Oh No, the Swordsmith Village is Under Attack!

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba S3, Ep 3 Review

When we last left off with Tanjiro, he was going through training from Hell, fighting against an advanced training doll modeled after a legendary Demon Slayer. He eventually overcame it, but broke the doll in the process. However, he ended up getting the prize inside: a new sword! The bad news, though, is that the sword’s rusted from 300 years of neglect. That, and the Demons found the Swordsmith Village. That’s not good.

You Can’t Just Show Up, Mr. Haganezuka

Just as Kotetsu and Tanjiro are lamenting the rusty sword, none other than the swordsmith Haganezuka appears, demanding they hand over the blade for him to fix. Since he bailed on them in the first place and just says, “leave it to me!” this leads to some Shonen comedy. Tanjiro has every right to not let Haganezuka work on the sword since he bailed on him when he arrived. Since another swordsmith explains that Haganezuka had gone to train to make the ideal sword for Tanjiro, though, all is forgiven. The sword-polishing process will take three days, though. 

In the meantime, though, the world of anime gets blessed with the light of adorableness that is Nezuko. Getting to see Tanjiro braid her hair to look like the Love Hashira is so adorable, as are Nezuko’s antics. She even manages to make Muichiro let his guard down a little. Despite me calling him the “Sand Paper Hashira” last week, Muichiro at least manages to talk civilly with Tanjiro and Nezuko.

It’s too bad the village is under attack.

I Give “A Sword from 300 Years Ago” a 4/5

‘Demon Slayer’ Returns for Long-Awaited Swordsmith Village Arc

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba S3, Ep 1 Review

Since its anime debut in 2019, Demon Slayer has risen to international superstardom. With a cast of memorable characters, incredible music, and animation so good it borders on otherwordly, Demon Slayer is one of the biggest names in Shonen anime. So when a new season drops, people pay attention to it, like they are right now.

During the events of the last season, Tanjiro and his comrades emerged from their toughest battle yet in the Entertainment District Arc. That battle reduced the location to rubble and left every Demon Slayer terribly injuries, but it was worth it. For the first time in a century, the Demon Slayers took out one of the feared Upper Six, AKA Muzan’s strongest Demons. The upside is that this could mark a shift in the war between the two factions. The downside? Tanjiro’s broken his sword for the umpteenth time, forcing him to get it repaired. With this as the backdrop, Demon Slayer heads into its third season and the Swordsmith Village Arc.

The Upper Six Demons Terrifying…ly Dysfunctional.

With the death of the Upper Rank Six holders Daki and Gyutaro, the King of Demons Muzan is not happy with his followers. Thus, he summons them to his lair in the Infinity Castle to remind them why they shouldn’t fail him. This marks the first time we see the rest of Upper Rank Six in person, and, in true Demon Slayer form, they’re all horrifying to look at. Their bodies are misshapen and distorted, with one Demon having mouths where his eyes should be and eyes where his mouths should be. They’re the stuff of nightmares!

At the same time, though, one thing becomes clear about the Upper Ranks: they’re on the same side, but they’re not a team. They make constant, mean-spirited jabs at each other…or flat-out try to kill one another. They’re at each other’s throats jockeying for power, and its only the power of Muzan and the Upper Rank One, Kokushibo, that keeps them in line. In short, they give off the impression of beings that, were it not for their powers, would be easy pickings for the Demon Slayers. That, or they would kill each other.

Tanjiro Awakens, and Hilarity Ensues

While all of this is going on, Tanjiro’s been out cold following the fight with Daki and Gyutaro, during which he has a strange dream. He seems a man who looks much like himself, minus the burn scar, speaking with a man wearing the earrings he now wears. Those who read the manga know who these two are and how important they are to the story. Anime-only people, though, have to wait for this to be revealed down the line. In the meantime, Tanjiro wakes up, much to everyone’s joy.

Especially Inosuke. He wouldn’t stop screaming at him to wake up from his spot on the ceiling.

Following yet another rehab session, though, Tanjiro hits a bit of a snag: his sword broke for the umpteenth time. Now the one who forged it is so mad, he’s refusing to make it again. As a result, Tanjiro and Nezuko have to go to the Demon Slayer Corps secret swordsmith village and get it fixed there.

Swordsmith Village: So Secret No One Can Know Where it is!

Calling the swordsmith village a secret is an understatement. It’s the Demon Slayer Corps most closely guarded secret. Without it or its swordsmiths, the Demon Slayer Corps would be unable to create the treasured swords that help them slay Demons. They pull out all the stops to keep its location a secret from everyone, even their own members. I would call this paranoia, but given how dangerous Demons can be, they have good reason to be paranoid.

As someone who takes an interest in historical facts and settings, it was fun seeing what this ancient, revered village looks like. The forging of swords is an art form in Japan, so getting to see it up close, even in an anime, was fun to watch. In addition, this episode also sees the return of the love Misturi Kanroji. Beyond the fanservice, I can see why people like her; she’s nice. In contrast, we also meet Genya, another Demon Slayer who’s rude and abrasive to everyone, including Tanjiro and Nezuko. Both are interesting contrasts.

The Demons Are Going to Find the Swordsmith Village, Aren’t They?

Now, I would normally say that this Swordsmith Village arc is going to be peaceful to counter how explosive the Entertainment District Arc was. However, the fact that this village is so important invites people to target it. In other words, the Demons are coming, and they’re out for blood.

Overall, this was a decent start to the new season. I’m not as devout a follower of Demon Slayer as I am with other anime, but I can see the appeal behind it, and the animation’s amazing. Given everyone’s expectations, I’m hoping that the new season can build on the hype of the last one as we ring in the Spring 2023 season of anime.

Also, Muzan’s a jerk.

I Give “Someone’s Dream” a 3.5/5

Suzume, a Heartfelt Disaster Film by Makoto Shinkai

Suzume Review

Twelve years ago, Japan found itself wracked by the deadliest earthquake in its history. Tens of thousands lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunami. Hundreds of thousands lost their homes thanks to these things and the nuclear meltdown, and many have never been able to return home. This incident has deeply scarred Japan in recent years, with many only now coming to grips with what happened. Suzume, the latest film from the director of Your Name, Makoto Shinkai, addresses the effects of that great disaster. It does it not in some grandiose fashion, but in a surreal, retrospective way.

Also, there’s a talking chair.

What the Heck is Going On?!?

After a surreal dream, the film Suzume introduces us to our main protagonist, the titular Suzume, a normal high-school girl living in Kyushu with her aunt. Then one day, after meeting this stranger named Souta, she finds this magical doorway in some ruins and picks up the keystone she finds on the other side. However, by doing so, she ends ups freeing this supernatural monster that causes massive earthquakes whenever it gets out. Even weirder, Souta, whose job is to close these doors so this doesn’t happen, gets turned into a chair. Before Suzume can process what’s happening, she’s dragged on this cross-country road trip to find the keystone, turn Souta back to normal, and fix this mess before it can destroy Japan. 

could not make any of this up even if I tried. Given all of the strange things that can happen in anime, though, a guy getting turned into a chair isn’t the most bizarre thing I’ve seen.

Suzume is a Bizarre, Supernatural/Road trip/Disaster Film

When I was a teenager, I got to read a copy of the nonfiction book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. It told the real-life story of Chris McCandless, a young man who left his life behind to become a nomad, traveling across the United States before dying in the wilderness in Alaska. While the circumstances of his death are sad, the idea of traveling the world while young has a certain appeal to audiences. Thus, getting to see Suzume take this unplanned trip across most of Japan was an interesting idea. On the surface, she’s doing it to fix her mistake and help Souta, on the inside, she’s doing it to make peace with her traumatic past. 

Without getting into too much detail, Suzume’s revealed to be a survivor of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. Twelve years onward, people are still trying to pick up the pieces from that great disaster. One moment, they’re leading normal lives, only for catastrophe to change everything forever. It’s a bitter reminder of how bad things happen without warning, and how easy it is for people to lose what hey hold dear the most. 

I still remember hearing news about the disaster, and its clear that its something that Japan hasn’t forgotten what happened. It also ties back to Shinkai’s previous films, Weathering With You and Your Name. Both of them involved dealing with natural disasters via the supernatural. It was a means of coping with what happened, and a good one, at that.

Suzume Makes an Effort Not to Repeat the Romances of Shinkai’s Previous Films

While I’m a fan of Makoto Shinkai thanks to his previous works, I don’t think that Suzume reaches the same emotional highs as that of Your Name. However, one thing that sets it apart from Shinkai’s previous films is how there’s less of a focus on the romantic aspect. Which is good, too, because Suzume’s a high schooler while Souta’s at least a few years older, given that he’s stated to be in grad school. There is some chemistry between the two, but the film solves this by having Souta remain a chair the majority of the time. 

While the idea of someone getting cursed into a chair might sound weird (and it is), it’s brilliant from a storytelling perspective. It allows Souta and Suzume’s relationship to develop in a platonic fashion during the film, eliminating the threat of shipping. In addition, it also allows Suzume to become introspective at times as she thinks about her traumatic past and how it’s affected her life. She doesn’t realize it until the end, but this whole journey has been to help teach her an important life lesson. That lesson being that, regardless of how sudden life can change, it can also leave people open to new experiences. 

A Heartfelt, Coming-of-Age Story

Not everyone’s going to enjoy the movie Suzume. Compared to the likes of Your Name, it feels like Makoto Shinkai failed to recapture that great spark he had. However, the ones who do like it are in for a treat.

Suzume is a good movie about overcoming past trauma through the bonds we forge, and as always, the art and animation are breathtaking. The look of the sky alone is good enough for an art gallery! If you got a chance, I recommend you give this film a shot.

I Give “Suzume” a 4/5

Ash Ketchum, Until We Meet Again

Ash and Pikachu End Their Run as the Heroes of Pokémon

Twenty six years, 1,200 episodes, three generations worth of fans, and the start of dozens of films. That’s how long the world has known Ash Ketchum and Pikachu. They have been the face of Pokémon since almost the very beginning. Ask anyone about Pokémon, and their faces are likely the first things that come to mind. However, now the franchise is entering into a new era, and Ash and Pikachu won’t be part of it as the main characters. This past Friday, the final episode of Ash and Pikachu’s journey premiered, giving millions of fans the chance to say one final goodbye to the boy and mouse that inspired so many of them.

Truthfully, though, this farewell, for now, was in the works for months. Last year, fans of Pokémon got to see Ash do the impossible: he became the Pokémon World Champion! For the boy who seemed to lose in almost every League he fought in, this was a moment many feared would never come to pass. Nintendo wouldn’t let it so they could keep sending him on adventures to promote the franchise. Yet he did it, and the world cheered.

Ash Starts His Next Journey Without Us

The only question left is, what now? Do Ash and Pikachu continue their journey, or will they rest on their laurels? The answer turns out to be a bit of both. Beginning in January, the series aired what amounted to an epilogue series. Ash and Pikachu continued their journey, Team Rocket continued their antics (though they briefly split up), and Ash reunited with his OG companions, Brock and Misty. It was the perfect way to bookend our time with Ash by reuniting the original trio for one last journey. Still, the question remains: what will Ash do now? 

When you’ve devoted so much of your life to a goal and finally see it through, a scary thing is trying to figure out where to go after you succeed. Ash has served as someone capable of teaching people the significance of never giving up on a goal despite hardship. That’s an important lesson not even some adults understand, and eventually, despite fans thinking he’d never do it, he finally does. Therefore, it’s only fitting his final episode as the MC has Ash teach us what to do after we fulfill our dreams: set ourselves a new goal in life and work at it. In his case, Ash wants to go out and befriend every Pokémon in the world. 

I wasn’t overly interested in this epilogue series, but I still consider it a fitting send-off for Ash and Pikachu for the time being. The one gripe I have is at the end of the finale where Ash sees a rainbow. In the first episode, Ash earnestly began his Pokémon journey after seeing a rainbow and the Legendary Pokémon, Ho-Oh. I think it was a missed opportunity not to have our time with him bookended by Ho-Oh returning. Regardless, it’s still a nice callback as we say goodbye to Ash for now.

And I do mean for now.

I Think We’ll See Ash and Pikachu Again Someday

Even though our travels with Ash are over, I doubt that we’ve seen the last of him. Ash and Pikachu have been the face of the Pokémon for decades, and there’s no way The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures will let that fall by the wayside now. They’ll likely continue to call upon Ash and his Pikachu to appear in future projects for recognition purposes. In addition, they might decide to come back to the OG duo at some point.

There’s a precedent for this in pop culture. Everyone thought the Dragon Ball franchise had retired by the mid-2000s, only for the franchise to enter a renaissance with the release of Battle of Gods. The Animaniacs came back twenty years after it ended. The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder brought the Disney show to a new generation. If there’s still a big enough audience and potential stories to tell, then a brand or franchise will only stay there for a while. It’s a blessing and curse, but it might be a blessing in this case.

Until the day we see him again, though, thank you, Ash Ketchum and Pikachu. You made the childhoods of millions of people worthwhile, and we will never forget you. Sayonara, Satoshi!