Anime Journal - Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Episode 5


This is a continuing journal of the great anime series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Produced by Ufotable and released in late 2019. I'm re-watching each episode, providing a synopsis, and adding my own observations. You can read the first episode coverage here. 

Episode 5 "My Own Steel"

Tanjiro has slain the morphing demon that killed so many of Urokodaki's students. As the demon slowly crumbles away, it remembers its childhood and fear of the dark. Tanjiro smells sadness in the air and hold the demons fingers and prays for a better reincarnation for this sad creature. Meanwhile the spirits of the slain students fade away while looking at Tanjiro. They are going back to the mountain they came from. 

But Tanjiro still has to survive and continues to fight demons asking them if they know how a demon can turn back into a human. It's useless though as they are unreasoning brutes. 

Tanjiro survives along with four other students. At the wisteria camp, they are all tired and surly (except for one girl who says nothing). The survivors, who are now officially demon slayers, all receive birds (crow/sparrow) as their helpers and to get communications from the demon slayer leaders. They are also given the hierarchy of the demon slayer (they are at the bottom). 

Then there is a minor conflict with an angry student who wants his demon sword immediately (Tanjiro threatens to break his arm if he doesn't stop harassing the twins who are in charge. They are given the opportunity to select the ore from which their sword will be made. 

Tanjiro stumbles home only to find that his sister Nezuko has awakened. He is so moved he cries as they embrace. Later that night in Urokodaki's house, Tanjiro shares his story of the morph demon fight. There is a brief flash back to when Urokodaki captured the demon effortlessly. 

A few days later the ironsmith arrives with Tanjiro's sword. He is an eccentric fellow who lectures Tanjiro on his appearance and speculates that the sword will turn red when Tanjiro draws it out for the first time. Eventually, Tanjiro draws the sword and it turns black. Both Urokodaki and the oresmith are both surprised. The oresmith attacks Tanjiro because he wanted to see a red sword. 

Just then Tanjiro's crow arrives with news of his first assignment - young girls are disappearing in a city to the north and Tanjiro must journey there to discover the demon who is kidnapping the girls and destroy him. 


One of the things that is so compelling about this anime series is it's consistent effort to show the results of violence and death. Tanjiro's character is so fine that he even empathizes with the demon who was trying to kill him. This episode shows that even the worst demon was once a frightened child and perhaps it's evil behavior comes out of the fact that it is so afraid. 

We get to see how the organization behind the demon slayers works. There is a certain necessary cruelty in sending 15 boys/girls to their deaths at the hands of demons only to to winnow down those who are truly qualified to fight. One wonders what happened to those poor young people - are they demons now? While they be on the mountain testing future young demon slayers? 

Using familiars (crows/sparrow) as messengers and confidants is a brilliant idea. They also add a note of comedy to scenes that is necessary to balance the extreme cruelty and death in certain scenes. 

Tanjiro's reaction to Nezuko, who has awakened, releases a flood of pain and fear from him. It's almost embarasing to see him sob openly after being so stoic. Later, his teacher tells him about the "blood magic" that certain demons have (foreshadowing an important battle coming later). 

The comic oresmith is delightfully droll, but there's still suspense in finding out what color Tanjiro's sword will be. And what is the significance of it turning black? 
The crows arrival cuts the comedy short. Now, rested and wearing his uniform with his new sword and his sister to accompany him, he must meet the challenge of his first assignment. 
August 12, 2020


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