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All the Announcements from Anime Expo 2024
3… 2… 1…“GIYUUUUUU!" Demon Slayer's Fifth Anniversary Event

by Earl Gertwagen,

ANN's coverage of Anime Expo 2024 sponsored by Yen Press and Ize Press!


Is there a hotter property than Demon Slayer right now? Certainly, it springs immediately to mind if you try to think about what's popular right now. Judging by the energy in the Main Events hall at AX this year, Demon Slayer seems like it's comfortably sitting on the throne.

The panel kicked off with a video clip, showing moments from the recently concluded Hashira Training Arc. To say the crowd was hyped up would be a gross understatement. Rarely have I been to a panel where the audience responded so thunderously to the appearance of every single character.

As the video wrapped up, the guests took the stage to similarly thunderous applause. Natsuki Hanae, voice of Tanjiro, Takahiro Sakurai, voice of Giyu, and Yūma Takahashi, producer from Aniplex.

Right off the bat, Hanae-san gets the crowd amped with a call and response of “Demon” (crowd) “Slayer”. That goes on for a few beats…

Hanae-san: Demon! Crowd: Slayer!
Hanae-san: Demon! Crowd: Slayer!
Hanae-san: Demon! Crowd: Slayer!

Hanae-san passes the mic to Sakurai-san, who delivers a Giyu line to wild cheers.

Then the mic goes to Takahashi-san. “Did you enjoy the Hashira Training Arc?” The crowd thunders. He asks if the crowd is excited about the movie trilogy announcement and they respond in kind. “Me too!” he chuckles.

The event is billed as the Fifth Anniversary Special Event, and in many ways, it does feel special. The panel is taking place right as the series is reaching its zenith. Between the recently concluded Hashira Training Arc, and the announcement that the series would conclude with a climactic trilogy of movies, it's like the fandom just reached the last camp before summiting the tallest peaks of a mountain range. They've voraciously consumed the latest arc, and their excitement for more is palpable. Not every Demon Slayer fan in the world can be here, but for the lucky ones in this room, this is a chance to let some of that excited energy flow freely.

And it is POWERFUL!

They ask the guests their impressions of Anime Expo. It's Hanae-san's third time here. “It feels like home now.” He's clearly been warmly received! For Sakurai-san, it's his first time at AX. It's a new experience for him, but “it already felt like home when I arrived.”

Takahashi-san has been to AX a number of times. Asked if he could share how he feels now compared to AX 2019 he replies that not too much has changed, but “the one thing that remains constant is that the animation staff are working hard to turn the manga into the best anime possible.”

The host asks Hanae-san what recording the very first episode of Demon Slayer was like. His answer at first is serious. “Ahh, I remember it well. For those episodes, I remember there weren't that many cast members for the beginning episodes, and I remember being in a large room with just a few of us…” It takes a silly turn: “I was really nervous, and I remember Tanjiro being in tears, and then Sakurai-san gave me encouragement.”

Sakurai-san chimes in incredulously. “Seriously?”

Hanae-san laughs. “Haha, no, that's a joke, but it was a really special moment.”

Takahashi-san takes a moment to acknowledge the quality of the animation. “It's a really carefully drawn series. The animation staff are taking care to go through the manga panel by panel to reproduce the series in anime form.”

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone that would suggest the show isn't gorgeous. It regularly delivers stunning visuals, and they've clearly been putting their heart and soul into it.

The room is treated to a live reading from the voice actors, both delivering some choice lines from the show. The room eats it up, and then Takahashi-san jokes “How much should I pay them for doing that?”

They touch on the Hashira Training Arc for a little bit, and Hanae-san reflects on how hard the training looks. “That training is really hard, so I want to give props to Tanjiro for getting through it.” It certainly seems like you need some serious muscles to power through it all, “but ultimately it's the heart that matters.”

Takahashi-san takes a moment to ask the crowd who their favorite Hashira are. “I'm going to count down from 3, and then I want you to shout it out!”

3… 2… 1…

The crowd's response is impossible to discern, but what's clear is the sheer passion they have for their favorites.

The shouting peters out after a few moments, and you can hear some extra passionate fans still faithfully calling out “GIYUUUUUU”. Takahashi-san seems delighted.

They next shared a video message from Hiro Shimono, the voice of Zenitsu Agatsuma. He hammed it up and the crowd found it charming. The vibes were good!

Next came a video message from Toshihiko Seki, the voice of Muzan Kibutsuji. He was sharply dressed, and after expressing his gratitude to the fans, he introduced a trailer for Infinity Castle, the first of the upcoming movie trilogy.

Let me tell you: Everyone was losing their damn minds. Every character's appearance in the trailer set off a new wave of cheers, each one louder than the last, ending with Tanjiro, whose audience response was wild.

The whole thing was GLORIOUS.

After the excitement had died down, the panel pivoted to Demon Slayer Sweet The Board, a virtual board game that looks a little bit like Mario Party. It was a sharp turn from the badassery of the Infinity Castle Arc to having the characters running around playing minigames, but the crowd was rapt nonetheless.

Apparently, Hanae-san has been posting videos of himself playing the game with his friends and family on YouTube. That seems like a fun time. What better way to get a feel for what the game is like than watching the voice of Tanjiro himself showcase it?

As the panel was winding down, the voice artists shared some parting words.

Sakurai-san expresses his heartfelt thanks for the fans' support, and adds: “Giyu constantly is saying 'I am hated, I am hated.' And thanks to you we can say that he is not.”

Hanae-san caps of the panel. “Thank you very much for coming today. Tanjiro means a lot to me, so thank you for your energy. I hope everyone can keep cheering on Demon Slayer.”

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