Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 16: Clearing away the Cobwebs

Macaron Rini

 

Alright, I think we can make it official, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is really an exceptional horror-action anime. Whatever else it may be. Man, this episode made my skin crawl, all puns intended. We are going to get into all the creepy, dreadful and just plain sad details of episode 16 in just a bit. So you know, spoilers and all that. But First, Hi Crow! It’s been a rough week all around I think. How have you been?

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Oh! I’m bold this week. Good to know… Yes, it’s been a rough week. Nothing compared to what others have gone through, certainly. But, strangely enough who writes for hours each day, I still can’t talk about it. It’s good to have something like this to focus on. So, buoyed by Inosuke’s excellent use of powers in the last episode, let’s dive in!

 

Demon Slayer ep15 (4)

are you sure? there’s spiders…

I have been in a bit of a daze so the few seconds recapping episode 15 were actually pretty welcomed, and it was all I needed to get me right back on track. Inosuke and Tanjiro are in a creepy spider filled forest, tracking down a demon that uses spider webs to manipulate people like puppets. All the while, Zenitsu having been left behind is trying to track them down, mostly to get Nezuko back and then get out of there.

Right off the bat, we get to see the injured Demon Slayer Murata show us how he earned his place in the corp by stepping up and offering to cover Tanjiro and Inosuke’s retreat, buying them some time to get away from the possessed slayers. Because they’ve essentially given the main cast super powers, it’s easy to forget that all corp members are exceptional. No one survives the final trial by luck. I was cheering Murata on (even remembered his name and all!)

I almost cheered for Murata-san! Fear can overcome any of us. What’s important is how we react. Murata took courage from Tanjiro and (though he likely wouldn’t admit it!) from Inosuke, and he was ready to get back into the fight. He was better armed, now, too — with knowledge! He knew why his comrades were attacking him, and he knew how to counter them.

Demon Slayer ep15 (7)

he looks a little like Levi

Pretty soon, our two heroes make it to a second wave of entangled slayers and this is where things go from creepy to gut-wrenching. The sheer amount of psychological and emotional trauma on that girl’s face, having been forced to murder her comrades by her own sword, her own body mangled in the process. The few slayers still alive made to move through excruciating pain on completely broken bodies. I have seen a lot of bleak anime but this was hard to watch even for me. 

The contrast with Inosuke’s carelessness (thankfully toned way down) and the occasional almost funny action moments, made it all the more horrific to watch. As if puppets weren’t disturbing enough already.

Demon Slayer ep15 (11)

it was a lot rougher in the moment

What hit me hardest was that she hadn’t given up. She was still in the fight, even though the webs controller her every motion. The only thing she knew to do was beg Tanjiro and Inosuke to flee and bring back more powerful Demon Slayers. Her desperation hurt, and her continued bravery made it even worse.

I had speculated last week that they may be some happy demon family that just wants to live in peace. Well, we got our first clue that I was wrong about the happy part. A point that’s going to get gracelessly hammered in later on. Still, this first scene of the younger demon boy we saw last week (apparently named Rui), coldly scolding his mother for taking too much time to eliminate the intruders and threatening to tell his father as the woman completely panics, added yet another layer of unsettling. What did you think of that scene Crow? 

 I went from wanting Inosuke and Tanjiro to put her down to wanting to protect her! Did you see the look of panting terror on her face after Rui walked away? You mentioned last week how the design of her face used colors and designs that were at once beautiful and terrifying. Now, combined with her fear, the whole experience was surreal. At this point, she’s acting purely out of terror.

That was an awesome moment!

Demon Slayer ep15 (14)

you don’t hear monsters say that too often

I guess the show figured we needed a little breather at this point because we cut o a crying Zenitsu in the forest calling out specifically for Nezuko. Even though he’s doing his usual whiny coward schtick, it’s subdued. I liked it this week, as I did last week for that matter of fact. He’s grateful his sparrow comes back for him and so far, despite it all, he’s not running away. 

When we meet up with Tanjiro and Inosuke, they’ve figured but how to incapacitate the victims without killing them. Get the threads tangled up in threes. Simple but smart! I liked that solution. Unfortunately, this does nothing but push the already distressed demon to panic furter and she twists all the slayers necks in desperation. 

My notes at this point simply say, when Tanjiro gets mad, even Inosuke gets quiet.

Demon Slayer ep15 (27)

I also don’t know what to say

The anger of a gentle man… And yeah, Inosuke was quiet. Not sure if he just sensed that was a good idea, or if he couldn’t speak.

At first, I was all like “Look how excited Insouke is! He loved the idea of tossing everyone into the trees so the webs would get tangled!” Then, as you said, the demon twisted all their necks and killed them.

There’s something about seeing something horrific when you’re in the middle of something frothy that makes the horror even more penetrating.

Demon Slayer ep15 (25)

concise

Without time to mourn, the demon unleashes her strongest “doll”, which appears to be a large headless demon body. I’m not exactly sure what made this thing stronger than the slayers other than it being bigger (and implied that the skin was thicker). Since the same demon has been physically controlling all of them, we can assume they all have the same sword skills. They mention something about the threads getting thicker and stronger the closest you get to her (good explanation), but they’re more or less at the same place as the last batch of slayers they fought. 

Maybe physics has the answer? The demon’s joints were more powerful than the humans’. Too much pressure and striking strength had shattered the bones in the humans. With the demon, it had a tougher frame. It made more sense before I wrote it down…

Demon Slayer ep15 (33)

turns out I managed to avoid taking a pic of the guy

Anyways details. It’s a good excuse for some of that trademark gorgeous animation, and I’ll take it. This said, for me, the grimness of fighting was is a very dead headless corpse only enhanced how sad the situation was for all the victims.

The story slowly built the horror and unleashed it in that fight. Very well done!

Possibly to mirror this serious turn we go back to Zenitsu, for just a moment, and there is a second while hearing a disturbance in the forest, where Zenitsu seems not quite himself, muttering that he’s about to get mad. This is the fully conscious Zenitsu so maybe that part of him isn’t buried as deep as we think.

  • Sidenote, even though he wasn’t there, Zenitsu has probably heard everything, including the other slayers laments and explanations of the situation, yet he still went in. That’s impressive. Oh, yeah! His super power is hearing! Dang, Irina, you’re right — even knowing what was in that forest, he still went in. 
Demon Slayer ep15 (29)

bird on head is a great look

After defeating the big bad headless thingy, it’s finally time for Tanjiro to confront the demon directly and as has become something of a Demon Slayer tradition, in the end, she was more pathetic and miserable than truly monstrous and Tanjiro was ever merciful. 

This time, I thought giving us the demon’s background was the wrong way to go. Her interactions with Rui and her dread of the mere mention of the father were more than enough to tell us exactly what was going on and seeing it actually play out on screen, I believe lessened the emotional impact. It was one step too far. Do you agree?

Demon Slayer ep15 (36)

as below

When Tanjiro saw her switch from attack to acceptance, he changed his strike to Fifth Form, Blessed Rain After the Drought. He still decapitated her, but it was painless. She just felt a warm release. 

And did you notice in the mid shot, you could see her head slowly tracing Tanjiro’s trajectory while her long hair, which his sword had severed, floated to the ground? That was a beautiful moment. It said as much about her as it did about Tanjiro (who I am not convinced is the combat form of Tooru Honda). 

And of course I agree with your insight here. The scene should have ended there. Her fear before told us everything we needed to know about her past. I thought that was a rare misstep after such a meticulously crafted episode. 

Demon Slayer ep15 (39)

I liked the bob cut

So once again, we didn’t really get to see Nezuko at all. The series has used her sparingly so far, giving her plenty of excuses not to be there (i.e. sleeping off injuries or avoiding daylight), but this time they were fighting other demons in a dark forest at night time (we see the moon in several scenes) yet she stayed in a wildly swinging box. I’m wondering why this is. Any ideas?

Best I can figure, they want to show her sparingly. Cute is powerful, but its strength wanes with use. That sounds almost scientific, doesn’t it? Given how seldom we get to see her, each occasion is worth a celebration! 

That said, I’d like to see more of her; I’d like her to lose the bamboo bit. But maybe the point is to keep me wanting that so I keep watching episodes in suspense! 

Demon Slayer ep15 (21)

that’s what we want to now

I liked this episode. I like the entire series when it sticks to its strengths (which in my opinion are flashy action to show off that animation, tense adventure and schlocky horror). As it seems we are in for more deep dark forest, having learned that one of the 12 kizuki is here, I’m thinking we still have a few pretty intense episodes coming our way and that’s great!

I want to see what happens when Zenitsu gets mad. That might be something to see!

Reviews of the Other Episodes

you know how it goes, all the screeancaps for you!

 

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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32 Responses

  1. sirmeliodas says:

    Completely forgot about Zenitsu’s hearing ability ! You’re right he must know everything about the situation and yet he’s still going. That doesn’t really change much, but this was something I totally overlooked.

  2. Thong Do says:

    Next week probably gonna be Zenitsu focus episode. Also there gonna be spiders, really creepy spider next week.

  3. Karandi says:

    This was a much better episode, though I still felt Zenitsu was a bit of a distraction from the otherwise fairly serious tone of this episode.

    • Sheazer says:

      It’s really unfortunate. He so badly needs a growth arc if for no other reason than his personality is immersion breaking.

      • Karandi says:

        That’s really the problem. It throws the entire tone of the episode out every time he’s on screen at the moment and in this episode, which was vastly improved elsewhere as we got back into the core business, Zenitsu was a really unwelcome distraction.

      • Irina says:

        Considering the merch investement in him, I think he’ll get one

    • Irina says:

      I think it did a decent jib in hightening the tone. Like a pinch of salt in a dessert

  4. The idiocy of pig boy and the orange clown were toned down in this ep. They were still obnoxious, IMHO. It stuck with what the show is all about and that made it better. I am concerned that they’ll go back to hyper-stupid after the fighting is done.

    There were far more strings on the puppets than she could possibly control with ten fingers and ten toes. Plus she must have has some kind of remote vision.

    Turned out to be fear of spousal abuse and not protection of her family that motivated her. Explains why she gave up so easily. Love is always a far more powerful motivator than fear. I wonder if she could have been a “nice” demon without that fear? Now we have all the motivation we need to see the entire demon family wiped out. I hate them for how they treated her.

    Are they telegraphing that Zenitsu shows up at the last minute to save the day? And why do the main characters get individualized clothes while the other slayers are stuck with a uniform? Enquiring minds want to know.

    • “Now we have all the motivation we need to see the entire demon family wiped out. I hate them for how they treated her.”

      Ain’t that the truth?

      The sequence where Tanjiro saw she’d given up and accepted her death was beautiful. I got a strong D.Gray-man vibe again!

    • Irina says:

      I wondered the same
      Mind you why does anyone bother with a uniform in an underground unofficial corp that has members usually work individually? I’m gonna call it cartoon logic. It makes leading characters easier to identify and follow in crowded scenes with a lot of movement.

  5. raistlin0903 says:

    Right, when I came back this week, I pretty much told everyone that I am skipping over this season’s anime because I have a lot of catching up to do on other shows. Now, a few days later, I’m watching Fire Force, Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon, and now I guess I am adding this one to the list as well. Oh well…if you can’t beat them, join them 😅😂😂

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