Title: Kimetsu no Yaiba / Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Length: 26(?) x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Action, fantasy, supernatural, horror
Year of release: 2019
Kimetsu no Yaiba takes its time, and that’s important. Tanjirou returns from a trip to town to find his family brutally slaughtered, and as he struggles to carry the lone surviver, his sister Nezuca, to a doctor or healer, and when quiet, Kimetsu no Yaiba can be darkly impactful. Trudging through the snow to the tune of the wind gives an uncomfortable sensation that is certainly impressive. A Demon Slayer makes a grand entrance as he tries to kill Nezuca, who has become a demon, and a well choreographed action scene is set to ufotable’s strong sense of dynamism. The pace and tone works wonders for selling Kimetsu no Yaiba’s darkness, and this is is almost an extremely impressive premiere. Kimetsu no Yaiba can tap into a strong sense of isolation, but the the soundscape that captures the atmosphere is ruined by a blaring soundtrack and the pace is brought to a standstill by over explanation. Part of me wants to be less harsh, but these are clearly defined styles that will follow the series going forward.
Dry explanations of the horrors of demons and a stiff demonstration Tanjirou’s super-human sense of smell are far from the worst offenders of spoken word this episode. Rather, it is the action scene that goes into the Demon Slayer’s head to info-dump what just happened (despite it being visually clear), and why that makes Tanjirou amazing. It was stretched thin, too, especially as it came from a Man of Few Words.
Yuki Kajiura takes charge of the OST, which should be a good thing. Her soundtracks have a strong sense of style, but here, her flare is carried with little of the meaning. Even beyond that, the music is gaudy and conflicts heavily. As Tanjirou bids farewell to his family and goes off to the village, for what would be the last time, her soundtrack blares orchestral arrangements sans notable motifs. As Tanjirou treks through the snow, the uncomfortable atonal choral pieces siren, but not with purpose. There’s a continuing sense of the music being inappropriate.
These are a couple of large stylistic nitpicks that I can’t let go of, but other than these, it was an impressive episode. The tone, when not quashed by the music and excursions into infodump, was impressively consistent and struck a reverent atmosphere in the quieter sequences. Going forward, the series has setup a dark adventure in a cold world, and I must admit that I’m very interested to see what surprises it has in store.