillar is to kill a Lower Moon or kill 50 demons so the power level between the Pillars aren’t consistence. Like Uzui literally said there was a guy who became Pillar after 2 months after picked up the sword. Is it too hard to believe that these two genius could almost reach that level in more time? In fact Pillars dying is very often, they basically act like SQUAD team and handle the most danger enemies.
As for your 2nd point, you is assuming that Inosuke is telling the true rather than him been a delusional fool (which he is) that try to act cool. One of his signature power is his hyper awareness so it’s not hard to see that he can sense the attack coming from behind and dodge it so the attack didn’t hit his vital. Like KnY use a lot of unreliable narration so you have to know who is talking and whether that person really know about what he is talking about or not.
And the Pillar-level attack? There is no such thing, each demon have their own way to prevent their head from being chop off. Daki trick is extend her neck like clothes so blade have a harder time to cut through, not harden her neck. So to cut her head you need something like scissors.
Zenitsu himself isn’t sleeping despite what it look like, he is acting like he sleeping because he doesn’t believe himself to be able to fight like that, it is his coping mechanism, not real sleep.
The problem with Sun Breathing is that Tanjirou can’t use it CONSECUTIVELY, he can only use it in short burst. In fact after he recover from he effect he didn’t use Sun Breathing anymore in the battle.
Also you know that being stabbed through the chin isn’t that dangerous right? And we learned that they can stop their bleeding with the Breath, enough to wait for medical care to come.
All I’m gonna say is that is an impressive amount of mental gymnastics happening here.
It’s almost like Occam’s Razor just doesn’t exist anymore.
“my big problem with the post-mordem flashbacks is that they feel like a haphazard attempt to add complexity or nuance to its villains.”
I’d agree with that, although for this arc in particular, it would have required some intensive plotting to figure out how to introduce Daki’s backstory earlier while still keep the surprising (and I thought effective) reveal of her brother during the fight. But the question of whether or not to give villains nuance and a sympathetic, to some degree, backstory is an interesting one. I thought the backstories for the demons worked better when Tanjiro was encountering lesser, lower-ranked demons, who you got the feeling didn’t always have a whole lot of choice in anything. The Upper Ranks are obviously enthralled to Muzan, but are also much more over the top when it comes to their own insanity, violence, murder, etc. It makes them entertaining villains and entertaining in a fight, but less believable as nuanced characters unless more time was spent on developing them as such. I’m not sure that Kimetsu would ever be the series to do such a nuanced portrayal in, and thus, I’d almost rather the backstories were just left out. Although my opinions could change when we learn more about Muzan and why he does what he does.
The Upper Rank have a sense of superiority, not just to fellow demons but also to human. The flashback just inform us about their belief, why they think that way. Daki and Gyutaro weren’t portrait as innocent victim, they were nasty people even before they became demon. Becoming demons just give them the power to get back at the world. Gyutaro especially doesn’t really repent, his only regret was his sister, he still believe that because life dealt him a bad hand, he has the right to get back at anyone he thinks have it better than him. Also it not hard to believe that only the most sociopath and murderous would success in becoming the most powerful monsters. You can categories demons into two kind, those who was changed by the demonization and those who embrace their new found power.
Akaza is already the Upper 3rd, so he’s not being drafted into anything.
Genuine question: Was it STATED that he was 3, or did the subtitles flash “three” in a sort of “blink-and-you-miss-it” moment? That might’ve explained the confusion.
The words on his eyes said he is the UM 3. When he first appear in Mugen Train, there a part that focus in his eyes and the subtitle spelled out Upper Moon 3. Also Tanjirou and co. were suprise when they realize this is the Upper Moon 3.
In Akaza’s first appearance there was a scene focusing on his eyes showing his number. Also, Tanjiro clearly said “Jougen no San?!” (Upper Moon 3)
As for your 2nd point, you is assuming that Inosuke is telling the true rather than him been a delusional fool (which he is) that try to act cool. One of his signature power is his hyper awareness so it’s not hard to see that he can sense the attack coming from behind and dodge it so the attack didn’t hit his vital. Like KnY use a lot of unreliable narration so you have to know who is talking and whether that person really know about what he is talking about or not.

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