Demon Slayer Season 1 creates a massive wave in the anime scene


graphic by Thomas French

Don’t judge anime without seeing Demon Slayer. The series will change your perception.

by Thomas French, Editor

No one is more excited than I am to see the teaser of the new Demon Slayer: Infinite Train movie.  The clip was released in late October, heralding 2020 release.  I will be buying tickets for the first show, and you should, too. With such a stellar first season, the movie is bound to be a fantastic film.

Demon Slayer not only became one of the top anime of 2019, but also had to contend with some very difficult competition, with titles like The Promised Neverland, The Rising of the Shield Hero, and Dr. Stone airing at the same time.

With the steep competition Demon Slayer had to beat, it was a surprise when the sleeper hit of 2019 was trending on Twitter.

Demon Slayer, also known as Kimetsu no Yaiba in Japan, follows the story of Tanjiro, a kind-hearted and intelligent boy who lives with his family on a mountain in 1912 Japan. One day he returns to his house after selling some of his family’s charcoal to discover his whole family has been murdered by a demon, which is also known as an oni. To top all of that off, his sister Nezuko transformed into one as well. Surprisingly, she still recognizes him, and Tanjiro vows to become a Demon Slayer, so that he can get revenge on the monster who killed his family and find a way to turn Nezuko back into a human.

At first glance, Tanjiro seems like a typical bland anime protagonist. He is positive, loves his family, and is good at improvising. However, what separates him from the crowd is his empathy. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, even the demons he fights (With one obvious exception).

Because of his sister’s condition, he sees the humanity in the oni. It’s established early on that all of the demons were at one point human, and they only became a demon when pushed to an emotional limit and when they themselves to hate. Tanjiro recognizes this, and it makes the audience want to root for him. If he finds a way to cure Nezuko, he can help more people.

The Demon Slayer manga currently has 17 volumes published. Volume 17 sold out in less than a week after the season finale.

This doesn’t mean Tanjiro is stupid. He knows that when in battle, it’s life or death. This combination of empathy and intelligence makes Tanjiro an admirable anime hero.

The show isn’t carried by Tanjiro alone. Demon Slayer has a strong supporting cast of characters, with the main one being his sister. Nezuko never speaks, but her actions speak volumes. She risks life and limb to protect him.

Zenitsu is a Demon Slayer who chose his own path at the same time as Tanjiro, but unlike him, he is very cowardly. The fourth member of this gang is Inosuke, a dual-wielding Demon Slayer who grew up in the wild, and who’s signature boar head mask had taken the internet by storm.

Zenitsu and Inosuke work as foils to each other, with the cowardly Zenitsu naturally butting heads with the loud-mouthed but lovable Inosuke. They bring some comedic relief to an otherwise dark show.

These characters aren’t just one-note side characters, they each are given screen time to show why they act the way they do, and as such, viewers get attached to each member of the gang.

It’s only natural that Demon Slayer would have fantastic villains. The big bad of the show, Muzan Kibutsuji, is a frightening man, and helps cement the horror of the show. He is not only intelligent, but also incredibly strong. Mix in an unhealthy obsession with perfection, and you have a villain who makes you hold your breath every second he’s on screen.

Muzan Kibutsuji’s red eyes help add a sense of fear and dread to every scene he’s in.

No shortcuts were taken when animating Demon Slayer. Ufotable, the animation studio behind the anime, truly brings the story to life. Ufotable is well known for their work in other anime, such as Fate/Zero and its sequel, Fate/Stay Night. 

Most anime struggles with making a 2D world feel 3D during their fight scenes, but Demon Slayer, with a combination of 3D backgrounds and dynamic animation, makes viewers feel like your knee-deep in the animation. The camera flies around the battlefield, and with the quick movements of the characters, viewers feel each slash of Tanjiro’s sword. 

Whenever the Demon Slayers fight, they use techniques called “breathing.” These skills are illustrated through different visual effects that come off of the Slayers swords. With Tanjiro, his is “Water Breathing,” and its effect is reminiscent of The Great Wave off Kanagawa. This wave effect not only helps the audience see where the sword is moving through the fast-paced action, but it also help add impact to each swing, when the crashing of the waves hits its target.

Tanjiro’s “Water Breathing” technique makes every fight scene engaging to watch.

The soundtrack is also phenomenal. Each track helps put the viewer in the mood of each scene, whether it be lighthearted slapstick or heart-pounding action. The opening theme, Gurenge, sung by LiSA, helps capture the tone of the whole show, and after the show began, it reached platinum in Japan.

Everything from the soundtrack, sound effects and animation come together to help bring Demon Slayer to life. No scene seems rushed or out of place.

While some might be turned off by the mention of anime or manga, Demon Slayer feels like many other fantasy stories that western audiences are familiar with. Stories like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings have a similar dark fantasy vibe. Even if someone isn’t a big anime fan, they should give Demon Slayer a chance.

The overall reception for Demon Slayer has been overwhelmingly positive. Within weeks of the show first airing, people were hoping for a season two. While a second season is still undecided, a movie is currently in production, with a teaser being shown at the end of the season finale. The movie will take place directly after the last episode, and will cover the manga’s “Infinite Train” arc.

Overall, Demon Slayer is a stellar anime. Each episode is paced in a way where you never get tired out by the fights, and keeps you engaged throughout all 26 episodes. I rate Demon Slayer 5 out of 5.