Demon Slayer has the unique advantage of focusing on its main characters throughout its entire story, which is unlike other shonen titles, such as My Hero Academia.
Demon Slayer stands out as one of the most loved mainstream shonen-anime of the last decade. From its stunning animation to its imaginative worldbuilding, this series has defined what success looks like for shonen.
The strong, but the small cast of characters is one of its greatest strengths. As the story unfolds and introduces new Demons as well as Hashira and Demons to the story, it keeps its core focus on Tanjiro Tanjiro, Nezuko Zenitsu, and Inosuke throughout the story. While shonen anime tend to focus on a core set of characters, Demon Slayer distinguishes itself from others like My Hero Academia. They never waiver from that commitment and use their additional characters to grow the most important ones.
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Demon Slayer Storytelling Format
Demon Slayer‘s story structure seems very straightforward. Tanjiro’s crew finds themselves in a new part of the world. They face either multiple Demon threats or one on their way to finally find Muzan Kibutsuji. Their enemies are significantly stronger than the ones they encountered before, so everyone involved must learn new techniques and/or train. They also meet new friends. The most notable is a Hashira who helps to teach the cast and engages in combat with the main threat. Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke are all ready for the next challenge.
This anime formula can be found in many other shonen, but Demon Slayer sets itself apart by not being weighed down by side characters. It is common for a primary Hashira to be introduced along with the backstories. This leaves a lasting impression. The remainder of this arc is dedicated solely to Tanjiro as well as the primary characters. The audience can observe the struggles of each character and how they develop over the course of the series.
Demon Slayer arc’s “Mugen Train” was an example. While Rengoku (Akaza) and Lower Moon One were introduced, the arc used each character’s dream sequences as a way to tell more about them, and then focus on their reactions. The “Entertainment District” arc was similar. While Tengen was shown a lot, Gyutaro, Daki, and Gyutaro were all briefly featured, but the story was still about the development of the main cast. This allows the audience to see what is happening without having to add new characters to the cast of every arc.
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How does Demon Slayer’s, Cast Grow?
Demon Slayer doesn’t have a complicated cast. However, its simplicity is key to what makes it attractive to viewers. Tanjiro has a heart of gold and can sympathize fully with his enemies, even those who are the most horrible. Zenitsu can be described as a whiny crying baby, but he is also the most popular character in the anime. Both sides share a sense of justice and a desire for the protection of the weak. Inosuke, who is an introvert and feels that anyone else is out of his reach, starts the series with Zenitsu and Tanjiro learning that to be strong you have to work with others.
These may not seem like complex characteristics, but they can be used to help the audience understand why they should be invested. Each character has clear goals. every arc demonstrates their progress towards those goals. Tanjiro hopes to find Muzan to return his sister to her normal life, Inosuke wishes to become stronger, and Zenitsu just goes along. There aren’t any side missions or side characters that can distract from the main focus of the series. In Demon Slayer every episode, it is clear who the main protagonists are and why viewers should care about them. Even better, the anime clearly shows where it is going and what it hopes to do with its characters. Demon Slayer’s dedication to its main cast is refreshingly refreshing in a genre full of filler characters that take up too much time and are irrelevant.
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Comparing Demon Slayer and Other Shonen Anime
One common theme of shonen animation is its ever-growing cast. My Hero Academia has the best example of an anime with a large cast. Class 1A alone contains 20 students. Each one has their personality and relationships. Mirio, Shiketsu High School students, and others from Class 1B also get their fair portion of attention. You can also focus on the Pro Heroes and the villains, both long-term ones and those that are arc-specific. My Hero Academia does not introduce and focuses on Demon Slayer.
Even though stories about characters like Shinso or Gentle Criminal are engaging and can be emotionally effective, it distracts from the primary characters that the audience would like to see. As the story begins to focus on Deku, the introductions of these characters can often be lost. The narrative doesn’t have enough room for each character introduced to receive the attention and respect that their stories deserve after their introduction. This results in a cast of characters that is forcibly ignored.
Hunter adopts a similar approach when it comes to its characters. However, its way of developing its side characters is more thorough. The “Chimera Ant” episode is devoted to the side stories and adventures of minor Chimera Ants as well as hunters and not to major characters such as Gon or Killua. This is a good thing. It can make the world seem larger and more expansive. An anime that spends so much time focusing on one-off characters and their side story can cause a loss of focus. Demon Slayer’s refreshing focus on telling the story and using character introductions that specifically complement their journeys is one of its most unique characteristics and a large part of what makes it so enjoyable.