Demon Slayer: So Close (spoiler-free review)

So, I recently finished the first season of the overwhelmingly popular anime Demon Slayer. Given that it won Anime of the Year in 2019 and all my friends who watch anime constantly suggested it to me, I figured I’d take advantage of the free time COVID-19 has given me and binge it. So, after finishing the season and taking a day to think about it, I have a little bit to say.

I love the core of this series. The world they built, our sweet wonderful Tanjiro and his mission to save his sweet but totally badass sister, and Muzan Kibutsuji is a top tier villain. I immediately liked our heroes, felt attached to their struggle, and wanted to see them succeed. The opening song is absolutely incredible, the animation is some of the best I’ve ever seen. I love that Demon Slayer is following the new way of storytelling and giving us a training montage, instead of trying to make an entire arc out of it. Seeing Tanjiro take two years to become a capable demon slayer definitely made me root for him even more, and by the time he sliced the boulder, I was fully invested. I loved watching Tanjiro and Nezuko grow and take down bad guys together as a duo and couldn’t wait to see what they’d be up against as the story progressed, but unfortunately, this is where my first disappointment came in.

I hate Zenitsu and Inosuke.

I’d seen some cool clips here and there of these characters, seen cosplays, so when they finally showed up I was excited. I knew that their arrival meant our main cast was fully assembled and that the best was yet to come. But, their really frustrating characters, and I feel like they disrupt the pacing, and in turn, my immersion. I’d go as far as to say they are my least favorite side characters in anime in general. I mean, I can’t stand Mineta from MHA, but at least he’s not in the main cast of every episode. Their backstories are somehow less developed than almost every other relevant character, and rather than give us two new people to support our hero, the bulk of the time it feels like Tanjiro is stuck babysitting two morons. They’re opposite personalities hardly ever lead to any interesting moments, and the only thing they have in common, other than being annoying, is being unnecessarily loud. Both of these guys scream at the top of their lungs almost nonstop. Then, when they do deliver, it doesn’t feel equal to me. Why did I have to sit through a bunch of episodes of them being an annoying hindrance, for one cool scene? Not to mention their antics cause so many problems for Tanjiro. For anyone whose seen that mountain battle (you know the one) I hated that what should have been growth for all of them, just ended up showing Tanjiro get better. Why introduce new characters if they’re not going to grow alongside our main hero? In all honesty, I think I would have preferred the story with only Tanjiro as Nezuko as the main heroes, they don’t really need the other two. But, maybe they’ll get development in season two? These characters cause such a drastic tone shift that it doesn’t feel like the same anime at times, and as I said before, they drastically alter the pacing. I fell asleep numerous times watching the second half of the season, usually in the middle of one of their weird moments. I don’t understand why a show built on seriousness and intensity decided two throw two comic relief characters in at the midway point.

For me personally, the biggest thing against Demon Slayer, was actually the hype that had been built up around it. I like being recommended things but I always find that when you undersell something, you do it more justice than when you oversell. Without the hype built around it, I’d have given the first season 8/10, only taking points off for pacing issues, those two annoying guys, and a few of the character tropes I think they’re using. Some characters are assholes for no reasons. I’d love to go into detail on that because it is the worst episode of the season, but I’d like to avoid spoiling anyone reading this who hasn’t seen the anime yet.

Overall, without the hype, I’d give Demon Slayer an 8/10 and definitely think it’s worth your watch.

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