11/20/2019
Infuriating: man who says he doesn't watch a lot of anime suddenly has a lot of opinions about Kimetsu no Yaiba

First off, yes, I do watch anime.

Some, not a lot. I wasn't really raised on them. I watched some as a kid, but only whatever was on television at the time, and not always the really action-y stuff. But then again, I was a kid. Doraemon was more appealing, but I did watch Yu Yu Hakusho. I can't claim to really remember everything now, though. "Isang daang porsyento ng aking lakas" is an exception.

On the other hand, Shalla was, so she's more likely to know her way around these things. When we started dating, she started exposing - re-exposing? - me to these shows, although I didn't gobble up all of them like I did when she started easing me towards K-pop. The few shows I did watch tend to be slice-of-life series - see, I didn't even know that term until a few years ago - so I'd be a bit more looped in on Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge (and how layered its humor is) and Sakamoto desu ga (not so layered) and, inevitably, Himouto! Umaru-chan.

One show I've followed is Shokugeki no Soma, or as pretty much everyone I know calls it, "food porn". (Shoutout to brother Louis.) I'm not watching the same time as everybody else, except for this run, because somehow I was made aware that the fourth season is ongoing. No spoilers, but then, don't get me started about how I'm just an anime viewer and not a manga reader. It's just nice to have something to look forward to every week, and not binge the latest set of episodes in one go - which I did once, with the last set of episodes of Shokugeki no Soma, six of which I watched on a plane to Cebu, leading to me awkwardly hiding my phone in light of potentially porn-y imagery, and the remaining six in a hotel room, while it was dawning on me that Nat wasn't seeing my messages again.

By porn-y, I mean "people's clothes get ripped off as an illustration of how good the food is". It is a show about cooking; what else do you do? Well, there's that, or the show's tendency to be really heavy on expository dialogue about what makes the cooking so special. But you stick with it anyway, because why not.

Another show I enjoyed is Kimetsu no Yaiba - yep, that show. Shalla introduced it to me a few weeks back; by the time she'd already burned through all but the last two episodes. I didn't get to watching it immediately because work has been ridiculous lately, but the past couple of weeks I ended up burning through all 26 episodes in four days or so.

I like it. I like the art. I like the complexity of the narrative. I like how they do action sequences. There's a lot to unpack with this show; if all you see about it are those memes your otaku friends share with a yellow-haired dude and a muscular guy with the head of a pig, well, that seriously undersells the show, because it's not about that yellow-haired dude and that muscular guy with the head of an actual pig.

Like, why do all the demons in the show have ridiculously sad back stories? I get that they have to characterize the Big Bad as ruthless beyond compare - although perhaps not really, because it's not clear sometimes whether the demon was saved from his human miseries by becoming a demon, or whether being a demon was a misery in itself. But then again, perhaps it's because the show spends a lot of time on it, like this time they spent the first half of an episode establishing why this demon didn't always have it his way. That demon? He got killed the episode before.

Oh, right, the show's about this Tanjiro guy who becomes a demon slayer when his family was murdered by a demon - all but one; his sister Nezuko became a demon, although not exactly. So, yes, there's this element of showing that underneath these demons is a suffering human, because Nezuko is precisely that, only now, for some reason, there's hope that she can become human again, which hasn't happened before in the mythology. But, anyway, you know, it can be really heavy-handed, especially once you've figured out the show's formula, and it continually risks undoing the goodwill the art, the mythology and the action sequences have banked.

But then, we're not all close viewers. Sometimes we're just in it for the comedy, which is what that yellow-haired dude and that muscular guy wearing the head of an actual pig provides. Inotsuke is the pig guy. Little has been established about him, so for now he's almost terribly one-note, but then I hold out hope that they'll say more about him. (Again, stop it with the whole "I read the manga" shit.) But the yellow-haired dude, Zenitsu? The anti-thesis to the #MeToo movement? Are we letting him slip because he's a cartoon? Are we letting the writers slide because it's all fiction? I'm not woke by any means, but he got on my nerves a lot. (But not the voice actor.)

But perhaps it's the show's tendency to drill down on one note over and over that's led the show to become more uneven than the memes suggest. You know, memes, and how they also drill down on one note over and over. But I'll probably watch it again, because the mythology and the art's pretty good. At least I can say more now than when I was a kid.

But shut up, Niko. What the fuck do you know?

And your responses...

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