Man, this second season of Demon Slayer is beautiful. Maybe beautiful is not the right word considering this is a horror anime where demons devour and dismember innocent people but… it’s just so pretty. I thought the first season was visually impressive but so far everything has been brought up a notch. The animation is even more impressive and we have a showcase every episode. The colours are even more luxurious and thanks to the wonderful use of both shadow and light effects, they are spotlighted. All in all, it’s really a premium watching experience.

I just jumped right in there, didn’t I? First let me introduce my wonderful post partner, Crow. We are once again teaming up on Demon Slayer. How was your week Crow?

Busy. I used to say “It’s better than being bored!” But I’m beginning to have my doubts. I hope your week went well!

About the series, I’ll tell you what — you’re spot on with the animation. It’s like they took the movie-level animation and ported it intact to the opening episodes!

OK, so the Mugen Train arc is a bit of a puzzle to review. Ostensibly, it’s a retelling of the Demon Slayer movie. As such, for a lot of fans, the novelty of the experience comes from the new presentations, the added details and this amazing production. Since they already know the story. 

But for fans like me who have not seen the movie. It’s a very different experience. I’m gaping and awwing at all the little things. 

For instance, for the most part, Zenitsu was the reasonable one this week. He had a little panic attack at the thought that he was trapped on a train with a demon, like most of the passengers. But otherwise, he was composed and normal. And that’s a darn good thing since he absolutely needed to keep Inosuke in check.

I did actually like Inosuke’s exuberant wonder at the train. From what I know this isn’t just his first time on a train or even seeing a train, it’s Inosuke’s first time being exposed to the very concept of a train. Of course, it’s magic to him! It would be to me as well. 

I also just liked the odd couple dynamic between Zentsu and Inosuke this week. They were building towards that sort of relationship but I think the setting is really making the most out of it. I had a good time watching their antics and it was a great way to break the tension.

I literally laughed out loud when Inosuke threw himself against the window and just geeked out over the amazingness of the train ride. It was also very cool seeing Zenitsu almost playing the role of a more calm, more world-wise older brother. Which is in itself a crazy mental image!

As the action began, I could tell something was off. All those odd scenes of people just blinking out. But then again. Demon Slayer is very good at keeping the action going and distracting both your mind and your eye. More than once you have something completely in the frame but the blocking is just so that you never notice it until they want you to. 

Starting with that first demon, the one with the horn things. For the record, I thought this one was a great design. How about you?

Yep! In fact, the first thing I thought was, “I’ll bet Irina likes this design!” The multiple faces and upward-facing fangs looked at once terrifying, yet completely normal. I guess the show’s messing with what I think of “normal!”

Glad I didn’t get too attached to it!

Ok so they dispatched that first one fairly quickly but lo, there is more! So my mind is racing just a little. I figure, oh, they are going to have to fight waves of demons that seem to appear out of nowhere because there’s a boss demon creating them or something. At the same time, they have to protect the passengers and they are in this quite small enclosed environment which is really just a corridor. It’s an interesting concept. I wonder how long they can keep it going…

Sure this premise may be a bit simple. It’s basically a sort of protect the tower game or a Plants Vs Zombie thing. However, considering Ufotable’s impressive animation and the brisk pacing of the plot, I figure it could make for a handful of very exciting episodes. Right?

Oh, yeah! It’s a classic scenario for a reason! A viewer an instantly see the constraints on the heroes. What’s more, it’s easy to see that the demons won’t care about such minor details like keeping passengers alive. In fact, if a passenger get killed, the demons will consider it a bonus!

And it worked… for a little while!

Nope, I was wrong! That’s not what’s happening at all. Sure, by the time they were all excitingly celebrating the second victor, my inkling that something was off became a certitude. And something was very very off. 

I just saw that hand calmly being almost kind(?) to the conductor and I thought, oh…. This is a dangerous one. Like more dangerous than any demon I remember from this show. 

It’s not a new premise. In fact, it’s been potentially overused already. Trapping the heroes in a dream so sweet that they would never want to leave it. We can all name dozens of examples of that exact device being used in fiction. And yet, it felt fresh here. Maybe it’s because Demon Slayer hasn’t really gone for these types of more fairy tale tropes before. Or maybe it’s because these particular characters really do need to confront their own pasts and the set up had the potential to advance all their arcs considerably. In any case, it spoke to me. I really want to see more and I’m terribly worried.

It might have been used a lot before, but you’re right. Demon Slayer put its own mark on the trope. The more fiction I consume, the more I realize that’s really the key. Across all of human history, there aren’t many stories to tell. There aren’t really that many tropes. So creatively distinguishing a trope is the best a writer or animator can do.

And Ufotable has made a business of that kind of distinguishment! 

Before I leave you all, I just want to talk a bit about the OP and ED. We finally got to see them and I’m curious about what you thought. Personally, I think the visuals on the OP were spectacular. Not only just technically very well done but well-paced and in tone with the show. They got me psyched for the episode to come.

Visually? They’re just as you said. The OP had an almost Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress vibe to it, given how it treated the train in the opening seconds. The ED had a delightfully melancholy feel to it.

My only complaint? I liked the first season’s OP and ED so much that it’s making it hard for me to accept change! I’m pretty sure I’ll come around, though. 

That’s it for this second episode. I hope you all enjoyed it. Next week, we’ll be over on Crow’s site.

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