Overview (Spoiler Below):
As Rui, the final member of the Demon Spider Clan, finally expires, he thinks back to his depressing life and how he ended up in this bleak position. Rui’s tragic life as a human is detailed and how the fact that he’s always suffered from destructive and unhealthy family issues has ultimately fueled his obsession as a demon with building a new clan, whether he was aware of it or now. With demon spiders not longer being a threat, Tanjiro and Nezuko find themselves under attack by fellow Demon Slayer Shinobu. Giyu turns into an unexpected ally for the siblings as they rush to keep Nezuko safe from execution. The two eventually get overpowered by a familiar face, but before something deadly can be done Tanjiro finds himself facing an even greater danger: persecution by the entire Demon Slayer Corps for the protection of his demon sister.
The reality that Tanjiro will have to face the consequences over how he’s been protecting his demon sister through the entire series has been an inevitability since Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba began. Demon Slayer really hasn’t done a whole lot with Nezuko as a character and the show is guilty of treating her more like a plot device than a person up until recently, but “Against Corps Rules” feels like it may be the start of the change of that. It’s time that Tanjiro’s decisions regarding his sister, as well as what she’s become, get properly addressed and help inform the show’s future.
“Against Corps Rules” isn’t a bad episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, but it’s an incredibly average installment that’s bogged down with unnecessary baggage and features quite a bit of the series narratively spinning its wheels as it resets the slate for what’s next. It also doesn’t help that the past run of episodes have been the finest that Demon Slayer has produced, so any shortcomings in “Against Corps Rules” only become amplified due to the strong standard that the series has set for itself. It’s really only the second half of this episode that bears a significant importance and even then this essentially applies to only the final moments of the second act. Tanjiro is finally in some serious hot water as he runs amok of the other Demon Slayer VIPs, but “Against Corps Rules” takes a lot of time to reach this exciting cliffhanger.
The biggest fault of “Against Corps Rules” is that half of the episode is devoted to the extended epilogue to Rui’s tragic story, even though this already felt concluded and over with by the end of the previous episode. This strategy has been resorted to numerous times in the show’s past, but this instance is especially frustrating since Rui’s story felt so finished by now. That’s not to say that learning that Rui’s pre-demon life as a frail, pained human who was forced to kill his parents in self-defense and suffered mental manipulation isn’t an emotionally raw and powerful origin story. However, none of this feels too revelatory after the information that was provided in the last episode about Rui. It feels more like a way to pad this installment and stretch the story out as Demon Slayer drags its feet before fully embracing the next chapter of this story.
Once Rui is finally in Demon Slayer’s rearview mirror there’s an immediate pivot to the other Demon Slayers’ fascination with Tanjiro and Nezuko. Nezuko is suddenly a bigger target more than she’s ever been before and fortunately Tanjiro has Giyu to lend a hand here once the adept Shinobu becomes especially determined. Giyu has been a helpful ally in the past, but what’s significant here is that his opposition to Shinobu also puts him in violation of the Demon Slayer Corps’ rules. It’s actually a huge decision for him to respond in this way and if there’s ever been any doubts of his allegiance in the past, they should now be put to rest. If these actions result in Tanjiro and company being on the run as vigilantes, Giyu wouldn’t be a bad member to add to the team.
Giyu and Shinobu both get some strong moments in this episode, but the one that finally takes down Tanjiro and nearly kills Nezuko is Kanao Tsuyuri, a face that Tanjiro hasn’t seen for a very long time. It’s likely that some of the baggage from Kanao’s last encounter with Tanjiro is present in the character’s desire to eliminate Nezuko and seriously wound Tanjiro. Greater powers are able to ultimately intervene and prevent Tanjiro or Nezuko from getting mortally wounded, but the situation that Tanjiro wakes up to is something that he’s dreaded just as much as death. This has all been teased from the start of the show, but it’s gratifying to reach this point relatively early in the show’s run and not draw this confrontation out until much later in the series. With this out of the way, there will have to inherently be a very different dynamic to how Nezuko is treated by the Demon Slayers.
“Against Demon Corps” tackles some serious, dramatic subject matter, but this entry is still careful to intersperse some levity every now and then to great effect. A lot of this actually stems from moments where Nezuko is in utter peril, like how the animation will reflect to a chibi style as a way to lighten the danger that she faces. The animation during Rui’s flashback is also very well handled and it carries a different style that captures the depressing weight of his past. Finally, even though the nine Hashiras or the Demon Slayer Corps are just teased at the end of the episode, it’s a tantalizng look at some powerful characters who are on a whole other level than the show’s trio of intrepid Demon Slayers.
“Against Corps Rules” also features a tiny bit of clean up from all of the Demon Spider Clan shenanigans as a recovery unit of the Demon Corps tends to the wounds of Zenitsu and the other victims of the spider demons (even those that have become now become spiders, which is a touching display of empathy) as those that aren’t in immediate danger right now get a chance to recover. Even Inosuke, who isn’t physically wounded, gets a chance to mentally contemplate how he fits in as he considers yet another situation where he failed to step into action and do the “Demon Slayer” title justice. This level of doubt is typically present with Inosuke, but as the season begins to come to its end it feels like this latest reflection is actually going to result in some kind of change.
“Against Corps Rules” faces a difficult lot as a table-setting episode and it unfortunately falls victim to many of the setbacks of such an episode. Too much time is spent on the past and while more Giyu and Shinobu are always a good thing, there’s really just not enough of significance here. That’s all to say that this is still a gorgeous episode that’s a pleasure to watch and it ends up at a very exciting place for these characters. There’s just usually more to hang onto here, whereas it feels like both halves of this episode could probably be combined with the entries that come before and after it. At least now that Tanjiro has to face the ire of the entire Demon Slayer Corps there are surely some thrilling developments on the way for these final episodes of the season.