November 15th, 2020

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Two Recent Anime

A Japanese friend recently recomended Kimetsu no Yaiba『鬼滅の刃』(aka Demon Slayer), so I've been watching it as best I can on YouTube. It's been insanely popular in Japan recently, so I was curious to see what the fuss was about.

I'm not sure I entirely understand, even now. It's a solid monster-of-the-week shounen series. Just as Full Metal Alchemist's Edward Elric has the long-term goal of restoring his younger brother Alphonse to full humanity (after their experiments in magic in Episode one made him manifest as a suit of armour), so Tanjiro in this series has the long-term goal of restoring his little sister Nezuko to full humanity after she is bitten by a demon, also in Episode 1. In order to do that, he needs to train as a demon slayer, then take on increasing powerful demons (which he luckily encounters in the right order) on his way to Boss Level. The fights are well done, and some of the demons have an affecting back story about their lives as humans, which is a nice touch, although these are often fairly perfunctory.

However, it does bothers me that demon-Nezuko, when she's not sleeping for months on end, has to be carried around in a portable refrigerator box the whole time and (being muzzled with a length of bamboo) never speaks. This seems a pretty male-centric vision of the perfect imouto.

Actually, the most interesting thing to me is the series' setting in the Taisho era (i.e. the early twentieth century). Normally, sword-fight dramas are going to be set in the Edo period or earlier - indeed, carrying a sword was made illegal after the Meiji restoration - so why was this set so very late? So far no obvious answer has presented itself, but perhaps it will.

On the other hand, I have no reservations in recommending The Promised Neverland, now on a streaming service near you. If you like tense, claustrophobic thrillers, interesting moral dilemmas and smart people twistily outthinking each other in ingenious ways, then this story set in an orphanage with a secret could be for you. I literally had a nightmare based on it, which is a kind of compliment.