“Demon Slayer-Kimetsu no Yaiba,” the hit anime based on the Shonen Jump manga series written by Koyoharu Gotouge, has kicked off its first episode of third season in movie theaters nationwide. The theatrical release of the episode was titled “To the Swordsmith Village.”
The third season, which focuses on the “Swordsmith Village Arc,” will be a continuation of charcoal seller-turned Demon slayer Tanjiro Kamado’s journey to restore his sister Nezuko to human form after the demon king Muzan Kibutsuji slaughtered his family and turned her into a demon.
The amazing thing about “To the Swordsmith Village” premiere was that it it started off with the final two episodes(“Never Give Up” and “No Matter How Many Lives”) from “Demon Slayer’s” second season’s “Entertainment District Arc,” where the Kamado siblings and their fellow Demon Slayers Zenitsu Agatsuma, Inosuke Hashibira and Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui battle the Upper Six Demon siblings Daki and Gyutaro.
While the battle seen in the “Entertainment District Arc” left Tanjiro and his fellow slayers battered but they emerged victorious against the demonic siblings. Furthermore, we learn from Kagaya Ubuyashiki, the leader of the Demon Slayer Corps, that the victory marks a turning point for the Demon Slayer Corps since it has been more than a century since an Upper Rank demon of the Twelve Kizuki (Muzan’s cadre of high ranking demons and the enemy of the Demon Slayer Corps) was defeated. The realization of Daki and Gyutaro’s defeat is felt by Akaza, the Upper Three demon who killed the Fire Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku, in the second season’s first arc, “Mugen Train Arc.”
Adding the two episodes to the theatrical premiere of the series’ first episode of the third season was a great way to get fans up to speed on the heroic journey of the Kamado siblings and their friends. However, the only thing I would have to critique was adding the credits to both episodes which prolonged the story. Otherwise, we are reintroduced into the incredible story of Tanjiro and his sister Nezuko. The storytelling is one of the things that makes “Demon Slayer” a classic Hero’s Journey.
The story told in the first episode of the “Swordsmith Village Arc” is one that I feel is going to build on itself. The arc is not only going to focus on Tanjiro restoring his black Nichirin sword but it is also going to show some revelations with both Demon Slayers and their demonic enemies.
In the Infinity Caste, the lair of the demon king Muzan is contemplating on the next move for his cabal of demons. He is very livid that it was the first time in a century that a Demon Slayer killed an Upper Rank demon. This also causes him to question the competence of his demons and brush off news of a mysterious Blue Spider Lily. He dispatches several demons to the Swordsmith Village.
After waking up from a coma (while also dreaming of seeing a swordsman wearing Hanafuda earrings similar to his and his father Tanjuro’s) and recovering from his battles against the Upper Six demons, Tanjiro travels to the Swordsmith Village. As the story progresses, we are also reintroduced to several characters, the two Hashiras: the Love Hashira Mitsuri Kanroji and the Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito.
Mitsuri, like Tanjiro, is at the village to have her sword forged and she also strikes a quick friendship with the young Demon Slayer. . She also tells Tanjiro of a weapon that can make those who possess it very strong. This piques Tanjiro’s interest in finding this weapon.
However, it seems that Muichiro is at the village for a different reason. As seen toward the end of the episode, he is looking for something (perhaps, it is the mysterious weapon).
Hashiras, rival demons slayers, and more upper rank demons
Another thing that makes “Demon Slayer”, and this episode, so amazing is the character development. Characters like the heroic Tanjiro, Zenitsu, Inosuke, and Nezuko, have grown since the “Entertainment District Arc.” Zenitsu (one of my favorite characters) has been given more screen time and is shown to be a formidable fighter despite being anxious and on edge. We also have Inosuke who despite being pompous, is also caring for his friends. We also have Taniro’s sister Nezuko who has seemed to embrace her blood demon art, or her demonic abilities, to help her brother and heal others of their injuries. And of course, Tanjiro has grown to be more heroic even in the face of staggering odds (he was brutally injured during his battle against Gyutaro).
In the first episode of the “Swordsmith Village Arc,” we also see some of the character development among the Twelve Kizuki, a cadre of demons led by Muzan. We are rentroduced to the aforementioned Akaza and the Upper Two Demon Doma (as the original Upper Six Demon, he recruited Daki and Gyutaro into the Twelve Kizuki).
Akaza seems to have a rivalry with his fellow demons, notably Doma who he repeatedly assaults while the latter annoys him. In the “Mugen Train Arc,” Akaza unsuccessfully tried to convince Rengoku to turn into a demon. As a matter of fact, there is no doubt that his near defeat at the hands of the Flame Hashira and the news of Gyutaro and Daki’s defeat has him on edge.
Onto Doma, I am curious as to what the Upper Two demon’s story is since he is seen as the punching bag of the Twelve Kizuki. He seems to have a playful and child-like nature about him that annoys his fellow demons, notably Muzan, Akaza, and the demon Upper One. This is further evident when Muzan does not summon him to find the mysterious Blue Spider Lily with the other demons, Gyokko, the Upper Five demon and Hantengu, the Upper Four demon.
Upper One is another interesting character whose character I’d like to see develop. Upper One has the appearance of a samurai armed with a katana. He is also ruthless as he beheads Doma who constantly annoys him. Given that “Demon Slayer” takes place in Japan’s Taisho era and that the demons of the Twelve Kizuki are at least a century old, Upper One may be from either the previous Togugawa Era since the Meiji and Taisho Eras seen the modernization and western influence on Japan and also the fading of the Samurai. Since Upper One might be the potential big bad, it would be cool if the “Swordsmith Village Arc” explores this.
In addition to Akaza, Muzan and Upper One, we are also introduced to the aforementioned demons and Hantengu. Gyokko, is a demon with a set of mouths on where his eyes would be while he has one eye on his forehead and one in his mouth (one cannot be sure what to make of this demon). Hantengu resembles an elderly man and often cowers in fear while lurking in the shadows within the infinite steps of Infinity Castle.
The dynamic seen with the upper rank demons is interesting and serves as a foil to the Demon Slayer Corp. While Kagaya is seen as frail but compassionate towards the Hashiras and Demon Slayers serving him, Muzan is imposing, yet cold and cruel to his demons just as he is towards his victims. He is the polar opposite of the kindhearted Kagaya, who, in the first season of “Demon Slayer,” spared Nezuko due to her willingness to not hurt humans.
Muzan is clearly disappointed and livid about the defeat of Daki and Gyutaro at the hands of the Demon Slayers. He beheads Upper Five after the demon claims to have information on the mysterious Blue Spider Lily and questions the competence of his other demons.
Switching gears to the Demon Slayer side, we are also reintroduced to not one but two Hashiras: the Love Hashira Mitsuri Kanroji and the Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito. The Hashiras made their first appearances in the episode “Against Corps Rules” where Tanjiro pleaded with the Demon Slayer Corps to not harm Nezuko.
Mitsuri is introduced when Tanjiro arrives at the spring of the Swordsmith Village albeit in a hilarious fashion (Lets just say that it is NSFW). Mitsuri is a bit of a comic relief character who wears her heart on her sleeve and wants a big strong man to win her heart. She forms and instant bond with Tanjiro and advises him that there is a mysterious weapon that makes one who possesses it become stronger.
We do not know much about Muichiro but we do know that he is the older brother of Tanjros fellow Demon Slayer and rival, Yuichiro Tokito. We see Muchiro at the end of the episode where he is questioning one of the residents of the Swordsmith Village to give him something that they have in possession. We also see Muichiro with a man who appears to be a swordsman who resembles Upper One and also wears Hanafuda earrings, similar to Tanjiro and his father Tanjuro.
The animation and cinematography
Another thing that was enjoyable about the theatrical release of the first episode is the animation and cinematography which has a way of making the settings their own characters. The Infinity Castle, with its golden yet ominous staircases puts the viewers on the edge of their seats knowing that something is about to go down, especially when Muzan is lurking within.
You also have the majestically beautiful Swordsmith Village which is situated near a mountain side. The village is adorned with tall buildings and has a hot spring that leaves both Tanjiro and the viewer mesmerized. When I saw the village, it almost reminded me of when I was 10-years old and seeing Cloud City from “Star Wars-Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.” Like Cloud City, the Swordsmith Village is a place of respite and paradise from all the trials and tribulations. But also you know full well that like Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO, Tanjiro is going to quickly discover that there is going to be trouble in paradise (as seen at the end of the episode).
Final Verdict and some questions
I am excited about the “Swordsmith Village Arc”and how it will unfold and progress. What is this mysterious weapon that Matsuri is talking about? What is this Blue Spider Lily that Muzan and the demons are looking for? More importantly, who is this mysterious swordsman from Tanjiro’s dream and is he in some way connected to the Kamado family or, perhaps, is he Upper One since they resemble each other?
“Demon Slayer” Season Three, “The Swordsmith Village Arc” is set to premiere on April 9 while the premiere date for the English dub has yet to be released.