A Review from Two Perspectives
土星 Dosei | Alexis Ibarra-Ibarra
Kimetsu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) translated to “Demon Slayer”, but literally meaning “Blade of Demon Destruction”, is an R-rated Shounen (“made for boys”) action-drama-comedy (it’s also labelled “historical”, but that’s a stretch). On Anime review aggregate sites like MyAnimeList (for a Western audience) and AniKore (for a Japanese audience), Kimetsu no Yaiba is given a score of 8.7 out of 10, which marks it as one of the best Anime ever made, with a little over 9 being the highest score I’ve ever personally seen on both sites. With this in mind, what do our Bakers 土星 Dosei and Alexis think about this Anime?
This review will contain spoilers.
How would you describe Kimetsu no Yaiba in five words?
Great animation, rest is mediocre.
Amazing, just erase friggin’ Zenitsu.
What is your favourite scene in the show?
My favourite scene is when Tanjirou kills the Mother Spider Demon with a skill called Kanten no Jiu (干天の慈雨) “Blessed Rain after the Drought”. The attention to detail in the scene is really spectacular, and I particularly like how Tanjirou switches his chosen attack when he realises the Demon accepts death willingly.
I really like the scenes where you get to know the story of demons. I think they successfully show how humans are a thin line away from becoming monsters. It can happen as a result of abuse, mistreatment, fear, or simply because of greed and selfishness. I like that most demons are shown as vulnerable creatures despite their supernatural powers because, in general, monsters are portrayed in media as evil creatures that hunt humans for sport or by instinct. Besides, I love the fact that not all demons hurt humans, even if they “need” blood to survive. The way they portray domestic violence through “Spider Mother” deserves a standing ovation, and the last episode of the first season: WOW!
What is your least favourite scene?
There are several terrible scenes, but my least favourite comes towards the end of the first season when Tanjirou is awkwardly introduced to the Hashira, i.e. the Über-Elite of the Demon Slayer Corps. It’s not only a really terrible way to introduce what are supposed to be tremendously-important figures in the universe but I just also dislike how every, single, fucking, character in the show has to be defined by some strange quirk, and this is just the worst showcase of the horrible character design this Anime suffers from.
I HATE all the scenes where Zenitsu is shown as the ultimate crybaby. They aren’t funny, just LAME, and they made me cringe so hard: they were painful to watch. I think his fears and vulnerabilities should have been treated with the same respect as the ones of demons. He has some redeeming moments that show how easily that character could have been worthy of screen time; however, they are not enough to overcome the awful writing and character-building around him. Honestly, whenever he becomes a main character in the show, it’s as though someone with no literary talent or background joined the writing team. I also must agree with Dosei, what the hell is with the introduction of the Hashira?! Was the writer on vacation or something? That is the only valid explanation for both Zenitsu and this really cringy and anticlimactic introduction.
What do you most like about the show (theme, art style, atmosphere, characters, etc.)?
The animation, without a doubt. It is A-tier animation, though not S-tier, since there are still some terribly-animated fights that completely lack gravity, as well as a lot of stand-in 3D models for basically any scene where the characters aren’t in focus. The art style is also pretty nice but suffers when it comes to character design.
I really don’t care about the 3D models, so I think that overall, the animation and visual design are neat and appealing. Plus, the writing around demons is elegant and psychologically profound. Music must not be overlooked as it sets an unsettling atmosphere that truly transports you to the Taishō Era (大正時代) in Japan.
In that regard, I like the way Kimetsu no Yaiba depicts the clashing lifestyles of traditional Japan and the project of modernization prior to WWII. I am not sure if Demon Slayer happens before or after WWI, so it would be interesting to watch some historical events as part of a subplot or maybe even as a part of the main plot (I haven’t read the manga nor the novels, but could Muzan Kibutsuji be the puppeteer behind the militarization and the wars?).
What do you least like about the show?
The writing. Not particularly the plot, although it’s nothing remarkable, but rather the dialogue and character writing. It’s so 2-dimensional and poorly written that it can compete with En En no Shouboutai (炎炎ノ消防隊) “Fire Force”, although that show probably still takes the crown for me. My least favourite thing is that every character has to have some specific trait that defines them, which means every character that has more than just a passing role has something off about them. Tanjirou is the ultimate good guy; Zenitsu is a coward and lecherous filth and godawfully-annoying; Inosuke is a meathead and wants to fight everyone; etc. These character quirks also aren’t presented very well, not to mention, the writing suffers from exposition and has the same amount of subtlety as a freaking sledgehammer. I’m also quite annoyed that Demons that are killed get more backstory than a lot of the main characters, but those sections aren’t really that bad per se, it just shows a lack of proper character development in the places where it matters.
The complete disrespect towards Zenitsu and, sometimes, towards Inosuke and Tanjirou too. What do I mean by that? Well, I am being kind of platonic here, so, I think that, even if the characters on the screen were “meant” to be that way, a greater idea of Zenitsu and Tanjirou exists in the world of ideal forms. While watching the Anime, I couldn’t but notice some abstract characteristics that show the potentiality of these characters, an underlying ideal form that reveals their true essence. And that essence is what I think creators disrespected when they decided to add the extremely low-quality comedy.
The ideal form of Tanjirou is way easier to spot because he only deviates from it when he is with Zenitsu (just like lnosuke). In the case of the latter, he is continuously presented as a crybaby, but the essence is still there. Moreover, demons are represented as scared and vulnerable humans without making them look lame, which proves that the producers could have had more respect on their approach to fearful Zenitsu.
I agree that Tanjirou deserves a more developed background, but, in contrast to Dosei, I really like that they mainly focus on the demons.
Which character do you like the most, and why?
I have to say Giyuu. Aside from the fact that the author wants us to imagine that he’s dense, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense, since he shows quite a lot of understanding towards Tanjirou’s plight in the beginning. He is basically just a pretty cool character. I also like Haganezuka the Swordsmith, one of the few actually funny characters, as well as Lady Tamayo, though both of them aren’t really featured a lot.
Nezuko, Tamayo (great name btw), and the “Spider Mother” are my favorite by far. They are some of the strongest characters in the Anime. They are elegant, beautiful, smart, and complex: they face human emotions and traumatic experiences, but that doesn’t make them weak, that makes them even more powerful and compassionate. A+ for the way they portray female characters in the show. Ok, not all of them, but those three were given enough depth to show that they understand women, which for media is not easy to accomplish (I don’t know why). The consequences of domestic abuse on “Spider Mother” are amazingly well-developed as well.
Which character do you like the least, and why is it Zenitsu?
There are a lot of forgettable and boring characters, but none are as horrible as Zenitsu. I don’t know why they thought his infernal screeching for the duration of basically half the first season was worth including, but it almost made me quit the show on two separate occasions, and made rewatching it for this review excruciatingly painful. I think, in the future, when I want to torture myself, I’ll just stick needles through my eyeballs… it’d be less painful to endure… seriously…
Ugh, why did they have to make Zenitsu such a crybaby? He could have been one of the best characters, but no… they decided to make terrible comedy at the expense of the most basic dignity of this guy. The only way I got through his scenes was by playing Mario Kart Tour on my phone.
Again, what do I mean by “at the expense of the most basic dignity of this guy”? Well, for me, dignity is the intrinsic value every human being has just because of being a human. Even if Zenitsu is just an Anime character, he is supposed to represent a person.
I believe the creators of the show ripped away his most basic dignity, the lowest amount of respect a human deserves, by making him such a lame coward. It is ok and very interesting to present a fearful hero, but it is not ok to present it like a complete foul, particularly on this kind of Anime.
Is there any show that Kimetsu no Yaiba reminds you of?
As I’ve already said, it kind of reminds me of Fire Force, which I promise you isn’t a compliment. They both suffer from terrible writing and characters, but draw people in and keep them watching with flashy fight scenes and somewhat-inspired universes. Fire Force also utilises a lot of fan service, which, thankfully, Kimetsu no Yaiba doesn’t have unless you consider Nezuko being cute as fan service.
I need to be honest. I am not an otaku like Dosei (:P). So, I do not have a lot to compare against here. I would probably say The Promised Neverland and Attack on Titan. Yeah, maybe these ones are way better, but the plots could be linked to each other in one strange universe. Besides, they all give me these weird goosebumps.
Do you think 8.7 out of 10 is a worthy score for this Anime?
No. I think this score is far too high, considering how this is what I’d rate top-shelf Anime that get more than just one aspect right, whereas this show is really good at one thing and crap at everything else. Kimetsu no Yaiba is as overrated as Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion, Naruto, and One Piece. That’s right, I’m trying to start a war, come fight me.
Yeah, I think so. I mean, if you take out Zenitsu, the score would certainly go up. I do not think it is overrated because the animation, the visual design, and the music are awe-inspiring. Besides, the writing around demons is captivating. My only real concern about the show is just Zenitsu, as I have already explained. PLEASE, erase Zenitsu. PLEASE!
On a scale of 0 – 100, how would you personally rate the show?
65. The animation alone carries the show, and aside from the fight scenes, I can only count a handful of moments that are well-made, hence this score. I’d like to give it less, but I really like the animation.
Dosei is totally crazy. I think this Anime deserves an 8.5-8.9… BUT AGAIN, if you erase Zenitsu, some terrible comedy fillers, and forget about how the Hashira were introduced into the show, I would probably give it a 9.4-9.6 out of 10.
About our Rating Systems…
When I consider the worth of a show, I include the full spectrum of the 0 to 100. Alexis has the belief that anything below 70 is a failure, whereas I have the belief that compounding all shows to the top 30% of the scoreboard artificially inflates the worth of subjectively worthless shows.
I have a list of over 260 Anime (movies and series) that I have finished at least one season of. Some of the Anime on that list, like Ousama Game The Animation, are what I’d personally consider between a 10/100 in terms of score. It was an Anime so incredibly awful that I felt worse for having finished it, but it was still something I stubbornly sat through because I wanted to add it to my list of Anime I’ve watched. It remains undefeated at the bottom of my list.
Game reviewers like IGN have long been ridiculed for essentially grading every game the same score of 9.5, and I think this reluctance to call something a 10/10 or 100/100 puts that highscore on a pedestal as something unattainable. On my list of Anime, I have over 10 shows/films that I considered a 100/100. Shows like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Mushishi, and Hai to Gensou no Grimgar.
I try my best to use the full spectrum between 0 and 100, and my score here represents where Kimetsu no Yaiba falls on that spectrum for me.
Dosei and I talked about our rating systems, and they are entirely different. For me a 6.5 is a very mediocre note, you barely passed (>6) or even failed (>70), since that is how the education system rates students in my country (0-10 or 0/100). In Dosei’s country the scoring system is just… WHAT?
Anyway, here, in some schools, you pass with 6, and in others with 70. I think it is extremely easy to get an 8, you only have to do the bare minimum (do your homework and study five minutes before the exam). I know how hard it is to get a 9.5-10 because I was always a complete workaholic that achieved the best scores *anxiety intesifies*. Yet, that only applied until high school (at least for me). I went to a college that was basically HELL, and if I were to use the same score system, almost nothing would make it over 7, so I considered the standard national scoring system of my country for rating Kimetsu no Yaiba, and Dosei used one derived from his (I think).
Edit: This seems to be the real debate XD. I do use all the spectrum from 0-100 (I am not inflating scores). Dosei believes that anything under 6 out of 10 or 70 out of 100 is automatically a 0 for me; however, that’s not true at all. Most probably, I didn’t explain it very well during our talk. 😛 Anyway, I recently watched Sola, which I thought was pretty good when I was in Junior High, but now it is a 4/10 for me.
In my country, you fail or pass with 6/10 or 70/100, but your final score and your GPA is a (weighted) average. Therefore, it is important to get points, even if you fail. In that regard, it is better to obtain a 4 than a zero because it counts, it’s not like a 4 will become a 0 just because you didn’t obtain the minimum passing score. All of this just to say that I do use the entire scale and that I am not inflating scores. XD
Why do you think this is a more accurate score for the show? (disregard this question if you agree with the 8.7 score)
There are far too many elements that drag down the show, and sometimes, not always, rating is a calculation where all positives and negatives are combined, and for me, this is the resultant score.
Even if I agree with this score, I cannot stress enough that the points that were lost to get that score instead of a 9.4-9.6 were mainly because of Zenitsu, the fillers, and the Hashira. Therefore, if I deduct their mistakes from what could have been their final note, I still think they got at least 85-89% of the show right.
Which parts of the show would you improve to make the Anime better or worthy of the 8.7 score?
First off, I’d make the characters a bit more complex. For example, I get that Tanjirou is the ultimate nice guy, but he consistently empathises with Demons that have killed a lot of humans and show no remorse. Secondly, I’d make the show focus on just one kind of genre, rather than forcing cringy comedy into parts where it clearly doesn’t belong or filling episodes with soulless dialogue. Lastly, I’d spend more time fleshing out the main characters and spending more than just 5 minutes in the first episode to have Tanjirou mourn his family. I mean, the speed with which such a traumatic event passes by is pretty disturbing, not to mention, we’re supposed to care about his entire family that were introduced only a few minutes before being mercilessly slaughtered… it’s just pretty horrible pacing and needs a fix.
I am repeating myself too much now, so I’ll try to be brief:
a) Erase Zenitsu or at least give him some dignity for the love of our Bread God.
b) Stop trying to make comedy and focus on drama because the fillers and the “humor” are so cringy.
c) Keep focusing on demons but give Tanjirou a real background
d) BRING LADY TAMAYO BACK ASAP.
e) Stop introducing characters in an anticlimactic way. Besides, give Hashira real personalities because they are not only lame characters but also extremely annoying, basic, flat, and boring.
f) Make more scenes like the ones from the last episode, PLEASE!
g) A great plus would be to include historical events as side plots or even in the main plot.
Any other comments you would like to mention about this show?
It’s clear that Kimetsu no Yaiba is meant to be really dark and gritty, hence its R-rating, but the dark atmosphere is constantly undermined by attempts at “comedy” (if you can call it that) and characters that feel like they were written by a twelve-year-old. It’s not impossible to have drama, comedy, tragedy, and other diametrically-opposed elements present in a story, but it’s very difficult to balance without entirely ruining each of those things, and a lot of it comes down to timing and execution. There are few shows that do this well, but perhaps the best example is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I think that for a show like Kimetsu no Yaiba, the kind of comedy that fits its dark atmosphere, is the absurd stuff like Haganezuka charging at Tanjirou with a knife after Tanjirou has shattered the sword he was told not to destroy.
The tinnitus-inducing screeches of Zenitsu or inane yelling of Inosuke do nothing but rob the story of its otherwise-dark atmosphere, and it’s a shame because if just a few bad elements were removed, this show would really be as good as a lot of people claim it is.
Only one advice: Just make sure to keep your phone near you so you have something to do while fillers and bad comedy scenes are onscreen. If you do this, you will probably agree with my score. For the rest of the show, just enjoy it and keep your eyes open, it is amazing! ❤ The demons are terrifying, so try to not be like Zenitsu! XD
What about you, cake lover? Have you watched the show, and if so, how would you answer these questions? Tell us below in the Comments, and we might feature your answers in another article!
If you liked this cake, share a slice with your friends!
Featured image taken from We Heart It.
“Spider Mother” gif taken from Tenor.
“Last Episode” gif taken from BlogSpot.
“Zenitsu” gif taken from Pinterest.
“Wisteria Flowers” gif taken from Pinterest.
“Phone” gif taken from Wof.
“Nezuko” gif taken from Pinterest.
“Sword Maker” gif taken from Tenor.