The training and the test sequence.
Training episode. I could probably leave the review at that. We’re going to see Tanjiro run, jump, swing a sword, get beaten down, get up again, and so on and so forth. Training episodes are all much the same regardless of the anime they are a part of.
To be honest though, this episode really highlighted how little impact Tanjiro has a protagonist. While there was nothing wrong with this episode, and formulaic training episodes are part and parcel of the genre, there was also nothing to cling to during the episode because his character just doesn’t really have any character. Or at least not a particularly interesting one.
It also seems way too convenient to the narrative that Nezuko is sleeping during the whole training period. I wonder if the writer didn’t know what to do with her while Tanjiro trained, but it just seems really ridiculous that for nearly two years she is sleeping while he gets stronger. It would have been different if she’d been injured or something in the previous episode and it took a length of time for her to recover, but even then there’s a limit to how long someone can conveniently be unconscious.
On the bright side, I’m curious as to what Tanjiro will do now that the training sequence is done with. Clearly he needs to still pass the special test to actual become a demon slayer but I wonder if we’ll go straight to that or if something more interesting might happen first. I’m kind of hoping for something more interesting because this episode was pretty ordinary to say the least with the only point of real interest being the two kids who show up to help him slice the boulder.
There’s definitely a few staples of shounen stories and Kimetsu no Yaiba is stepping us through each and every one of them. For those who desire novelty in their entertainment, this isn’t going to work at all as we’ve gone through the standard call to arms, finding a mentor, training, and now the first test sequence, but honestly Demon Slayer isn’t doing too bad of a job at delivering this story.
Where the plot might be dismissed as cliché and each step is pretty much a standard stepping stone, the pace has been pretty quick as we’ve covered all these steps in four episodes rather than stretching out a training sequence over an entire arc, and realistically each episode has been well enough executed in its own way, though episode 3 is still the low point so far.
In keeping with standard shounen trappings though, this episode begins by replaying the final exchange between Tanjiro and the fox-masked boy. This type of replay of a battle that has taken place at the end of an episode is actually one of my pet hates of the genre. Worse than a recap at the start of an episode. Mostly because it eats episode time and somehow implies that within seven days I forgot the pivotal climax of the previous episode. Throw in the idea that our protagonist Tanjiro claims he can smell the winning strike and I just have to wonder how far they were reaching to try and find any novel trait to give him.
Oh, and I almost forgot this anime’s obsession with foreshadowing something that happens like a minute later. Old guy warns Tanjiro of demons who eat lots of humans and transform their bodies and guess what Tanjiro runs into on the exam?
Despite those complaints though, this was another fun enough episode to watch. From the warm mentor/student moments before Tanjiro sets out to the exam, to seeing Tanjiro fight post-training sequence against two demons, there was more than enough going on and nothing really lingered past its welcome. Even the giant, taunting demon fight was completed fairly quickly and even if we learn next week it isn’t quite dead yet (I guess that’s possible), it doesn’t feel like they are going to stretch these fights for episodes as some less reserved stories might.
So far, Kimetsu no Yaiba has remained just interesting enough for me to enjoy it even as I pick at the more obvious genre elements and wonder just where this intends to go. If nothing else, at least Tanjiro isn’t a shouting protagonist because shouting shounen protagonist is now a trope I will not put up with after dealing with Asta in Black Clover for only 12 episodes before pulling the plug.
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Images from: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Dir. H Sotozaki. Ufotable. 2019.