Demon Slayer ? But yes, you must have heard of it! For a few years, it has been difficult to escape this manga phenomenon signed Koyoharu Gotôge which, in 2021, had already sold more than 150 million copies worldwide and almost impossible to escape the series of animation that is drawn from it, composed for the moment of a season 1 released in 2019, a film released in 2020 in Japan and in 2021 in our green regions and a season 2 which ended last month. A season 3 has just been announced for 2023. So now is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon, and I’ll explain why.
Demon Slayer, it is the story of Tanjirô Kamado, a young man whose life changes when, while he was away from home, a demon enters his home and kills his whole family, at the exception of his sister Nezuko, changed into a demon. In a universe where demons must be killed in order to prevent them from attacking humans, Tanjiro chooses to seek a way to heal his sister and make her human again. For this, he decides to join the troops of the demon slayers, a group whose existence is kept secret in a Japan where the carrying of the sword has been prohibited for several decades. As he goes through slayer missions, Tanjirô will cross paths with many characters, including the cowardly Zen’itsu and the exuberant (or weird, it’s your choice) Inosuke who will become his traveling companions, the Pillars, elite unit among the slayers, and, of course, more powerful demons than each other.
A well-crafted and well-paced storyline
Certainly, Demon Slayer is a shonenthat is to say a manga that primarily targets boys from 8 to 18 years old, and more particularly a nekketsu, a sub-genre that often gives pride of place to fights and victories through flashbacks, determination and great speeches about friendship. As such, the work does not escape either the clichés of the genre or the narrative arcs already seen and reviewed elsewhere. However, the best soups are (sometimes) made in old pots and, in the case of Demon Slayer, it works ! The drastic difference in power between the demons and the slayers and the bitterness of the victories that our heroes often snatch from them at the cost of great sacrifices give the scenario a desperate side that only makes these moments of bravery all the more striking.
On the rhythm side, exit the episodes filler and the long fights at the dragonball or at the One Piece : the intensity prevails over the duration and the tension which reigns during the confrontations against powerful demons is incomparable. The speed at which we chain the episodes is proof of this, so much so that when the first notes of the end credits sound, we find ourselves looking at the time to make sure that the 23 minutes of episodes are indeed well passed.
All this in a nocturnal atmosphere that immerses us in the world of the night, the disturbing one of grandmother’s tales and legends, but also the effervescent one of the big cities of this Japan of the Taishô era where demons have been able to take advantage of the industrialization of the country to invent new ways of catching humans to eat.
The other strong point of Demon Slayer, these are his characters. First of all, the character design is on the small onions! From haori From Tanjirô’s plaid to Rengoku’s incandescent haircut to Tengen’s flashy jewellery, all the characters, demons as well as slayers, are both iconic and recognizable at first glance.
And on top of that, they have the luxury of being endearing! It’s hard not to be moved by the compassion Tanjiro feels towards demons who aren’t, in absolute terms, entirely responsible for their condition. Likewise, it’s impossible not to smile at the interactions and antics of our main trio or not to be completely blown away by Rengoku’s unwavering determination.
Certainly, manga of the Weekly Shōnen Jump requires, the female figures are a little behind, but they are nonetheless competent characters with interesting psychology.
An adaptation that sublimates the base material
And so, why am I recommending the anime here rather than the manga which is nevertheless the basic work? Well, because it’s beautiful and the adaptation is successful in every way.
Visually, the design is stunning. The variations in the thickness of the lines, the choice of colors, the composition of the sets, everything is splendid. And as soon as it moves, it’s even better: the animation of the fights and the shots chosen for the action scenes are simply incredible and will make you feel a little adrenaline rush in front of some memorable fights that will certainly make a mark in the history of Japanese animation.
On the audio side, it’s the same thing with a superb soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura (who had notably worked on the anime adaptations of Pandora Hearts and of Black Butler) which perfectly underlines the emotional moments and disturbing atmospheres of this nocturnal Japan, dubbing actors who have a great time, both in Japanese and French, and credits that will make your eardrums beat .
In short, Demon Slayerthat’s all you can expect from a successful manga adaptation: a series that faithfully adapts its basic material, while taking advantage of the specificities of its medium (moving images and sound) to delight us eyes and ears.