Find yourself seeing tons of pictures of a girl with scarlet eyes and a piece of bamboo on her mouth? Or a boy with a wild boar’s head as a mask? You may have been exposed to one of the biggest entertainment phenomena in recent memory.
Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer) is an extremely popular Manga and Anime series and with the debut of a feature-length movie just a few months ago, it’s been further propelled to stardom. Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train quickly took the world by storm even in the time of pandemic as it became not only the highest-grossing movie of all-time in Japan but 2020’s highest-grossing movie globally. The big question is, how does an Anime get so popular it can dethrone Hollywood, a feat never before seen in the history of cinema? What exactly is Kimetsu no Yaiba, and why has it permeated numerous parts of society that don’t even watch Anime or read Manga?
Kimetsu no Yaiba was created by Mangaka (Manga artist) Gotouge Koyoharu, debuting on 15 Feb 2016 in Japan’s flagship Manga magazine Shonen Jump. It tells the story of siblings Tanjiro and Nezuko, during Feudal Japan. Their lives changed when one fateful night, a Demon mercilessly murders Tanjiro’s family, leaving behind only Nezuko in the wake of its destruction. To Tanjiro’s horror, his last remaining relative, albeit alive, was no longer human. Nezuko had turned into a human-eating demon as well and became the target of Demon Slayers, a group with only one goal in mind; annihilate all Demons. Backed to a corner, Tanjiro ensured the pursuing Demon Slayer that his sister was different and promised to find a way to cure her. Tanjiro himself later takes on the mantle of Demon Slayer with a vow to exact vengeance against the Demon responsible for murdering his family. Thus, begins Tanjiro and Nezuko’s arduous journey on regaining a semblance of peace in their ravaged lives.
Kimetsu no Yaiba was not necessarily destined for greatness. It had an acceptable plot, characters, and a unique art style. While it made for an engaging action-horror read, Kimetsu no Yaiba didn’t particularly stand out more than the existing giants in the Anime industry (One Piece, Attack on Titan, and Sword Art Online per se). However, that began to change when an Anime was greenlit for the Manga.
When news broke that Ufotable was adapting Kimetsu no Yaiba into an Anime, heads turned. This was not just any Anime studio. Ufotable is an incredibly well-known studio that has continued to produce visually stunning and beautifully choreographed action Anime for over a decade. Every Anime fan knows how prestigious Ufotable is from the mountains of clips on YouTube of animation that makes real-life pale terribly in comparison. But why isn’t Ufotable more well-known than it should deservedly be? This was because Ufotable had never embarked on a project outside of the Fate franchise.
Ufotable is responsible for most things Fate, and they have a magnificent track record with the franchise. Simply go online and search for any Fate series done by Ufotable and you will be in awe of the quality of animation, sound mixing, and overall feel of each Fate entry. But there is the problem; the Fate franchise is not easily accessible. With so many spin-offs and remakes prior to and after Ufotable’s involvement with the franchise, Fate appears rather daunting to Anime watchers who want to begin the series, let alone casual watchers. This results in Ufotable’s Fate franchise underperforming despite its astounding quality.
But Kimetsu no Yaiba is a fresh standalone series with no prior knowledge needed, so Ufotable could entice new and existing fans of Anime without the resistance met as with the Fate franchise. Fast forward many months after the premiere of the Anime in 2019, Kimetsu no Yaiba episode 19 suddenly broke the Internet.
When episode 19 of Kimetsu no Yaiba premiered, social media blew up as the episode trended worldwide on Twitter and other platforms. The episode quite literally put Kimetsu no Yaiba on the map and brought to the forefront of entertainment the sheer animation prowess of Ufotable. Not only that, composer Kajiura Yuki had a heavy hand in making the episode such an emotional rollercoaster that people who had never even watched the show felt the episode, as a standalone tug at their heartstrings.
From then on, Kimetsu no Yaiba continued to rise in popularity at an incredible pace. Influencers and celebrities started talking about it; Brendon Urie (Panic! at the Disco) lauded the show and praised its soundtrack, Ninja (YouTuber) touted it as his favourite show and the list doesn’t stop there. The pace at which Kimetsu no Yaiba’s fame grew was astonishing.
The series generated so much hype from episode 19 that more and more people started picking up the Manga, culminating in the Manga becoming the highest selling manga in 2020. Not only that, only recently in May 2021, a report showed that Kimetsu no Yaiba had singlehandedly outsold the entire American comics industry in the US. One series beat out a plethora of household names in American comics such as Batman, Spider-Man, and Iron-Man on their home turf. If becoming #1 in the Japanese and American comics industry wasn’t enough, it also dominated the movie industry. At $500,000,000, Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train is the undisputed highest-grossing movie worldwide last year and the highest-grossing movie all-time in Japan. The sky truly is the limit for Kimetsu no Yaiba.
So, to answer the earlier question, that is why you see Kimetsu no Yaiba everywhere; it’s the reigning champion for almost everything in entertainment. And it doesn’t seem to be running out of steam anytime soon, with a Season 2 on the horizon.
Hartwick is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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