Ian Mitchell, August 2023
“Whenever happiness is destroyed it’s always followed by the smell of blood.”
Demon Slayer is a fast paced, action packed Manga and Anime series set in the early part of the 20th century when Japan was still under imperial rule. I’ll take you back in time to that period and give you an in depth look at the whole story of Demon Slayer including the characters, episodes and different story arcs of this now legendary series. I’ll also show you the story behind the scenes of how the series was created and what makes this such a popular and successful show.
It’s a world where Demons are all around and attacking innocent civilians indiscriminately. The only hope for humanity could lie in the hands of a small band of disparate heroes who set out to slay the Demons. But will good prevail over evil? Let’s take a dive right into the world of the Demon Slayers and see.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba to give it it’s full title, began life as a Manga series written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotouge. The saga was serialized in the weekly Shonen Jump magazine which has spawned so many popular and well-known Manga stories.
An Anime TV series of the story was first aired at the back end of 2019 and, as you’ll see later on, continued for a grand total of 55 episodes and two “compilation” movies. The success of Demon Slayer has made It one of the most popular Manga and Anime titles out there and certainly ranks among my top choices.
The Back Story
The English translation of “Kimetsu no Yaiba” is “Blade of Demon Destruction” and this is certainly something that is prevalent throughout the whole series.
We start the story with Tanjiro who leads a simple life in his village but lives far up in the mountains with his family. He sells charcoal to the villagers as well as doing odd jobs and sniffing out answers to other problems. On one fateful day, he walks to the village to sell his charcoal but on his return, he is forced to spend the night at a neighbor’s cabin as it’s getting too dark to progress. He’s told of the Demons that attack and eat humans at night but takes this as just an old man’s ramblings and thinks nothing more of it.
On his return home though, his darkest fears are realized and his life is changed forever.
Read on below to find out more about how the story unfolds!
Telling the Story
As I mentioned earlier, the saga of Demon Slayer is told over 55 episodes, each running for around 24 minutes ( with a couple of notable exceptions). You could therefore sit down and take a whole day out of your life to watch it with only the occasional comfort break or food run! In my humble opinion, that’s worth considering if you can do it as once you’ve watched the first episode, you’ll be hooked.
The story takes us on the journey with the main characters in the first story arc; “Unwavering Resolve” but branches into three further distinct story arcs. The first season runs for 26 episodes so takes you well into the bulk of the main storyline. Season Two moves across into the first two of the other story arcs with episodes 27-33 covering the “Mugen Train” arc and episodes 34-44 dealing with the “Entertainment District” arc. Finally, season three sees us move into the “Swordsmith Village” arc for episodes 45-55.
There are also two Anime movies with the first being “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train” released in 2020 which basically reprises the second season story arc and condenses it into movie form. The same happens with the second movie adaptation with “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To the Swordsmith Village” released in 2023 and, you’ve guessed it, covering the season 3 arc.
So, we’ve got 55 episodes covering the whole saga with four story arcs and a multitude of characters. Let’s then dive into looking at what each episode holds in store for our heroes. A warning though that there may be some spoilers included so only read on if you can deal with that!
Season 1: Unwavering Resolve Arc
I’ll give a brief synopsis for all the episodes of the entire saga but I’ve paid most attention and detail to the first episode as this sets the scene for the rest of the story.
This story arc takes us from the distressing opening scenes through Tanjiro’s training to become a Demon Slayer and avenge the wrong done to his family and particularly his sister.
As we’ve already established Tanjiro is the oldest in his family and earns money by selling charcoal and doing odd jobs in the village below his remote mountain home. However, he returns to his home following an overnight visit to the village only to find a scene of carnage. His entire family is dead except for his sister Nezuko who is clinging on to life. He sets out to carry her into the village for help but she seems to turn into one of the Demons he has been warned of and tries to kill him. During the ensuing struggle, a mysterious swordsman arrives and tells Tanjiro that he will kill Nezuko as she has become a Demon herself. Tanjiro obviously protests and fights back but will his resistance be enough to save Nezuko?
Ep.2 "Trainer Sakonji Urokodaki"
Tanjiro and Nezuko head for Mt. Sagiri as suggested by the Demon Slayer Giyu Tomioka in order to start training as a Demon Slayer himself. Tanjiro hatches a plan to hide Nezuko from inquisitive eyes by carrying her in a basket. On their way, Tanjiro encounters another demon. Can they both survive? This is a real case of Daylight-Saving!
Ep.3 "Sabito and Makomo"
The travelers reach Mt. Sagiri and find out about The Demon Slayer Corps the organization that's been hunting down demons for hundreds of years. Sakonji Urokodaki starts training Tanjiro for the Corps and for Final Selection, the ultimate test for joining the unit.
Ep.4 "Final Selection"
The training is complete after over a year and to pass the Final Selection and gain entry to the Corps, Tanjiro uses the skills he learned from Sakonji Urokodaki and begins his fight against a powerful demon on Mt. Fajikasane. He is also set what seems to be an impossible task in order to pass the Final Selection. Surely this is a step too far.
Ep.5 "My Own Steel"
Following an epic battle with demons there are only four swordsmen left as dawn breaks of the seventh day. They are issued Demon Slayer Corps uniforms and messengers crows but one of the new recruits seems disappointed with their new accessories and wants more. Are they on a fast track out of the Corps?
Ep.6 "Swordsman Accompanying a Demon"
Now one of the Demon Slayer Corps but still in its lower ranks, Tanjiro sets out with his new uniform and sword in hand ready to continue his quest. To find and slay the demons that killed his family.
Ep.7 "Muzan Kibutsuji"
Tanjiro is in trouble and backed into a corner surrounded by demons. However, Nezuko comes to his rescue and attacks the demons herself. Does this now prove that she can survive without the protection of her brother?
Ep.8 "The Smell of Enchanting Blood"
Surprisingly, two demons, Tamayo and Yushiro come to Tanjiro's rescue. Tamayo takes Tanjiro and Nezuko to her house where she tells him that she is trying to develop a method to return demons to humans. Could this be the breakthrough he’s been searching for?
Ep.9 "Temari Demon and Arrow Demon"
Tamayo reveals that she needs a sample of blood from the powerful demon Muzan in order to complete the transformation process. This may not be an easy task though.
Ep.10 "Together Forever"
With Tamayo coming to Nezuko's aid the battle reaches its climax. Tanjiro learns about the Twelve Demon Moons or Twelve Kizuki organization.
Ep.11 "Tsuzumi Mansion"
Tanjiro continues on his journey and heads southeast. On the way he meets Zenitsu, one of the last four swordsmen of the Final Selection whom he finds trying to force a woman to marry him. He stops this from happening and the two team up to continue along the road.
Ep.12 "The Boar Bares its Fangs, Zenitsu Sleeps"
As they continue, Tanjiro unfortunately gets separated from Zenitsu when he enters a mysterious house. Its here that he encounters another demon and two mysterious children, Shoichi and Teruko. There’s more to the house than they think and dark forces are controlling both them and the rooms in the house with the beat of a drum.
Ep.13 "Something More Important Than Life"
Still inside the mysterious house, Tanjiro battles Kyogai, The Drum Demon who is the one that’s been causing the house to move. Zenitsu meanwhile tries to bring Shoichi to safety.
Ep.14 "The House with the Wisteria Family Crest"
After defeating Kyogai, Tanjiro steps outside where he spots the rogue Demon Slayer Inosuke who is eager to fight him. After a short fight the differences are settled and Tanjiro, Inosuke , Nezuko and Zenitsu head to a manor where they are taken in by an old woman.
Ep.15 "Mount Natagumo"
Tanjiro continues on his journey and heads to his next location which is a mountain northwest. He takes Inosuke and Zenitsu with him but on arrival they realize that the mountain is completely entangled in spiderwebs! They soon find other Demon Slayers caught up in the webs. The trapped Demon Slayers state that they were previously ten but now only three remain. They reveal that they all attacked one another when they became entangled in the webs. They also then attack Tanjiro and the others. What though, apart from a spider of course, has spun so many dangerous webs?
Ep.16 "Letting Someone Else Go First"
After battling the trapped Demon Slayers Tanjiro and Inosuke head further up the mountain. Soon they find out who is behind the webs and causing the Demon Slayers to attack their own kind.
Ep.17 "You Must Master a Single Thing"
Zenitsu finds himself alone in the woods where he encounters a spider with a human face. Despite being terrified he does his best and manages to defeat the spider human using a new technique he’s developed.
Ep.18 "A Forged Bond"
High up on the mountain Tanjiro and Inosuke face off against the Father Spider Demon, one of the Twelve Kizuki, or is he?
Inosuke confronts his saviour while Zenitsu lies still near his death. Tanjiro faces what seems to be an unstoppable enemy, and in a moment of desperation, recalls his past.
Ep.20 "Pretend Family"
We meet some new characters here as Rui, with his life flashing before his eyes, remembers the family he created. Meanwhile, Shinobu arrives on the mountain to stop Rui's older sister.
Ep.21 "Against Corps Rules"
In his final moments of life, as he perishes to ash and dust, Rui tells the story of how he came to be, his family history and the family he created.
Ep.22 "Master of the Mansion"
With the battle finally reaching its conclusion Tanjiro and Nezuko arrive at Demon Slayer Corps headquarters where their bond is tested once again.
Ep.23 "Hashira Meeting"
Ubuyashiki, the head of the Demon Slayer Corps, finally appears before Tanjiro. He reveals that he actually wants Tanjiro and Nezuko to join the Corps officially, the Hashira are unable to accept this decision right away.
Ep.24 "Rehabilitation Training"
The injured Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke are sent to the home of the Insect Hashira, Shinobu Kocho, for treatment. It takes two weeks to heal them after which Tanjiro and Inosuke start rehabilitation training.
Ep.25 "Tsuguko, Kanao Tsuyuri"
Tanjiro is still in rehabilitation training at the Butterfly Mansion but works hard to keep up his Total Concentration Breathing every day. His determination will surely see him back on his journey.
Ep.26 "New Mission"
As Tanjiro and the others are still concentrating on and devoted to their rehabilitation training, the absolute master of the demons, Muzan Kibutsuji, gathers the lower ranks of the Twelve Kizuki.
Season 2: Mugen Train Arc
This arc of the sags takes us away from the main characters and story that we’ve been used to. The Mugen or “infinity” train, as it’s also known in it’s English translation, isn’t particularly special in any way but does allow for faster movement of characters between scenarios. It also allows for new characters to be introduced and takes us in a different direction (literally!) with the story of Tanjiro’s quest.
Ep.27 "Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku"
Rengoku Kyojuro, the Flame Hashira, is given the task of finding an allusive demon which is plaguing the town and believed to be responsible for the deaths on the Mugen Train. Once he realizes the demon’s true capabilities, he boards the train himself to continue his investigations.
Ep.28 "Deep Sleep"
Tanjiro, Nezuko , Zenitsu and Inosuke meet Rengoku Kyojuro inside the train. They all however fall into a deep sleep as a result of some of Enmu's magic.
Ep.29 "Should Have Been"
The effects of Enmu's blood demon art become clear, making the main protagonists face their individual, inner struggles. Tanjiro desperately looks for a way to break the spell and free himself and his companions.
Tanjiro manages to break free from the demon art. He encounters Enmu and battle begins. Enmu reveals a darker and more sinister agenda behind his actions, and our heroes find themselves caught in a quandary over their next steps.
Ep.31 "Move Forward!"
The battle with Enmu continues as Inosuke, Zenitsu and Rengoku Kyojuro awaken from the spell. Tanjiro and Inosuke try to pinpoint the demon's weak spot, while the others focus on protecting the passengers in the train.
Tanjiro has finally defeated Enmu's with a slash to the neck with the help of Inosuke. Is this enough though to stop him? The train however has derailed and, as the silence grows in the aftermath of the crash, a mysterious figure Akaza, appears.
Ep.33 "Set Your Heart Ablaze"
Akaza continues to offer Rengoku Kyojuro the chance to become a demon to improve his skills. Rengoku Kyojuro refuses the offer and tries his best to keep him in his sights. The Flame Hashira only has one goal though and that’s to protect his comrades at all costs. Even his own life?
Season 2: Entertainment District Arc
The story continues but now we’ve reached the Entertainment District for this arc of the tale. The district is as you might expect not full of wholesome family entertainment shall we say but more geared to that expected of travellers looking for some “nighttime” fun maybe. I’ll let you work it out.
More spoilers here I’m afraid.
Ep.34 "Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui"
Following the death of Rengoku Kyojurou, Tanjiro visits the Rengoku residence to send a last message to Kyojurou's brother and father. Four months then pass and Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke are instructed to visit the Entertainment District along with the Sound Hashira, Tengen Uzui.
Ep.35 "Infiltrating the Entertainment District"
Led by Tengen Uzui, Tanjiro, Inosuke and Zenitsu disguise themselves so they don’t give away their Demon Slayer identities. But wait a minute, they’re now girls! There is method in the madness though as they are sold as courtesans by Tengen Uzui to investigate the disappearance of his wives. Entertainment District and investigate unnoticed.
Ep.36 "What Are You?"
A mysterious Oiran, or courtesan, is creating havoc in the district’s courtesan house but who is she? There’s a confrontation between Tengen Uzui and the Madam of the house which comes to a head but Zenitsu is captured by Daki.
Zenitsu is discovered to be missing and Tengen wants Tanjiro and Inosuke to stop the investigation mission. The pair are defiant though and carry on regardless.
Ep.38 "Things Are Gonna Get Real Flashy!!"
Tanjiro continues to fight with Daki and starts using Hinokami Kagura instead of Water Breathing. Meanwhile, Tengen saves one of his wives who is stuck in Daki's belt (?), and orders her to retreat. At the same time, Inosuke, Zenitsu and Tengen's other two wives battle the demon.
Ep.39 "Layered Memories"
Tanjiro and Daki are still fighting(!) continues but Daki causes massive amounts of damage to the district. Tanjiro becomes enraged at this and as a result goes berserk, unleashing and incredibly powerful series of Hinokami Kagura attacks which threaten to kill Daki. Can a transformation save her?
As Nezuko rushes to aid Tanjiro during his continuing battle with Daki, she too becomes enraged and bites through her bamboo muzzle. Her appearance begins to gradually take on a demon form as she fends off Daki's attacks and throws her into a building. Nezuko’s rage is now out of control though and civilians are in danger. Can Tanjiro stop her insatiable blood lust in time?
Tanjiro has calmed Nezuko and puts her to rest after her exertions. Meanwhile, Tanjiro, along with Inosuke and Zenitsu, rushes to Tengen's aid as he battles with the Upper Six Demons Gyutaro and yes, you’ve guessed it, our old friend Daki again.
Ep.42 "Defeating an Upper Rank Demon"
Gyutaro evades Tengen and goes after Hinatsuru. Tanjiro and Tengen rush to save her, but Daki's obi (a broad sash worn by Japanese women in traditional costume) blocks their way. That’s no ordinary sash!
Ep.43 "Never Give Up"
Tanjiro wakes up to find himself surrounded by burning debris, with Gyutaro laughing delightedly at his plight. What has happened and why is Gyutaro laughing? There’s probably a fairly simple answer to that!
Ep.44 "No Matter How Many Lives"
In the aftermath, Tanjiro and Nezuko search for the others. Meanwhile, Suma pleads for Tengen to live following his battle injuries. As the siblings continue their search, Tanjiro smells the scent of Demons and witnesses them in a heated and viscous argument. Gyutaro recalls his past.
Season 3: Swordsmith Village Arc
Ep.45 "Someone's Dream"
The remaining five of the Upper Rank Demons assemble at the Infinity Castle. Meanwhile, Tanjiro heads to the Swordsmith Village to discuss the matter of his new sword. While there he encounters Love Hashira, Mitsuri Kanroji who tells him about the possible existence of a secret weapon that can make him far more powerful. But what and where is it? While searching for it though, Tanjiro finds the Mist Hashira, Muichiro Tokito in an argument with someone that he recognises from somewhere.
Ep.46 "Yoriichi Type Zero"
Tanjiro is eavesdropping and sees Muichiro threaten the young swordsmith with whom he was arguing. Tanjiro tries to intervene but is knocked unconscious by Muichiro. When he awakes, the boy explains that the mysterious “man” Tanjiro had seen with him was in fact a mechanical doll, made by a swordsmith ancestor of his over 300 years ago and its all he has left to pass on to his family. Tanjiro agrees to protect the doll but Muichiro has other ideas…
With Kotetsu's guidance and training, Tanjiro learns a new ability to understand Yoriichi Type Zero's next movements. During the training, the mechanical doll is broken by Tanjiro revealing a sword as old as the doll..
Ep.47 "A Sword from Over 300 Years Ago"
Tanjiro is disappointed that the sword is tarnished. Hotaru, Tanjiro’s swordsmith returns and promises to restore the ancient sword. In the meantime he gives Tanjiro a spare. Meanwhile the demons Gyokko and Hantengu have infiltrated the village. Hantengu's head is slashed by Muichiro and he splits into two clones which then attack both Tanjiro and Muichiro. Genya then appears and beheads them with a shotgun but they simply split again into more clones. They’re now under attack by four demons.
Ep.48 "Thank You, Tokito"
Muichiro kills the fish demon then Tanjiro realises that the four demons represent the emotions of Joy, anger. Pleasure and sorrow. Muichiro is blown away by Karaku, the pleasure demon. Tanjiro, Nezuko and Genya are stunned when the clones split into more clones. Fish demons are now attacking the village so Mitsuri sets off to rescue the swordsmiths.
Ep.49 "Bright Red Sword"
Muichiro in fact saves the swordsmiths and is rewarded with anew blade but encounters Gyokko. Mitsuri arrives in the village and defeats the rest of the fish demons. Muichiro and Gyokko fight (what else?) but he is soon trapped by the demon in a watery vase. After beheading three demons, Tanjiro finds Genya who has beheaded Aizetsu but has now changed in appearance.
Ep.50 "Aren't You Going to Become a Hashira?"
Genya has assumed demon form but still has his human conscience so Tanjiro instructs him to find a hidden demon. Nezuko is rescued and is tasked with protecting Genya but circumstances force Tanjiro to stay with them. Genya finds the diminished Hantengu but then memories flood back about his past. Realising who Hantengu really is both he and Tanjiro are determined to behead the demon.
Ep.51 "Awful Villain"
Tanjiro fights Hantengu and manages to injure his neck. He is then confronted by another manifestation of Hantengu’s emotions; hatred, in the form of Zohakuten who protects Hantengu. At the swordsmiths’ shed, Gyokko attacks the two craftsmen but they try to ignore him and carry on with restoring the ancient sword. Muichiro is still trapped and close to death but Tanjiro rescues him. Muichiro then looks into Tanjiro’s eyes and realises who he might be.
Ep.52 "The Mu in Muichiro"
After Muichiro escapes he is still weak from the poisoning he sustained. He then recalls deep memories from his past and the trauma causes marks to appear on his face similar to Tanjiro’s. The marks give him powers so he heads to rescue the swordsmiths from Gyokko. The two fight and Gyokko is now shocked that Muichiro is a match to his abilities.
Ep.53 "Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito"
Muichiro finally defeats Gyokko and beheads him. He is again confronted by memories of his past and is distressed by these. The marks fade on his face and he quickly becomes overwhelmed with exhaustion, emotion and the lasting effects of the poison. The two swordsmiths come to his aid and he recovers. Elsewhere, Tanjiro struggles in battle with Zohakuten but is saved by Mitsuri.
Ep.54 "Love Hashira Mitsuri Kanroji"
Mitsuri battles hard against the main body of Zohakuten but is then stunned by his sonic attack. She too then recalls her past but when she awakes she sees Tanjiro, Nezuko and Genya rescuing her. Zohakuten concentrates power onto Mitsuri but in doing so, exposes the protected Hantengu. Tanjiro, Nezuko and Genya go in pursuit but see Hantengu attempting to escape again.
Ep.55 "A Connected Bond: Daybreak and First Light"
We’ve now reached the final episode of the saga and I’m actually not going to write anything about what happens as I think you should have the opportunity to discover this for yourselves! Annoying right? However, I can tell you that there will be further battles between our hero Demon Slayers and the last remaining demons as well as some heart break, redemption and maybe victory? You’ll have to watch to find out.
The Saga is Complete
So there you have it, the amazing and sometimes complicated saga of the Demon Slayers. If you haven’t already then I strongly urge you to watch this series, if only for the animation and stunning artwork which prevails throughout all 55 episodes. The action is relentless and the journey to vengeance and redemption for our heroes is long and arduous but one I think you’ll enjoy following and hopefully it will “set your heart ablaze!”