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[Spoiler] So, this post is essentially the product of me trying to figure out why I like Kimetsu No Yaiba so much. It's kind of hard to wrap my head around why it makes all other shonen look like shit, but I wrote this to try to summarize it. I literally just discovered the show like 2 days ago.
Consider this post one giant spoiler, I'm going in raw. I felt like writing a thought essay/text wall today. This is going to be a long fucking post.
So, since I was about 8 years old I've been an avid anime fan. Back then I didn't even know what differentiated anime from regular cartoons, I didn't know why it looked so cool, why the art style was so much better, or why the content was so compelling. I didn't know this was because it was Japanese. I just liked them.
Toonami and adult swim introduced me to many anime, and I've been in love with the stuff ever since.
The first anime I ever really loved was Naruto, of course, very typical. This will probably always be my favorite for nostalgia reasons alone. I also really really stuck to Bleach, and Fullmetal Alchemist. Then came Inuyasha, and then Es Cry Ed. Dragon ball was something I had seen before any of these, but I didn't know where I could watch it until it started airing on Cartoon Network. Oh, let's not forget Hellsing or FMAB either. Total works of art, although they came later than the other ones.
This was back before the days where internet was readily available, so my only option to get my fix was to wait an entire week for one single episode of these to come out, with the chance that it could just be filler. Yet, I always watched. I'm not going to mention One Piece because I just don't know enough about it to comment. Something about it turned me off as a kid and I haven't had the hours to dedicate to it in another shot as an adult. I'm a lot less interested in a pirate stretchy man than I am a ghost samurai or a show about an alchemist with two metal limbs.
I've also enjoyed the new generation. My Hero Academia is something very close to my heart. Black Clover was total ass early on, but it slowly evolved into a genuine good shonen, albeit nothing to rave about. 7 Deadly Sins quickly became one of my absolute favorites, it's so well done it rivals the OG's for me.
As you can see, I've been a battle shonen fanboy for quite a while. I just love them. I understand the distaste many people have for shonen, they lack a lot of things that other anime have in terms of plot, but they also have many strengths that other anime simply don't have. Battle shonen are very compelling. Of course, I also love other genres of anime, I don't just exclusively watch battle shonen, however, battle shonen will always be my favorite genre.
Forgive me, I haven't yet seen Hunter X Hunter, Fairy Tale, or Soul Eater yet. However, I am interested. With all the praise I've heard about these, I've wondered why they're not more popular.
So, I just recently finished the last few episodes of My Hero Academia that were available, and also finished the newest season of 7 Deadly Sins. Great stuff, truly.
Then I began searching for a new anime to watch. I decided to search up "Which shonen anime are the new big 3?". If you didn't know, back in the day, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece were considered the big three kings of anime when I was coming up. I wanted to know what was considered the best today in 2020.
The first result on Google provided me with an answer I had mixed feelings about. It said "My Hero Academia, Black Clover, and Demon Slayer."
I was taken aback by this, mainly because Black Clover somehow found it's way into the big 3. Black clover just lacks depth, and it has only truly had one good arc so far, I find it hard to believe that with those terrible first episodes it is still somehow considered one of the new big 3. Yes, it did get good toward the end of the elf arc, but the early show is almost unforgivable. Even with it's newest arc I don't think it's worthy of the title yet, it needs to prove itself more. Asta's voice is an abomination, by the way.
My Hero Academia made perfect sense in the big 3. There isn't anything wrong with it that I can pick out. It's just a VERY well done battle shonen. It has all good and almost no bad. The only downside of it is Midorya himself, and that's just my opinion. I don't care for Midorya as a character, but he's slowly been redeeming himself and becoming a respectable protagonist. My Hero Academia just has so many good moments and very few bad. Even when it's boring, it's really not boring.
The third name on the list was something I had hardly even heard of. Demon Slayer? If this was a new king of anime, surely I would have heard more about it by now. Yes, I'd heard it mentioned before, but I can't recall hearing anyone sing praises about it. I decided I had to check it out after Googling about it a little bit. It sounded like my cup of tea, I was just confused as to why I hadn't heard more about it. I was unsure of what to expect.
Fast forward an hour or two, and I'm in love. There is something special about this one. Something about it has sucked me in harder than any other shonen before it.
What is it about it? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it's an amalgamation of factors that set it above all the others.
Your first reaction would probably be to say, it's the animation quality. You might say that the animation is the sole best thing about it, but I'd have to disagree. Yes, the animation is pretty much unrivaled when comparing it to it's contemporaries. But at the end of the day, it's high quality animation is just the cherry on top. What really makes this show amazing is the content, not it's good looks.
By the way, I'm seriously puzzled as to how this show has such good animation. It seriously never fails to look good. It has the absolute best looking fight scenes I've ever seen in an anime. Even when it's not in a fight scene, or even when there's nothing really going on, it still goes balls to the wall with quality. This anime doesn't have a single moment where it looks bad. How could this be possible?
From my understanding, the reason most other anime look like complete dogshit any time a serious battle or arc isn't going on is because it's too expensive. They can't afford to make the entire anime look good because it's just so goddamn long, if they put top quality animation into every second of a show like Naruto which ran for 15 fucking years, they would certainly go bankrupt. So they save the best animation for the most intense moments, and the rest gets mid-low quality animation.
So how do the people producing Demon Slayer manage to make every single second of it look so good? It's so crisp, it looks more like an anime movie, but it's much longer than a movie. I don't get how they can afford it. The worst animation in Demon Slayer makes the best animation in Naruto look like shit. I wonder how they're pulling this off. Maybe it isn't intended to run for 15 years like other shonen, but I'm not sure.
Point is, it's mind blowingly sexy anime, but that's not why it's good.
The reasons why it's good are so numerous, and hard to describe.
In my opinion, Demon Slayer has combined everything good about every anime before it, and eliminated every negative thing about every anime before it. It even makes My Hero Academia look bad, in my opinion. Let me try to explain why, in a well structured ramble format.
Firstly, the setting and universe. This show has something that most anime don't.
It has a very authentic oriental feel to it. What do I mean by that?
Well, most anime seem like they're marketed atleast partially to a western audience. For example, Naruto and Bleach are clearly marketed to appeal to western as well as eastern audiences. They have elements of western tropes as well as Japanese tropes, which has the purpose of drawing in as many viewers as possible from all parts of the world. For example, the music in Naruto and bleach says enough. Naruto has some westernized rock and roll/oriental OST that is a very nice hybrid between two cultures. Bleach goes full on western with it's corny electric drum OST and clearly western singing when Ichigo shows up to kick ass. The settings of both Naruto and Bleach are also clearly designed to appeal to westerners to a certain degree, making them both feel kind of samey. 7 Deadly Sins is set in a continent blatantly based on ancient England, I believe I need not say anymore about this.
Demon Slayer is different. It doesn't seem to be made with western audiences in mind at all. It's uniquely oriental.
The setting itself is what I've gathered to be something like late 1800s to early 1900s Japan. It appears to be something like feudal sengoku Japan until the protagonist arrives in a city, where you see some weird trolly thing moving across a street and you also see what seems to be some primitive forms of electricity. The rural areas of this universe don't seem to be modern at all, they could easily pass off as feudal Japan. The city is the only thing that threw me off. The characters also mention "Tokyo prefecture" so I'm really thinking this is supposed to be late 1800s Japan.
Everything about this show is Japanese. The setting. The humor. The very authentic sounding oriental soundtrack. The magic system. The fight choreography. The universe that it's set in. It all just feels so authentically Japanese, which is a huge breath of fresh air in contrast to the westernized anime of my day. I love it. It almost feels exotic.
Granted, I'm a Westerner, so my opinion on what is "authentically Japanese" is probably greatly distorted. That's just how it appears to my western eyes. To a Japanese person, this show may appear to be not very Japanized at all, but I think we can all agree that it's much more Japanized than it's peers, like Naruto.
Above all, it's such a breath of fresh air. This is my opinion. Maybe you disagree, or maybe you don't think anything I've said about this section is accurate, but to each their own. That's what the comment thread is for.
The action never goes stale, so far anyway. Actually it's done a lot more than manage to not go stale, it's managed to be consistently 10/10 for the entire first arc that is out right now.
This is going to be hard to explain. It's not like other anime where you know your hero is always going to pull through and save the day one way or another. It's not like that. It's very dark and gritty, it feels hopeless in almost every conflict. Our protagonist Tanjiro is so outclassed in every altercation that I've actually found myself wondering every single time if he is going to die. I've been on the edge of my seat throughout each conflict in these first 25 episodes.
You know how the Chunin Exam arc in Naruto gets so much praise for being gritty and feeling dangerous? Like your heroes might not make it? Well multiply that by 10x and you can get an idea of what Demon Slayer feels like. It DOES NOT seem like Tanjiro is going to pull through.
I mean, don't get me wrong, our boy Tanjiro is no slouch. He's a pretty badass kid. He busted his ass for 2 years training harder than fucking Rock Lee just so he could pass the Demon Slayer selection exam, and as it turns out, he's better than all the other low ranked Demon Slayers, for the most part. But that doesn't matter so much, because he's only a human. No matter how hard he trains, he will always be a human fighting something that isn't human. The humans in this show aren't much more powerful than regular humans on our world. They will easily die from their wounds if they are fatal, they have human level strength and human level speed. The only way they can boost their physical attributes is with the hard magic breathing system, which I will explain in a little bit. But even with the breathing system, they are not immune to damage. Any lethal strike will end Tanjiro or any other human demon Slayer.
For those that don't know, the antagonists of this show are demons. Shocker right? Well, that is bad news for the entirely human organization of Demon Slayers who are tasked with killing them.
Essentially, demons in this universe are more like vampires than what you'd think of as demons. They are very very superhuman. The only things that can kill them are special swords the demon Slayers use, bright sunlight, or wisteria poison, which is a plant. Those are literally the only 3 things that can kill demons. They are damn near unstoppable. More or less, the only way a demon Slayer can kill a demon with his sword is if he chops off it's head, poisons it with wisteria, or traps it out in the sunlight. It doesn't matter what else Tanjiro does. He can chop off as many limbs as he likes, he can stab them in the dick, burn them with fire, feed them horse shit, it doesn't matter. They will instantly regenerate and keep coming at him. Even the top tier human demon Slayers in this show are completely mortal, and prone to death with one mistake, while the demons they're fighting can make endless mistakes so long as they protect their neck from the demon slayer's sword.
This is why the action is so good and tense. You know your hero is outclassed. You know he has to do everything he can to win, because he's not some all powerful protagonist with a big red dog inside of him that comes out to clean up his messes when he's getting his shit pushed in. Tanjiro doesn't have hacks like that. He's just a regular guy, albeit a little bit superhuman. Just a little bit. Even if he does everything right and performs like a total badass, he is still likely to die and be eaten by a demon.
The demons are nearly invincible, extremely superhuman, and they posess all kinds of quirky hacks types of magic that humans cannot use. The magic potential and power potential for the demons is pretty much limitless. They all have their own unique hacks abilities that are likely to end Tanjiro for the slightest mistake.
That's why when Tanjiro does win, it's so satisfying. Because you really don't think he's going to win. It's usually very unclear, and feels hopeless. You don't see a way he could win until he does.
So how does he win? Well, the magic system or power system for humans in this show is very unique.
The power system rests upon a breathing system. It's some type of magical breathing techniques that can make you essentially superhuman-lite if you execute them properly. The breathing techniques amp up your physical attributes, and also grant your weapon an elemental attribute. Tanjiro uses these breathing techniques to save himself in his darkest hour time and time again. The breathing system allows him to become slightly superhuman, but not OP like a Naruto character, so it never feels like he's in control of the fight, he's barely holding his own. He has to succeed through sheer wit and willpower because his powers just aren't that incredible. Demon Slayers don't have so much hacksy abilities, well, except for the Hashiras. They're essentially like jonin from Naruto. Highest tier demon Slayers. They have hacks. But Tanjiro doesn't and he doesn't seem like he will for many arcs to come. Even the Hashiras hacks aren't necessarily OP.
To sum it all up, it's damn gritty. It's almost alien to shonen in general how gritty this is. It sets it far beyond it's peers.
Thirdly, the plot.
Okay, I can't talk about this without spoiling. So just be warned. This is the most spoiley part of the post. I'm going to minimize spoilers and give the bare minimum, but it's still going to be spoilers as fuck.
The premise is that our protagonist Tanjiro was a young boy, who I reckon is probably about 14 at the time of the start. He leaves his family of several sisters and his mother to go run an errand. During this errand, he gets stuck out at night, and a relative of his invites him into his house because he doesn't want him traveling after dark.
The old man explains to him that he cannot travel at night because demons lurk around at night, eating humans, and doing other gangsta ass shit. Tanjiro goes to bed and goes back home the next morning.
When he gets home, he finds his entire family massacred, aside from his sister who is still barely alive. He doesn't know what happened, so he grabs his still living sister and leaves to go find help.
On the journey to find help, he discovers that his sister was turned into a demon. She starts trying to eat him on the path to help, and they both fall off a cliff, saved by thick snow. She then proceeds to keep trying to eat him, until a super edgy demon Slayer named Giyu stumbles upon them and tries to kill Tanjiro's sister, because she's a demon.
Tanjiro obviously isn't down with that bullshit, so he protects his demon sister from this totally OP Hashira demon Slayer the best he can. In the process, he gets hurt, but impresses the demon Slayer Giyu nonetheless. When Tanjiro is defeated by Giyu, Tanjiro's demon sister suddenly becomes more humanlike and protects him from the demon Slayer. Giyu the edgy demon Slayer is taken aback by this and realizes that maybe his demon sister is different from other demons, and decides to let her and Tanjiro live, but not before telling Tanjiro that he is impressive and sending him off to join the Demon Slayer corps.
Tanjiro does in fact go join the Demon Slayer corps because he wants to find a way to turn his sister back into a human by finding the demon who turned her in the first place. Only one demon can turn humans into demons, and that demon is the OG first ever demon, the most OP demon. So the show has already set up a Madara Uchiha-like ultimate evil boss to fight at the end of his journey. As it turns out, he also has an Akatski or Espada-like band of 12 lesser demons that serve directly under him and are extremely powerful, so they're all bosses Tonjuro will have to fight before he can finally take on the big daddy demon. He is hopelessly outclassed by all of them.
An old veteran demon Slayer trains him for 2 years. It takes him that long to even be ready to attempt to join the demon Slayer corps, and even then, there was a good chance he wouldn't make it.
He sees countless other infant demon Slayers die during his journey, so it seems utterly hopeless. The demons seem to outclass humans in every way. It's all very gritty.
After he passes his selection, he starts embarking on missions for the corps, in hopes of ascending the ranks and finding the demon that currupted his sister, and being powerful enough to defeat him. Every single foe during every single mission outclasses him by far.
And that's pretty much the entire first arc. It's very compelling. It's just a very very good plot, albeit simple. It's not so much the plot alone, but the way the plot is executed, in such a gritty foreboding way that feels hopeless for Tanjuro.
Of course, the show is only 25 episodes in for me, so who knows where the plot will go? I haven't read the manga which is undoubtedly farther along than the anime, so I don't know what's going to happen next.
But, from the few 25 episodes I've seen, it just outclasses every other shonen I've ever seen in terms of plot, and most other aspects as well. I'm not even sure I'd completely call demon Slayer a shonen. It's not like the others.
Fourthly, the powemagic system.
This anime uses a hard magic system for humans, and a soft magic system for demons.
The magic rules for humans are pretty concrete, hard magic. They have established rules. They must execute their breathing techniques perfectly to receive boosts and an elemental surge to their strikes. There are several different types of breathing, like water breathing, thunder breathing, and beast breathing, and many more. They all have different uses and characteristics. None of the boosts they get from these breathing techniques are particularly overpowered though, especially when compared to demon blood magic.
Demon magic on the other hand is more of a soft system, it doesn't seem to have any established rules or limitations. Virtually any demon could have any ability, and it all seems rather random. Each demon Tanjiro has fought has had some very OP shit and there doesn't seem to be a limit to their powers, ever. There aren't any rules or limitations, for the most part.
The reason I like this kind of magic so much is because it's versatile. Every character has many different breathing/magic moves they can execute. They aren't one trick ponies, like black clover characters, who just shoot elemental blasts of varying sizes over and over. Tanjiro is pretty much an infant demon Slayer and he can already use two different breathing arts, fire and water. The demons have all kinds of weirdo tricks, which have very uncleanonexistant limitations, meaning that it will always surprise you.
All the different magics and powers in this universe are very unique and interesting. I haven't seen a single one that I didn't like yet. The show is still in it's infancy so I'll see if they run out of fresh ideas eventually.
Fifthly, the Characters.
The characters in this show appear to have much more depth than most other shonen anime, albeit the characters are NOT THE BEST in all of shonen. They're pretty high up there, but I think my hero academia actually bests demon Slayer in terms of character uniqueness, but only barely.
Most shonen have pretty much one dimensional characters with a single exaggerated personality trait. This isn't the case for Demon Slayer. They all seem to have deep varying personalities that really stand out, much like my hero academia.
I really like Tanjiro because he's got several quirks about him that make him a really likeable character. He's very kind, but he's also very ruthless in his pursuit of kindness. It's hard to describe. Giyu is a stoic stone cold killer on the outside, but on the inside he is sympathetic to others and will put his neck out to save Tanjuro. These are just examples, I can't deeply analyze every single character right now. I will however say that Tanjuro is a better character than Meliodas or Midorya, for example. Most of the other characters in demon Slayer are much much more than your typical one dimensional shonen character. Even the women in this show are useful. Most shonen make women completely useless side characters, but not Demon Slayer. Some of the most OP characters in this show are female. I'm not a feminist or anything but I think it's very nice that women aren't just side pieces with a single exaggerated personality trait. Badass women in anime is awesome.
Sixthly, the villains.
Every single villain Tanjiro has fought has had a pretty complex personality. You can empathize with all of them and really understand what they're thinking, because Tanjuro is a kind person and he empathises even with demons while he's killing them. They all have desires and goals that aren't just one dimensional. The Villains aren't just evil for the sake of being evil.
All in all, these are just some of the things that I think make DS stand out and put it on a pedestal over all other shonen anime I've seen thus far. It's honestly hard to describe, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it, I knew it was multiple factors combining to make something truly in a different league. Something truly unique that I hope defines the genre from now until the end of time.
I'm probably forgetting to mention a lot of great things about this anime, or failing to put them into words correctly. I hope I can start a discussion based on what I've managed to shit out in this post.
Above all, I just don't know what to compare this anime to. It's better than the others, in almost every way, atleast in my opinion. There is nothing quite like it. It outclasses the others on so many levels and falls short in none. It does everything that made the others good, and does nothing that made the others bad.
I could compare it to bleach based on the sword magic breathing, and the Hashiras which are kinda like the Gotei 13 captains, and and the hollows which are kinda like demons, but the demon Slayer versions of all these things are just so much better. It's not really similar to Naruto in many ways at all. It's nothing like MHA or Fullmetal alchemist. Maybe it's a little bit like 7 deadly sins solely based on the all powerful demons, but none of these can really hold a candle to demon Slayer IMO.
In terms of similarity, it's probably closest to bleach, but so much better that there isn't a comparison.
Let's keep in mind, this anime is only 25 episodes in and it could potentially get a lot worse. But, I highly doubt that. I think it will gradually get better because the author hasn't had nearly enough time to run out of steam and good ideas.
I just don't know why I hadn't heard much about demon Slayer until now. I had no idea this was even a popular anime until I did some googling. Even with how popular it already is, it seems like it should be much more popular. I think it's lesser known at this point because it's so early on. Once it's pushed out a few seasons I seriously think it will overtake all the other new "Big 3".
I hope that this anime goes on for many, many years and sets a president for all anime that come after it. It's just so well done, and I can't believe 25 episodes have made me feel this way about it in such a short time.
submitted by drunksouls69