The high-stakes fight between the demons who had been terrorizing the Entertainment District and Uzui Tengen’s ragtag squad of Demon Slayers and Kunoichi. This battle has had an incredible share of plot-shattering events and shows us the elevation of both our protagonists’ abilities, but also of the dangers and powerful opponents that await. This season’s Daki and Gyutaro are a brother and sister duo much like Tanjiro and Nezuko. Together, they share the Upper Sixth ranking among Kibutsuji Muzan’s Twelve Demon Moons and have been possibly the strongest opponent Tanjiro and his friends have ever had to face themselves.
The Original Mission
To recap, the whole reason we’re in the Entertainment District this arc is because of two things: various disappearances that have taken place in the area; as well as the disappearance of Sound Hashira Uzui Tengen’s three Kunoichi wives, Suma, Makio, and Hinatsuru, who were dispatched to investigate the aforementioned disappearances. Uzui seeks female Demon Slayer Corps members to infiltrate three brothels in the Entertainment District and investigate from within; however, after a lot of weird stuff we won’t really get into, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke end up doing the infiltration instead. With their identities hidden in heavy amounts of makeup and fake girl voices, the trio split up. Zenitsu hits up Kyogoku House, where he is unfortunate enough to run into the demon Daki and incur her ire. Inosuke winds up at Ogimoto House, where he finds Daki’s lair and sentient offshoot demon, while Tanjiro investigates Tokito House.
Zenitsu is discovered soon after the mission begins and Daki kidnaps him, storing him in her obi (sash/belt) like many of her other victims, including both Makio and Hinatsuru. Inosuke attempts to remain in character, but after a while, his senses are continuously triggered by a “writhing” he feels somewhere within Ogimoto House. He soon locates the main lair where Daki stores all her victims and battles Daki’s offshoot self, her belt which is just as sentient. Soon after, Uzui arrives, and together with the now-freed sleeping Zenitsu, they lay free the remaining victims and find Uzui’s wives safe and sound.
Meanwhile, while Tanjiro is facing off against the actual Daki, things get very awkward when she reabsorbs her other self and assumes her true form. While she overwhelms Tanjiro, who soon ends up relying on his yet-to-be-explained Sun Breather abilities and experiences a transformation of his own. His hair is raised and fiery, while his bloodshot eyes give him a feral appearance. His move-set changes, relying mostly on Hinokami Kagura attacks and forms. In this state, Tanjiro is able to coolly overwhelm Daki and come close to decapitating her; however, the physical toll of the form, coupled together with his injuries, stops Tanjiro dead in his tracks mere seconds away from what would’ve been a victory.
Nezuko takes over and flips the tides of battle on Daki once more, assuming a form that we have never seen before. Daki’s fear and inability to protect herself from Nezuko in combat support her racing thoughts that perhaps the stray demon is strong enough to measure up against high-ranking members of the Twelve Demon Moons. However, the rampaging Nezuko proves to be a danger to civilians and demons, but with Uzui’s arrival, Tanjiro is able to focus all of his attention on putting Nezuko back to sleep.
Uzui makes quick work of Daki, capitating her unceremoniously, but things get grim when the demon does not disintegrate and calls out to her older brother in frustration. Gyutaro is by far a scarier demon than Daki is; and with twin sickles made of blood and a bone to pick with anyone more handsome, fortunate, or talented than he is, things get very dark very quickly.
Fight of the Year, Already?
After Daki and Gyutaro reveal that they, together, are the Upper Sixth Ranked demon of Muzan’s Twelve Demon Moons, they unleash a torrent of beatings upon the whole group. Daki is taken on by Zenitsu and Inosuke while Gyutaro is Uzui and Tanjiro’s problem. During the fight, Daki is beheaded by a Zenitsu who cannot go without being lauded as one of this arc’s MVPs as he was totally electric this season; however, they soon realize that the key is to decapitate the siblings together. This proves to be harder than simply defeating the demons, as Daki has building-shattering abilities that are also long-range, while Gyutaro makes use of swift motion, noxious attacks, terrifying strength, and his control of blood to perform devastating onslaughts that overwhelm even someone as competent in battle as Uzui.
This fight is the most terrifying thing we’ve seen in Demon Slayer so far. On the heels of Rengoku’s death, this fight brought our heroes closer to death more times than any other before. As a result of the poisoning invoked by Gyutaro’s sickles, the fight takes on an even more perilous complexion – we’ve seen a Hashira die under easier circumstances, so it’s virtually impossible to remain composed while watching Uzui struggle against not only Gyutaro’s physical attacks but the physical and mental onslaught brought on by the poison. Effectively, the stakes keep getting higher and higher as time goes on in this fight, and eventually Uzui loses a hand and an eye in the bout.
The animation throughout this arc has been absolutely insane, with the highlight being specifically the one-on-one between Uzui and Gyutaro. The camera work, flashy effects, colors, and sheer excitement of this fight invoked is a testament to the brilliant work being done by Studio Ufotable on this series, and to that end, we’re in the middle of witnessing a benchmark being established regarding the quality of fight sequence animation. This is breathtaking work, and not only for the main bout but for everything in between. Zenitsu’s Godspeed 1st Form of Lightning Breathing had a stellar animation sequence that also stands out at the top as one of the best in Demon Slayer thus far, perhaps even topping the animation from the first time Tanjiro ever used the Hinokami Kagura technique.
Deus Ex Nezuko
One thing that has been particularly unsatisfactory about the Entertainment District Arc is the, once again, lack of participation of Nezuko beyond playing the role of Deus Ex Machina. In this fight, she directly saves Tanjiro’s butt from certain annihilation at least once and that was when it was still only Daki to worry about. Despite being a major key in combat, Tanjiro’s instincts as an older brother prevent him from fighting alongside her, and we know this because just after Nezuko’s literal stomping out of Daki, Tanjiro was stuck with the enormous task of getting her under control. Seeing his sister bloodthirsty was perhaps re-traumatizing, as remember that the last time Tanjiro saw her so out of control like that was in the very beginning of the series when his family had been slaughtered.
Nezuko’s touted as the “Sleeping Demon” because her sleep is how she accelerates her recovery from injury, but also an alternative way for her to suspend her demonic appetite. However, it seems like this is just an excuse to keep Nezuko out of most of the action until things get dire, making her an exciting trump card but Nezuko moments like her transformation are a rarity. It becomes a lazy cycle of Tanjiro being good, but not quite good enough, and Nezuko being able to save a situation from certain death but only ever being rested enough to do so when things are already dire.
She is effectively Tanjiro’s plot armour, a device that is both contextually and subtextually used as a means to explain the continued prosperity of a character who’s in a situation so bad, it would be very realistic if they died in season 1. We understand the idea that they need each other to survive, and it’s driven home every single episode; however, it would be really cool to see Nezuko exist beyond her relationship with Tanjiro specifically. Nezuko’s role as Deus Ex Machina in this arc goes as far as her being able to reverse the effects of Gyutaro’s fatal poison on Uzui and Inosuke, so we also learn that Nezuko’s Blood Demon Art can have healing properties.
One of the biggest plot bombs from this season is the reveal that Tanjiro is in some way related to the primordial Demon Slayers, the Sun Breathers. This connection is implied to exist through his father, who we know would perform Hinokami Kagura dances in observation of an unknown culture or custom. When Tanjiro goes to the Rengoku Estate to deliver Kyojuurou’s final words, the head of the household goes ballistic when he sees Tanjiro’s earrings, but he also mentions Tanjiro’s forehead scar. Both of these, we’re led to be seen as mere familial heirlooms, particularly the scar, which is made to look like just another thing that makes Tanjiro in that instance, a coincidental stand-in for his father.
Brother and Sister
The fight with Daki and Gyutaro, and their connected lives down to their very physiology was a clear mirror to the symbiotic relationship Tanjiro has developed with Nezuko, and in a similar fashion with the demons, one of the sibling pairings is usually not visible until they are summoned. We’re clearly meant to create parallels between the sibling pairs, and as the fight progresses, we are supposed to begin seeing the tragedy of the existence of Daki and Gyutaro as demons. When Gyutaro gains the upper hand, only Tanjiro is left standing, and he disparages Tanjiro for being a pathetic older brother who couldn’t protect his sister. We’re supposed to see Daki and Gyutaro as an alternate Tanjiro and Nezuko; one from the universe where Tanjiro and Nezuko eventually become demons, and the anime holds our hand through this contrast.
Tanjiro openly feels empathy towards them through the course of the fight, and when his valiant efforts alone culminate in the group’s defeat of the demons, he is nearly reduced to tears when watching the slowly dissipating siblings argue over their loss. This isn’t new for Tanjiro, who doesn’t slay demons out of hatred for them, but is capable of extending a “compassionate blade”.
Highest Stakes Yet
One thing this arc attempts to drive home in its conclusion is the fact that this is the toughest opponent the main characters, and Uzui, have ever faced. They struggled immensely in the face of the sibling demons’ power, but they still managed to come out of the battle alive. The sheer relief and happiness the characters exhibit when the fight is truly over brings it back to our attention that they went through that entire ordeal with the grim understanding that they probably won’t make it out. The other thing is that the characters are going into this major battle knowing that the last time a high-ranking demon was challenged, a very strong Hashira died, so throughout the bout with Daki and Gyutaro, there’s a strong and overwhelming dread that you experience as the audience, especially in that one moment when Uzui pretended to be dead, leaving Tanjiro to fend for himself for several minutes.
We’re reminded that even though they’re tough and resilient, the Demon Slayers; Hashira included, are just plain human beings who fear death and seek companionship. One thing, though: as high as the stakes were here, Serpent Hashira Obanai Iguro reveals to the group that their opponent was actually a weakling, in case we needed further reminders of the perils that await in future episodes.
Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yuukaku-hen (Kimetsu no Yaiba – Demon Slayer – Entertainment District Arc) has been an absolute masterclass this season, with high-stakes combat, dazzling animated sequences that seemed to catch us by surprise despite the fairly extensive warm-up. It was not a perfect season, and the significantly shortened length is a definite drawback. One thing that was a negative impact upon this season, and perhaps Demon Slayer as a Shounen narrative is the consistent sidelining of Nezuko, who is oftentimes only unboxed to get Tanjiro out of trouble. Her role in this arc cannot be emphasized enough, as she saves Tanjiro from certain death against Daki, and after the fight was over, she managed to reverse the effects of Gyutaro’s poison, and hence save Inosuke and Uzui from dying from wounds sustained in that battle.
Overall, this was an extremely exciting season for Demon Slayer, and shows that the story is only just getting started! What was your favorite part of the Entertainment District Arc? Drop a comment below and tell us your thoughts!