Not gonna lie, but this episode was a bit disappointing in regards to how they handled the defeat of Upper Five. This season was already suffering from questionable pacing and boy did they do Gyokko dirty. While I didn’t really like him that much since he freaked me out, the way he went out just felt so disrespectful lol. While I did say I wouldn’t mind if Muichiro soloed the Upper Five… that was super anticlimactic as heck. I was honestly hoping the fight would hold a bit more stakes. The fact he was able to take on Upper Five without help and didn’t sustain as much damage as Tengen did against Upper Six, I’m not sure how I feel about that. Not to mention it just felt like child’s play. And while Tengen did set up how he perceived Muichiro was stronger than him, I don’t think it warranted THIS level of difference in skill. Especially since it made it feel like Tengen and Rengoku’s sacrifices were needless. And while we finally got to see more of Muichiro’s fighting abilities, they still didn’t seem to be as impactful as Rengoku or Tengen’s.
There are probably reasons as to why Muichiro was able to defeat Upper Five so much easier than how Upper Six was taken down, such as how he’s a descendant of the first Fire Breathers. However, I don’t think it was well executed or established as to how he’s a stronger Hashira in comparison to Tengen and Rengoku. It didn’t feel deserved in how everything was set up and in comparison to the other fights. But that’s just me. His abilities were cool, but I feel like we still didn’t get the full scope of this guy’s abilities. Especially when he even states that he STILL wasn’t going all out. I know he has the mark and everything, but it’s still kind of a mystery and wasn’t set up to be this all powerful ability at this time in the story.
Gyokko definitely felt like the biggest disappointment for me as an Upper Moon. This guy is supposedly even stronger than Gyuutaro, yet he spent the majority of his time gloating and talking and was beheaded fairly easily compared to the amount of difficulty it took to take down Gyuutaro. We can chalk it up as to Muichiro being the worst possible match up since he never fell for his taunts and just had a counter for almost everything he threw at him. Not to mention we didn’t get any backstory for this guy in story. Apparently his backstory was told in extra source materials where he lived in a fisherman village, which explains the excessive amount of fish based attacks. There were some other things that went on with that guy, but if you never read the fanbook, you’ll never know. Sure not all antagonists need backstories, but considering this guy was an Upper Rank, it felt like he was expected to have one. Or at the very least a bit more depth.
Which is honestly a shame since Gyokko was an interesting antagonist in his own right. Too bad it seems like they just wanted to speedrun this fight since at this point I heard that the mangaka started really rushing things in the manga. Which is unfortunate since I feel like they could have utilized Gyokko a lot better if they had the time to do so. His “mermaid” form was interesting, but not as interesting as the Upper Four’s forms. Not to mention that it felt like he didn’t really get the opportunity to really show us just how powerful he was. It felt like we only got a taste of how strong he was in his true form before he just ended up dying. When he was trying to grow back his body, a part of me hoped that wasn’t the end for him. Only for my hopes to be dashed when Muichiro just sliced him up into little pieces. Which was honestly pretty funny in its own right since at this point I think Muichiro just wanted Gyokko to shut up. Also was it just me or did it throw anyone off that despite the guy saying whatever he touched turned to fish, but whenever his attacks were blocked by Muichiro’s sword, the sword didn’t turn into fish…
Speaking of not shutting up, goodness… this episode felt especially obnoxious with the shouting/freaking out = comedy. While I do find that kind of comedy amusing at times, it just did not belong in this episode. Especially since it felt like the humor just spits over Gyokko’s grave and making light of what just transpired. And while I do appreciate the fact that Muichiro didn’t actually get out of that fight completely unscathed as he’s still poisoned, I didn’t like how they made it into a comedy moment. Not to mention Kotetsu surviving getting stabbed ended up just him being screamed at by Kanamori about him being a ghost rather than feeling relieved.
What I did like in this episode was the unexpected Rengoku feels. As soon as it showed Muichiro remembering Rengoku and finally being able to mourn his passing, I just immediately started tearing up. I appreciate the fact that Rengoku’s passing is never forgotten and continues to have a big impact on characters. I even went back to the little tidbit in the end of one of the earlier episodes to see what Muichiro thought about Rengoku and he did say that he finds his voice comforting. And judging from that little flashback he had of him, Rengoku seemed to be very supportive of him. This honestly makes me wish we got to see more of the Hashiras’ relationship with each other in story. Especially in the case of Rengoku since NONE of the Hashira dislike him. Which is saying a lot considering how some of them are. We also get to see Muichiro and his family, which was a sweet moment. Especially in regards to his brother who we finally get to see smile for the first time and tell him he did a good job. Something I’m sure Muichiro had wanted for a long time but was never able to experience when his brother was still alive. Which is honestly really sad.
I also liked seeing the Master’s family come to Muichiro’s rescue. Especially since we actually got to see them emote, which is something that doesn’t happen too often. And while the scenes were short, I do like that we get to see a little more of the Master’s wife and how much she cares about others and how quick she is to get things done. They were such little characterization moments, but I enjoyed them none the less. But holy crap I had to look away at the scenes showing the maggots wriggling… that was beyond disgusting.
And with that, I think we can finally pass the baton of Hashira spotlight off to Mitsuri now… I think we spent enough time with Muichiro lol. Not to mention that we supposedly only have two more episodes… and we’ve hardly had any Mitsuri focus. Thankfully she’s now officially joined the fray against Hatred as predicted from the opening. But not before Tanjiro getting his foot violently crushed and nearly eaten alive by the wood dragon. The star always has to show fashionably late and what a Sailor Moon entrance she had lol. I’m super hyped to see Mitsuri fight against an Upper Rank Demon. We’ve seen her completely body that giant pot fish demon summon and even her basically taking out a few wood dragons with ease. Also it just feels poetic for the Love Hashira to go against Hatred as those two emotions are often paired together as two sides of the same coin kind of deal. Also I absolutely love her theme music. It fits her so well with the little bit of poppiness to it while keeping to the overall sound of the general OST tracks of the series.
This episode’s execution just felt like a mess. I am aware this is what happened in the manga, but that doesn’t excuse it for how things happened. I really hope that Hantengu’s defeat feels more satisfying. But considering there’s only two episodes left and we haven’t even delved into Mitsuri’s background yet… I have a bad feeling everything is going to feel fairly rushed even more than it already is.