Demon Slayer Season 4 Episode 6 Review: The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps

The training of the Stone Hashira, Gyomei Himejima, pushes Tanjiro to look inward on Demon Slayer season 4 episode 6.

Demon Slayer season 4 episode 6 - Zenitsu and Tanjiro freak out.
Photo: Crunchyroll

This Demon Slayer review contains spoilers.

“Set your heart ablaze.”

Tanjiro Kamado has accomplished no shortage of incredible things in Demon Slayer’s four seasons and he’s been presented with some of his greatest challenges yet in the Hashira Training Arc season. Tanjiro has carefully trained under each of the Demon Slayer Corps.’ Hashira to better prepare himself for the upcoming war against Muzan Kibutsuji, but – more importantly – to protect his sister Nezuko. The lessons that Tanjiro has learned have come in many shapes and sizes and as he’s faced with the most straightforward of missions for his final task: he must push a boulder. 

It’s hard to not think of the Greek myth of Sisyphus during “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” and how this inspirational fable actually functions as a grander metaphor for Demon Slayer’s entire Hashira Training Arc season. This Demon Slayer season has faced an uphill task from its start. It’s needed to take a story arc that’s stuck in a holding pattern and completely devoted to passive training and make it resonate as strongly as previous seasons that have celebrated multiple life-or-death Demon duels. Demon Slayer’s Hashira Training Arc season has struggled to make this boulder budge, but “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” hints at an endgame that gets that rock rolling.

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Demon Slayer has found a successful rhythm with its celebration of the various Hashira and this season finally gets ready to explore the strongest Hashira of them all – Gyomei Himejima, the Stone Hashira. Demon Slayer has created tension all season over the prospect of training under Gyomei and “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” really builds up this warrior’s importance without actually featuring much of him. 

Instead, “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” concentrates on three seemingly simple tasks that become tremendous challenges for Tanjiro and the rest of Gyomei’s students. These training exercises take up the entire episode and the lack of Gyomei through them all is a real letdown for those who have been anticipating this Demon Slayer showcase.

It definitely seems as if “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” could have spent half of the episode on these challenges, only to put Tanjiro and company up against Gyomei in its second act. The episode’s sluggish pace is even more egregious because last week’s “I Even Ate Demons…” covers so much ground and speed-runs through its material. “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” really banks on the idea that Zenitsu and Inosuke’s silly shenanigans will be enough to sate audiences until the real training begins in the following episode. It’s unquestionably entertaining – and results in some truly unhinged visuals – but it still lacks substance and isn’t enough to sustain an entire episode.

That being said, there’s still a lot of value in Tanjiro’s reunion with Zenitsu and Inosuke where they’re all together for Gyomei’s challenges and able to collectively tackle them as a team. This dynamic has been woefully missed this season and it’s easily one of the episode’s greatest assets. “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” really leans into Zenitsu’s outlandish comic relief abilities to the point that one would think that his breathing style is “Total Slapstick Breathing.” Zenitsu’s absurdist nature also inherently relegates Tanjiro to the straight man position through their training adventures. 

This is a welcome change of pace after a full season where Tanjiro plays this larger-than-life heroic cipher for his Hashira brethren. Admittedly, this season has provided glimpses of Tanjiro’s more human side, like during his empathetic commiseration with Giyu Tomioka or the elation and anger that came out of his interactions with Mitsuri Kanroji and Sanemi Shinazugawa in the previous episode. 

“The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” reflects the most layered and human version of Tanjiro. It’s remarkable how much of a difference it makes for Tanjiro to have his best friends in tow instead of just working off of strangers. This certainly helps Demon Slayer’s Hashira Training Arc season conclude on a triumphant note, but it’s still a little frustrating that his reunion with Zenitsu and Inosuke didn’t occur several episodes earlier so that this satisfying dynamic could fuel the entire season and not just its final episodes. 

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On that note, it’s still rather puzzling that this season has devoted so little time to Nezuko, considering that her special display in last season’s finale resulted in game-changing revelations. The Hashira Training Arc season technically revolves around Nezuko and yet she’s only received a few minutes of passive screentime. 

In a season that looks like it will be shorter than Demon Slayer’s norm, it would have been quite useful to devote an entire episode to Nezuko’s recovery and where her head has been at through all of this. Demon Slayer’s third season finally made Nezuko feel like a real character and so it’s frustrating to see Demon Slayer essentially ignore this development in favor of heightened Hashira hijinks. If nothing else, a temporary detour with Nezuko that breaks free from the season’s formulaic training schedule would help this season stand out a little more.

“The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” teases the prospect of directly training under Gyomei, only to withhold this payoff for Demon Slayer’s upcoming installment. The episode adopts a similar approach when it comes to the drip-feed storytelling that surrounds Upper Rank Four Demon, Nakime, and Muzan Kibutusuji. Muzan Kibutsuji’s presence should be a big deal, but his glorified cameo is ultimately inconsequential to the rest of the episode’s events. There’s been a growing sense of anxiety across Demon Slayer’s Hashira Training Arc season over just what Muzan Kibutsuji has in store for Nezuko, Tanjiro, and the rest of the Hashira. 

These reminders of the creeping Demon dread that awaits Demon Slayer’s heroes are helpful, but this season would still benefit from a genuine demonstration of Nakime’s powers. “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” is one of the season’s most threadbare installments and an ancillary Demon attack would be the perfect way to increase the gravity of this situation. There’s plenty of fun to be had with Zenitsu and Inosuke’s perpetual panic attacks. However, little would be lost by paring this material down in exchange for an extended sequence where Nakime is in action and shows off the dangers that are to come.

“The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” focuses on Gyomei’s hard knocks training exercises, but it still finds time for some particularly sweet moments that connect Tanjiro with his past. Some of the episode’s most powerful moments are the ones where Tanjiro reflects back on his pre-Demon Slayer life with his family. The biggest plot development that comes out of “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” is the introduction of Repetitive Action as an alternative to Tanjiro’s Total Concentration Breathing. 

It’s long overdue for Demon Slayer to empower Tanjiro with a new battle tactic and it’s quite fitting that this technique taps into his capacity for love and why he fights. The moment when Tanjiro finally moves the boulder and masters Repetitive Action is a heartwarming sequence, albeit one that doesn’t reveal anything that the audience didn’t already know about Tanjiro and his motivations. All this is only made stronger by the episode’s evocative score. The music beautifully compliments Tanjiro’s heroic actions. 

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With only two episodes left in this Demon Slayer’s Hashira Training Arc season, “The Strongest of the Demon Slayer Corps” becomes a flawed execution of a promising idea. It’s rather ironic that an episode that reinforces the importance of balance is so disproportionate and off-kilter with its storytelling and structure. Demon Slayer still has a lot of work to do in its final two episodes – both of which are set to be extended installments that are longer than the average entry – in order to end this shallow season on the right note. The heights of Gyomei’s powers combined with a demonic duel with Nakime and the fruits of Tanjiro’s Repetitive Action training have the potential to not only push Demon Slayer’s rock up this hill, but knock it clean over the other side.

Nembutsu until next week, y’all!

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3 out of 5