Tanjiro, son of a humble woodcutter, returns from town to find his family slaughtered mercilessly. The work of demons, this also turns his sister into a demon. He sets out on a journey as a demon slayer, one who hunts demons, and to find a way to cure his sister.
This is the anime that’s been getting all the attention lately in Japan, and overseas. Coupled with LiSA’s catchy Gurenge opening song, it is no surprise that this anime has become well known to many.
Perhaps what struck most when I watched it was the nearly subliminal link to another show I had watched, a South Korean Netflix Drama, Kingdom.
Of course, as zombies, Muzan, the main antagonist, has the ability to convert humans into demons. This way of contamination is similar to even the normal English lore of zombies, where zombies spread by biting each other. Another common feature is the weakness to sunlight, and the idea that zombies or demons die when their head is cut off with a special material.
But the similarity with Kingdom comes only when Muzan searches for a Blue Spider Lily, and when we learn of his past: that feeding him with medicine made from the plant turned him into a demon. In the K-drama, the king is turned into a zombie when fed a mythical purple ressurection plant. This similarity of medicinal plants going wrong to cause an abomination was used in suspending the viewer’s disbelief since we really do not know all there is to know about the properties of rare medicinal plants.
Another similarity would be the presence of a doctor figure, Tamayo to Seo-Bi, both researching a cure for turning back.
Now, while it may seem that one copied over the other, this two visual products are not related at all. One a South Korean 2019 film, the other a manga that started in 2016. However, it would be certain to say that this is no simple coincidence. It is likely that, this theme of resurrection plants and zombies are very much ingrained in the horror genre. While Kimetsu no Yaiba did borrow this theme, it diverged very much so with its focus on them as ‘demons’ and having the capacity to think and make decisions. This brought them to learn unique Demon skills, demon blood arts, that the demons used to fight off demon slayers. Unlike in Japanese folklore, where oni/demons are depicted with red masks and clubs more similar to English trolls, the demons in Kimetsu are converted humans and that have a human past. This makes for a very rich and engaging story.
Kimetsu also focuses a lot in showcasing what appears to be various sword dances or katana forms that the demon slayers use. These sword forms appeal to people who especially love the battle scenes in anime. Without the artistic depictions of these sword forms, etc. water spewing out of Tanjiro’s blade like Singapore’s merlion, or the attractive lightning effect as Zenitsu dashes with his katana as fast as when he chases girls.
But perhaps the core theme that captivates the audiences so well, is the story of the demon’s past. What made he become a demon? What did he wish for? Almost every one of them had a tragic past that led up to them turning into a demon, which makes you sympatise with them even despite all the tragic atrocities that they commit after becoming a demon.
It is at times like this that you wonder, who is it they are fighting? When circumstances have moulded, in some ways, a young boy into a morphed demon hunting down demon slayers with fox masks, wouldn’t you wonder who is to blame? To some, the outright justice-upholders, the young boy himself is sinful for becoming a demon and taking so many lives. But on the other side of the coin, it is also a mix of misfortune that befell him, not only was his family masaccred, he was turned into a demon and had no choice but to kill or be killed.
Nonetheless, there are demons who choose their path willfully. And they do this out of a lust for power, or longevity. Again, we see them acting out of self-interest, (ironically) characteristic of most humans. The demons in their hearts have led them astray, to infringe on others’ rights to live, all to further their own ambitions. We see this especially in the battles against the Upper Moons, which if you haven’t read, is out in the manga. Muzan, displays this selfishness to the extreme, as he converts people into demons and intimidates and binds them into working for him.
The antithesis to Muzan is Tamayo, a demon who manages to break free of Muzan’s control. While she can convert people into demons, she only used it to convert the terminally ill Yushiro as a last resort. She does not bind him to her, nor does she need to, as Yushiro serves her out of his own wishes. This is inherently, a rule by fear vs rule by choice. Unlike the upper moons, who may betray Muzan at any time should his power waver or should they find an oppportunity, Yushiro would stay loyal to Tamayo and would act with her interests at heart, even if she dies.
Another antithesis to Muzan that will become apparent as in the manga, is the Demon Slayer Corps leader, Ubuyashiki Kagaya. Despite possessing not the ability to kill demons nor an abled body to live a normal life, the Demon Slayers serve him with deference. This might be because his entire family line and him has choosen to dedicate their short lives to fight against Muzan. Unlike Muzan, what Ubuyashiki lacks as a leader in ability he makes up with strategy and charisma. Possessing the skill to unite the demon slayers’ Hashiras (Pillars) and command respect, while utilising the crows as an effective communication network and his mansion as a central base of operations, it can be said that Ubuyashiki takes on a strategic leadership style. One where he makes decisions with the big picture in mind, and uses crows to communicate his decisions.
Muzan on the other hand, uses a more autocratic leadership style, in which he simply commands demons to attack Tanjiro and does not follow up with any strategy or gather backup for them should they fall, since he has overwhelming power and does not play as a support for the demons. This lack of cooperation or coordination may be one of the demon slayers’ few advantages against demons that wholly surpass them in strength and fighting ability.
The showdown of the demon slayers against Muzan and demons is definitely something that will be heavily anticipated by most anime fans, as we await the next season and more manga updates.
Next, my favourite character corner! This was quite hard to decide since there wasn’t a particular type or personality that I liked off the bat from the start. Tanjiro was just Tanjiro. Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke trio really had good chemistry, and gave me a good laugh, but none of them seem good alone. Nezuko just gave mms! all the time, as cute as they were, and Kanao barely spoke.
In the end, my favourite character of Kimetsu goes to Yushiro! I really admire his devotion to Tamayo, and I love his Blood Demon art ability. Also his reaction to Nezuko’s headpat is so funny!
I’ve also taken a liking to Kochou Shinobu. Pretty and lethal butterfly. I like that fighting style.
It’s a pity that Zenitsu and Tanjiro do not have enough bromance for a Zenitsu x Tanjiro honestly. Most of the time, Zenitsu is just whimping out and then Tanjiro acts his part as comedy man number 2.
Zenitsu Appreciation Corner ❤
I could not bring myself to like him as he almost always whimps out and acts pretty annoying most times, but he is rather cute. I think I’ll love it lots when he gets animated in his fight against the upper moons though! And show me that cool Lightning Breath!
- (Cover) https://www.zerochan.net/2709654