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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Netflix Review – Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Season 1)

Netflix releases an anime set in a generic fantasy world.

SUMMARY

A while ago, the gods descended from the heavens in order to have a fun time. They limited their powers so that they could experience the world more like mortals, but choose mortals to empower who join their groups, called “familias.” A number of them set up in the town of Oraria, located next to the entrance to an underground labyrinth creatively called the Dungeon. The goddess Hestia (Inori Minase/Luci Christian), unfortunately, only has one member of her familia, a young man named Bell Cranel (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryson Baugus). Despite being a level 1 adventurer (yes, they have levels), Bell falls in love with the powerful swordswoman Ais Wallenstein (Saori Onishi/Shelley Calene-Black). Unbeknownst to Bell, his crush actually causes him to develop the rare skill Learis Freese, which makes his strength grow rapidly. Bell soon tries to win Ais’s attention while making the Hestia Familia the best. He’s later joined by helper Lilliluka Arde (Maaya Uchida/Hilary Haag) and armor smith Welf Crezzo (Yoshimaasa Hosoya/David Wald).

IsItWrong - 1Hestia
The one on the right who looks like a super-endowed teenager is the immortal goddess.

END SUMMARY

Someone advised me to check this anime out and, as I’m a nerd, I get why. This show pretty much follows the classic RPG rules, including the characters actually having stat blocks involving their strength, dexterity, etc. You get experience from slaying monsters, which allows you to raise your stats, which allows you to slay bigger monsters, rinse and repeat. When you kill monsters, they release magical crystal shards (because why not?), which can be sold or used to craft magical items. Monsters get stronger the deeper you go in the dungeon with “bosses” every few floors. However, sometimes monsters can make their way closer to the surface, which means that it’s important to keep a supply of strong adventurers going deeper and deeper in order to keep the population of strong monsters lower. There are also “free levels” where there are no monsters, just to keep it fair. Like I said, it’s basically just a traditional JRPG.

IsItWrong - 2Minotaur
Additionally, the “boss” monsters that almost kill you later are the things you easily destroy.

The thing that’s supposed to make it interesting is that it is more of a character-driven comedy than an adventure series. Bell is extremely awkward when around Ais, which is sometimes amusing, but completely oblivious to the fact that a number of other women around the town are attracted to him. It’s a fairly typical harem structure that Anime has adopted since Ranma ½ and Tenchi Muyo helped popularize it. The problem is that most of the characters here are just way too generic to make it work. There’s nothing about their personalities or characters that really feel unique to this show. In Ranma ½, characters would have descriptions like “Martial Arts cross-dressing chef who fights with a giant spatula.” Here, the description is “protagonist with a crush and tragic backstory.” Yes, the idea of literal gods and goddesses roaming the Earth and having competing teams is fun, but there aren’t really any stakes to anything involving it, so it doesn’t help much. 

IsItWrong - 3Lili
She’s a catgirl who can carry a big backpack, but that’s still somehow not compelling.

Overall, the monster and world designs were fun, and the elements that involved actual dungeon-crawling were entertaining, but I just couldn’t get into it. If you are a big anime person, you might like this, but I just didn’t care about any of the people. The series is apparently based on a bunch of light novels, so maybe those are better.

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.

Netflix Mini-Review: Cannon Busters – A Fun Take on Classic Anime

An American indie comic gets animated and it’s worth a shot.

SUMMARY (SPOILER-FREE)

It’s a world of sci-fi robots and magic that is somehow also the Old West. Sam the gynoid (Hinaki Yano/Kamali Minter) and her robot mechanic partner Casey Turnbuckle (Shiori Izawa/Stephanie Sheh) seek out legendary outlaw Philly The Kid (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Kenny Blank). Together, the three journey in order to find Sam’s lost owner Prince Kelby (Junji Majima/Zeno Robinson) and get caught up with bounty hunters, international politics, some weird drunks, and the occasional nihilistic robot.

Image result for cannon busters
Two are relentlessly optimistic while the other is a scumbag.

END SUMMARY

I admit I wasn’t that interested in the series until I found out it was created by LeSean Thomas, a guy who has been associated with a number of projects I enjoy, ranging from The Boondocks to Avatar: The Legend of Korra. So, I gave it a try and it was pretty solid. I’m not going to say that it revolutionized the anime genre or anything like that, but it definitely keeps you entertained. The show is a serial, with many of the episodes leading directly into the next with nearly no filler, something that stands at odds with most anime. 

Image result for lesean thomas
He co-directed The Boondocks. ‘Nuff said.

A lot of what makes the series work is that it really does create a strange and yet compelling world through its characters and story-lines. For example, the main character is a gunslinger who drives a transforming pink Cadillac and is mystically immortal. Actually, that’s probably a good test for whether or not you’ll like this show: Does a pink Cadillac that transforms into a giant Minotaur robot when you put enough quarters into it sound like a funny idea? If so, then this show is for you. 

Image result for cannon busters
Is a hypersonic alcoholic Ronin fun? Then watch.

The fight scenes in the show have a lot of variety, incorporating guns, swords, robots, and martial arts. The humor in the show isn’t overwhelming, but it manages to lighten some of the more genocidal or nihilistic moments. The plot is pretty simple, although it does run several plot-lines simultaneously, but the correct amount of hijinks tend to ensue at any time. 

Image result for cannon busters unfettered
Extradimensional monster eating a village? Yeah, that’s a thing.

Overall, if you have an inclination towards anime, I recommend giving this a try. At 12 episodes, it’s not much of an investment.

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.