While Demon Slayer has been a tremendously popular anime for a while now, things can always hit a new level of reach when they arrive on Netflix, and the series has now arrived on the streaming service in the US.
While it’s not tearing up the top 10 charts or anything (it’s #9 at present), or really being promoted much by Netflix from what I can tell on my algorithm-influenced home page, I’m here to tell you that without question, it’s absolutely a must-watch offering, even if you may not normally like anime.
My experience with anime is relatively limited, so I’m hardly some die-hard. But this show has been recommended to me by so many people that once it showed up on Netflix, I knew I had to give it a shot. 26 episodes later (in two days, mind you), I can say yes, it was worth the hype.
Demon Hunter tells the story of young Tanjiro, an average kid whose life is turned upside down when his entire family is slaughtered by demons, except for his young sister, Nezuko, who is instead turned into one.
Tanjiro begins a lengthy road of training to become a fabled Demon Hunter, non-government sanction quasi-mercenaries that roam around taking out demons, but he’s doing so with Nezuko in tow, wearing a gag so she can’t try to eat anyone. Tanjiro’s goal is to A) keep her from eating anyone and B) cure her. But she seems to have retained some of her humanity, meaning she’s not some brain-dead zombie on a leash, and proves to be quite useful battling other demons and protecting humans.
MORE FOR YOU
The two factions of the show, the Demon Hunters and the demons, are well-crafted and memorable. Demon Hunters refine specific styles of combat with their swords which are the only thing that can cut off a demon’s head (and that’s the only thing that can kill a demon, other than sunlight. Yes we are following semi-vampire rules here).
Tanjiro practices water style, one of his other friends can charge his attacks with electricity. There’s a girl who poisons demons with “insect style,” there are “stone,” “serpant,” “flame” and a bunch more styles you’ll discover as you make your way through the series.
But far more interesting are the demons themselves (who are able to speak, and not mindless monsters) and the powers they possess. When a demon eats enough humans, they become more powerful and are able to use powers called Blood Demon Art. These are not merely elemental powers, and are far more creative in their expression. One demon splits into three and sinks beneath the ground like he’s in a swamp, and must be fought in his little bog realm. Another has embedded drums in his body that when struck, flip and rotate and teleport enemies through rooms of his house. The most memorable demon group of the bunch is a clan of spider demons with dissolving acid, puppeteering of corpses and razor webs that result in the most iconic showdown of the series in episode 19, which I won’t spoil here.
Both the worldbuilding and animation here are simply incredible. We see a wide range of both across anime, but I immediately understand why Demon Slayer is so popular as it’s head and shoulders above most offerings.
Some things bothered me at first and continued to bother me by the end. I was told I was grow to like Zenitsu, Tajiro’s scaredy cat friend, but he was just as annoying to me at the end as he was by the beginning, even after a few select moments of redemption. The pacing can also be weird, as after the episode 19-20 climax, the show shifts into another very dry spell of “training mode” for about five episode when it seems like it should be ramping up further. I know many animes are focused on training and powering up but it often feels like half the entire running time here.
The first season ends on a cliffhanger that is already resolved by an upcoming Demon Slayer movie that is not in the US yet, and another season is coming. Demon Slayer is a worthy investment no matter your interests, a compelling, gorgeous series that I can’t wait to see more of.