Demon Slayer: Work of Art

Shortly after watching this youtube video by Gigguk, I decided to watch Demon Slayer season one. I was immediately hooked on the anime. There was an emotional story, and above anything else, the artwork and animation were off the charts. I am truly amazed at how far animation has gotten in the last ten years. We went from “cartoons” to stunning works of art. And the amazing thing is that Demon Slayer is not an isolated incident. Other new shounen titles like Jujutsu Kaisen and My Hero Academia continue to push the medium to greater heights.

As Gigguk said in his video, it’s not that Demon Slayer is unique in the genre or has an incredible story; it is that the execution is perfect, and the animation brings it to a whole other level. The anime got me so enthralled that I ended up purchasing the manga just to learn what happens next– since there was just one season released.

The artwork in the manga was also good; Koyoharu Gotouge has a real knack for style. However, the manga can’t really hold a candle to the anime in this case. Not because the manga wasn’t good, it was great, but because the anime was really well executed. Plus, action in manga can sometimes be tough to follow — especially when every demon has a special fighting ability.

After catching up with the manga, I don’t know exactly how I feel about the story as a whole. One part of me wishes that it would run longer since I feel like there are aspects of the story that Gotouge didn’t have time to flesh out. However, on the other hand, I can understand how having this anime run for much longer would make it feel even more repetitive than it already is. The story follows a pattern of: big battle, recovery, training, next battle. Repeat. In each of these cycles, the characters get stronger, and the stakes get larger– typical shounen anime plot. I appreciate how much time the anime spends in the training/recovery phases since it allows for character development that doesn’t feel forced. Bleach suffered since it simply had the characters stuck in continuous battle rather than give them time resting between arcs — but that’s my hot take.

Overall, I would definitely recommend everyone watching Demon Slayer. With the upcoming movie (Mugen Train) release in the US and season two coming out sometime this/next year, I see this anime becoming a mainstream icon.

Here is a funny recap video to watch:

Hunter X Hunter: 1999 Version

After watching the 2011 version of the anime Hunter X Hunter, I was hesitant as to whether or not I should also watch the 1999 version of the anime. With the two adaptations of Fullmetal Alchemist, there was a significant difference in the story — especially at the end. However, with Hunter X Hunter, these adaptations cover the same material in the manga with the 2011 version adapting more arcs.

Nerveless, I ended up watching the 1999 adaptation along with the OVAs that went through the Greed Island arc. Although these versions were near-identical in terms of story, there are still plenty of things in the 1999 version that was not in the 2011 adaptation.

To start the anime, there was about an episode of so of extra content in the 1999 anime going into more detail into Gon’s background before he leaves Whale island. In my opinion, this is great for character development because we are introduced to Kite, and it gives more depth to how Gon knows about his father Gin and why he wants to become a Hunter. In the 2011 edition, you are just sorta told, “yeah, this 12-year-old kid wants to be a Hunter because his dad he never met was”. With the 1999 opening, you get a better idea of why Gon idolizes hunters and why he wants to become one so bad.

The 1999 edition had an additional mission in the hunter arc with the ship and storm. Although it isn’t that missed in the 2011 edition, this mini phase had some great character development. Other than that, many one-off scenes were included in the 1999 edition that wasn’t in the 2011 edition. Stylistically the two shows were vastly different. The 2011 version is very bright and colorful, where 1999 had a darker color palette — typical animation for its time. I enjoyed the 1999 animation because it made me nostalgic for the old Pok√©mon videos I would watch as a kid. Also, seeing the dated technology in the 1999 version is entertaining.

https://youtu.be/xXjC0gTTfnA

The 1999 version can be weird at times…

I was fine with Killua’s DUB, but it was irking to hear Gon’s voice be so low in the 1999 DUB. No matter how Hisoka came off to you as in the 2011 version, he is definitely 10x creepier in the 1999 version. Plus, there are some out there scenes for a shounen — like the one where Killua watches porn in the hotel room.

https://youtu.be/XWVNSyZes9E

If your not a huge fan of HXH, it probably isn’t worth the time to watch the entire adaptation. But, if you want to check out the content in the 1999 version that isn’t in the 2011 edition, you should at least watch these episodes:

  • E1 – A Boy Setting Out for a Journey x Leaving Behind the Sound of the Wind
  • E11 – Explore x Sports Spirit x Stowaway
  • E12 – Good Boy? x Bad Boy? x Trap
  • E18 – Treasure x Memory x Hotel Room
  • E19 – Separation x Diary x Water Inflow
  • E20 – Giant Wave x Cannon x Huge Rush
  • E47 – Father X Secret x Confession

Hunter X Hunter: Finding a Purpose

There are very few shounen anime that can hold a candle to Hunter X Hunter in narrative and character development. The series hits on so many themes such as friendship, redemption, enlightenment, and revenge. But, nothing stood out to me quite as much as the notion of ‘finding a purpose’ brought up throughout the season with Killua.

Shounen characters’ ambitions tend to be grandiose and often over the top. Take Black Clover, for example; Asta and Yuno both want to become the wizard king. Or, consider Midoriya in My Hero Academia that wants to become the GREATEST superhero in the entire world. Even characters within Hunter X Hunter have backstories that set them their respective goals. Kurapika is the lone survivor of a genocide leading him on a path towards revenge. Leorio grew up poor and was unable to save his best friend from dying, leading him to become a Hunter to attend medical school and save others. Gon’s father abandoned him as a child leading him to follow in his footsteps and become a Hunter.

Although an epic backstory will motivate characters throughout a story, that isn’t how life works. This then leads us to Killuas’ character which although has a big backstory, doesn’t give Killua’s a quest to chase after. Early on in the show, Gon asked Killua why he wanted to become a Hunter, and he said that he thought that the exam would be fun. Killua was raised by a family of assassins that pushed their ideals and aspirations onto Killua. However, Killua shared none of these aspirations. He did now want to become an assassin, so he ran away.

We see real development with Killua’s character. At the beginning of the show, Killua could best be described as a psychopath bearing little value on life and the ones around him. He was brainwashed from a young age to care about nothing but his family and that he didn’t need any friends. However, by the end of the exam arc, he replied that he wants to be Gon’s friend when asked what he wanted by his narcissistic older brother Illumi. Illumi proceeded to tell Killua that nobody would be friends with him and that he should return home.

Gon, Kurapica and Leorio end up chasing after Killua and rescuing him from his family. After the Zoldic Arc, Gon and Killua go to Whale island to visit Gon’s family. Killua expresses to Gon that he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. Gon replies that they should spend time together while searching for Gon’s father because they enjoy spending time together and that along the way, Killus can search for what he wants to do. This is how it remains until the end of the election Arc when Killua decides that his purpose, for the time being, would be to protect his sister from the rest of his family.

This plot obviously isn’t too deep; however, the execution is excellent, and it resonates throughout the story since Killua’s character development serves as the emotional backbone of Hunter X Hunter. Everyone throughout their life needs to decide what they want to do with their life. More often than not, this choice is thrust upon the character in fiction with an over-the-top backstory. However, having a clear purpose in life isn’t always given; you need to seek it out. For Killua, he found purpose and fulfillment in protecting his friends, and in the end, doing the same thing but with his sister.