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Demon Slayer Season 4 Review

Demon Slayer Season 4 Review

Demon Slayer’s recently concluded Hashira Training Arc feels a lot like a video game – specifically, the sections of an RPG where you’re walking around your camp talking to each of your friends in the hopes that they’ll say something interesting, knowing that most of them will just have generic dialogue and leave. That’s not to say that the pause before the big finale is a bad thing, but the Hashira Training Arc is so poorly executed that it’s hard to believe that Overly long and convoluted fight scenes in Season 3.

A big part of the appeal of Koyoharu Gotoge’s Demon Slayer comic was that it was a fairly short shonen manga with a fast pace that prioritized getting straight to the big moments. While Ufotable’s Demon Slayer adaptation used animation to turn brief and otherwise unremarkable events into epic displays of gorgeous visuals, it became clear that the show could do no less. Last season, it padded its runtime with long fight scenes filled with VFX and erratic camera movements that made it difficult to follow the action. This season, with an ending on the horizon (consisting of not one, but three feature-length films), Ufotable extended the calm before the storm rather than limiting itself to a brief training montage at the beginning of the epic action films.

This isn’t bad in theory, as the Hashira Training Arc allows viewers to spend more time with the titular Hashira, the pinnacle of the Demon Slayer Corps, before he drops like flies in the next arc. But that’s not exactly what happens, as we never learn much about any of the Hashira, with two notable exceptions. The episode devoted to Himejima the Stone Hashira does at least offer a dramatic flashback — even if the show’s use of flashbacks is painfully formulaic and predictable — while Giyu’s return does tie in interestingly with the first season, bringing back one of the series’ most tragic characters, Sabito. But the bulk of the season is devoted to an endless cycle of training montages between Tanjiro and Hashira, many of which are as dull as breathing techniques. And that’s without even mentioning the silly and unnecessary mini-tasks Tanjiro engages in to lift Hashira’s spirits, like challenging Tokito to a paper airplane contest so he’ll be nicer to the other candidates. Devoting half an episode to two guys folding paper and launching an airplane into the air should be a sign that you’ve gone too far.

If Demon Slayer really did have a large ensemble of fleshed-out characters, this slice-of-life approach could be interesting. One could imagine a world where Jujutsu Kaisen had to do something similar between Seasons 1 and 2, before the entire supporting cast died off. But since the series never made that effort for anyone outside of Tanjiro — and if it did, it would have killed those characters off right away — the Hashira Training Arc feels too little, too late.

It’s especially painful that the one character who should have attracted attention and gained dimension is nowhere to be seen. In the premiere, it was revealed that the reason for the Demon Slayer Corps to have this emergency training camp Nezuko has unlocked a special ability that allows her to become the target of every demon in the world. Yet Nezuko only appears in that episode, and she has literally seven words of dialogue—most of it part of a joke. For four seasons, we’ve been led to believe that Nezuko is important, but Demon Slayer misses out on any chance of actually showing us why, or making us care about this character. Sure, maybe that’s just how things work in the manga. But if fidelity to the source material is what the series strives for, then why did we have to stretch 11 episodes into nearly 10 hours of television—10 minutes of which (in order not to continue beating a dead horse) was a paper airplane contest?

Then there’s the finale, where we finally get to see the show’s big bad guy, Muzan Kibutsuji, do something for once. It’s not a fight, or anything really cool. Instead, it’s Muzan’s “smooth Criminal“-He makes his way to the Demon Slayer Corps leader’s house in one of the most selfish and pointless scenes animated this year. Sure, it looks amazing, and it’s a testament to Ufotable’s ability to turn a scene of a man slowly walking in pain into something exciting. But it’s also proof that Demon Slayer is trying too hard to recreate its initial success, fulfilling the unreasonable expectation that every insignificant panel in the manga will be turned into an extended display of gorgeous animation. In contrast, the final scene, where Muzan is blown to hell and slowly healed before being impaled by several bloody spears with his head exploding, is not only disgusting and horrifying, it also looks far better than anything else in the season. And that’s the problem with the Hashira Training Episode. Even the training scenes have some genuinely good moments – the waterfall training scene where Inosuke nearly drowns is hilarious – but they’re drowned in endless unnecessary detail.