Anime Journal - Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Last year, I subscribed to and watched a lot of great anime series. My favorite was Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Now that I've switched over to, I've decided to watch the series again and keep a journal of my thoughts and reactions. I haven't read the manga (yet) but the anime series is remarkable. Every element of the series is carefully crafted and filled with appealing (and disgusting) characters, beautiful scenery, and expert fight scenes. It is one of the best anime series of the last several years. Here is the background info on the manga and the anime from wikipedia. 

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (Japanese鬼滅の刃HepburnKimetsu no Yaibalit. "Blade of Demon Destruction" is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotōge. The story follows Tanjiro Kamado, a young boy who becomes a demon slayer after his family is slaughtered and his younger sister Nezuko is turned into a demon. It has been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since February 2016, with its chapters collected in 19 tankōbon volumes as of April 2020. The series is published in English by Viz Media and simulpublished by Shueisha in English and Spanish on their Manga Plus platform.

An anime television series adaptation by Ufotable aired in Japan from April 6 to September 28, 2019. At the end of the series finale, a sequel film was announced and is scheduled to premiere on October 16, 2020.

 -Source: wikipedia

I'd like to take you through Demon Slayer anime series episode by episode with a brief synopsis, screencaps, and a short commentary. 

Episode One: Cruelty

Synopsis: In this episode, we meet the two main characters of the series: a brother (Tanjiro Kamado) with his injured sister (Nezuko) on his back are trudging through the snow deep in the mountain woods. He is desperate to get his sister to a doctor but is nearly exhausted. In a flashback, we learn that the brother and sister were part of a large family living in the mountains. Tanjiro is the sole provider after his father died and he works hard to support his mother, brothers, and sisters by selling charcoal to the local village at the foot of the mountain. When he returns the next day, he discovers his entire family has been slaughtered by a demon with his sister gravely injured. 

Nezuko defends her brother

After Tanjiro discovers that his sister has also become a demon, he encounters Giyū Tomioka, a demon hunter, who is going to kill his sister. Tanjiro resists and claims he will find a way to turn her back into a human. When Giyu sees that Nezuko retains some semblance of humanity when she defends her brother, he decides to spare Nezuko. Admiring the way Tanjiro fought him, he recruits the young man and sends him to be tested as a demon slayer. This starts Tanjiro's quest to avenge his family and find a cure for his sister. 

Comments: Japanese anime has always been about family. Demon Slayer sets up an idealized family and then cruelly wipes them out by a still unseen demon. This creates a strong identification with the survivors, Tanjiro, and Nezuko. Tanjiro still thinks of demons as a kind of folktale until his sister becomes one by intermixing her blood with that of a demon. Revenge and a desire to save his sister motivates Tanjiro to go beyond his own skills. He has to change from a kind-hearted boy to something much harder in order to save himself and his sister. 

What is so effective in this first episode is how well the story is told. Cruelty is a perfect title for this episode for we see that the Evil of Demon Slayer has no conscience, no inhibitions, and will kill without thought. The morality of the Demon Slayer series is well established in this first episode. Also, the animation style is typical of great Japanese anime: the beautiful depictions of nature vs the cruelty of murder and death. 

Of course, the highlight of the episode is Tanjiro's meeting with Giyu. This is a master swordsman who will be pitted against the evil demons. What is remarkable (aside from the outstanding animation) is that Giyu still has a conscience. He spares Nazuko because he still has the ability to empathize. Giyu's choice has consequences as we shall see later in the series. Plus, the fight choreography is wonderful. This will be a key element of the series from here on. 

Episode one leaves you feeling sad and angry like Tanjiro. The writers of the series wisely align the viewer with the lead characters - you don't know what is happening, but you will fight to get justice whatever the odds. 

May 5, 2020


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