When Demon Slayer first came out, it was pretty popular. But it didn’t seem to garner the same attention that other shounen series like My Hero Academia had around the time of its premiere.
At least in my circle, most of the people watching it were people that had also read the manga. And therefore, they already had an investment in the series. That all quickly changed when episode nineteen of Demon Slayer dropped. One particular fight scene was so beautifully animated that it was trending on Twitter.
Ufotable, the studio behind Koyoharu Gotouge’s Demon Slayer, is known for hits like Fate/Zero, Fate/Unlimited Blade Works, and Tales of Symphonia. While not everything the studio animates is well-received, the company delivers truly stunning pieces of work. Some of the sequences are so good that people lovingly refer to them are “Unlimited Budget Works.”
When I heard that Ufotable was doing Demon Slayer, I knew that there was going to be praiseworthy moments. Let it be said that the animation isn’t perfect nor is it particularly groundbreaking. There are moments when the switch to CGI is glaringly obvious. However, these moments are few and far between and can easily be overlooked in the larger scheme of things.
The discussion and newfound hype surrounding the show left many people curious as to whether the show would still be entertaining if it didn’t look so good. Short answer? Yes, and I’m going to tell you why.
NOTE: There will be spoilers for the anime only.
Demon Slayeris about a young man named Tanjirou, whose family is murdered in a brutal demon attack. His sister Nezuko lives but she’s been turned into a flesh eating demon against her will. However, unlike most demons, Nezuko has completely resisted the urge for the destruction demons are known for. Years have passed and she hasn’t eaten anyone or even drank blood. This entire development leads Tanjirou to training for years in order to eventually join the Demon Slayer Corps. His training takes place at the top of a mountain where he could hardly breathe. He had to practice swordsmanship, basic athletics, and the breathing techniques.
His hard work lands him a spot among the Demon Slayers and Tanjirou is one step closer to finding a way to turn his sister back into a human. Nezuko is an extremely rare case and not everyone will be accepting of a demon slayer partnering up with a demon.
There’s A Formula That Works
No real training arc
One thing that’s very interesting about the show is that there’s no real training arc. Sure we get to see Tanjirou learn swordsmanship and fighting styles but that takes up such a short amount of time when compared to other big shounen anime. There’s even the presence of the tournament arc trope but that only last an episode as well. Demon Slayer takes the basics of the genre and condenses them to get straight into the thick of things.
Monster of the week
This was slightly worrying at first because the show was feeling very monster-of-the-week with the way every episode featured a different demon that needed to be defeated. However, because we get glimpses of the lives of these demons, it keeps the story fresh.
Because the series is quick to get to the thick of things, we see the main villain early on. For series like this, it’s expected that there’s some build up. Here, the bad guy is thrust right in front of us and it works. We find out that Muzan, the original demon, is living his life as a human. Instead of this making him seem weaker, it terrifying to think about because we see first hand how easy it is for him to turn people into demons. Earlier hints towards him also show the deep hold he has on the demons under him. His short but power appearance will leave the audience nervous about his next appearance.
Tanjirou Is Really Good
One of my favorite things about this show is how compassionate Tanjirou is. He’s young and has lost so much already. That’s nothing new in anime but Tanjirou’s attitude towards this loss is. Unlike most protagonist who would seek revenge off the bat, Tanjirou’s main concern is helping his sister. Yes, killing demons is bound to happen along the way but his goal isn’t to punish any old demon for his hardships.
This is best illustrated in how he treats his enemies. Because his life is on the line, he fights with all he can. When he wins, it’s always bittersweet because Tanjirou sees the humanity in these demons. He doesn’t excuse their horrible actions but he does feel sympathy for what lead them on a life of destruction. He even goes against other demon slayers to protect demons from further humiliation after death. These actions make sense for him because he sees the good and complexity in his demon sister and that means that these traits can exist in other demons as well.
Tanjirou’s family gets a few minutes of screen time, but it’s easy to see how loving they were. We see how much Tanjirou is willing to sacrifice for them even before their deaths. In moments of hardship, Tanjirou and Nezuko often see flashes of family to push them forward. In fact, one of the main reasons Nezuko doesn’t attack just anyone like a normal demon is because she had been conditioned to see all harmful demons as members of her family. Much like the family, all the characters that show up have their time to shine no matter how short they appear for.
Zenitsu and Inosuke
First off, we have Zenitsu and Inosuke. Zenitsu is a scardy cat that doesn’t know how powerful he truly is. Inosuke is a pretty boy that’s been raised by boars. The match up between these characters makes for some great interactions. Since they’re so well defined we can also easily tell when something is off with one of them or how important certain things are to them. These rag tag group of slayers care for each other and it’s great to see.
Nezuko, who doesn’t even speak, is so full of character that it’s kind of amazing. Through her actions alone, we see how she cares for her brother just as much as he cares for her. We also see her growth as a demon and how fast her fighting skills are improving. She has her own sense of agency, often taking matters into her own hands if it looks like Tanjirou might fail.
As mentioned earlier, even the demons gets their stories told. We see how different they were in their human lives, their aspirations, and how becoming a demon changed this. Most of these characters won’t appear again after one episode and yet it’s clearly important that we see the circumstances of these demons. Some got turned because they were living horrible lives as humans – disease ridden, bullied, and so much more. Their stories let us see what people give up for power.
Just Watch It!
Yes, the animation is good but it is like an added extra instead of what’s holding the show up. Even if the animation wasn’t at the level that it was, the story and the characters is enough. Pacing is a bit strange in the beginning but it evens out as the story goes on. Overall, it does a good job at adapting the manga into anime. The fighting techniques, characters and scenes transfer really well. It’ll definitely be exciting to see if future scenes will be just as captivating.
Featured image credit: Ufotable