Demon Slayer Season 3 Episode 8 Review: The Mu in Muichiro

A plodding look into the Tokito family’s tortuous past gives Muichiro the strength to slay the demons that he faces in the present.

Demon Slayer Season 3 Episode 8 Muichiro Slices Gyokko
Photo: Crunchyroll

This Demon Slayer review contains spoilers.

Demon Slayer Season 3 Episode 8

“You can’t trust the word of a man who died trying to save someone else.”

At its core, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is a story about the power of family, which is able to surpass any Breathing Technique or Blood Demon Art. The anime typically presents this unity through Tanjiro and Nezuko. However, Demon Slayer decides that it’s finally time for Muichiro Tokito to break free of his aquatic prison and do something this season. This rise to action on the coattails of ambivalence corresponds to the episode’s title, which interrogates the etymology of Muichiro’s name. 

Yuichiro weaponizes the idea that “Mu” comes from “Munou,” which translates to incompetence. Muichiro feels as if his very existence has set him up to not only be inferior to his brother, but fall short in every one of life’s endeavors. Demon Slayer’s ”The ‘Mu’ in Muichiro” speaks to Muichiro’s fears and faults, but also proves that he’s transcended his namesake and that he’s anything but incompetent. In fact, he just might be the key to these Upper Rank Demons’ defeat.

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Melodramatic flashbacks for both Hashira and demons have become one of Demon Slayer’s most prominent tropes. In this sense, a hefty look back into Muichiro’s childhood feels more like Demon Slayer is just checking off some boxes rather than presenting a story that needs to be told. There’s no arguing that it’s tragic for Muichiro to have to bury both of his parents and eventually his own brother, but it almost plays like predictable padding at this point in Demon Slayer’s run. There is nothing revelatory here that couldn’t necessarily be inferred through more subtle storytelling. This story might play better if streamlined to a few minutes of frantic flashes, but “The ‘Mu’ in Muichiro” has it take up three-quarters of the episode, which really feels egregious and is indicative of the hurdles faced this season.

Tragedy can unite fractured relationships between siblings. However, Muichiro and Yuichiro only grow more aware of how different their perceptions of the same man have been. Yuichiro blames their father for not being a realist enough when it comes to their mother’s condition and resents him for their losses, while Muichiro sees the compassion and understanding that his father tried to foster in order to keep their family together. 

Neither sibling is wrong, but their opposed perspectives speak volumes for their fates. “The ‘Mu’ in Muichiro” broaches some compelling questions during its flashbacks. However, it’s a little surprising that the episode doesn’t provide any breadcrumbs regarding what’s been teased between Tanjiro and Muichiro’s father. “The ‘Mu’ in Muichiro” would at least feel a little more substantial if it were to provide some answers on that front instead of entirely ignore it.

There are some effective moments during Muichiro’s flashback (the stylized use of red and minimalism during Muichiro’s bloody breakdown is particularly effective), but they arrive at the absolute worst point in this season and completely kill the momentum that’s been attempting to build over several episodes. All of this material would arguably be a lot more effective if it occurred earlier in the season and before Muichiro is incapacitated by Gyokko rather than after. The whole point of this extended flashback is to prove that Muichiro can exceed the expectations of himself and others and prove that he can do whatever he puts his mind towards. These themes are still effective when they culminate in what appears to be Muichiro gaining the upper hand on Gyokko. However, it’s easy to picture Muichiro’s past struggles reminding him of his inner strength and that this is the catalyst that breaks him out of Gyokko’s trap.

“The ‘Mu’ in Muichiro” slightly struggles to reach this grander point of Muichiro’s empowerment, but when it gets there it really works. Muichiro reappropriates the meaning behind his name, only to learn that it actually stands for “Mugen”–limitless–a quality in which Muichiro never lacks. The transition between Muichiro learning this lesson in the past while he sears it into a demon’s neck in the present is beautifully handled. It encapsulates Demon Slayer’s ability to put these heroes on mighty pedestals right before they go into berserker mode and become veritable legends.

“The ‘Mu’ in Muichiro” finally allows Muichiro to do something of substance and prove why he’s fit to be a Demon Slayer. That in itself gives this installment an advantage over past weeks’ entries, but now it’s Mitsuri Kanroji who’s mysteriously MIA. The Love Hashira made a courageous pledge to lend a blade in battle, but she’s been absent for several episodes now. It’s still likely that Demon Slayer’s season concludes with this bevy of Demon Slayers working together to wipe out these Upper Rank terrors, but it’s frustrating that this fight is so poorly paced and balanced. The season finale will undoubtedly be a thrilling affair, but the ways in which Hantengu and Gyokko’s defeats have become so protracted makes these events feel inevitable, not rewarding. It’s strange to say, but the best episode in a season that largely consists of endless battles is the filler-esque training robot escapade. 

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Demon Slayer needs to better understand that big fights and flashy animation aren’t enough to make up for narrative shortcomings. The battle choreography in Demon Slayer’s past few episodes, while visually impressive, is incredibly simplistic in comparison to the swordplay of the show’s first two seasons. Demon Slayer’s third season only has a few episodes left and it’s still possible for this Swordsmith Village saga to end on a promising note. There’s guaranteed to be heavy bloodshed from both sides of this war, but the best possible move for Demon Slayer in a season that’s increasingly played things safe and hid behind reliable past comforts is to do something genuinely new rather than getting lost in the body count. Creativity is the sharpest blade of them all.


3 out of 5