A Shounen With Teeth | Kimetsu no Yaiba | Episode 1 – 2 Review
All right. Time to jump into my personal most anticipated anime of the Spring Season, for real!
Kimetsu no Yaiba is a Shounen Jump serialization, the anime for which is brought to us by ufotable. Hopefully this will continue the trend of great Shounen Jump properties being adapted into excellent, one or two cour seasons by more highly regarded studios, rather than what I’m just gonna call the Black Clover approach. That isn’t to say things taking that approach are inherently bad. But there is a bit of a quality difference, at least visually, and you can most definitely see it. Not to mention that anime production schedules are hectic enough, so the year-long approach just doesn’t seem healthy for the industry or the people in it.
But enough of that tirade. I gave my First Impression once, already, HERE, but I’ll just go over it one more time. I greatly enjoyed Episode 1. The show looks absolutely stunning. I hesitate to say gorgeous because I think part of what makes the show so captivating, visually, is that a lot of shots are the exact opposite of gorgeous. But it’s on purpose. Those are, of course, the shots intended to display the brutality of the world in which these characters live. They’re hard to look at, but in a good way. The narrative is fairly basic, so I’m not even going to worry about getting into that. It’s a first episode. Frankly, nothing this show does, narratively, is going to be all that incredible, likely for the next several episodes, let alone the first one.
The action of the show is superb, for what little we’ve got so far, helped by the aforementioned quality of the artwork. The animation is intense and motions feel appropriately heavy and forceful, thanks in no small part to some incredibly dynamic camera work. But where the first episode stumbled was in the dialogue. Not that the dialogue, itself, was inherently bad. It’s just that, this being an ufotable series, the characters have this problem with not knowing how or when to shut up. And I get it. Exposition to establish the world and whatnot. But characters narrating their worldviews instead of conveying them through natural dialogue is jarring. And I’m not the only one who’s said as much. There have been several others, speaking on that point.
Thankfully, Episode 2 curbs that problem, for the most part. The dialogue feels natural. The internal monologue isn’t as heavyhanded and narrate-y, and the other strengths of the show continue to hold up. The action is just as superb now as it was in Episode 1. Tanjiro is already shaping into a proper Shounen Protagonist. And Nezuko… well, her design’s great, so I’m inclined to like her. That on top of what we see of her in flashback and the like. Though her current state of not being able to talk means she has to convey a lot with effort noises and grunts, body language and (limited) facial expressions. And, to the show’s credit, they do a fairly good job of capturing this. Her dim reaction to Tanjiro practically treat her like an infant or a pet to get her to shrink was amusing. Though that seemed more in line with her just being lethargic from the sunlight. She did seem happy with the subsequent headpats.
Our first run-in with a demon also did wonders. It showed us what I imagine to be the low bar for what to expect, going forward. What the demons are capable of, their level of intelligence (seems to be fairly normal), all of that. And I’m interested in seeing not only the kind of relationship Tanjiro forms with his new mentor archetype, Urokodaki, but also how said mentor interacts with Nezuko. This is one I’ve not read the manga for (yet), but when the season’s over, I may just have to check it out.
As for some housekeeping, just one thing to note. LOVE the OP. Yes, the song is great, but visually it’s amazing. I’m hoping that’s the kind of unique visual style we can expect to see with the powers and action in this. Tanjiro’s sword, especially, gives off this aesthetic that vaguely reminds me of Japanese Woodblock Prints and it just looks amazing in motion when layered over the standard style of the characters and the beautifully executed 3D backgrounds. Still-frames, don’t really do it justice, though. The CG used to bring it to life becomes much more apparent when it’s not moving. But the overall style (no doubt used as a callout to the time period) is very much appreciated.
I’d definitely say that both of the inaugural episodes of Kimetsu no Yaiba have been Super Effective showings. And here’s hoping they keep up this momentum. What did you guys think? Let me know, down below. As always, thanks for reading. Keep up the Awesome!