Anime of the Year Nominee Spotlight: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc
Horror, humor and heart unite in this Anime of the Year nominee
One of the most anticipated series of 2022, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc, lived up to the hype. The 11-episode season followed one of the series’ most shocking moments with a vibrant new story while also taking the time to honor the events of the previous arc. A flashy new vitality was added with the arrival of Uzui Tengen, and the energy never let up from there.
Let’s revisit the Anime of the Year nominee to remember just how adept Demon Slayer is at weaving ribbons of unrestrained emotion, unnerving dread and gorgeous action together to create an unforgettable experience.
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Reeling from the loss of the Flame Hashira, Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke have spent weeks healing from their injuries and training to improve their fighting techniques. Before too long the Sound Hashira, Tengen Uzui, appears on their doorstop and unceremoniously recruits the three to join him in his mission to Yoshiwara, Tokyo’s entertainment district.
The three young Demon Slayers immediately clash with Uzui, who has a pretty high opinion of himself, in some of the flat-out funniest scenes in the series. With Tanjiro being his earnest self, Zenitsu at peak “I can’t even” and Inosuke declaring himself God of the Mountains, I had to pause the first episode in the arc to catch my breath from laughing.
And just when I thought I couldn’t love Inosuke more, his struggle to keep up his demure facade while searching for the demon in the Ogimoto House accomplishes just that. He’s strong with incredibly keen senses and he makes a gorgeous courtesan-in-training. Inosuke is my favorite character in this arc; he’s amazing and he knows it.
That said, I recommend hanging on to these light moments because things are about to get dark.
There’s an undercurrent of dread in the first episodes of the Entertainment District Arc. Despite the glittering lights of Yoshiwara, there’s something cruel and evil lurking in the shadows and it must be stopped before more innocent lives are lost. But the Demon Slayers have to find it first.
Once the demon’s identity is revealed, a no-holds-barred battle against the Demon Slayers’ deadliest enemies yet begins. Daki is one of the Upper Six demons, and when her equally powerful brother Gyutaro joins the fray, Tanjiro has to fight with every fiber of his being just to stay alive.
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The Entertainment District Arc has my favorite fight sequence of the series so far. Even as brutal and destructive as it is, it highlights the blossoming teamwork between our favorite Demon Slayers. Tanjiro, Inosuke and Zenitsu know each other and their strengths and weaknesses inside out, making them more powerful and more connected than ever. The stakes in this fight also feel very real, with countless innocent lives in danger as it spills into the streets of Yoshiwara. Plus, it’s visually stunning.
Tengen Uzui dashes across the rooftops in the dark like a cloud momentarily hiding the light of the moon. Daki’s sashes slither like writhing snakes toward their helpless prey. The brilliant colors of breathing techniques flare up on the screen as the Demon Slayers defend against an onslaught of ruthless attacks. The animators at Ufotable are at the height of their hard work and talent this season and it shows in every frame of animation.
Even if Demon Slayer was nothing but dazzling visuals, it would still land in my top anime of the year list. But the series is so much more. It’s the heart of the series, personified in Tanjiro Kamado, that so quickly makes Demon Slayer a favorite for so many — myself included. In Tanjiro we learn to never give up, to hold on to your compassion, even for an enemy, and to keep fighting for a better tomorrow. We might not be facing off against monstrous creatures wielding blades of blood, but we can still take Tanjiro’s lessons to heart when fighting our own personal demons.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba just gets better season after season. And as we celebrate the Entertainment District Arc, it makes the anticipation for the upcoming Swordsmith Village Arc all the more delightful.
What was your favorite part of the Entertainment District Arc? Tell us in the comments.
Kelly Knox has been an anime fan for over 20 years. She's a pop culture writer and author in the Seattle area and you can always find her on Twitter.