Nezuko’s humanity is put to the ultimate test as the Hashira’s trial for Tanjiro and his sister enters its final stage. Even though some of the Demon Slayer Corps, like Shinobu, have gone out on a limb for Nezuko, Sanemi’s stubbornness on the topic has pushed him to extreme lengths to prove Nezuko’s wicked nature. Nezuko is confronted with an appealing offer, but she uses all of her willpower to think back to her family, her days of a human, and what it means to have love for someone in order to repel her more carnal instincts and remain at bay. With Nezuko’s ferocity no longer an issue, the Hashira move on to bigger issues as Tanjiro is reunited with the rest of his team and they prepare for their next big challenge.
With only three episodes left in the season after this one, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba begins to panic that it’s still never really done much with Nezuko as a character and now it’s time for her to come into the spotlight in a very big way. Accordingly, “Hashira Meeting” spends a good deal lost in Nezuko’s head and even though the amount that happens isn’t that considerable, it’s a necessary episode to help set up the final chapter of this season and what’s to come beyond that. In that respect, the work that “Hashira Meeting” does for Nezuko’s character doesn’t completely redeem the negligence that the series has shown her, but it’s a step in the right direction. Nezuko faces a simple task, but one that fundamentally opposes the demonic fate that’s been bestowed upon her.
Picking up right from the final moments of the past installment, a riled up Nezuko faces blood and a very tempting situation that puts her and her friends in jeopardy. Just like Tanjiro spent the entire episode insisting, all that Nezuko has to do here is resist. It looks like her resilience may waver here, but to find the proper resolve to overcome this challenge Nezuko thinks back to her days as a human with her family, which provides some fascinating insight into the character
Much like with the demons that Tanjiro has had to face this season, this flashback to Nezuko’s humanity works much in the same fashion. Perhaps the most significant detail about all of this is how this look into Nezuko’s perspective attempts to slightly retcon the hypnosis that Urokodaki did on her all that time ago. This episode treats Nezuko’s resistance to harm humans as more of an example of free will and the development of her character and not just blind control courtesy of a spell. This goes a long ways for her character since the whole hypnosis angle was a pretty flimsy (albeit somewhat understandable) story decision in the first place. At least Demon Slayer attempts to be course correcting now that Nezuko appears to becoming more of a useful character and actually contribute to the cast, rather than act more like a very important accessory or animal companion for these heroes.
Nezuko is able to exhibit the necessary restraint against Sanemi (even if Tanjiro isn’t) and it’s an act of civility that spares them their lives. I’m sure most people didn’t expect Nezuko to get executed in this episode, but it’s still an important decision for the Hashira to make. It hints at the larger world that’s in play here and the certain concessions that the Demon Slayer Corps are willing to make because they’re so strapped for strong warriors and aware of the coming war that’s at hand.
“Hashira Meeting” is very cleanly split in half and after all of the tension is released after Nezuko’s life is spared the episode strangely goes into a farcical direction. There’s a lot to laugh at in the second half of this episode, whether it’s Nezuko’s absurdly cute facial expressions or Tanjiro’s vindictive requirement to get one more headbutt in on Sanemi, even though he’s just gotten what he’s wanted. It’s nice to see Demon Slayer turn up the levity and enjoy this period of calm before the heat gets up one last time for these final episodes.
This second half of the episode also reunites Tanjiro and Nezuko with Zenitsu and Inosuke at Shinobu’s butterfly headquarters and it’s a surprisingly touching display. The group has been through a lot as of late so just having the luxury to heal in the company of each other is a luxury for these people. “Hashira Meeting” doesn’t hide the fact that it bides its time and it’s an episode that easily could have been combined with the past installment, but it’s not an annoying detour. It successfully closes the door on the last bit of drama and it sets the stage for Tanjiro’s next big task: the execution of one of the 12 Demon Moons.
Tanjiro and Nezuko’s lives have been spared by the Hashira, but that doesn’t mean that they’re fond of the siblings. Tanjiro is eager to get back on the elite group’s good side and prove that he’s more than just a nuisance to them. It’s a strong direction to push Tanjiro as so much of it comes from his pride over how other Demon Slayers view him and that his sister is also commanded a level of respect, despite her condition. “Hashira Meeting” also teases a much bigger conflict in place between the Hashira and the stronger breed of demons. The Master voices his grudge towards Muzan Kibutsuji and how determined he is to personally put an end to him. It’s compelling to see Demon Slayer hint at this more ancient rivalry and that the 12 Demon Moons and the Hashira could all tie back to something much more personal in the end. That’s the beauty of how this series handles its relationships.
“Hashira Meeting” isn’t the most exciting episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, but it does it’s a necessary entry that does its job and continues to move these characters to a point of growth. It’s satisfying to get so much work done with Nezuko, even if it happens on an internal level and it’s nice that Tanjiro has a clear goal now as he moves forward. The final two episodes of the season may spend more time on Tanjiro and company building up their strength and improving their abilities before they actually take on a member of the Demon Moon, but after a momentary reprieve it feels like Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is ready to get back to the hacking and slashing action before the first season comes to a close.