Original Run: August 1, 2021 - December 19, 2021 Number of Episodes: 20 Genre: Action, Historical, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Wakame Konbu
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc. Reader discretion is advised.***
Still mourning the loss of Kyoujurou Rengoku and reeling from the events of the Mugen Train incident, Tanjirou Kamado, his sister Nezuko, and his two comrades, Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira (voiced respectively by Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kitou, Hiro Shimono, and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) must continue their training. And as members of the Demon Slayer Corps, there is never any rest.
One day, another of the Corps’ top-ranking Hashira, the Sound Pillar Tengen Uzui (voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi), comes around looking for assistants to help in an investigation. Recently, there has been a slew of mysterious disappearances within the Yoshiwara Entertainment District. Tengen suspects a demon to be at the center of these occurrences.
Hoping to prove their worth and to honor Kyoujurou’s valor, Tanjirou and his friends join Tengen on his mission. However, it soon becomes clear that not only were Tengen’s suspicions correct, but these heroes have also walked straight into the lair of one of the strongest demons in existence.
I want to ensure there are no misconceptions. Upon sitting through the first season of Demon Slayer back in 2019, I did not jump onto the bandwagon as so many others had done.
Take a pause there because I am not saying I didn’t enjoy the series. On the contrary, it was a ton of fun, I strongly recommended it, and Anime Hajime even listed it as the 7th best anime of 2019. The point is, I am a fan of this franchise.
Therefore, the “bandwagon” I am referring to was people calling Demon Slayer one of the best shonen anime of all time. Back then, I was unwilling to go that far. As of now (March 2022), that hasn’t really changed. Except I will acknowledge this franchise to be among the medium’s most pinnacle titles going into the 2020s.
WITH ALL THAT SAID – and this is important – Demon Slayer Entertainment District Arc (Entertainment District) was kick-f@#$ing-ass. Holy s@#$; this show was insanely – well – entertaining.
Thus, the most pressing question becomes:
How does a franchise follow itself after releasing what is unquestionably the most successful anime film of all time (as of March 2022)?
I suppose the answer to that question could have gone many different ways; there was most likely more than one way for things to go. In this case, the response came from whoever was in charge of allocating a budget for Entertainment District. I assume they said something to the effect of, “We are going to give you all the money you need to make this work.”
WELL, MISSION SUCCESSFUL.
To just focus on the flash for a moment; my god, this season was absolutely gorgeous. This series has set a standard so high for 2022 that I am not confident it can be matched. And if even one show comes along that manages to do that, then it is going to be one hell of a year for anime.
To put it in perspective, much of Entertainment District’s visual quality was as good as Mugen Train’s, and in some cases, better. If you thought the final fight at the end of the film was epic, the second half of this season took all that energy, replicated it, extended it, and made things go boom. It is difficult to single out a particular moment as the show’s best because 1) these “moments” often spanned entire episodes, and 2) there were so many of them and each were equally amazing.
I’ve been laser-focused on an anime before, but my wife has never had to ask me if I was okay. Apparently, I had started breathing strangely.
I WAS INVESTED, I’M SORRY.
(Side note: I’m not sure if that is a regular occurrence for me, and this is the first time someone has called it out.)
And so far, if you can believe it, this has only been me talking about the animation. And, by extension, the soundtrack, the action, the colors, and the pretty moving pictures. Regardless, we’ve only discussed the aspects I have consistently said are secondary when it comes to anime. Although stellar visuals and polish have their functions, ultimately, they ring hollow if there aren’t characters and a story worth following.
Fortunately, Entertainment District had those elements as well, and in spades.
First, let’s take a look at the characters, and to start, we have to acknowledge our core group, Tanjirou, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke.
This team has proven the real driving behind the Demon Slayer series throughout season one and the film. These characters have such well-defined personalities and work so brilliantly together that they allowed this show, particularly in this season, rather massive tonal leaps with minimal, if any, jarring shifts in the narrative’s flow.
Demon Slayer has demonstrated a robust sense of humor. You can’t have characters like Zenitsu and Inosuke (especially Insouke) without possessing a willingness to be silly and over-the-top. As a result, you need supporting characters to match that energy in order to stand out, something Tengen Uzui pulled off without any trouble.
And yet, Demon Slayer isn’t a comedy. Sure, it has humor, but you don’t get scenes like the end of Mugen Train without putting the heart, the drama, and the seriousness of these circumstances. Entertainment District was no different. In fact, this season had to go much further because, in the timeline, these events are hot off the heels of a traumatic incident. Not only did this installment need to recognize the fallout of what happened, but it also had to move the story forward.
Additionally, since we are deeper into this narrative, the threat levels have to increase. And boy did they in Entertainment District.
In Mugen Train, the film made a point to say that Tanjirou, his friends, and Kyoujurou Rengoku pulled off a miracle by defeating the demon without losing any civilian lives. There were some heavy moments in the movie, and the death of Kyoujorou was tragic, but things could have turned far more catastrophic.
In Entertainment District, our heroes were up against a vastly more powerful demon. Consequently, that same miracle would not happen again. There was a scene this season that was quite devastating and violent.
The dangers were real; the consequences were significant; there was a lot more on the line should Tanirou and his friend had failed. Nevertheless, the season didn’t tone back who our characters were. They reacted as themselves to this horrific situation.
The reward for this well-executed balancing act was a show that becomes nearly impossible to put down once it starts going, and it starts going pretty damn quickly.
Demon Slayer currently resides in an unfortunate predicament; call it a curse of success. Although Entertainment District proved to be all kinds of exciting, it was nearly impossible for the season to build any sense of mortal peril. Sure, there was danger, and there was a persistent sense that people could die. However, not once in this installment will you believe a main character will die.
After all, thanks to Mugen Train, we know what a consequential death looks like in this franchise. It is a hard-hitting, emotion-filled event brimming with heart, sadness, and emphasis. If none of those factors are in play, you can be pretty confident the characters we are fooling will get out of predicaments just fine.
Luckily, Entertainment District appeared to recognize this issue and made up for it in many other ways. Heck, this show poked fun at this problem in a few instances. So, there is still plenty to enjoy out of this season.
As for an actual flaw, there was something.
More than once, the transition from episode to episode wasn’t the smoothest. Near the midway point of this season, events and story beats came off as rushed. Despite a few after-credit plot-crucial segments, an episode might start, and it would appear as though it had forgone some necessary establishment.
Once the real action of Entertainment District got underway, this hiccup ceased to be a thing. Thus, this was more akin to an odd blip on an otherwise rock-solid season. Besides, you’ll be so glued to your screen while watching that you won’t have the mental capacity to dwell on this issue for long.
This season had the biggest shoes to fill. To come after such a monumental moment in anime history is no small feat, and a lesser series would have dropped the ball.
This was not one such series.
Instead, this installment saw what came before and thought, “We can do that and do it better.”
Now, am I saying this season was better than the movie? Well, I’m not saying it was worse. If you’re worried if this franchise can live up to its own hype, you have nothing to fear.
Demon Slayer: Kimitsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc has earned a resounding recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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