One of the biggest hits in manga and anime over the past few years has been that of Demon Slayer. However, like many such hit shows is it really as good as the hype? In short, yes. Very much so.
While the host manga has been hugely popular, the anime adaptation has been nothing short of remarkable. Not only from its success but also how well and beautifully it has been executed.
The premise of Demon Slayer has Tanjiro Kamado return home to find almost his entire family massacred, except for his younger sister Nezuko. Barely alive, Nezuko has become partly what consumed their family, a flesh-eating demon.
Tanjiro desperate to save his sister, encounters a demon slayer that initially tries to kill Nezuko. However, Nezuko is not like other demons and still seemingly retains human emotions and thoughts. The demon slayer stays his hand and sets Tanjiro off on a journey to train as a demon slayer himself and hopefully cure his sister in the process.
Tanjiro’s quest is a hard one though, as the route to becoming a demon slayer is fraught with challenges and dangers. Demons are incredibly powerful creatures, with immense strength and regenerative abilities, so killing one is no trivial feat.
Much of the narrative appeal of Demon Slayer is built in layers, with careful strategy and tactics in each encounter explained as an internal monologue by each of the characters. This gives the viewer a unique insight into the structure of what is happening within the story’s setting.
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While all of this would normally be quite draining emotionally, Demon Slayer counters this with wonderfully timed levity, as Tanjiro and his growing group of demon slayer friends bicker and react to various situations. Nezuko also plays a huge part in bringing warmth to the story, at least when she’s not fighting as a demon, as her characterization is delightfully cute and cat-like throughout.
The other major draw to Demon Slayer is its amazing animation. While this may be a TV series for the most part, the animation quality is really quite something else. While they keep much of the narrative exposition fairly simple, but when the combat kicks in so does the animation.
For instance, the various Breathing Styles, such as the Water or Fire styles, result in amazing artwork that flows across the screen in an almost balletic fashion. Coupled with the internal monologues giving context to the strategy, you end up with fights that both look amazing but are also engaging in a skill-based sense.
It’s also helped with how Tanjiro improves as a demon slayer over the course of the series. Uncovering more layers to the world of the demons and their ultimate ruler, Muzan.
Another major aspect to Demon Slayer is how it is set within the Taisho period. The period itself lends itself well for tales of modern samurai, which makes for a more believable backdrop especially against supernatural enemies such as demons.
As for this boxset, well Aniplex has done an excellent job as always. Obviously, the visuals and audio are wonderfully done and show off what this anime truly has to offer. However, Aniplex doesn’t just stop there, as they retain a certain level of import quality with their releases. In that, this release is equaivalent to a Japanese high-end boxset, but at a much more affordable price point.
That means that you not only get the anime on Blu-ray, but also the soundtracks on CD, art cards and a series companion book. You also have commentary tracks from both the Japanese and English voice cast.
All of this does come at a cost, with each of the two sets for season one costing $129.98 each. That may seem a lot, but it is a fraction of the Japanese price tag and you still get all the trimmings.
Overall, the first season of Demon Slayer makes for gripping viewing. It’s not only a brilliantly animated series but also an engaging one in terms of the layered complexities of the story. Put simply, it’s one of the few examples of a popular anime actually amounting to something worthwhile and comes thoroughly recommended.
Disclosure: Aniplex sent me this Blu-ray box set for the purposes of this review.
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