Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – Part 2 (Eps 14-26) (Blu-Ray)

Having escaped the demonic Tsuzumi Mansion, Demon Slayer Tanjiro and his demon-turned sister Nezuko take time to rest and recover from their wounds alongside their new companions, the nervous and often hysterical Zenitsu, and the competitive, boar head-wearing Inosuke. Following their recovery, the newly formed Demon Slayer team are sent out on another job and travel to Mount Natagumo, the home of a family of dangerous spider demons. Venturing up the mountain, they learn that the previous group of Demon Slayers sent to Mount Natagumo all turned on each other and find themselves the targets of a group of Demon Slayers attempting to kill them. Surrounded by threats on all sides, Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu and Inosuke struggle to fend off their Demon Slayer comrades while delving deeper into increasingly dangerous territory – the home of the deadly spider demons.

Wrapping up the first season of the series, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Part 2 finishes up establishing the core cast of characters and concepts introduced in Part 1 (see my review of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Part 1) and launches into a solid and enjoyable set of episodes that follow the main cast to the dangerous Mount Natagumo. These episodes deliver a very strong mini arc where Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu and Inosuke engage in fantastical anime battles emblematic of the series, using the prolonged engagement on Mount Natagumo with the spider demons to explore personal dilemmas and backstories to flavour these battles based on the way each of the characters engage in them. This approach is used for both established and newer characters alike and gives each an opportunity to reveal aspects of themselves and their abilities to the audience in an engaging and nuanced way. Demon Slayer Shinobu is a particularly good example of this in action. Even though she is introduced towards the end of the Mount Natagumo arc, her interactions with other characters, in particular the spider demons, and her fighting style communicates a lot about her as a character and her worldview, cementing her as a really interesting character with a bright demeanour that gives way to an efficient and practical ruthlessness.

Mount Natagumo is a great arc that ties up the existing cast in a dire and exciting situation, with twists and turns that give nuance to the demons that inhabit the mountain. Upon wrapping up these episodes, the series uses Mount Natagumo as a catalyst to introduce the Hashiras, the Demon Slayer Corps’ most powerful members. While this introduces a lot of new concepts in the form of the structure and leadership of the Demon Slayer Corps, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Part 2 slows down a little at this point, becoming a series of recovery episodes that feel like they are stalling for time before the next big arc – which may not be too big a stretch, as Part 2 wraps up by leading into  Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (check out Mangaman’s review of the movie here). While taking the time to let characters breathe following an action-packed arc is not something I would typically complain about, this one feels a little stagnated – some characters are stored away and don’t make an appearance, others make excuses to not be present in various scenes, and this results in these episodes missing out on what could have been some really interesting character interactions.

Having established its core demon slaying team, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Part 2 has a lot of fun messing around with their relationships with each other. My personal favourite member is Inosuke, as his brash personality and feral nature makes him a lot of fun in the team dynamic. His single-minded desire to fight and be the best is really entertaining when pitted, often comedically, against Tanjiro’s good faith naivety, and is made really interesting when Tanjiro’s compassion rubs off on Inosuke in fun ways. That being said, not all of the Demon Slayer team have the same amount of screen time. Nezuko has some great moments, particularly at the crux of the Mount Natagumo arc and when the group finds themselves before the Hashira, but she spends a majority of the episodes in Part 2 inside her travel box and not interacting with others. This creates a bit of dissonance from an audience perspective as Tanjiro appears to really want to spend more time with his sister, and the series indicates that they make a great team and can take on very powerful foes when they work together – but the series still has Nezuko spending a majority of the time inside her box. Additionally, while Nezuko has some interesting moments that represent a struggle between her demonic and human natures, narrative decisions made in Part 1 of the series undermine the importance of this struggle. As Tanjiro’s teacher Urokodaki hypnotised Nezuko earlier in the season to convince her to protect humans and kill demons, Nezuko’s internal struggles with control are minimised to an extent because her struggles and triumphs are not her own – they are a product of the hypnosis. This is unfortunate, as this aspect of the series has weakened what is depicted as a really integral character struggle interwoven into the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba narrative.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Part 2 solidly establishes its core cast of characters and concepts, delivering a bunch of excellent action set-pieces infused with flash and style. While the latter arc of Part 2 fell a little flat for me as it felt like a missed opportunity for fun interactions among the main Demon Slayer team, there’s still plenty of anime action and drama on offer to enjoy in this bunch of episodes and I’m interested to see where the adventures of the Demon Slayer crew take them in the next season.

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A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.

© Koyoharu Gotoge / SHUEISHA, Aniplex, ufotable