We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Demon Slayer is one of the most popular anime series in the world and there is no denying that. Wherever you go, there is a fan of the series. And while some people claim that the series is too simple and that is a valid argument, it does have its strengths. My opinion of the series, as I have read and finished the manga, has changed a lot over the years but I can still see its virtues while comprehending the flaws.
In that regard, Demon Slayer season 3 is a mixed bag. It continues to have the outstanding animation efforts of Ufotable but there is only so much a studio can do with the source material they are given. This isn’t meant to disrespect author Koyoharu Gotouge but every series has its own set of flaws and the Swordsmith Village storyline showed some of Demon Slayers.
This is a review of the anime while taking into account events of the manga that take place later on and the world-building that Gotouge has created, which works in favor and against her characters from time to time. So, let’s begin.
Disclaimer: This article contains massive spoilers for the Demon Slayer series.
After Tanjiro’s sword was broken during the events of the Entertainment District arc, his blacksmith no longer wants to make him another one. Once he recovers from his injuries, Tanjiro is sent to the Swordsmith Village, the secret place where the swords for the Demon Slayer Corp are made. There he meets two of the Hashira: the Love Hashira, Mitsuri Kanroji, and the Mist Hashira, Muichiro Tokito.
However, the peace is disrupted by the arrival of the fifth and four Upper Moons, Gyokko and Hantengu, respectively. Complemented by a Demon Slayer known as Genya Shinazugawa, Mitsuri, Muichiro, Tanjiro and his sister Nezuko have to stop these two demons before they destroy the entire village.
Koyoharu Gotouge had initially taken her time with the series, but is during the events of the Entertainment District, and, particularly, with the Swordsmith Village arc, that Demon Slayer begins to suffer pacing problems. This leads to this arc feeling rushed and uninspired at times, with the anime version being aided massively by the animation and improvement in the battle scenes, making the experience feel a lot more enjoyable.
Part of the problem is that the antagonists are not very compelling. The Infinity Train arc had two fascinating antagonists in Enmu and Akaza, both for their powers and their personalities, especially with the latter taking down Rengoku after a climactic combat. Something similar can be said in the Entertainment District arc with the siblings Daki and Gyutaro being built up throughout the arc before unleashing in a great battle against Tanjiro, Tengen, Zenitsu, Inosuke, and Nezuko.
However, while Gyokko and Hantengu have very interesting abilities and character designs, they are not very inspiring individuals. They are generic evil monsters without the appeal of, say, a Dio Brando from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, who is a very traditional villain but one who excels at that. These two don’t have that.
This is because of the pacing. Gotouge wanted to end the manga quickly because of personal issues (which is completely respectable) and she didn’t take the time to flesh out these two villains. There is a very clear difference in the way these two are written when compared to the top three of the Upper Moons, who are arguably the best-written characters in the entire franchise.
The lack of convincing and threatening antagonists leads to this arc feeling like a transitional period without much stakes. And that is strange because destroying the Swordsmith Village would be a great achievement for his Muzan and his demons in this war, but Gyokko and Hantengu are not very imposing figures.
In that regard, Muichiro and Mitsuri have some good moments, particularly the former, but the lack of a strong opponent makes them fall in a lower place when compared to the performances that the previous Hashira, Rengoku, and Tengen, delivered. Therefore, this is another reason why this season feels underwhelming, especially if you are a manga reader and know that this is the best Mitsuri is going to do in the series.
Tanjiro’s Problem This Season
My opinion of Tanjiro has changed over the years. While I initially liked him quite a bit, his lack of development throughout the story has been disappointing. The issue is that his development was learning to fight when initially training to become a Demon Slayer… and then he has no problem facing absolutely anything.
Tanjiro is smart in battle, knows how to engage with people, and always gets the right amount of power to defeat his opponents in battle (and when he doesn’t, he at least gets a new technique, like it happened this season with new variations of Sun Breathing), and has no major flaws that can put him on a disadvantage. Thus, he ends up feeling a bit less interesting than the rest of the cast as the series progresses.
This is very notorious in this story arc as Inosuke and Zenitsu are not part of the adventure. They are louder and more flawed characters that have good chemistry with Tanjiro, both for battles and regular interactions. Mitsuri managed to fill that role well but she only engages with Tanjiro at the start of the arc and they don’t do anything together until near the end, with Muichiro being too introverted and Genya rarely talking with him. All of this hurts Tanjiro as he doesn’t have anyone to bounce back and forward with.
Genya, Pacing, and the World-Building Problem
Genya had been built up for quite some time in the series. He had been with Tanjiro in the final exam to become a Demon Slayer, he had been shown from time to time, and his harsh appearance made the audience question what his problem was and the story he had. This arc focused on revealing that and it worked… sort of.
His backstory with Sanemi was very interesting and showed the tough upbringing that both Shinazugawa brothers had, but the issues come with the ability that Genya has to become a demon. Never in the series it was established that there are folks with stomachs strong enough to digest demon flesh and become one for a certain amount of time until this guy does it… and then there is no explanation for this.
If Nezuko being a demon that didn’t eat people and helped humans was a groundbreaking moment in this series’ world, then Genya being able to do this and fight demons without even doing any kind of Breathing should be a major talking point. But this is a subplot that doesn’t go anywhere and it wasn’t established well enough by Gotouge in the manga, so the anime naturally suffers from this as well.
It’s also worth pointing out that Genya and Tanjiro’s friendship develops too fast. Basically, Tanjiro was nice to him a few times and the hostility between the two characters faded; Genya became likable and even a bit shy during a life-or-death battle against two of the strongest demons in the entire world. It feels a bit too convenient.
Genya had a lot of potential. He had a very interesting premise but feels like one of the most wasted characters in the series.
The Mitsuri Problem
Mitsuri made an impact in the season when it comes to the audience. A lot of people enjoyed her personality, her short but fun battle sequence against the fourth Upper Moon, her backstory, and her abilities as a Demon Slayer. The problem is that she is probably the most underdeveloped Hashira by Gotouge, which is bad news for people that enjoyed her this season because that is the most she is going to get.
Some people have criticized her backstory as not serious enough to become a Demon Slayer but I think it works. Not every character needs to have trauma to want to help others. The problem is not her basis but rather that she doesn’t have a lot of moments to shine or to prove her worth.
The battle against Hantengu, while initially very interesting, happened mostly off-screen as Tanjiro was doing the job of killing the real body. Therefore, we don’t see much of Mitsuri and when we do she is mostly cowering in fear and crying about how she is going to die, which isn’t the strongest of images to convey with this character.
Her super strength also doesn’t make a lot of sense. She is naturally very strong, but, much like Genya, it just sort of happened and the audience needs to accept it. It could make sense that Demon Slayer is a world where people can be born with certain biological inclinations but it’s never properly explained, so when characters like this show up, it does feel a bit contrived.
The third season of Demon Slayer felt a bit middle of the road. Elements such as Genya’s demon abilities, Nezuko just learning to walk in broad daylight as a demon, and Mitsuri’s super strength are never developed. The antagonists are not imposing and the resolution, while vastly improved by the anime and the great work by Ufotable, is not as inspiring as previous arcs, making it feel like a minor event when compared to previous ones.
All in all, it is an enjoyable watch in the anime but nothing to write home about in the grand scheme of things.