What Is Demon Slayer’s Big Problem in Season 3?
Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc follows a trend set by the Mugen Train arc in which a major member of the Hashira is inserted into the action against an increasingly powerful opponent. Mugen Train was able to succeed because it was a novelty to see Kyojuro Rengoku, and his ultimate fate felt surprising in the moment because it was the first major loss of a seemingly huge character. Then this continued in Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc as Season 2 saw Tengen Uzui joining the fight for the main baddie.
While the Entertainment District Arc indeed bucked this first trend by keeping the Hashira alive this time around, it also started a new pattern. Tanjiro and the others were introduced to their first real opponent from Muzan Kibutsuji’s Upper Ranks, but then the more they fought, the more the demonic opponents began to reveal new tricks and abilities. It started to really sink when Demon Slayer Season 2 was half a single battle, essentially.
The pattern then continues in Demon Slayer Season 3, but it tries to change things by adding two new Hashira and two new members of the Upper Ranks. Except this time, the entire season will be this single series of fights as these opponents get stronger and reveal new forms, tricks, and essentially follow in the footsteps of how the rest of the fights in Demon Slayer have played out thus far.
The Fight’s Only Getting Started???
Demon Slayer Season 3 Episode 7 feels like the tipping point in terms of how much the Swordsmith Village Arc anime is stretching things out. The Demon Slayer anime is committed to telling the manga’s story as is to a fault, and although there have been a few edits in the timing of some of the moments (such as choosing not to cut back to Muichiro Tokito’s struggle until choice moments), the anime’s commitment to the manga means that things are starting to move at a glacial pace. Couple this with the fact that the anime is repeating the patterns from previous seasons, and it’s becoming more egregious.
Take Zohakuten, Hantengu’s newest Emotion Demon, for example. Episode 7 fully introduces this new version of the demon, but spends the greater part of the episode focusing on Tanjiro’s reaction. Then somewhat oddly, for some reason the anime decides it’s necessary to show how it happened from Genya’s perspective and narration. Making it even worse is that it’s done in a flashback after the fact rather than watching Genya react to this in real time. It’s all about the reveal of a new villain first, then we get the context behind it.
This is all after we just saw this happen with Tanjiro’s reaction to the other Emotion Demons when they were first formed. Tanjiro himself noted how it was much like the fight with Daki and Gyutaro, so when adding Season 2’s experience onto everything it makes for a much less impactful reveal overall. But that’s the entire episode!
No Respect For Our Time
Demon Slayer’s main issue in the original manga is the fact that it follows the typical Shonen Jump formula to a fault. Fights will stretch out with new powers, surprising new gambits, and then will be countered with even more abilities and sudden new strengths.It’s already been spoken out loud by the villains themselves when Sekido noted how Tanjiro’s moving much faster and adapting to the fights as they continue. But this is a parallel to how the demons will operate as well. Like seen in past arcs, each foe will continue to grow stronger and reveal new powers the more they are challenged as well.
It’s an artificial extension to each of the fights without a clear end in sight for any of them. This happens all the time in action anime like this, so why is it an issue in Demon Slayer‘s case specifically? It’s becoming too noticeable. Take the Zohakuten reveal for example, once more. Not only did this debut make up for the majority of the episode’s runtime (and thus focusing on a gimmick that’s already been played with Hantengu), but it’s running into the Dragon Ball Z Namek problem of five minutes soon becoming five hundred years.
That reveal was like a second in Tanjiro’s time, but an entire episode for us. It’s like Demon Slayer doesn’t respect our time and respect how much we are invested in how this fight plays out beat for beat. It’d be one thing if it was yet another fight in a marathon of fighting for Tanjiro like in the first season, but this has all been the same fight within the same few hours.
So What’s Changed?
Demon Slayer’s first season was a success, but it wasn’t until a very particular point. The anime really exploded into its current level of popularity following Episode 19, which importantly was after we had spent 18 prior weeks watching Tanjiro steadily grow, change, and adjust as a Demon Slayer. This felt earned after 18 weeks of story to get to that point. It wasn’t just 18 weeks of a single fight. Even the Entertainment District arc handled this better as it shook things up with an attempt at some kind of investigation that ultimately was meaningless at the end of the day.
It’d be one thing if these fights were taking longer because of character work in between, but all we get these days are flashbacks that feel like a bandage on a bigger issue. Because there’s so much focus on fighting, and because so much time is spent on the beat for beat moments of those fights instead, time isn’t spent on the stuff that’s more interesting.
Take Genya’s flashback telling his origin story. If that would have been an entire episode or at least the majority of the episode’s runtime, then it would feel like more of a respect of our time because it’s fleshing out a character we care about. Instead we get less than four-ish minutes blasting through it because apparently the anime deemed it more important to focus on the next cool sword slash.
It’s Not Over
Like this critique, Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc has still a ways to go. We spent so much time just seeing Hantengu reveal yet another ability that we instead could have spent with Muichiro as he more interesting begins to open up about his past. Instead, it’s another week of waiting to see that plot point. On top of that, Muichiro’s fight with Gyokko is only beginning and will subsequently follow the pattern of the other fights as Gyokko still has plenty of tricks to show.
Oh right, Mitsuri Kanroji’s here too! Wish we could have seen her in action more! Would have been nice to get more characterization for her (and a deeper exploration of her views of Love and how it impacts her very unique Breathing Style) outside of the comments on her body. But nope, that’s waiting further down the line as well. But remember, waiting is not the problem when it means we have something juicy to chew on in the meantime.
Why a Movie?
All of these issues would be moot if this were all just a movie. If Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc tightened up its pacing to really hammer home the biggest points, then it would better sell that (like the Entertainment District Arc fight before it) this is all happening within a single night, a few hours at most. It’s why fans were so upset earlier this year when the Swordsmith Village Arc movie was just an early premiere for the first episode rather than the full narrative.
A movie adapting the best moments with a quicker pace would just help things along. Things have just been crawling, and making each of the patterns stand out all the more. All this extra time is only further allowing us to stew in these issues. And considering what’s left to go in not only the Swordsmith Village Arc but the rest of the series as a whole? And all of the same things happening still? A movie would help us get there faster.
But what do you think? Should Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc get through things quicker? Let us know all of your thoughts about it in the comments! You can even reach out to me directly about all things animation and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!