I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: every season of anime tends to have one anime that stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to sheer production quality. It’s an anime where the art, music, story, etc, all deliver on such polished levels that, even though you’re seeing it with your own two eyes, feels impossible to achieve. The pilots for the Spring 2019 season just started, but Demon Slayer feels like the one to wear this crown for the season.
This is a world where demons exist. Those demons will attack at night, feeding on humans for nutrients much like an animal would. They have to avoid sunlight (though the exact reason for this hasn’t been explained), and are incredibly powerful, requiring special Demon Slayers to be trained to kill them. They’re imposing threats, but the people in this world tend to see them as they would other powerful predators such as bears; common sense is the best way to avoid being killed by one of them.
Tanjirou Kamado and his family (one mother, and five siblings) live on the mountain. One day, Tanjirou takes a load of charcoal to the village to sell; he’s been working extra hard so that his family can enjoy a bountiful New Year celebration. He’s well known in the village by everyone as someone who is willing to help with pretty much anything. He possesses a keen (almost supernatural) sense of smell, able to tell who broke a vase just by sniffing the pieces. After a full day of work, he’s set to return home, but needs to delay his return journey so that he isn’t traveling and vulnerable in the dark. But when he arrives home the following day, he finds that his mother and all but one of his siblings have been killed.
He immediately takes up the unconscious body of his last remaining family member, his sister Nezuko, and sprints towards a doctor in hopes that she will live. But the mountain is high and the snow is falling hard, and on the return journey, he’s attacked by the very last person he expects: his sister. She has been infected and turned into the very thing that killed the rest of their family; she is now a demon.
“Where happiness is destroyed, there’s always the smell of blood.”
During the attack, Tanjirou notices that she doesn’t appear to want to kill him. Some part of his sister is still inside her body, and he wants to do everything he can to change her back. But while he’s struggling to get through to her, a Demon Slayer shows up and attempts to kill Nezuko. Rather than fulfilling her animal instincts to nourish herself on Tanjirou’s body, Nezuko instead turns to defend him against the Demon Slayer.
This gives the Demon Slayer hope that maybe she can be turned, and he decides to spare both of their lives. He gives what wisdom he can to Tanjirou, telling him now more than ever he needs to take up a warriors spirit and be strong for his sister so that she can be cured. And with that, their journey begins.
Like I said in the opening paragraph, this pilot was striking. I will be both amazed and impressed if they can keep this level of detail and production value for the entire series. It seemed like there was no detail that wasn’t worth fleshing out in the art, music and cinematography. It all felt like a high budget Hollywood movie (in the good way). If you have a stomach for violence (there’s a surprising amount of blood) and like a good supernatural story, definitely give this one a try. Hopefully you’re as impressed as I was.