- Genre : Action, horror, supernatural, comedy
- Episodes: 26
- Studio: Ufotable
You just can’t trust the government. As soon as something’s inconvenient, they just brush it under the rug. For instance, most people don’t even know that at the turn of the 20th century, Japan was beset by a horrible outbreak of demon infestation that defeated the country side and ravaged the population. They were so set at keeping it under wraps that most people at the time didn’t even know about it, leaving them helpless and unprepared when disaster came to their door. And that’s exactly what happened to Tanjiro. One day, he just came home to find his entire loving family brutally slaughtered and his beloved sister no longer quite human. But the Kamado family are not your average villagers. Rather than succumbing to despair, Tanjiro decides to seek out a cure for his sister Nezuko which leads him to the Demon Slayer corp. Not to be outdone, Nezuko herself manages to shake off her Demonic instincts to become a staunch ally to humanity in its brutal war against demon kind.
Some of you may know that I have been reviewing this series weekly with Crow. It was quite the adventure! But I figured that if you’ve been waiting to binge it, it would be more practical to have a single series review rather than going over 26 spoiler filled posts. I also think this one is a pretty good pick for Halloween season!
Let me start off by saying I’m generally a fan of Ufotable’s works on the production side and Demon Slayer is probably the most polished an beautiful series I’ve seen from them. High praise indeed. Although it didn’t have as many symbolic visuals as some past works, it has some of the most detailed and distinctive designs yet. I was particularly taken by the demons throughout the series. All of them were not only very intriguing in form (closely adapted from the manga but still visibly different) but also imbued with fantastic colours that really added a lot to make the characters both vibrant be unnerving.
One of the studios greatest strengths in my opinion is its mastery with CG integration. Once again Demon Slayer stands on top of the heap in this regard. Movement is spellbinding, occasionally dizzying and always exciting. If nothing else this is a great anime to see. Whether it’s just as great to watch depends on your taste for action Shonen tropes and your tolerance for gore!
For me, the first season of Demon Slayer (and this is very much written as a first of many) can be roughly decided into two parts. The introduction, which is essentially Tanjiro’s hero’s journey. That focuses on his plight and training. And the second, after he joins the Demon Slayers and meets up with his two sidekicks, Zenitsu and Inosuke, at which point the series starts to resemble most long running adventure Shonen in structure.
Let me say right off the bat, Demon Slayer starts off with one heck if a bang. The harsh nature of the first episodes led me to think this would be a seinen which would deal with more mature themes and approach. This is entirely on me. The show was advertised as a fighting shonen and that’s exactly what it is. Just beware, it can get brutal and I have a very high tolerance for these things. Basically, I wouldn’t show it to small children unless you don’t mind sleeping with all the lights on for a few months. I guess if this small children don’t live with you then there’s nothing to worry about!
However, there’s a simplicity to this anime. It’s easy to understand and follow. Sticky dilemmas are brushed aside and characters tend to be straight forward. Tanjiro for instance is pretty much a classic Mary Sue. A really lovable one who’s circumstances and attitude make him very easy to cheer for but nevertheless an irreproachable character. Not only does he seem to be of exceptional skill and dedication in all things, making him almost catch up in a single year, to characters that are supposed to be exceptional and with a lifetime of experience but he’s also both the moral and emotional center of the story.
In the first episode, Tanjiro chooses to protect his demon sister despite the potential danger she would cause to anyone around her. Don’t get me wrong, I would have as well. But this is a wonderful source of conflict. Nezuko is innocent but she is also capable of great harm and wanting to protect her could be seen as selfish and irresponsible. As someone who’s owned a Pitbull I connect with that. I knew my precious little angel would never hurt anyone, and never did. But I understand why my neighbour with the 4 year old kid that had a habit of running into my yard without warning, was unhappy about my decision to keep this breed.
What I’m saying is that there could have been some great sustained conflict there but there wasn’t, because the show itself is clearly on Tanjiro’s side. Nezuko is presented as almost angelic in action, completely selfless and caring. Even her character design is the most purposefully cute one in the show. The audience is clearly supposed to be on Nezuko’s side of this debate, and therefore Tanjiro’s. Any character on the other side of the question is portrayed as an antagonist and if they become protagonists they also change their mind about Nezuko. And it’s like that with pretty much everything. There’s never been a fight where we could think that maybe Tanjiro’s not being entirely fair, or that we would have handled it differently. It’s not a nuanced story.
As for the other two main characters, Zenitsu and Inosuke, they’re two different versions of the comic relief sidekick and I think most viewers’ point of contention. They are both rather underdeveloped. Zenitsu does a bit better in that regard but it’s so uneven. And they both tend to provide “laughs” in the form of loud hysterics. Something that can get annoying to most people but can be very entertaining to small children.
So am I saying Demon Slayer is bad? Not at all. But so far, the characters are it’s weak point and I think most people will agree that the character driven “comedy slice of life” type of episodes were the weakest of the season. The characters aren’t bad exactly but they aren’t that deep (so far).
It’s strength is tense action, of which there is a lot. It does this exceptionally well. When Demon Slayer gets serious, it’s difficult to look away. And it gets serious a lot. Once again, don’t expect some deep political intrigue (at least not this season). This is a show about young men fighting demons. And the deliberate nature in which it goes about those episodes is impressive.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of negative reviews about Demon Slayer from my fellow bloggers. A lot of it is due to the “humour” in the series. Bloggers will still admit there are good elements to it. What I find odd is that so many people seem to think popular opinion is that the show is brilliant. I’ve read over and over lines like “c’mon people it’s nothing special” or “I don’t know why everyone thinks this show is amazing”…. Whereas I have had the opposite experience. I don’t think I have ever read a completely positive overall review and people were gently making fun of me for enjoying the show even back in the early episodes. So I may be compensating here. However, I do believe the show had more highs than lows and I would recommend it if you haven’t seen it. Especially if you’re looking for something a little Gorey and creepy just in time for Halloween.
Fave character: Yushiro…ok it’s Nezuko. Of course it’s Nezuko..!
What this anime taught me: I wish I had siblings
Suggested drink: Green Demon
- Every time Tanjiro takes a deep breath – take a sip
- Every time we see Tamayo – cheeer
- Every time we see Muzan – gasp
- Every time a demon gets hungry – get a snack
- Every time Zenitsu panics – get some water
- Every time Inosuke rages – take a sip
- Every time Tanjiro gets injured – take a tiny sip
- Every time Nezuko is adorable – raise your glass
- Every time the show gets loud – take a gulp