Guest Review by Jon Garcia
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba follows a boy named Tanjiro Kamado who finds most of his family slaughtered and his sole surviving sister, Nezuko, has been turned into a demon. However, unlike most demons, Nezuko shows that she can subdue her bloodlust and live alongside others. So, with his sister by his side, Tanjiro sets off to find a way to change his only family back into a human.
Tanjiro is your average friendly, resilient, and righteous anime protagonist. It’s a pleasant surprise just how happy and positive he is, inspite his tragic past. Tanjiro could easily have been one of those brooding, silent types with how much he has suffered but he chooses to smile through the pain. He’s so remarkably likeable and morally righteous it’s almost unrealistic but it’s hard not to root for him. Then there’s Nezuko who, on one hand is brimming with childlike innocence with a strong desire to protect all she perceives as family. On the other hand she is a demon and that innocence is replaced by unrelenting brutality when the need arises. On the surface level it’s a fun dynamic but it also highlights the underlying tragedy of her character and the demons as a whole.
The theme of tragedy is littered throughout Demon Slayer in the lives and experiences of every character, humans and demons alike. It’s powerful how the show deals with the characterization of the demons, who are portrayed as cruel and bloodthirsty, but also demonstrate human qualities. The demons aren’t just random killing machines thrown at Tanjiro to provide oppurtunities for action sequences; there is actual depth to their characters.
Regarding the Demon Slayer’s pacing, the first half of the series feels a little slower than the second half. This is primarily due to a good portion of the episodes following a monster-of-the-week structure with minimal plot progression. The plot never comes close to feeling like it’s at a standstill, with the first few episodes actually making a lot of progress in such a small amount of time. Unfortunately, by comparison the slower pacing of the subsequent episodes feels even slower because of how fast the story progressed afterwards. The latter part of the first half had maybe one major event and introduced two major characters and that’s was all that happened. There is also a lack of characters in the first half so all the fun interactions of the later episodes are hardly present.
The second half of the show was more enjoyable although there is a notable lack of fighting and action near the end. This may hit even harder because this stretch of inactivity came after arguably one of the most visually stunning and emotionally intense fight scenes in all of anime. However, the conflict, world building and introduction of so many new and vibrant characters was more than enough to keep things interesting when the inevitable downtime comes around.
The animation is absolutely amazing throughout the show and it’s apparent how much work is put into the episodes from the very first scene. The animation quality carries over to the fight scenes which have great choreography. For the most part, technique and strategy are just as important as brute strength and it’s interesting seeing Tanjiro fight cautiously and adapt to his opponents rather than opting to simply fight harder when he’s put into a tough spot. Also, the water effect for Tanjiro’s techniques is perhaps the coolest aspect of the show’s animation. The music is also pretty distinct. There are your usual orchestral tracks and feudal Japan-style music but some of the songs also make use of chants which effectively highlights the uneasiness and tension of the scenes that said songs play over.
Despite how dark the story is and how heavy the themes can get there is surprisingly plenty of humour. I have actually enjoyed a lot of the jokes but it can be pretty hit-or-miss with a good portion of the comedy stemming from the absolute absurdity of the situations or the overreactions of characters. This over-the-top humour is not for everyone but it never compromises the drama or story. The humor can also provide a good bit of character development.
Demon Slayer truly immerses you into its world and story, providing a great experience with such stunning visuals, heart wrenching moments, and a wide variety of characters to get attached to. Thankfully Tanjiro’s story is not over and with the massive success of the anime, and by extension the manga, expect there needs to be more Demon Slayer in the future. I highly recommend any fan of anime to at least give Demon Slayer a try.
Rating – 9/10