Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 19: Hinokami
One of the things about Kimetsu no Yaiba that made me enjoy it from the beginning was its theme of strong family bonds. The story starts off with a happy Kamado family. Even though they’re poor and Tanjiro has to work to help support his family, they’re always smiling and laughing. Until one day he loses them all tragically, except for Nezuko. Wanting to turn his sister back into a human, the two set out on an adventure to find a cure. And throughout the show, they’ve shown their love for each other time and time again.
This story has always been about Tanjiro and Nezuko, and it’s always been about family. I’m so glad that we finally got to see a flashback of their father, and those stills in the ED brought tears to my eyes. Can you call the kagura fire dance a bit of an ass pull? Kind of, but in this case it makes sense. As a child, he watched as his father performed this dance, and his father explained to him the breathing technique. At that time, Tanjiro had no idea what exactly he meant, but with all the training he’s done and learning the breathing art, he was finally able to understand that his father’s breathing was actually an art. Nezuko using her own Blood Demon Art can be in the same vain as Tanjiro, such as in a desperate adrenaline-filled attempt to save her brother, in the moment she was able to use her Blood Demon Art. All demons have their own art, so it’s not strange at all for Nezuko to have one too.
In the beginning of the episode, Shinobu comes in time to save Zenitsu from the spider poison. As he mentions his Gramps, Shinobu realizes that he has seen his life flash before his eyes. She explains this phenomena of people seeing their life in the brink of death as the human mind and spirit desperately searching for memories and past experiences to avoid death. It’s a small moment in the beginning that I didn’t think would be tied into later events in the episode, just as a little tidbit for Zenitsu to hear. What did Zenitsu hear and see just as he was about to die? Gramps, and him to never give up.
What did Tanjiro see and hear? The memories and words of his father, and the kagura fire dance. And in that split second, he was able to recall it and charge towards the spider demon with his new ability.
The spider boy was actually the Twelve Kizuki demon the mother had mentioned before. Seeing as how the spider father died so easily, and the fact that we never got to see a close up of his eye(s), I didn’t think it was him. It is terrifying that a child could be one, and so powerful. His twisted idea of bonds, especially those of sibling bonds was so twisted and disgusting. He was moved by Nezuko protecting Tanjiro that he wanted Nezuko as his own sister, to threaten and frighten her into submission like he wants. Which is how he treats his own sister, and basically how the entire family treated itself. It’s an incredibly abusive family, a complete foil to what Tanjiro’s family was with all their love, support, and happiness. Tanjiro still holds these values strongly, even with Nezuko as a demon. And I am all for that!! I’m a huge sucker for family themes in anime, especially if it’s sibling bonds. It’s so important to me, and that’s why I loved this show from the start, and this episode too.
Not going to lie, this episode made me emotional. And that’s because Ufotable did an amazing job with it, narratively and visually. I’ve seen people say that Ufotable switched certain dialogue around from the manga to better fit the anime, and they did an amazing job. The episode flowed so naturally, completely different to how I felt from previous episodes where it felt too slow or a little janky. No, it was perfect. I don’t even have to mention how gorgeous and fucking beautiful the animation looked. My screenshots don’t do it justice but you can still see the bold frames and vibrant colors. What’s more, the voice acting and insert song, along with the ED visuals of the Kamado family was just the icing on the cake. It was absolutely breathtaking and mesmerizing, and it actually left me speechless.
I’ve always had an attachment to both Tanjiro and Nezuko and their story, so I was on the edge of my seat this episode. The situation just kept escalating and getting worse and worse with the demon capturing Nezuko, stringing her up in the air and digging those threads into her skin, her blood dripping everywhere. Her muffled screams. Tanjiro getting beaten and brutally thrown around like a doll, desperately fighting back with a broken sword. The worse it got, the more I thought that Giyu would appear and in typical shounen fashion he would save both Tanjiro and Nezuko and take out the demon himself. Nope. And I’m so glad he didn’t come to the rescue. It was all about the power of family, baby! Cheesy? I don’t give a fuck!
It was beautiful and I loved it. It gave me a lot of emotion and goosebumps, and I do think this is one of the best episodes from this year along with Mob Psycho 100. I was disappointed that Kimetsu no Yaiba was kind of falling behind, getting into the “irritating and boring”. This episode showed what makes Kimetsu no Yaiba a fantastic anime when it wants to be. I know I can’t expect Ufotable to dish out more of this visually, but if it can keep up with this type of narrative style, then this can definitely become a more memorable anime.