So while scrolling though the Facebook pages of my fellow Trini film reviewers Sommerleigh (Moviejunkies, RMR horror head) and Wayne (RockLee Productions) I saw them discussing and sharing memes about Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba. Now they both have more anime expertise than I do (I am a casual but eager anime fan) so if they are excited by a series I stand up and take notice. Figuratively speaking.
The series is about young Tanjiro who joins the Demon Slayer Corps after his family is slaughtered by a demon and his sister Nezuko is transformed into a demon herself. As he battles various demons and meets fellow slayers he seeks to find a way to make his sister human again. With a SPOILER ALERT here is my review of season one in four sword slices:
#1 Eye-gasmic Animation
One of the first things you will notice about Demon Slayer is just how gorgeous the animation is. The colours are bright, vibrant and seem like an enchanting water colour painting that has leapt to life. Tanjiro’s sword technique is stylised with water making each stroke he makes part of a flowing, hypnotic ballet.
The animation skilfully captures the slayer-on-demon action, making every strike and movement clear and vivid. The characters are also well-designed especially the various demons and the Hashiras, the elite slayers.
#2 Tanjiro and the Boys
One issue I have found with some anime is that the protagonist is annoying and/or unlikable. Have you seen Revisions on Netflix? I want to punch that selfish brat in the face. Twice! Thankfully Tanjiro is brave, wise and compassionate. His relationship with his sister is touching and the way he empathises with the demons shows great emotional intelligence. And his box-residing, frequently sleeping and size-shifting sister Nezuko may be mute but her eyes are emotive and she is a beast in a fight.
Girl-crazy coward and fellow slayer Zenitsu is good for a laugh but he can be too much at times. His sleepwalking badass lightning mode is ridiculously cool though. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the unhinged, uncultured, reckless, belligerent and hog-mask wearing Inosuke. I LOVE Inosuke and his half-crack self. His jagged swords and unpredictable fighting style are also quite fun to see. There are a number of other characters on the side of good but these four are the main cast.
#3 Blade meet demon neck
To have a great action anime you have to have great villains and Demon Slayer presents a smorgasbord of devious baddies. You have your standard demons but the higher level ones with blood magic are where things get interesting. Each of these have a unique ability and almost all a very tragic back story from when they were human. There’s a lady with a deadly ball, that arrow guy, the room-shifting drum guy and, oh my, that very messed up spider family.
The variety of powers means every battle is different and Tanjiro has to use his brain to figure out how to best the particular bad guy or girl. You really never know what to expect and that is a refreshing feeling. Easily the best battle is the ending of episode 19 when Tanjiro uses fire-breathing to decapitate (or so he thought) spider demon Rui. The combination of the transcendentally beautiful animation, high drama and swift action captures in one moment everything great about this series.
#4 Into the Darkness
One of the major issues with long-running anime is filler episodes and it can even be found with some of the newer anime. For most of Demon Slayer I was glad to see that there was no filler and things were moving along surprisingly briskly. But from episode 22 with the Hashiras things started to slow down and practically ground to a dull halt. Oh my goodness the mostly comedic training/healing of Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke TOOK FOREVER!
And I was hoping for a big exciting finale but the most interesting thing that happened in the final episode was demon big bad Kibutsuji (who used to look like Japanese Michael Jackson but was now a woman for some reason) slaughtering four of the five Lower Moons and empowering the last one. And oh yeah, the characters get on a train setting up the “Infinite Train” film based on an arc from the manga. No big battle, no big revelation, nada. Everything was going so well! But despite the filler-full final set of episodes Demon Slayer still stands strong as a great Shōnen series and I am quite excited for the film and hopefully a second season after.
Ranking: Demon Slayer gets 4.25/5 MJ impersonators
For my post Revisiting Rurouni Kenshin after 25 years you can click here.