There’re two types of people in this world: those who become demon chow and those who take revenge for their families by joining the Demon Slayer Corps. Tanjiro Kamado falls into this latter category when he comes home one day and finds his entire family chewed up and spit out by some random passing demon, and his little sister, Nezuko, has become a demon herself. Usually, there’s only one type of demon in this world, but with the power of familial bonds, she becomes her own category of demon who just sleeps off her munchies.
The Fleeting Humanity:
The magic in Demon Slayer is one parts cool and another parts horrifying. The part that’s cool is that you get to whip out kickass zanpakuto techniques, and the part that’s horrifying is that doing it for even just an instance makes you feel like your lungs are gonna pop. Then there’s the manga’s constant reminder that its Slayers are humans with human limitations and human fetishes. That’s fine, given its humans vs. demons narrative, but it’s kinda tough to remain committed to that when your humans randomly gain x-ray vision.
The Fleeting Comedy:
I’m a real prune when it comes to comedy, so what an unexpected but happy surprise when the manga about beheading demons had jokes that stuck their landings. Most of them are just Tanjiro being a happy-go-lucky simpleton, but these bits really livened up the down-time between major fights, and I felt a sense of betrayal when the manga didn’t toss in more of them.
The Fleeting Compassion:
The most defining trait of Tanjiro is his compassion. Even though he’s a no-nonsense type of guy when it comes to slaying demons, that doesn’t stop him from having a moment of sympathy for the demons who were once human and had interests, desires, and hardships. But as great a guy as this makes him, he drops this compassionate act by the end of the series, shouting at his opponents how he’ll chop them to pieces before lighting them on fire. It’s understandable that he slip from time to time, especially when up against the demon who murdered his family, but the manga makes no commentary on this, so I assume it’s saying that murdering your archnemesis in blind hatred is a-okay.
Looking at Demon Slayer as a whole, there isn’t any one thing it does exceptionally well, but what it does do it does solidly. Its few jokes are keepers, it’s got tense fights, it clinches backstory, and its final battle is a series of gorgeously illustrated panels I suspect would bankrupt a studio to animate. Woulda been nice if the epilogue featured the characters we had spent time with and gotten to know rather than Jim, Jane, and all their no-name school mates.