WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Episode 25 of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, "Tsugoku, Kanao Tsuyuri," available now on Hulu, Crunchyroll and other anime streaming services.
Following the "Natagumo Mountain" arc, the pace of Kimetsu no Yaiba has slowed dsignificantly, with the anime opting to focus more on individual characters and their stories, as well as world building, rather than high-octane action. The latest episode of the Kimetsu no Yaiba turns its attention to Kanao Tsuyuri, the silent demon slayer who passed the Final Selection alongside Tanjiro Kamado, Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira earlier in the series. Her backstory is deeply sad and tragic, serving as something of an indictment of the inhumanity of humanity, a major theme in the series.
"Tsugoku, Kanao Tsuyuri" opens with Tanjiro getting closer than ever to mastering the constant use of Total Concentration that makes the Hashira so powerful. With his training, Tanjiro is able to keep up with Kanao, though she still seems to have him outpaced in certain areas, such as exploding gourds with her breath. This inspires Inosuke and Zenitsu to follow suit after Shinobu Kocho plays on their pride and girl craziness, respectively.
As Kanao watches her three contemporaries train, her story unfolds. Born into a poor family, Kanao was heavily abused by her parents, physically and through such things as starvation and isolation. Eventually, she's sold into slavery and, at some point, she breaks psychologically and becomes nearly catatonic. After an unspecified amount of time, Kanao's master leads her into town attached to a rope, encountering Kanae Kocho -- who was previously revealed as having died -- and Shinobu. Shinobu and Kanae decide to free Kanao by essentially stealing her away. Shinobu throws money into the air, temporarily distracting the slave master, which then gives her a chance to grab the rope attached to Kanao and run away with her.
However, things don't look good initially for Kanao, who is unable to do anything without being told to do so. Shinobu thinks the young girl may be a lost cause, but Kanae, who is much more kind hearted, gives the young girl a coin, telling her to flip it when she needs to make decisions.
Kimetsu no Yaiba then returns to the present as Kanao gives her last observation: Love might one day change her. The camera focuses on Tanjiro encouraging Zenitsu to do his best. The framing of the event hints the two might just end up becoming a couple later on in the series, provided they both survive. Kanao flips her coin, evidently wanting to make a decision about whether to join the other young demon slayers as they train. However, the result of the flip keeps her from going to them.
Kanao's tragic backstory reinforces one of Kimetsu no Yaiba's main themes: Humans are pretty terrible. Although demons are destructive, humans are capable of acts that are just as evil. Exactly who is a monster in Kimetsu no Yaiba isn't as simple as looking at the show's demons. Kanao's parents and eventual master are just as much monsters as the Twelve Kizuki demon Rui, who abused his Spider Demon family and preyed on those weaker than himself. Kanao's particular story, although tragic, does have a bright spot. Kanae and Shinobu's companionship has evidently helped her work through her trauma in some minor way. Kanao is still a traumatized individual, but she's a lot more functional than she was. Positive relationships and community -- which seemingly aren't yet available to the demons in any major way -- have a powerful effect on her life, indicating the show might explore this theme more in the future.
Elsewhere in the episode, Inosuke and Tanjiro receive new swords, with the former going out of the way to chip them, much to everyone's shock and chagrin. Tanjiro also attempts to get more information from Shinobu about the Hinokami Kagura Dance and Fire Breathing, which helped him against Rui. Although Shinobu claims to not know much, she does mention that Fire Breathing exists, but the Demon Slayer Corps doesn't refer to it as breathing for a legalistic reason not explored in depth.
Shinobu refers Tanjiro to Kyojuro Rengoku (Flame Hashira). As he's out on a mission and Tanjiro is now cleared to return to duty, the show leaves a pin in that conversation, which will surely lead to more revelations down the line. As the episode closes, a ghastly train is shown along with a new Twelve Kizuki demon who will surely play a major role in the Season 1 finale.
New subtitled episodes of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba air Saturdays on Hulu, Crunchyroll and other anime streaming services.