First Impression: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Swordsmith Village Arc (Season 3)

The reverberations from the victory against Gyutaro and Daki are being felt far and wide. As Kashushi collect the injured Tanjirou, Zenitsu, Inosuke, and Tengen (well, Tengen just walks away with the help of his wives), Ubuyashiki feels this fight was an omen. He is sure of it—Muzan will be defeated in their generation. Meanwhile, the terrible leader of the demons calls together the remaining five of the Upper Rank into the confusing maze of the Infinity Castle, where they bicker amongst themselves—particularly Akaza (#3) and Doma (#2)—before Muzan arrives and expresses his frustration at their failures. He then sends two of the Kizuki, Hantengu and Gyokko, on a special mission. As the remaining also leave the castle, the scene shifts to Tanjiro’s rehabilitation. He awakes from a coma to the relieved cries of Kanao, Aoi, and others. Tanjirou is the last of the trio to awake, with Inosuke just completing his recovery and Zenitsu already out on another mission. Before Tanjirou can take a mission as well, he must continue to recover physically and also repair his chipped sword. To do the latter, he visits the Swordsmith Village to see Hanagezuka in person, but the moody swordsmith has disappeared (apparently a common occurrence). While he waits for Hanagezuka’s return, Tanjirou encounters the always-irritatable Genya Shinazugawa at the village’s hot springs and spends time with the Love Hashira, Mitsuri Kanroji, who explains that she became a demon slayer to find a husband who is stronger than her; she also encourages Tanjirou and Nezuko to do their best, knowing they may never see each other again. But there’s one more demon slayer here in the village—the Mist Hashira, Muichiro Tokito, who is trying to claim a key from a young villager (perhaps to the “secret weapon” Kanroji has heard of and told Tanjirou about). There’s a third person (ghost?) involved in the commotion, too—one that Tanjirou has seen before in his dreams, and who looks very much like his father, as well as like the number one Kizuki, Kokushibo.

And how can you not root for the Love Hashira?

Didn’t get to see the premiere episode of Demon Slayer, season three (“To the Swordsmith Village”) in theaters? Well, your wait is over! The double-sized opening episode to this arc primarily serves as a denouement to the Entertainment District Arc and sets the stage for this new season. It feels very theatrical in how it accomplishes the latter, dropping obvious hints and introducing new characters as scenes shift from setting to setting. And in doing so, it generates excitement with all the new developments. One of the episode’s newly introduced settings is the Infinity Castle; this dizzying sequence was particularly praised when these episodes premiered in theaters, and it’s easy to see why as the “camera” takes us up, down, and through the towering, mazelike chambers of Muzan’s headquarters. It’s also really cool to finally be introduced to the remaining Kizuki, particularly the number one, Kokushibo (as little as we see him), and to learn more about number two Doma’s personality. That guy’s scary.

But in all honesty, my favorite parts of this opening episode involved seeing the cast of heroes for this arc. For all the things Demon Slayer has going for it—the incredible animation (once again coming through in these episodes, but particularly the Kizuki portion—go, Ufotable!), the outstanding score, and the great voice acting, among others—my favorite is how the stories of the hashira and others unfold in each arc; their sacrifices stir my heart like few (really no) other shonen series do as they lay down their lives (or get very near to it) to fight these incredible forces that are stronger than them. And getting to know Kanroji a little more in this episode sets up the pain I’m sure she’ll go through later in the arc, while seeing our blank slate Hashira, Tokito, also has me excited to see his certain transformation. But as a manga reader (though admittedly one who’s forgotten most of this arc), I have to say that my favorite character of all in this arc is the biggest jerk in the series (except for maybe his brother, “He Who Stabbed Nezuko,” GRRRR), Genya. I can’t wait to see his story, and the others, take shape in the coming episodes. With this episode, the stage is set for a great performance. Introductions are made, the conflict is set, and the setting is given—now let the show begin!

I actually just saw you in the theaters, Tanjirou, but I’m still feeling the excitement!

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Swordsmith Village Arc (Season 3) can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

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