Located during the Taisho period in Japan (1912-1926), Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba follows the adventures of Tanjiro Kamado, a young boy who lives in a mountain with his family, supporting them by selling charcoal to the nearby village and doing odd jobs for the villagers. After staying out too late once, he is persuaded by one of the villagers to move into their house and wait for sunrise to return home, as dangerous demons are said to roam the land. at night, in search of human flesh to feast on. .
While Tanjiro hopes these demons don’t exist, he’s sadly wrong, as he returns home to find that his entire family has been killed overnight, the only survivor being his younger sister, Nezuko. However, it is revealed that Nezuko has been transformed into a demon, and while she recognizes Tanjiro sufficiently not to kill him, she soon comes to the attention of the Demon Slaying Corps, a secret organization that has been tasked with wiping out demons. . After protecting Nezuko from the demon slayer who was sent to kill her, Giyu Tomioka, Tanjiro is recognized for his potential and is given the chance to become a demon slayer himself, if only he can pass rigorous training and the final selection test. . In a bid to rid Nezuko of her demonic curse and make her human again, Tanjiro sets out on his way to become a demon slayer.
Adapted from the manga by Koyoharu Gotouge and animated by Ufotable, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba looks like an attempt to create a blockbuster series out of a shonen manga, with gorgeous, stylistic visuals, high octane fight sequences, and a simple yet solid storyline. If you’ve seen other Ufotable cartoons, this praise will sound very familiar to you, as they have become known as a studio capable of producing very lavish productions as it did with its work on Type-Moon. Destiny franchise. And indeed, just from the visuals you can immediately tell it’s going to be fine, with snow-capped hills and forests ripe for their expert use of CG particle effects, and the way they give the semi-sword. supernatural powers (activated by which the show invokes breathing techniques, which correspond to elements such as water or lightning) a moving ukiyo-e art style that is unlike anything I have seen before.
However, despite this visual polish, the series tends to fail in many areas where her shonen manga origins really hold her back. This is evident from the very first episode, which comes off as a clunky intro that could have been a bit more polished in its structure to make things better, from the removal of the opening scene which is repeated later in the episode, tidying up the transition to credits.
This leads to your typical and (sort of) tournament practice arcs, which luckily pick up the pace and pull away pretty quickly. Although both take a few episodes, it feels fair, in that you see Tanjiro growing up a lot over what seems like a short time (but it’s actually two years in terms of story), and he doesn’t. There is no moment of wasted screen time, giving a perfect example of how these specific shonen tropes should be treated. There is also a poignant story to be told in the final selection, as Tanjiro seeks revenge on the demon that plagued many of his masters students.
Sadly, most of the main characters are one-note and, in typical shonen style, scream and scream a lot. Because of this, and despite some of the character growth shown in these early episodes, Tanjiro doesn’t often feel like a very compelling main character. His obsession with his sister can be a bit bossy, and he likes to make a protecting statement about things even if they don’t need protection. It’s not that bad though, as the show approaches them as its weak spots, and he actually has his moments, but not when he shouts âNezuko!â All the time.
Zenitsu, however, is even worse. Introduced towards the end of this series of episodes as the second in the main demon slayer trio that the series follows, Zenitsu seems to exist just to be boring. He’s a whingey, obnoxious, clingy idiot and while he’s meant to bring some comedic relief to the show, it goes so deep into those facets of his character that it acts like a stop. Inosuke, the other member of the main trio, who hides his features under a boar’s head, has similar issues, but they’re not as bad as Zenitsu’s.
Surprisingly Nezuko is the most convincing character, as not only does she have to face a demon, which gives her a lot more depth, but she completely steals the show every time she steps out of the wooden box in which Tanjiro carries her. to protect her, kicking her in the buttocks as she uses her newfound strength to fight the demons Tanjiro cannot.
It adds an extra dimension to the action, giving us frantic close quarters combat to pair with the more calculated and strategic swordplay preferred by Tanjiro. Ufotable did a great job with the fight sequences in general, however, with tense and captivating cinematography that leads to smooth animation. It’s not as big a budget as their work on Destiny, but still really delivers a punch.
It also helps that the designs of the demons are also particularly good, each of which centers around a particular gadget that allows Tanjiro to think of a strategy to beat them, from a demon that can dig into the ground to another. who uses small drums built into his body to manipulate gravity and the space around him. While you of course would expect Tanjiro to win in the end, they all give him value for his money, and he is often quite beaten up.
While the action has a lot of power to carry the narrative, it’s a shame that the series feels a constant need to telegraph what’s going on, as the characters are constantly telling what they’re doing. While this is a common thing to do in a shonen series, it really comes out as unnecessary here, treating the viewer as if they aren’t smart enough to figure out what’s going on, when it’s clear enough to go. action on the screen.
Despite some of the issues with the scripted dialogue being full of your typical shonen style screams, I found the vocals to be pretty good in all areas in both English and Japanese. The English dub understands the main characters well and closely matches the tone of the Japanese dub, especially with Zenitsu (voiced by Aleks Le) and Inosuke (voiced by Bryce Papenbrook). On the Japanese side however, I turned more to older characters such as Tanjiro Urokodaki’s teacher (voiced by Houchu Ohtsuka, who played characters such as Lieutenant Tsurumi in Kamuy d’or and Hakurou in This time I reincarnated in slime) and the big bad himself, Muzan Kibutsuji (voiced by Toshihiko Seki, who played characters such as Detective Maniwa in Paranoia Agent and Senketsu in Kill the kill).
The series has a fantastic soundtrack composed by Yuki Kajiura and Go Shiina which is full of very evocative and traditionally Japanese pieces that fit extremely well into the setting. It is very effective at setting the overall tone of each scene, especially when combined with great sound effects. You also have the now iconic opening theme, Gurenge performed by LiSA, which is an absolute banger of a track that was rightly chosen as the best opening theme of 2019 in our awards that year. LiSA also collaborates with Kajiura under the composer’s collective FictionJunction, featuring the ending theme from the edge, pairing LiSA’s powerful voice with Kajiura’s iconic neoclassical sound, steeped in rock.
Anime Limited’s release of this first half of the series features the first thirteen episodes with Japanese and English audio options and English subtitles, packaged in a very nice collector’s box with a 20-page, 6-page booklet. art cards. On the discs, you’ll also find audio commentary for Episodes 1 and 11, and the usual clean opening and ending animations.
Overall I ended up having a lot of fun with this first part of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. While it has its flaws, especially with the annoying cast of characters and the way it tells you what’s going to happen before you see it, Ufotable manages to take the typical shonen formula and give it its own. characteristic cinematic touch. It has exceptional visuals and sound and is packed with tense and captivating action sequences that really pack a punch. If you like shonen action shows, I recommend you go for this one.