Demon Slayer Season 2: Tanjiro Declines A Friend Request As Things Come To A Head

The aptly named "Never Give Up" does a fantastic job of grounding the outrageous in the realistic and relatable humanity that "Demon Slayer" has become known for. The episode opened immediately where the last one left off — you know, with Tengen's severed hand, Inosuke suffering a stab wound, and Tanjiro and Zenitsu despairing amid the bloodshed and apparent defeat. It's tragic, but as I'm sure most of us suspected, this tragedy was far from the end. By now, it's pretty apparent that the plot armor adorning our young heroes is pretty thick, though not completely impenetrable, so let's examine the suffering and triumphs of Tanjiro and the gang in this episode. 

Spoilers ahead, obviously.

Sibling Rivalry

The contrast between the two sets of siblings entangled in the chaos continues to become more stark. Daki gave a classic villain monologue back in episode 8, during which she explained that she and Gyutaro feel that innocent people should pay the price for their misfortunes with blood. She dismisses the objectification of women and girls as just the way of the world, and states that the only way to get "justice" is to inflict the same pain you've endured onto others. 

Now, in this episode, Tanjiro dreams of Nezuko telling him to stop apologizing for things beyond his control, reminds him of the fickle nature of fortune, and tells him that our happiness is our own responsibility. She tells him looking for someone to blame doesn't change what happened, and all we can do is look ahead and keep fighting. This further posits Nezuko and Daki — and by extension their brothers — as polar opposites.

Tanjiro further expounds on the differences between them, but also makes a point to reflect on the ways they are the same. He and Gyutaro are both older brothers who are protective of their sisters, but the way they go about doing so is obviously quite different. Moreover, Gyutaro's sympathies begin and end with Daki, whereas Tanjiro is capable of feeling and acting on empathy for others.

An Invitation Declined

With all hope seemingly lost, Tanjiro is offered the chance to become a demon by Gyaturo, and we have absolutely seen this scenario before. In "Mugen Train," the demon Akaza offers to turn Rengoku into a demon with a similar spiel about becoming more powerful, becoming friends, etc. Like his fallen idol, Tanjiro refuses the offer. It's interesting to note that Tanjiro would rather be dead than become a demon, since he states that he hopes one of his fellow demon slayers would be kind enough to behead him in the event that he ever became one. He doesn't even entertain the notion of being strong enough to overcome the bloodthirsty nature of demons, which implies that he feels Nezuko is stronger than him in more ways than one, since she is clearly capable – to some degree, at least – of doing so. 

It's another difference between the siblings, because while Gyutaro cares for Daki, he is also quick to berate her by insulting her intelligence and seeing her as less capable than he is. To be fair, Gyutaro is also quick to insult every single person he comes into contact with, and Tanjiro gets the worst of it in a particularly harrowing scene. It was legitimately difficult for me to get through the skinny demon's torment of Tanjiro, and I actually found it far more horrific than any of the graphic fantasy violence and that took place. I can stomach all the slicing and dicing with relative ease — partially because it's as unrealistic as it is brutal — but the emotional violence veered straight into the realm of reality. It's no secret that Tanjiro's journey has been just as psychological as it has been physical, so Gyutaro's harsh, pointed words actually hurt to witness. This isn't to say that it was bad or that I would have preferred not to have seen it at all. In fact, I love when shows make me feel things, so I actually thought it was a great touch ... even if it hurt worse than Tanjiro's shattered fingered bones.

The Boys are Back

In somewhat lighter news, the boys are all alive. Tengen is still a badass, and he manages to give Gyutaro the business with just one hand. Meanwhile, Zenitsu's beef with Daki finally comes to a close, as he uses everything he has to lop her head off one last time. Of course, he couldn't have done this without the help of Inosuke, who is apparently so flexible that he can move his internal organs to evade would-be fatal attacks. This means that he simply moved his f****** heart before Gyaturo's sickle could pierce it. It's completely ridiculous, but I love it. While I enjoy the realistic emotional aspects of "Demon Slayer," I'm not exactly going into a fantasy show expecting everything to make sense in the real world. In the context of "Demon Slayer," it makes perfect sense, and it also means that my favorite little guy is gonna be alright, so I'm not mad about it. 

While our heroes are all battered, bruised, and bloody, nobody is dead. At least not yet, anyway. They managed to finally accomplish the double-decapitation necessary to kill the dastardly duo that is Gyutaro and Daki; however, the slain Gyutaro leaves them with an explosive parting gift. That's where the episode ends, leaving their fates relatively uncertain. There's just one episode left in this arc, and I hope we get more of Daki and Gyutaro's backstory because we spent way too much time with them not to. I also hope the demon slayers, the citizens of Yoshiwara, and Tengen's wives manage to escape the wreckage and heal from the trauma of it all.

The final episode of "Demon Slayer's" Red-Light District Arc will air on February 13 with an extended 45-minute runtime.