Sep 28, 2019
Ah ufotable, the studio that keeps on giving. Before Kimetsu no Yaiba aired, news broke out that we’d get them animating the show. And to my delight, it’s a studio that earned its praise for its high caliber animation and consistently delivering quality content. Being their first 2-cour show (without a split cour break), Kimetsu no Yaiba is a special gift not just for the manga fans but anyone ready to experience a world of demons and dark fantasy.

With over 170 chapters and counting, manga artist Koyoharu Gotouge made this series as a dark fantasy-adventure about demons. With 26 episodes, there are some concerns about how much content we’d actually get adapted. For statistical references, each episode adapts about 3 chapters. Most of the episodes follows these chapters by the letter and to manga fans, I think this is a special treat. Not too manga series follows this trend and some unfortunately decides to jump off the rail and follow its own path. With that being said, Kimetsu no Yaiba is a series that I recommend and there’s plenty reasons to see why.

The experience of watching this show goes beyond the realm of its visual quality. Ufotabe applied their cinematic style to bring the characters and story to life but it’s important to realize what the author wanted to bring from his work. From the start, the show had a vision. It sets up a state of tragedy that deals with life and death. The demons in this show are devices created with the purpose to generate fear, the type of feeling that viewers needs to experience when watching a dark fantasy. Often these days, I find myself feeling bored when watching dark fantasies when it relies too much on relationship developments. Instead, Kimetsu no Yaiba elegantly tells a story that’s straightforward yet meaningful to deliver its premise. We meet main protagonist Tanjiro Kamado, a determined demon slayer who stops at nothing to help find a cure for his sister, Nezuko. The first few episodes establishes their important character relationship as even with Nezuko being a demon, he refuse to kill her. In return, Nezuko uses her own skills to help Tanjiro when he is in trouble fighting demons on his own. Early episodes also shows Tanjiro learning the ropes as a demon slayer. The anime makes it clear about the reality of their world where death is common and can happen in the brink of an eye. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at what happens to Tanjiro’s family. With such a tragic setup, the anime seeks to bring hope for Tanjiro and his journey to make things better for his only remaining family.

In remembering the past, Kimetsu no Yaiba is known for showing the importance of family. Known for showing rather than telling, it should be easy to see the close relationship Tanjiro has with his sister, mother, and father. Throughout the show, Tanjiro is also known for his duty to eliminate demons although he doesn’t truly hate all of them. Rather than having a black and white philosophy, he also feels sympathy for some of the demons he faces. However, there is one demon he both fears and despises – the mysterious and powerful Kibutsuji Muzan. As the primary antagonist of the show, he is also the catalyst of tragic events in Tanjiro’s life. Let’s face the reality here: he killed Tanjiro’s family and is responsible in making Nezuko into a demon. How can Tanjiro not hate this demon? As a cold-hearted and manipulative personality, Kibutsuji is one of Tanjiro’s main obstacles to overcome during this dark fantasy adventure. Unfortunately, we don’t get too much inside scoop on Kibutsuji’s character besides what he shows on the surface. The anime limited itself with adapting his story but it’s still shown that he is one, if not the most dangerous antagonist in this show.

With the premise of demon slaying, there’s plenty of room for other characters to get their own spotlights. Some of the more prominent names include Zenitsu Agatsuma, Inosuke Hashibira, and Genya Shinazugawa. The author made these characters with conflicting personalities to bring more value to their roles. For instance, Zenitsu is initially portrayed as a coward but over time, he conquers his fears and learns to accept his role as a demon slayer. Inosuke is known for his fierce personality and competitive persona. While the show doesn’t develop his character as much as the others, he brings a unique form of fighting and charisma. And we shouldn’t forget about Genya since he first appeared in the show. Known for its foul mouth and killing desire, one should wonder how much he can really fit the role as a demon slayer. It helps that Kimetsu no Yaiba features a diverse cast of characters who are all unique on their own. On the other hand, the same principle may not apply entirely for the demons. Truth to be told, most of the demons in the show has a rather one sided personality. Most of them are known for their bloodlust and urge to kill. It’s a primary factor that can make the demons more forgettable compared to the human characters. Outside of Kibutsuji, it’s really hard to say any of these demons are actually worth remembering for this adaptation. If in the future when this gets more animated episodes, they could be worth mentioning.

Yet, ufotable is well worth mentioning again for their stellar animation and character work. It seems throughout the show, there isn’t one instance where an episode suffered quality. It manages to consistently adapt battle scenes with stylistic and cinematic choreography. Character movements aren’t wasted but instead used to showcase the different fighting styles of the cast. The show also uses a realistic environment of snow and mountains to show the harsh conditions of surviving in the wilderness. The demon designs are made with menacing elements from their aggressive nature to their killing expressions. At the same time, the anime also has room for humor with over the top character emotive performances especially from Zenitsu. Even Tanjiro himself has moments where you can’t easily forget. If there’s something to take away from this show, it’s ufotable and the director’s impressive work. They earned this praise. If you don't believe me, watch episode 19 and see for yourself.

And it’s not only that either. Music and the soundtrack used in this show creates a thrilling atmosphere. In early episodes, I could feel the show being able to tell its story by its melancholic soundtrack alone. When you take the fact of the cast being able to make the characters into life, it really sends a strong impression. The OP song “Gurenge” by LISA carries a sensational aura with its visual storytelling while the ED theme “from the edge” contains a feeling of serenity and loneliness.

Kimetsu no Yaiba is like a love letter to dark fantasy adventure fans. Based on financial reports, the first week had sold over 11k copies while the manga also enjoys a decent success. It’s not too often to see this type of series succeed but I’m so glad it’s on this road. With ufotable behind the wheels as its studio, this is no pushover when it comes to technical quality. The characters and storytelling are meaningful to its premise while maintain an aura of mystique. We really need more adaptations like Kimetsu no Yaiba.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9
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