Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba): An Amazing Action Anime – Netflix Review

The franchise with the highest-grossing film in Japan’s history earned that acclaim.

SUMMARY

It’s the Taishō Era of Japan’s history (1912-1926). Tanjiro Kamado (Natsuki Hanae/Zach Aguilar) is the eldest son of his family and, following his father’s death, a charcoal seller in the mountains. One day, after coming home from a trip to the nearest town, he finds out that his entire family was massacred. The only “survivor” is his sister, Nezuko (Akari Kitō/Abby Trott), who has been transformed into a demon that craves human flesh. However, when a demon slayer named Tomioka (Takahiro Sakurai/Johnny Yong Bosch) tries to kill her, Tanjiro tries to defend her and, surprisingly, she defends him, revealing that she has retained some of her humanity. Tanjiro is sent to train to be a demon slayer, soon joining forces with fellow demon slayers Zenitsu Agatsuma (Hiro Shimono/Aleks Le), a coward who becomes a master swordsman while asleep, and Inosuke Hashibara (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook), a wildman with tremendous strength. Together, they work to help rid Japan of demons and hopefully cure Nezuko.

There are a bunch of other cast members, too.

END SUMMARY

I had heard of this when it was a manga, but I had never actually read it. Then I saw it get put on Netflix a while ago, but I hadn’t watched it, since it seemed a little generic from the ads. What finally led me to try and watch it was actually reading an article about how the film that apparently follows the first season of this show, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, broke a slew of box-office records despite, or because of, opening in 2020. It’s now the highest-grossing Japanese movie, taking down Spirited Away after almost 20 years. So, if a film can unseat a true Ghibli masterpiece, I had to check out the source material, and that was definitely the right decision.

There appears to be a lot more fire in the movie.

Almost everything in this show is well-done, but the main thing this anime does better than most is pacing. The story progresses at a pace that, while not overly fast, is also much faster than almost any anime longer than 13 episodes. I realize that’s partially because the manga was complete before the anime started, but the show largely avoids the traditional anime issue of having to drag out fight scenes for multiple episodes or to have recap episodes. Instead, most of the fights are action-packed and extremely creative, particularly since they often showcase a handful of swordsmen having to overcome unbelievably powerful demons using little more than their wits and some training. 

Also, great background work for the fights.

The other strength is the characters. The protagonist, Tanjiro, is one of the best anime protagonists out there, because he really is only fighting in order to save his sister. At all times, it’s the bond he feels with her and through her the rest of his family, that keeps him going and helps him maintain his extreme empathy and kind personality no matter what he goes through. It’s not that he’s naive, far from it, he just knows that there is evil in the world and chooses to be kind anyway. Moreover, he shows kindness in a believable and human way, something that’s hard to do without seeming sappy. The rest of the cast is similarly deeper and more relatable than you would expect from a show called “Demon Slayer,” particularly many of the demons who live tortured existences that they’re suppressing through their rage.

Also, he has normal hair for an anime protagonist.

Overall, just a great series and I cannot wait for more. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Seven Deadly Sins/Nanatsu no Taizai (Seasons 1-4): A Little Formulaic at Times, but Still Fun – Netflix Anime Mini-Review

It’s always fun to watch bad guys be the best good guys.

SUMMARY

In the land of Brittania (not to be confused with any real place with similar name), the kingdom of Liones lived in relative peace until the king was overthrown by the Holy Knights, his elite armed forces. The Princess, Elizabeth Liones (Sora Amamiya/Erika Harlacher), set out to find the exiled warriors who previously betrayed the Holy Knights, the Seven Deadly Sins. She actually manages to find Meliodas (Yūki Kaji/Bryce Papenbrook), the captain of the Sins, and the pair embark on a quest to find the others. They succeed in locating four more of the group: Ban the immortal (Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Ben Diskin), Diane the giant (Aoi Yūki/Erica Mendez), King the Elf (Jun Fukuyama/Max Mittelman), and Gowther the doll (Yuhei Takagi/Erik Scott Kimerer). The five, later joined by Merlin the sorceress (Maaya Sakamoto/Lauren Landa), manage to liberate the kingdom from the Holy Knights, only to discover that the entire takeover was engineered to release an even greater threat: The demonic Ten Commandments. Together with the seventh Sin, Escanor (Tomokazu Sugita/Kyle Hebert), the group must stop the Demon Clan from taking over Brittania.

But only King wears a hoodie.

END SUMMARY

I will admit that when I first checked out this series, I had already read some of the manga, so I think I might have expected too much of it. The anime is a pretty faithful adaptation, particularly compared to some others that I’ve seen, but it didn’t feel like it added enough for me. As a result, I kinda bailed after the second season. However, since the manga has wrapped up in the interim, I decided I wanted to see how the story ended. So, I checked it out again and I will say that they did get a little bit better at layering extra imagery onto the anime that wasn’t in the manga to keep it fresh. 

They did a good job on some of the possession movements, for example.

The main thing that I liked about the series at the beginning was that most of the main characters were, in fact, depicted as sinners. Meliodas was a pervert who constantly groped Elizabeth (which she apparently liked, but is still wrong) and was presumed to be concealing an impossible amount of rage beneath his joking facade. Ban was a thief, King was responsible for his species nearly being destroyed, Diane constantly tried to force Meliodas into a relationship with her, Gowther was literally amoral, Merlin was willing to experiment on people without their knowledge, and Escanor, as is true to his sin, was the embodiment of haughty pride. Having protagonists with such flaws almost always makes the story more interesting, but they tried to make a few of them a little more likable at the cost of removing that moral ambiguity. Still, the personalities and character traits are pretty solid for a show like this. 

Seriously, dude, not cool.

It also helps that the show references a diverse number of mythologies, either directly or via allusion, and that it builds on elements from them to quickly create a world that contains a huge number of species and cultures. The show has traditional fantasy races like elves and giants, but also celestial and demonic forces that are a blend of DnD and Abrahamic religions. Arthurian mythology is directly invoked, as is modern vampire mythology and even some Western pop literature. 

I mean, there’s an Arthur Pendragon who rules Camelot. That’s… blatant.

The biggest problem, for me, was that the series had to do the Dragon Ball Z thing of having to constantly level up the powers of the characters in order to keep them as the underdogs. The series even gives you a “power level” reader just to make sure that you understand that these threats completely outclass our protagonists, such that when the Ten Commandments are first introduced, one of their number is stronger than all of the Sins combined. This seemed almost unnecessary because the Commandments also had innovative powers that could have made them a threat even if they were just even in power. Still, so many series have done this, I can hardly hold it against them. I just appreciate it more when series, like One Piece, for example, at least hint from the beginning that this kind of power exists in the world, so that it doesn’t just feel like the narrator saying “well, you beat Bob the Unbeatable, now you have to beat Tim the More Unbeatable who we didn’t mention before now.”

Screw you, Tim.

Overall, I do still think it’s a solid series. Plus, it has an apparent end point in the next season or two, so you don’t have to worry about sitting around 10 years from now waiting for the arc to finish. Lookin’ at you, One Piece.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

DoroHeDoro: It’s Glorious and Gorey… Goreous? – Netflix Anime Mini-Review

I take a look at the story of a guy with a reptile head and his martial arts chef friend.

SUMMARY

Welcome to the Hole. It’s basically a city from Mad Max, except that magic wrecked the world instead of nukes. Sorcerers, a mutant species of humanity created by demons from hell that live in a different dimension, periodically come to the Hole to experiment on the humans that live there. One of those humans was Caiman (Wataru Takagi/Aleks Le), a man who was cursed by a sorcerer to have a giant lizard head. Caiman awoke without any memories and found out that when he puts his mouth around a Sorcerer’s head, that a second person crawls out of his throat and decides if that Sorcerer is the one that cursed Caiman. I know that sounds weird, but it’s literally the opening of the show, so get used to it. He’s accompanied by his friend Nikaidō (Reina Kondō/Reba Buhr), a local chef and expert fighter. The pair work together to eliminate Sorcerers from the Hole and find out who cursed Caiman. They end up drawing the ire of the Sorcerer gangster En (Kenyu Horiuchi/Keith Silverstein) and his lackeys: Shin (Yoshimasa Hosoya/Sean Chiplock), Noi (Yū Kobayashi/Cherami Leigh), Fujita (Kengo Takanashi/Bryce Papenbrook), and Ebisu (Miyu Tomita/Cristina Vee). 

Masks are very popular in the show.

END SUMMARY

From the very beginning, this show makes it clear that it’s not going to shy away from being pretty dang gross. Not only do you see a human being emerge from the throat of a lizard man, you then see a person essentially minced into a number of pieces too great to count. The wood chipper from Fargo was probably more forgiving to Steve Buscemi’s body. This sort of thing happens frequently in the show, although the cartoon effects do lessen the disturbing nature of some of the acts. This show’s not for the faint of heart, is what I’m saying. 

No, he’s not eating him. This is diagnostic.

The world that’s been built here is never fully elaborated on, but what we see of it keeps drawing the viewer further in. Sorcerers basically view humanity as lab rats to be experimented on, with very few humans willing to stand up to them. When we see the range of their abilities, this unchecked domination starts to make a lot of sense. Almost all Sorcerers only have a single ability, like “creating mushrooms” or “bringing stuff back to life,” but those are sometimes taken to horrific ends when it’s revealed that one of the sorcerers can literally just turn people into mushrooms or that bodies don’t have to be whole when they’re resurrected. It’s like everything is taken to a twisted natural conclusion. This includes the fact that once a year, the Hole’s dead come back to life as zombies due to the amount of magic that the Sorcerers leave behind.

Some sorcerers are not just strong, but nearly invulnerable, so there’s that.

The characters are compelling in that nobody really seems to be the “good” guy or the “bad” guy. Caiman is a victim, sure, but he also massacres people for his own enjoyment. Nikaido is the closest we have to an altruist, but she has her own secrets and past issues. En seems malicious, up until you find out that he was the ultimate victim in his youth and is seeking to break up a horrible societal problem. Most of his henchmen are similarly ambiguous. Everyone kills people or Sorcerers pretty frequently. It makes for a lot of interesting scenes where we know everyone’s motivations, so we feel extra invested in the conflicts. 

The character designs are also a nice blend of form and function.

Overall, it’s a pretty good show. Glad I checked it out.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.