After a first season on Netflix, a film with 500 million receipts in a year 2020 marked by the pandemic, that is worth this season 2 of Demon Slayer ?
To say that we were excited for this second season of Demon Slayer is an understatement. As a reminder, the Koyoharu Gotoge series published between 2016 and 2020 recounts the adventures of Tanjiro, a young boy whose overpowered demon killed the whole family, except for his little sister, who in turn became a demon. Hoping to remove this curse, Tanjiro wishes to find the demon responsible for transforming his sister and slaughtering her family, Muzan Kibutsuji, and defeat him.
After a first part of a second serial season which recounted the events that occurred during the film Demon Slayer: Infinity Train (which had collected 500 million dollars of receipts during a suffocating year 2020 for the cinema), The Pleasure District had the difficult task of taking over the sequel to an arc extremely popular with aficionados of the series. Is it a successful bet for this second arc to take over from the famous Hashira of the flames, Kyojuro Rengoku?
Can the Pleasure District succeed the tough confrontation between Rengoku and Akaza?
First observation, the arc of Pleasure district is a bit long, inheriting 12 episodes, which is 5 more than the previous arc, the Infinity Train. And if the investigation on the train to determine the nature of the threat seemed laborious, the investigation in the district of Yoshiwara will be all the more. More than a serious investigation and a moment to brainstorm, it is above all a scriptwriting appetizer so as not to sound the guns too quickly.
In the same vein, the first episode presenting us Tengen Uzui, Hashira of the sound, does not equal the arrival all fire all flames of Rengoku. This remark could in fact be generalized to the design, the dubbing or even the capacities of the two characters, which seem largely unequal in the hearts of the fans of the series. Now that the recipe is well-known (presentation of the Hashira present in the arc, investigation to flush out the demon, adventures, resolution), the sauce must be turned up while still strong to inflate the soufflé.
And this is undoubtedly the risk for the rest of the series. To send Hashira to the pipe breaker in scripted missions, the spectator ends up easily seeing the cogs of the elementary machinery which unfolds in front of him.
Okay, is he cool, but as cool as Kyojuro Rengoku? I do not think so
But when it comes to sending the sauce, Demon Slayer has never been, in his anime, so uninhibited and generous as from the second half of episode 4. It’s simple, the series gets carried away crescendo and each episode relegates the previous one in terms of quality and chills. While we are only halfway through the arc, the pressure is already total and each episode now largely regales us with gripping twists and turns. And satiety not coming, the next one puts a layer back with joyful zeal.
Either imperturbable and cold, under savage and enraged, Daki takes up Akaza’s torch
If the arc of Pleasure district is longer, it is also less direct. He makes his characters take winding paths. Enough to honor us with some epic duels insofar as the characters are fragmented by their encounters and their investigation. The arc also advances the story of some protagonists by efficiently distilling answers to our questions during fights among the best paced of current animation.
And there are still surprises, a lot of surprises! Those who have taken a step ahead in reading the manga will know that the biggest piece is yet to be stuffed. And that’s good, because this season has made us bulimic of the presence of Tanjiro and his friends on the screen.
And Tanjiro isn’t the only one developing into epic action scenes.
Demon Slayer, but above all Fashion victim
Obviously, these Dantesque duels are also an excellent pretext to show an animation which surpasses itself. If you’ve ever got your pants wet in Season 1 Episode 19, which saw a Tanjiro cross the Rubicon to defeat one of his most powerful opponents in a whirlwind of brilliantly staged techniques, you haven’t seen anything yet with episode 13 of the second season (or episode 6 of Pleasure district, since the second season also includes the serial adaptation of Infinity Train) who sees ufotable pushing the limits of its animation.
Daki serves you a good dose of aesthetics and vice in his role of antagonist
In addition to the nervous rhythm at will, minimalist dialogues, but not devoid of meaning, and a fluid animation as possible, episode 13 is a cascade of pleasure, a roller-coaster of uninhibited action, but never nag, always placed in a setting which makes it shine, and which manages to find ideas of staging unusual in the standards of the genre. Is this episode alone worth the very relative pains to follow the season? Yes.
In addition, we must also recognize the Pleasure district greater ambition than its predecessor. If the first four episodes are long, they are especially marked by an artistic direction which pushes even further the will to magnify the traditional Japanese influence. For that, it is the district of Yoshiwara, high place of Japanese prostitution, but also of Kabuki culture during the Edo era, which is summoned. In terms of sets, costumes and even dubbing (whether young courtesans or old brothel owners) we are light years away from the Infinity Train.
Zenitsu does not only master lightning, he is also capable of being a funny sidekick
Whether it is the hierarchical system of courtesans, music or traditional dress, this beginning of the arc is a real history lesson in front of which you will never get bored. In addition, the disguise of Inosuke, Zenitsu and Tanjiro is a good pretext to chain comic situations. These episodes are funny even if a bit long, and they work well as a “break” after the arc violence of the Infinity Train.
As for the humor very characteristic of the series, capable of unfolding in unexpected moments, it also largely continues. Uzui is even more quirky than the trio of Tanjiro, Inosuke and Zenitsu, and we will appreciate the wacky secondary characters like his bodybuilt rat-ninjas.
No exuberant transformation, but a contained rage that makes Tanjiro REALLY creepy
However, we may regret that halfway through the season, Inosuke and Zenitsu did not accomplish much. if not entertain us in their respective homes. If they delivered an interesting fight and some relevant investigations, their stakes were rather limited and served particularly to present us the capacities of the antagonist of the arc, Daki, who still has not delivered all his secrets.
Ultimately, this first half of the arc of the Pleasure district largely deserves our enthusiasm. By the time the show has already delivered half of its episodes, it has pulverized our expectations. Very nasty villains, nice people who are starting to run wild to see innocent people die, enjoyable character development, epic fights, concrete artistic direction, everything is there to have a great time and confirm that it is beautiful and one of the best anime of the moment (if not more). If the series ended in its manga version in 2020, there is no doubt that the anime Demon Slayer has not finished talking about him.
To follow season 2 of Demon Slayer, it is on Wakanim and Crunchyroll, at the rate of one episode per week.