When I began The Visualist’s Veranda over six years(!) ago, I was very cynical. Longtime followers have heard this story before. I was an edgy dude with not a lot to my name, trying to burst through the scene as an arrogant know-it-all similarly to those who would write long-form epitaphs on the importance of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. As time crawled forward, I was smoothed by the inevitable teachings of reality and college, and my criticism for various art forms followed suit (right?). Watching Kimetsu no Yaiba brings me back to those days of when anime were never good enough for my standards, and while I don’t think I’m that kind of person anymore, the end of the third episode has left me feeling… nostalgic.
Despite my relaxed demeanor, many seasonal titles have come and gone without much interest from me. There have been a few, however, in the last couple seasons that I’ve wanted to (and have) start for varying reasons. Fruits Basket, Kanata no Astra, and now this. Seeing as today’s topic anime is by far the most popular, I went into it expecting something good, though not great, because it’s a pretty good defensive mechanism I’ve picked up. The biggest surprise came when I realized that I actually like the the least out of the three anime mentioned.
Ironically, something I brought up as a looming negative trait of Ad Astra ended up being a large portion of what I disliked about Kimetsu no Yaiba: exposition. My goodness, can this Tanjiro kid ever shut up? We, as viewers, have these things called eyes, and, while exceptions apply, functioning brains capable of processing information through visual interpretation and such. Each of the three episodes was guilty of this to some degree, though the MVP (WVP?) was episode three, which, all considered, was a fairly weak episode.
Not only does it elaborate on everything, Kimetsu no Yaiba also just feels very standard. People commend the series for its animation, which I have no qualms with, but the story itself? It’s an adventure title that feels like it borrows from many other stories. I can’t say whether those other stories are better yet, only that the way they’re presented here isn’t as effective. A boy, ravaged by tragedy, is thrown into a situation where he becomes this sort of “chosen one” by a veteran figure, only to be subsequently trained by another veteran in the hopes of becoming stronger. How very original.
Still, these types of plot exist (and are regurgitated) for a reason, no? If nothing else, Kimetsu no Yaiba is pretty entertaining. Much gusto attributed to the animation quality and the “thrilling” (relative term) moments of action and suspense make this a decent “popcorn flick.” Like Marvel or something. A simplistic story that’s elevated through its instinctual human soul—growth, motivation, revenge, survival, etc. Despite my gripes, I had no desire to drop it.
Speaking of gripes, I’m going to elaborate on a more spoiler-rific topic that’s employed in the third episode, so for those who haven’t seen it and don’t wish to be spoiled of anything, skip to the next paragraph. Remember that horrible decision in Sword Art Online when they decided to skip, like, a year and a half into the future after, like, two episodes? They do the same here. In episode three, a total of two years pass between the beginning and end of the episode. Nothing says “I trained really hard and now you can see all my growth!” like ten minutes of the main character training in a montage-like sequence. That is completely and totally not a cop-out, no sir. I absolutely connect with the struggles of this character because he has a lot of bruises and longer hair. Uh-huh. This pretty much ruined episode three for me and left a really sour note going forward.
While previously skimmed, the animation quality to the anime is fairly good. Very few times did I look at the screen and think, “Wow, that looked kind of bad and/or lazy.” I say this, though that isn’t to say the animation is all that enthralling. Perhaps I haven’t gotten to “the good part” yet where the animation really flourishes. I don’t know. All I can say is that the quality tends to increase dramatically during crucial parts of each episode, which spans maybe 15% of twenty-plus-minute length? Can we really say a show has great animation if 85% of it is standard and the rest is great? Probably.
So here’s a formula I use when going into really beloved anime series: If the series is within the Top 100 of highest average rating on MyAnimeList and falls within the categories of “Shounen,” Adventure,” or “Action,” it’s probably good, just not for me. It’s the tendency to have all the various clichés and narrative pitfalls that accompany these genres that worry me, and thus far, Kimetsu no Yaiba has ’em in full force. I wouldn’t even argue that the anime is overrated garbage, like I probably would have years ago. All I can say is that if I end up finishing this and I give it, like, a 5/10, know that I see this like I see superhero films now-a-days: mindless fun. And I don’t normally care for that stuff.
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.