Gyokko has fought with a creative arsenal since the demon’s debut, but he pulls out all the stops for his swan song in “Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito.” His exaggerated fish stream attack releases tens of thousands of roving targets that Muichiro effortlessly slices through like he’s preparing for a catered sushi event. The theatricality of the next stage of Gyokko and Muichiro’s battle presents a much higher level of spectacle. Demon Slayer allows its Upper Rank Demon to properly prove its deadliness now that Muichiro has received his Demon Slayer Mark and excelled to a higher echelon of power.

This is easily the most interesting that the battle between Muichiro and Gyokko has ever been and it’s full of grotesque visuals, like when the Upper Rank Demon sheds its skin. All of this works well until Gyokko boldly brags that he’s yet to show his “true form,” a phrase that’s prone to make any shonen fan twitch. This season is almost over, so Gyokko’s short-lived transformation isn’t as manipulative and frustrating as it could be, but it’s still emblematic of this season’s general feeling of making up the rules as it goes along. These Upper Rank Demon have been especially prone to “playground rules” where it seems like they can introduce new forms, powers, and twists whenever it’s convenient to do so. Gyokko’s proclamation that “anything I touch now turns into a fish” feels particularly random and juvenile. 

Muichiro still defeats Gyokko, and easily at that. However, this episode might have been more interesting if Muichiro were to just viciously slice Gyokko to pieces while he’s in the middle of his epic transformation rather than going on the defensive from the villain’s new tricks (although Muichiro’s muted reaction still playfully undercuts Gyokko’s gambit). Muichiro’s various new most camouflage tactics look gorgeous and it’s some of ufotable’s best work this season, yet all of this would hit a little harder if it occurred earlier in this battle when its effects could be better appreciated.

Despite the episode’s strengths, this installment once again succumbs to Muichiro and Yuichiro flashbacks that ultimately feel unnecessary. It’s emotional material that properly bookends Muichiro’s arc this season, but it doesn’t cover anything that wasn’t already looked at in last week’s extensive flashback episode. Demon Slayer uses these emotional detours to help divide Muichiro and Tanjiro’s separate conflicts. They still come across as plodding padding in a season that’s struggled to be concise and direct in its storytelling.

“Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito” is a busy episode that ends on a powerful note that creates real anticipation for the final stage of this fight, and the season. Kanroji Mitsuri valiantly (and finally) returns to rescue Tanjiro and rise to the occasion against Hantengu. Kanroji is only in this episode for a few minutes and it’s still Muichiro’s episode to shine, but it’s remarkable just how triumphant her scene becomes. The physics involved with her whip-based sword lead to stunning visuals and causal effect to this chaos once she triggers her attack. It’s sure to be an exciting final two episodes even if it’s been a bit of a repetitive slog to reach this point. If nothing else, the Demon Slayers now outnumber the demons, four-to-one.

This is a Demon Slayer episode that prioritizes slick action sequences, but it also finds the opportunity for some strong comedy. Some of this season’s funniest moments have been contained to the lighter-hearted tags that are included in each episode. These are a fun delight each week, but the denouement in “Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito” where Inosuke and Zenitsu lament their absence from this season is particularly entertaining. It’s fun to imagine these characters growing increasingly resentful–in a meta capacity–over their extremely limited screen time in Demon Slayer’s Swordsmith Village Arc. These moments remain largely inconsequential, but they’re at their best when the characters embrace a self-aware attitude.

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