From manga readers to people just excited about another Ufotable action show, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba has been highly anticipated. For the most part, the pilot episode doesn’t disappoint. In it, we meet our protagonist Tanjiro Kamado who lives with his family in the mountains. One day he takes a trip down the mountain and returns to find his family slaughtered by oni, or, in other words, demons. Only his little sister, Nezuko, even shows the barest signs of life. However, as he tries to get help, he quickly finds out that she has turned into a demon herself and is being targeted by those who would kill her.
I found this episode enjoyable. It takes a while to get started, as they have to establish the family you know is going to die and characterize Tanijiro as a helpful boy who has a great sense of smell. That’s kind of a weakness of this episode in general. The plot beats are fairly transparent. Meet family, see how nice and happy they are. Go to town, see how helpful Tanijiro is. Talk with mysterious exposition grandpa. Then his family dies and the plot can really get started.
The back half of this episode is also where the action happens. This is Ufotable, so it looks beautiful—yes, I know studios have less to do with how a show looks than the animators involved but so far Ufotable action shows have looked good, so I think it’s a fair expectation. But this show does have that battle Shōnen thing where characters narrate their fights. This probably won’t be problem for a lot of people but Tanijiro thinking through the demon attack on his house and remarking on his sister’s new strength while holding her back from eating his face seemed a bit silly to me.
Tanijiro also fights a demon hunter in this episode, whose name I presume is Giyuu Tamioka. I liked this fight. Yuki Kajiura’s involved with the soundtrack, and that’s all I need to say about the music. There was also this moment where, after Tanijiro and Nezuko have an emotional scene, the touching music is cut off by Giyuu’s attack and its impact against the snow. I don’t know if this technically impressive but it did stick out to me.
Giyuu’s a standout in general. His offense at Tanijiro’s perceived weakness was funny. He basically scolded him in the middle of a fight, and it worked. Though once again, I find myself thinking that Tanijiro coming up with a plan like that after one scolding is a little silly. This whole conversation makes me wonder if Giyuu is a teacher or something. It would make sense.
These fight scenes also not so subtly give us hints about what kinds of fighters the two siblings could turn into. Nezuko’s style is based on brute force and changing her size, mostly likely. While Tenijiro’s probably going to end up using his brain more than his brawn. I hope we can get cool, strategy based fights.
There wasn’t much characterization for Nezuko beyond “sister who cares about her family” in this episode. To be fair, Tanijiro pretty much amounts to the same, except he’s also self-sacrificing (or maybe just a bit of pushover). I do wonder how her demonic state will affect her character going forward. Will she just be a silent character dragged from place to place by Tanijiro? We’ll see.
Decent action show. Watching this one.