Demon Slayer’s Success: How a Smaller Cast Size Makes a Bigger Impact

Demon Slayer can focus on its main characters, unlike other shonen titles like My Hero Academia.

Demon Slayer was a mainstream shonen anime that has been incredibly popular over the last ten years. This series epitomizes what success means in shonen.

The strength of story’s small but solid cast of characters is its greatest strength. While the story progresses through different arcs and introduces new Demons and Hashiras, the story remains focused on its main protagonists Tanjiro (Nezuko), Zenitsu, and Inosuke, and their development through each chapter. While it’s not uncommon for shonen anime to concentrate on a core cast of characters, Demon Slayer is different from titles such as My Hero Academia. This title stands apart by its dedication to this focus and the use of its additional characters in support of its most important characters.

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Demon Slayer’s Storytelling Format

Demon Slayer is a story with a relatively straightforward structure. Tanjiro, his crew, and others find themselves in a different part of the globe and must face multiple Demon threats along their journey to ultimately find Muzan Kibutsuji. Their enemies are much more powerful than they were the last time they met them. Therefore, everyone must grow through the arc by either learning new techniques or training. They make new friends along the way, including a Hashira, who teaches the cast and fights the main threat. Tanjiro (Nezuko), Zenitsu, Inosuke, and Zenitsu had all experienced physical and emotional growth and were ready to take on the next challenge.

While this anime formula is familiar in other shonen titles as well, Demon Slayer stands out because it doesn’t get muddled by its side characters. A lot of the time, the main Hashira and Upper Moon Demon characters are introduced. They leave a lasting impression on cast members. The remainder of the story is dedicated to Tanjiro and other primary characters. It never loses that focus. The series allows the audience to see the difficulties each character goes through and the progression of their story over the series.

Demon Slayer‘s “Mugen Train arc” showed that, although Rengoku, Akaza, and Lower Moon One were all introduced and given attention to, the arc used their dreams sequences to reveal more and focus on the characters’ reactions to the events. The same happened with the “Entertainment District’ arc. Although Tengen (Gyutaro, Daki) took up significant screen space, the story was still focused on its main cast. This clarity is essential for anime that focus on adding characters to each arc.

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How does Demon Slayer’s Cast develop?

Demon Slayer is a straightforward movie, but its simplicity makes it appealing to viewers. Tanjiro, an incredibly kind-hearted human being, is able to sympathize with even the most horrendously vile enemies. But unlike other shonen protagonists in this series, he doesn’t let compassion get him from doing the right thing. He is able and able to kill a mass-killing Demon without hesitation. Zenitsu is both a whiny crybaby and the coolest anime character in the second half of his scenes. However, both sides have a deep sense and desire for justice and to protect the weak. Inosuke is a loner who believes that everyone else is just in his way. Through Zenitsu and Tanjiro, he learns that strength comes from working with others.

These traits may not be the most complex, but they are enough to give an idea of why the audience should be invested. Each character has clear goals. Every arc in the story shows how far they have come. Tanjiro desires to find Muzan and bring his sister back to normal. Inosuke is looking to grow stronger, while Zenitsu is simply dragged along. There are no side characters or missions that could distract from the main theme of the series. It’s clear who the protagonists of Demon Slayer are, and why they should be cared about, and the anime shows it has a plan and where it wants it to go. Demon Slayer‘s devotion to its main cast is refreshing in a genre filled with unnecessary filler and side characters.

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Comparing Demon Slayer to Other Shonen Anime

The ever-growing cast is a common characteristic of shonen anime. My Hero Academia is the best example of an anime with too large a cast to be good. Each student in Class 1A has a personality and relationships, which need to be displayed. Mirio and students from Shiketsu High School also receive a fair amount of attention in Class 1B. In addition to the Pro Heroes that the story is giving more attention to, there are many villains long-term as well as arc-specific ones that need to be developed. Each new arc in My Hero Academia introduces a multitude of characters, but this is not Demon Slayer.

The stories of characters such as Gentle Criminal or Shinso are often engaging and emotionally powerful. However, they can also distract from the primary characters that an audience is looking for. They often fade into the background after being introduced, and the story eventually realizes that Deku is the main character. It is impossible to have every character in the story given the attention they deserve. This leads to an overcrowded cast of characters that are forced to leave behind.

Hunter follows a similar approach to characters. However, the way it develops side characters is more complex. The “Chimera Ant” arc devotes entire episodes to side stories about minor Chimera Ants or hunters rather than showing Gon and Killua. This isn’t necessarily a problem, as it can create a bigger and more complete world. It can lead to a lack of focus if an anime spends too much time on one-off characters or their side plots. Demon Slayer is refreshingly focused on the story of its main four characters, using character introductions to help them along their journeys. This is one of the reasons it’s so enjoyable.

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