Top Anime

Kimetsu no Yaiba S4 Anime Review – 63/100

Lets not beat around the bush, Kimetsu no Yaiba had a tough time last year. From lackluster and hard to follow fights to a nonsensical narrative and mediocre villains, Season 3 is Yaiba’s lowest point yet. So going into Season 4, seeing the title, knowing it was a training arc and setup for the coming finale, my expectations were rock bottom. And yet, as the episodes went on… I found myself enjoying it. Some how, some way, Ufotable and director Haruo Sotozaki have managed to breathe new life into this series, reviving some of my interest. It’s not perfect, Yaiba still has a long ways to go before it’s great. But the fact that it’s on an upward trajectory at all, after last season, feels like a miracle. So lets dive into Kimetsu no Yaiba Season 4: Hashira Training Arc and find out how a seeming filler arc, improved so much.

Be warned, this review contains minor unmarked spoilers for Kimetsu no Yaiba Seasons 1-4. It also contains major spoilers in some sections however these will be heavily marked to avoid accidents.


First up, let’s talk about what Yaiba has always been known for, Production. Big flashy fights have been a staple in Yaiba since the beginning. Whether it be Uzui vs Gyuutarou, Rengoku vs Akaza, or Tanjiro vs Rui, every season has ended in a bombastic battle against one of the Twelve Moons. So in a season with no major conflicts and minimal fights, you might think Yaiba would be at a disadvantage. What else does an action show have going for it if not big, fun, memorable fights? Well don’t worry, because while the season is ostensibly about training and building up forces, Yaiba does still manage to fit in a fight right near the end. I won’t spoil who between, since it comes a bit out of left field, but for those looking for that classic Yaiba action, this season still has it.

What’s more, with the rest of the season otherwise being rather relaxed, Yaiba has the opportunity to take things slow and focus on something it’s never really focused on before: Character acting. Small movements like jogging, cooking, facial expressions and conversations, all of those seemed to get a bit more attention than usual. Maybe that isn’t what some action fans are looking for, but personally? It was a nice change of pace, and the big battle in the last episode should still give the action fans something to chew on.

This isn’t to say Yaiba’s animation was the most nuanced of the season or anything, combat is still what the series does best, as seen in many of the spars this season. It’s more that, for Yaiba, it’s something we don’t get to see often. And with how much I enjoy Yaiba’s art style, seriously I love the thicker lines and sharp edges that make up the characters bodies, it’s an opportunity to see it move in ways it usually doesn’t care to. Really, the biggest issue I see is that Yaiba is still overly dependent on special effects. Smoke simulations, lots of that classic Ufotable diffused and indirect light that sort of bathes the entire scene in the same color, loads of tracking shots through 3D space that aren’t quite good enough to hide the CGI environments. Those issues have been present for years, and continue to stand out.

All in all, Yaiba’s production largely feels subdued this season compared to previous. There’s only one what I would call “money shot”, the memorable Twitter breaking action sequence. It’s otherwise a very relaxed season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise by the title. For those looking for the fights, it’s not like the season is without them entirely. I already mentioned the spars, and the final fight, and these aren’t bad, though they are much more light hearted than we usually get, the spars seem more focused on showing off what the Hashira can do prior to a big final arc rather than being a climax in and of themselves. This makes it a very a easy watch, where you aren’t being dragged in and out of tension every other scene, nor does Yaiba have to wind you up at the start of a new episode. It’s just… fun, and while not particularly impressive, I liked it.


But what about Yaiba’s biggest, longest running problem, the narrative? If you’ve read my previous reviews of the series, you’d know this is where I’ve historically had complaints. Whether it be the tropes of S1, the unfulfilled potential of S2’s Gyuutarou and Daki, or the mediocre and flashback ridden mess that was S3’s entire run. Yaiba always ended up getting caught in that Shounen trap of having to introduce new heroes and villains for every arc while never having enough time to flesh them out, leading to fights that feel like ass-pulls and unsatisfying villains. So it’s a nice surprise to be able to turn around and say, for once, that Yaiba has actually done something… pretty cool this season. A lot of people probably won’t agree with me, they probably think this season was boring. But for me? This season gives me something I’ve wanted for years: Characterization.

What I mean is that this season is focused, almost entirely, on fleshing out the Hashira and the Demon Slayer Corps before the big final battle. Every Hashira, from old favorites like Uzui to ones who’ve had barely any speaking lines like Himejima, get at least half an episode dedicated to them. Most get more, an entire episode to them, and them alone! That’s an entire episode to just… listen to them talk, to learn who they are, why they fight, their philosophies on life. To get flashbacks that feel appropriate instead of being last-minute fight fillers. They aren’t grand epics, sure. At the end of the day these are still side characters. But these episodes have done more to make me care for these “side characters” than the last three seasons have in their entirety. Seriously, Giyu has more speaking lines in Episode 2 than all previous seasons combined.

Combine this with time spent on the mooks, the random Demon Slayer Corp members who don’t actually have names but will be dying by the dozen when they go to fight Muzan, and you have a pretty good ramp-up season before the big battle. We get to watch them train, to try to improve only to realize their own limitations and that, in the grand scheme of things, they probably won’t be able to contribute that much. Yet by watching Tanjiro and the Hashira, they become inspired to push on anyways. They see the effort of their leaders, see what’s on the line, and decide to push forward. Do they matter? Not really. But I think this characterization for literal nobodies, who we will see dying in just one more season, will really help the stakes feel high and the battles feel important. It’s a nice touch.

So yeah, I’m shockingly happy with what Yaiba is doing this season. I wish we had gotten some of this earlier, Giyu probably should have been a more important character in season one, but better late than never you know? Listening to his insecurities, to Himejima’s fall from grace, Shinobu’s plan, Tokito’s growing relationship with his men, or Iguro’s infatuation with Kanroji, makes them feel relevant in a way they never have before. And while it may be boring for some, I think this season will pay dividends when season five, or the movies, inevitably air next year. At least for me it will, because I’ll actually care about these characters for the first time in years.


So with all of that gushing over the narrative, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the cast was pretty decent as well. Not amazing. Again, each of the Hashira really only got a single episode to strut their stuff and there’s only so much you can do in that time. Still, it’s a marked improvement over what we got in previous seasons where their flashbacks were shoved into the middle of fights that really had nothing to do with what they were actually fighting. Himejima and Giyu stand out the most this season, having the best and second best episodes of the entire season all to themselves. Others like,Uzui and Tokito,have nice moments as well, but it’s clear they weren’t the focus. It’s really only Shinazugawa, the perpetually angry Wind Hashira, who I would say missed the mark as he’s kind of just an abusive asshole.

That said, I was a tad disappointed by how little was done with our main squad, Tanjiro, Inosuke, Zenitsu and Nezuko. Tanjiro is sort of fine, he’s used to inspire the mooks and has this “hero” thing going on where he gets characters to open up and connects all of the otherwise separate episodes. He doesn’t do or change much himself, outside of training arc power scaling. But if you liked this ball of sunshine before you’ll probably still like him now. Meanwhile Inosuke and Zenitsu are sort of just… there? They train along with Tanjiro, showing up every now and then for some banter and little else. There’s a hint of something going on with Zenitsu, but we don’t see it this season. Really, Genya is more important than those two, since a fair amount of time is spent on him and his brothers relationship and just hanging out with Tanjiro.

The real crime though is Nezuko. She’s just… Not present? At all? We see her once early on in a joking fashion as she’s learning to talk, and that’s about it. A real missed opportunity if you ask me, I would have loved to see how the Hashira meet and interact with her now that she can talk and walk in the sunlight. Let her show off a bit in front of the lesser Corp members or something, or get doted on like a little sister by everyone. Anything to get her out of the house and into being an actual character rather than a mascot. Considering how important she is to the plot, this really hurts Yaiba in my eyes. Sadly we didn’t get that, and it’s felt every time she’s brought up. Still, the rest of the cast is an improvement, and for that at least I am thankful.


Finally we come to the last section of this review, the OST. A joint effort by Yuki Kajiura and Gou Shiina, each with a long history in the industry, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Yaiba’s OST is pretty good. They’ve been making the same thing for four seasons now, I would hope they would be good at it. That’s also sort of the problem. This is the same OST we’ve heard for a number of seasons now. It’s the same sounds arranged slightly differently, the same powerful backing vocals, the same orchestral sound. It’s very Yuki Kajiura core, where if you’ve heard one of her OSTs, you’ve probably heard most of them. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Yuki Kajiura is very good, if you enjoy her sound like I do then you’re going to enjoy Yaiba’s OST. But it feels like she hasn’t evolved in the last… decade.

Overall I would say Yaiba’s OST continues to deliver exactly what it has before. The same level of quality, the same kind of sound it’s had since season 1. If you don’t care that it’s the same, if you just want to vibe to some Yuki Kajiura style of music again, then you’re going to love it, nothing about it is bad. Yuki Kajiura is very good at her job, she isn’t going to screw it up now. But if you were hoping for something new, for Yaiba to sound different or unique? Then you’re out of luck. Really, knowing Yuki Kajiura, that’s all the information you need to know what it sounds like.

Figuring Itself Out

With that we come to the personal section of this review. This is where I go full no-holds-barred on spoilers, talking about anything and everything, to try and communicate a small piece of what my experience watching this season of Kimetsu no Yaiba was like. So if you either haven’t watched the show and don’t want to be spoiled, or just don’t care and want to see the score, skip this. I’m mostly going to be talking about what set this season apart. But if you’re interested, if you’ve liked what I’ve had to say until now, then read on.

So like I said at the start of this review, I haven’t had the best time with Yaiba in recent years. I’ve reviewed every season on this site, and I’ve gotten called a lot of names (And also some praise!) after every single one because I wrote about the issues I had with it. Simply put, Yaiba has always felt like a very safe, very standard, shounen experience that got lucky with an above average production and rode that to success. The formula was always the same, new arc, new characters, new villain, flashback mid fight to make us feel bad, fight over, rinse and repeat. Any challenges the heroes faced, like last season with Tanjiro having to choose between Nezuko and the fleeing villagers, never have any consequences. It felt… uninspired.

Yet this season, for the first time, I felt like Yaiba actually cared. That for once, it was actually invested in its own story and characters. It put time and care into setting up who these people are and why they are here, not just into the Hashira, not just the random nobodies like I talked about, but Muzan as well, the big bad of the entire show. Seriously, what do we really know about the guy? We’ve only really seen him through his relationship with his minions, through their flashbacks and how they became demons, never through himself. Even Ubuyashiki, one of the only important characters with less screentime than Muzan, got to show up and tell us about himself. It wasn’t perfect, or even very good, but it was nice that it happened.

What I’m getting at is, this is the first time in a long for Yaiba where I felt satisfied by the characters and their journey. Tanjiros growth was recognized, most of the Hashira were fleshed out, Muzan and that classic vampire “weakness” of running away from their humanity was acknowledged, and Ubuyashiki got to mouth off before blowing himself and Muzan to Kingdom come. It feels like this final arc was actually planned and prepared for rather than thrown together to fill space with a bunch of characters no one cares about. Which considering this leads into the final arc it better, but still, that’s just how low my expectations were after a mediocre season 3 last year.


So yeah, all in all I was pleasantly surprised by this season of Kimetsu no Yaiba. After last season, I went into this expecting absolutely nothing. Knowing it was a training “filler” arc, my hopes were nonexistent. Yet what I got was not a waste of time but rather the calm before the storm. The buildup of all the plot lines and characters before the final battle. For the first time in a while, it feels like Yaiba is building up to something meaningful, and I’m here for it. I genuinely hope that this upward trajectory becomes a trend, that Yaiba takes this lead and runs with it. It isn’t perfect, Yaiba still has a lot to work on to re-earn my trust. But this is a good start. I hope it cares this much about the characters next season too.

The post Kimetsu no Yaiba S4 Anime Review – 63/100 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.