Demon Slayer: fiery review of the best anime of the year on Netflix

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Demon Slayer is 10e best-selling manga of all time. However, it is the series with the lowest number of volumes in the ranking. Yes Black Jack Where Slam Dunk are close in terms of story length, One Piece Where Detective Conan have 100 volumes to their credit, enough to make the comparison much more hazardous.

Finally, the movie Demon Slayer: Infinity Train exploded Japanese audience records (dethroning Your Name, Avatar or Spirited away), while being one of the biggest hits of 2020, racking up more than $ 500 million in the suffocating pandemic slump for almost all of world cinema.

However, when it was first imported into France, Demon Slayer, then named “The prowlers of the night was not selling. At all. To the point of experiencing an interruption, until his return with a bang a year and a half later. In Japan, same story. His sluggish first chapter almost knocked him out of the columns of the famous Jump. So what is the recipe for this shonen which has managed, in the space of a few years, to to go from business failure to one of the biggest sellers of all time?

When your first chapter is bogus, but you sell 150 million for revenge

Strangely, not much was intended Demon Slayer to such a success. The manga has a particularly classic storyline. It narrates The Journey of Kamado Tanjiro, determined to make his sister human again after she becomes a demon following a disastrous encounter. The demons have no choice but to feed on human blood in order to survive, so it might seem impossible for Nezuko to cohabit with his brother.

He thus engages in an elite brigade where he and the other demon slayers use swords giving them their own abilities in order to fight against the original demon Muzan Kibutsuji, whose power allowed him to transform humans into demons.

At first glance, therefore, nothing transcendent. Similar themes can be found in many successful works, from Tokyo Ghoul To Parasite, Passing by Chainsaw Man. However, Demon Slayer explodes all these works, sell 5 to 10 times more than the latter, which have not however stolen their character of cult works.


Tomioka is a cryptic and very intriguing (another) character


As for the powers of the protagonists, once again, nothing to report. There is an effective palette, but very traditional. On the one hand, the discipline of the slayers is expressed in techniques using basic elementary affinities (water, fire, lightning) embellished with a few surprises.

Demons have abilities that are very similar to what we already found in Naruto. Illusions, projectiles, each demon has a specialty and some derived techniques, which they launch at ritualized moments during their clashes against the slayers.


Morally gray characters for a subtle story here are some

Same observation with an extremely classic narration, where old wise men at first glance dispense training during periods of convalescence littering a story that goes from one mission to another, with each time its share of demons “more powerful than they should have been. ‘to be”.

The first episode is precisely a frightening classicism (Tanjiro’s family is murdered, but he can still save his now demonized sister, at the cost of a long journey …), so much that he wants to implement is agreed. This is also one of the explanations for the poor start of the paper version of Demon Slayer.


Nezuko appearances are rare, but they systematically change the course of the fight.

Fashion victime

And that’s all. Even with the worst will in the world, hard to blame Demon Slayer only that. On the other hand, the list of his qualities is long, starting with a very sought-after artistic direction. and cleverly inspired, first by Japan at the start of the 20th century, but also among the best specimens of the post 2000s shonen.

The slayers’ uniforms, otherwise very effective in giving a colorful and refreshing visual identity, could also be attributed to the influences of Full Metal Alchemist and Bleach.

Under their kimono, the slayers have a uniform very similar to that of Édouard Elric, while the most visible part of their costume recalls the universe of Bleach, where each Soul Societey squad captain has a different iteration of the same kimono, just like them. This allows the viewer to salivate about their abilities. and their character without having to cross the iron.


Here is an example of a strong, but subtle visual identity

The lower uniform is also very similar to the military uniforms of the Taisho era, taking place in the early 20th century. This is also the period recounted in Demon Slayer, where demon slayers are sometimes seen as a folk relic in a rapidly modernizing Japan.

Finally, if Inosuke’s costume is an inexhaustible gag, Tanjiro and Zenitsu manage to have a style that contributed to the visual identity of the series, largely influenced by the ukiyo-e period, which gave birth to the works of most famous art in the archipelago, starting with Hokusai.


Flawless execution catches up with the predictability of many action scenes

And ufotable is not left out, since the animation is nervous and dressed, we also find a foam effect on Tanjiro’s techniques similar to what we found in the game Okami, critical success during the operating period of the Wii. The ufotable style seems capable (like a Promar) to make coexist a precise line and a science of the broad forms, necessary to give an impression of volume when materializing a water dragon or a wave of flames.

As for the music, it is another very big highlight of the adaptation., oscillating between traditional Japanese themes oozing ataraxia and others among the most epic (which is not nothing considering what Japanese soundtracks have in their belly) that we have heard recently.


Little Okami vibe on Wii these water textures, don’t you think?

The best written shonen of the past decade?

The writing of the characters is not left out as it is effective. Tanjiro at first is determined to bring his sister back to humanity, but he doesn’t lose the jitters when he faces elite demons. If he puts his heart into defeating them, he never loses a characteristic empathy for them, having been humans before being transformed, often reluctantly.

And it works. Tanjiro never looks cuckold. Because he is scared, but also because he does not spare his opponents when his life is at stake. Demon Slayer takes pleasure in accurately staging the moments when the demons have just been defeated, and where Tanjiro can now show them a gesture of affection, while their bodies decompose, a sign of respect between the two adversaries who do not have not chosen to be antagonists.


Did anyone tell you that was REALLY funny?

Zenitsu, meanwhile, manages to give lightness to the narrative. However, he is not alone in this endeavor, as Inosuke and his burnt-out character are also a big bowl of air when the mood becomes oppressive.

All three form an excellent comic trio which easily finds certain flashes when the situation is critical, a fortiori Zenitsu which delivers some of the most effective fights that one can find without going into the “porn transformation” of a Bleach or a Dragon Ball Z.


Inosuke shows flash and very interesting development from Rui Forest arch

All the characters receive an inventory of techniques which is consistent with their character. Zenitsu, for example, develops an overpowered and lethal technique, a sign that he does not take pleasure in enriching his inventory of warlike techniques. For Inosuke, the term “technical” is already synonymous with technocratic.

The conclusion of episode 19 is possibly one of the most powerful climaxes Japanese animation has seen from the best years of Dragon Ball as it manages to unite the characters of the characters, their respective intrigues, but also the remarkable production of ufotable to offer an implacable choreography supported by an intense soundtrack.

We then feel invested as rarely and impossible not to vibrate in this confrontation where Tanjiro manages to achieve what is often wrongly called the epic. From then on, the feeling is so pure, the emotion is so genuine that any feeling of déjà vu is shattered.


Rui may be just a lower moon, but he recalls great antagonists such as Meruem

Demon Slayer ? More like Bounty Hunter

Demon Slayer enjoys such a hegemonic success that it was not long before we heard about a “new golden age of jumping”, a way of updating a time-honored expression to speak of a period when the Weekly Shonen Jump doubled its circulation between the mid-1980s until 1996, the year after the publication of Dragon Ball.

the Jump, which appeared in 1968 under the aegis of the Shueisha publishing house, saw an incredibly productive period. He launched nearly two hundred series and quickly won against the competition thanks to series like Dragon Ball, Slam Dunk, or Saint Seiya.


With his zealous and dogmatic “good guys”, Demon Slayer takes another successful trope

However, at the end of the 90s, some series saw their publication come to an end (like Dragon Ball and Slam Dunk). It is then a moment of recession for the Jump, which must wait for the “Big 3” to relaunch the day after the year 2000. It is then three pillars that will ensure the sale of prints of the weekly, namely One Piece, Naruto and Bleach.

However, after the erosion of Bleach and the end of publication of Naruto, the Jump still seemed doomed to seek new successes to fill the gap.

If you wanted to measure how successful is an understatement when it comes to Demon Slayer, here’s a number: in 2020, one in four manga sold in Japan was a book by Demon Slayer. We are not talking about a successful manga, we are talking about a tidal wave that inspired pop culture and that instantly fell into it.


The Jump which must now find a successor to Demon Slayer

Demon Slayer therefore landed on Netflix and Amazon. Building on its success, Demon Slayer could see himself fully adapted as an anime, and it is then up to as soon as possible to obtain the rights to its distribution.

Finally, we might expect Netflix and others to adopt an aggressive strategy when it comes to adapting successful manga (i.e. buying a lot of content and significantly strengthening their animation offering). For the users, this could then also constitute a new golden age, this time of the diffusion of the Japanese animation..

Season 1 of Demon Slayer is available in full since November 1, 2021 on Netflix and Prime Video

Official poster