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by MrAJCosplay,


Part 1 Review

Tanjiro Kamado is a kind-hearted boy who lived with his family in the mountains until one day, a demon slaughtered his family. His sister Nezuko is the sole survivor of the incident but has been transformed into a demon. However, Nezuko still shows signs of human emotion and thought, leaving Tanjiro thinking there must be a way to save her. After encountering Giyu Tomioka, the Water Hashira of the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjiro trains to become a Demon Slayer and begins his quest to help Nezuko become a human again.

The more popular something is, the more mediums it is adapted into. Demon Slayer has taken the world by storm and is hands-down one of the most popular shonen series airing right now. Its original manga has sold tremendously well, merchandise is flying off the shelves, and we've even gotten a few video games out of the deal. But what about a musical stage production? I was initially skeptical, but it didn't take long for this production to win me over with its talent, production values, and overwhelming charm.

We have to remember that Demon Slayer is, by and large, an incredibly simple story. The narrative is very linear (and, in a lot of ways, very predictable), so there's nothing complicated holding the franchise back from being adapted into this medium, except perhaps, the Breathing Techniques. If anything, it only stands to benefit from a lot of the fun flourishes you would typically expect in a stage production. This production covers the first fourteen episodes of the original anime and condenses it all into about two hours. Fat gets cut like some side conversations and comedy moments, but it is otherwise a beat-for-beat adaptation of that first arc. Pacing is very economical, with many musical numbers punctuating pre-existing character moments. Given the musical flourishes, I'm more invested in some aspects of the story. The biggest example is Zenitsu, who was never my favorite character in the original, but his musical number at the end endears me to the character more than the anime and manga ever did.

This stage show does what many musicals do best by utilizing the medium to highlight the Demon Slayers' strengths rather than drag things out or make them feel unnecessary. Everyone is perfectly cast and embodies the core attributes of the characters they are known for. Ryōta Kobayashi sounds delightfully innocent as Tanjiro, Reo Honda sounds deep and imposing as Giyu, and Yugo Sato as Inosuke Hashibira sounds larger than life! Despite the actors using microphones, you feel the projection and bravado in their voices. There's a lot of heart and soul on the stage, which I was already somewhat aware of after interviewing some of the cast, but seeing it for myself makes things feel special in a different way.

It's not just the actors that highlight that reverence for the material. The stage play uses techniques to keep things dynamic and the narrative flow consistent. There is a consistent backdrop that often uses projections of scenes from the series. There's not much in the way of sets, which can feel slightly disappointing as using projections seems like a replacement for sets. However, the creative ways that they use the backdrop are noteworthy. The backdrop has many doors and windows where characters appear above the stage. Still, they're always framed in ways that help annunciate where they might be realistically alongside the images projected onto the backdrop. A lot of creative shadow and light work is used to create a sense of depth.

The few times that props in Demon Slayers are used, they work well with the beautiful choreography. There are plenty of flips, kicks, and sword dances to keep people entertained. A lot of it is clearly staged, and you never really get the sense that anyone's actually hitting each other. However, the speed of choreography is on point, with some sequences emulating moments from the anime and the original manga almost perfectly. Major props to the…props and makeup department for effectively making it so nothing gets damaged or ruined during these sequences. I think they could've done a little bit more with some characters like Nezuko, who never visually looks much like a demon on stage. But everybody else is pretty on point.

There are so many little things that I could go into that just put a smile on my face during this production. In the opening scene, where Tanjiro and Nezuko are wandering together, you see them walking through the audience, asking around, which warms my heart. The way that Giyu broke out into song as he was berating Tanjiro for how weak he was hit me in my chest, and seeing all of the boys goof off at the end felt like an appropriate place to stop for a two-hour production. In many ways, I could almost recommend this stage play as an abridged substitution for watching the first 14 episodes of the anime. If you're a new fan looking to get your feet wet with a franchise but don't have the time to watch through a couple of hours of anime, this isn't a bad start. I could also recommend this to hardcore fans of the franchise, as it puts enough spin on things to feel fresh. Plus, with it being so readily available on Crunchyroll at the time of this writing, it feels like a pretty good time to be a Demon Slayer fan.

Overall : B+
Story : B
Music : A

+ Filled with charming setups and musical numbers, made with a clear reverence for the material, fast and engaging choreography.
Nezuko could have had more done with her, backdrop and projections don't feel like an engaging alternative to on stage sets

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