Just so we’re clear before I delve into this review – I am not an anime person. Sure, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was pretty sick, but that’s hardly anime. I had seen some of the artwork and episode synopses for “Demon Slayer”, and while I wasn’t initially hooked I had nothing else to watch so I gave it a go. And I’m so glad I did.
It was much better than I expected, and it’s even gotten to the point where I’m eagerly waiting for the second season. I still have my issues with it – as I said, I’m not an anime fan (yet) so some moments felt cliché – but I thought I’d talk about it in depth in a proper review. So, what did I think of it?
You can check out some of my other related lists below, including a couple of other videogame reviews:
I’ll be doing something a little different for this review – there’s a lot to unpack here, so I’ll be splitting up my analysis into the various arcs across the season and rating them all out of 10, before giving a final definitive verdict.
Final Selection Arc (Ep 1 – 5)
Demon Slayer’s first episode starts with a bang, as we get to witness the tragic events that set Tanjiro on his path. That initial demon attack was far more graphic and horrific than I was expecting from this show, and it was one of the first indicators that this anime wasn’t going to be like any other.
I really like both the characters of Giyu Tomioka and Urokodaki – Giyu’s introduction in particular was especially badass, and I really liked how he utilised his skills across the season. They both seemed like reasonable people who were rooting for Tanjiro and Nezuko, and as such I was rooting for them too.
One thing I really appreciated was how little time they spent on Tanjiro’s training; I was fully expecting a bunch of episodes to be purely dedicated to learning and refining Urokodaki’s teachings, but Demon Slayer spends hardly any time on the specifics and jumps straight into the important action. I think the boulder episode did spend a little too long on Tanjiro’s inner conflict, but it still had a satisfying resolution.
The main part of this arc is obviously the Final Selection itself, and I really enjoyed watching Tanjiro best the demons and get his first sword. Again, I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly Demon Slayer got to the main arcs, and I was extremely grateful for that decision by the writers.
The main problem I have with Demon Slayer (and it’s also prominent in other anime) is the time-wasting and filler within episodes, and I thought the fight with the massive demon was far too drawn out. It really detracted from my viewing experience, and it’s a shame we didn’t get to see more Tanjiro vs demons action at the end of this arc.
First Demons Arc (Ep 6 – 10)
It was great to see Tanjiro get an assignment so early on in the season, and his first true battle with the bog demons was an entertaining one. It wasn’t the craziest battle by this show’s standards, but entertaining nonetheless.
It was when Tanjiro ventured into the city that my mind was truly blown, and after his confrontation with Kibutsuji (only a few episodes in!) I knew I was hooked on the show. Demon Slayer does a great job of showing just how much of an evil bastard Kibutsuji is, but I think he’s only truly intimidating during the final arc of the season.
The highlight of this arc is clearly the triumphant battle against the Temari and Arrow demons. Lady Tamaya and her accomplice Yushiro were fantastic side characters during this part of the arc, and I was amazed this was all we got to see of them in the season.
Everyone got the chance to show off their new powers – Nezuko and Yushiro were impressively powerful, Tanjiro demonstrated how far his abilities had come, but I think the fact that the Temari and Arrow demons weren’t even part of the Twelve Kizuki is what excited me the most. This was a great arc, and I was excited to see what was next.
Tsuzumi Mansion Arc (Ep 11 – 14)
This was the arc that I felt could have been half the runtime, but the show spent far too long on filler and repetitive dialogue – and as such it’s my least favourite stretch of episodes in the first season.
We also get the chance to meet two very important characters – and if I’m being brutally honest, probably my two least favourite characters in the whole show (they were during this arc anyway).
Zenitsu is the most annoying character I’ve ever had the misfortune of watching ever, and his ridiculous antics in this arc were borderline unwatchable at times. Inosuke wasn’t that much better either, as his violence and lack of understanding towards his fellow demon slayers was infuriating.
There were some shining moments during this arc that keep it from being a complete train wreck though: Zenitsu having a sudden burst of power was awesome, Tanjiro’s battle with the drum demon was epic (with incredible animation as well!) and Zenitsu’ protection of Nezuko was admittedly quite touching. This arc was still drawn out and annoying as heck though, so it’ll get marked down significantly.
Mount Natagumo Arc (Ep 15 – 21)
I was initially sceptical when the gang arrived at the spider-infested Mount Natagumo – most shows I’ve seen with a random spider episode (looking at you “Mandalorian”) end up being a pure creep-fest rather than interesting television, but this arc completely blew my expectations out of the water.
First of all, I’m glad Zenitsu got separated from the group. He was still the most annoying person ever, so to get a break from him made for a nice change of pace. The icing on the cake, however, was when he managed to single-handedly take down that horrific spider demon using his badass lightning powers – my respect for him grew immensely after that.
These spider demons were some of the most evil, spine-chilling foes I’ve ever encountered in a TV show, and when the dead / injured demon slayers started getting controlled like puppets I could hardly watch the screen. It was some of the most awful displays of villainy I had ever seen, and I loved every second of it and couldn’t wait for Tanjiro to put those spider demons in their place.
The last couple of episodes is where this arc really shines, and Tanjiro’s epic fight with Rui will go down as one of the greatest anime battles of all time. It’s amazing how it didn’t feel like cheating when Tomioka came in to save the day – it all felt earned, and watching Giyu annihilate those powerful demons had to be the most euphoric moment in the series.
The next arc is also set up brilliantly with Shinobu wanting to take Tanjiro and Nezuko to see the Hashira, and it capped off the strongest arc in the show.
Hashira Meeting Arc (Ep 22 – 26)
This arc was basically just a wind down period for the heroes, a chance to pull themselves together and regain their strength. While this didn’t make for the most scintillating viewing in the season, this arc still had its moments.
Actually getting to meet this elusive group of top-ranking demon slayers was admittedly pretty cool, but I guess I was expecting them to do a bit more than just stand there and argue. It genuinely surprised me that a lot of them seemed to be bad (or at least unfriendly) people, and Giyu and Shinobu seemed like the only sane ones.
Tanjiro, Inosuke and Zenitsu re-training certainly had its moments, but I think the highlight for me had to be when Kibutsugi absolutely annihilated his lower Kizuki. He had been hyped as an all-conquering epitome of evil, so to see his awesome power in action was truly satisfying.
I was a little underwhelmed by the whole arc by the time the gang suddenly left to catch a train, but it was still a nice cool-down period after the insanity of Mount Natagumo.
I really enjoyed my time with Demon Slayer, and I thought the writers and animators did an excellent job building up the characters and the world they live in. The story was also excellent, even if it was too drawn out from time to time. I would highly recommend this show, even to a non-anime fan – if you can get past the anime-isms, this is a real gem.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10
|+ Gorgeous animation and artwork||– Some episodes and arcs dragged on for far longer than they needed to|
|+ Brilliantly realised story and world that delves into some series themes and subject matter||– Inosuke and especially Zenitsu could be really annoying and borderline unwatchable at times|
|+ Every character is fully-fleshed out, and you care when there are death stakes|
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