Do you ever have those moments where you notice people are talking about something; you see a few pics and think maybe to check it out later. Then several weeks go by and suddenly EVERYONE is talking about it as if something massive happened. Well that was Demon Slayer, one of the biggest animes in the latter half of 2019.
Set in the Taishō era of Japan (30 July 1912 to 25 December 1926) Demon Slayer has the eldest son Tanjirō Kamado delivering fire wood to the village from his snowy mountain home. We meet his mother, his other siblings including his sister Nezuko, we learn their father passed away so Tanjiro has been working to help the family in his place. He was about to come back when a man living in the village makes him stay the night instead of going out when it is dark because dark is when the demons come out. Tanjiro doesn’t really have any super powers except an amazing sense of smell, and on his way back home in the morning he smells blood. His family has been killed, except for Nezuko who is badly wounded.
Carrying her through the snow on his back she suddenly starts to move again and violently attacks, her fangs forming, clawed fingers, her eyes turning pink. She has become a demon. Tanjiro does his best to hold her off pleading for her to come to her senses, which causes her to cry seemingly unable to stop herself. Then a demon slayer arrives, a man skilled in killing demons and restrains her ready to perform the killing blow. But Tanjiro refuses to let the last member of his family die. However though crafty Tanjiro is no match for the demon slayer, but his hand is only stayed when the demon Nezuko acts to protect her brother. After coming through, the demon slayer has given Nezuko a bamboo muzzle (which with her big pink eyes makes her completely adorable) and informs Tanjiru the nature of demons and sends him to someone to train him to be a demon slayer. And so Tanjiru and Nezuko journey in hopes to return her to being a human. That is all in the first episode.
Demon Slayer follows the siblings Tanjiru and Nezuko. Tanjiro often has Nezuko hidden in a box he carries on his back (because demons die in sunlight). The show takes its time. After the first episode the next few episodes are primarily Tanjiro training with his mentor Sakonji Urokodaki, but this is not boring in any way. First up you really begin to get into the characters’ hearts and heads but also the animation for the harsh mountain training is beautiful and Ufotable must be commended.
As the series comes to its half way point we get properly introduced to the characters of Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira who have abilities of their own which are like Tanjirus almost as if an old Japanese painting has come to life though with their own sometimes rather amusing personalities. Zenitsu constantly undervalues himself and so acts cowardly as if he’s always going to die, while Inosuke wants to fight people to prove he’s the strongest. While this is a Shonen anime, it does not feel like Tanjiro is some unstoppable bad ass until the villain of the next 20 episodes shows up. He is very much human, if he gets hurt and doesn’t have a proper time to heal; it affects him in his next battle. He trains to improve himself but this isn’t some quick job, it can take time and push him to the edge.
So about that moment… Episode 19 is near the end of the arc and a battle filled with emotion and meaning, Tanjiro stands only with Nezuko beside him against a foe stronger than any he’s faced by far. What follows is a scene with amazing and beautiful animation backed by a haunting and emotional track signifying an important moment in our hero’s life. I’m not going to go into details as it must be watched. I could go into what this and that means but doing so would diminish your first experience of what was arguably the best moment in anime in 2019.
Tanjiro and Nezuko are very likable leads. You feel how much of a kind soul Tanjiro is, even forgiving the demons as they die while Nezuko being unable to speak expresses herself entirely with facial animations of her eyes leading to one of the most adorable characters around. I can’t recommend this series enough, I repeated the music that accompanied the scene in episode 19 so much my friend caved and checked out the series. The anime is 26 episodes long with the ending leading into a movie coming out in Japan this year and most likely with the buzz and success of the anime (its manga is outselling one piece the previous top holder) a second season is most likely to follow the film. So yeah this is a definite watch.