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The most awe-inspiring part of reading a manga is when you stumble upon a volume of a series where the mangaka (manga creator) clearly is a level above everyone else.
Such is the case of how I felt when I read the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga from Koyoharu Gotouge. By far, it is one of the most impressive manga of all time, as you will, hopefully, see with this Demon Slayer aesthetic explained guide.
The aesthetic of Demon Slayer is one of the best parts of the manga series and its anime, in turn. With inspiration from some of the best series in manga history and easily among the best art of all time, it is the gold standard when it comes to modern action manga series. Find out all about this and more in our Demon Slayer aesthetic explained guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
Demon Slayer is number nine on the top 10 list of the best-selling manga of all time, and for a good reason. Despite only being a few years old, the series about Tanjiro, Nezuko, and friends taking on the demons that plague early 20th century Japan is compelling in every way.
The art style is one of the most unique, the characters have some of the best designs in any manga, and the inspirations from Naruto to Bleach are evident across the series. If you want to see one of the best manga series of recent memory, the action-packed aesthetic of this series is unmatched.
Demon Slayer Manga Aesthetic Overview
I still remember picking up the first volume of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. It was only a few short weeks before the release of the first anime season, and I had been hounded by everyone online about how this was going to be the next big thing in anime and manga.
So, I picked up the first volume to try and at least give it a chance so I knew what it was ahead of the anime. That first volume of the series is how you introduce the next massive franchise to the world. The story, the characters, the world, and the art was all top-notch.
The craziest part was that it was all coming from a mangaka who was relatively unknown and quite young at the time. I immediately knew from the first volume I read that Demon Slayer was going to be something truly special, and that was certainly the case in the end.
So much of what I love about Demon Slayer comes from the aesthetic it has going on. The art style, action, world, and characters are all tremendously above and beyond the competition. Here’s what you need to know about what I have found after dissecting the manga.
Kimetsu no Yaiba Creator’s Inspirations
For starters, there is the top-level aspect of the Demon Slayer aesthetic. This series didn’t come out as a fully original piece of art. It was undoubtedly inspired by other famous manga out there, and it is clear from the first volume that this is the case with its demon enemies and setting.
However, the mangaka Koyoharu Gotouge has made it clear in the past what manga series he’s a fan of that inspired Kimetsu no Yaiba. The 33-year-old manga creator has mentioned a few series in the past, including Bleach, Gintama, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Naruto.
As you can see, those are four of the most successful action-shounen manga series of all time. There are little pieces of each of them that I can quite clearly see in Demon Slayer when reading it. For instance, there are the enemies and spiritual elements of Bleach involved.
Bleach is all about shinigami and all that, and there are parallels to the more supernatural demon enemies that the main character Tanjiro Kamado and his friends take on in Demon Slayer.
Admittedly, I am not the most well-versed Gintama person but the grounded nature of its characters and the unique designs are what I feel have representation in Demon Slayer. After all, I’m not sure that the humor that the series is known for is at all present here. That said, the over-the-top action from Gintama is wonderful and you can feel that as inspiration in this manga.
Then there is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. There are two main aspects I feel come from this series and are in the aesthetic of Demon Slayer. For one, there is a unique art style. While Kimetsu no Yaiba has its own art style, it gives me JoJo vibes in how it is so vastly different from everything else and in its bold outlines.
Then there is also the action, which is so aptly bizarre and ridiculously all over the place in JoJo, which translates well to Demon Slayer’s own tremendous action. When it comes to Naruto, there is a level of action, heart, Japanese setting, and powers that is prevalent throughout Demon Slayer.
Art Style Breakdown
When it comes to the art style that Demon Slayer has, it is fully its own. Many people praise the anime (more on it in a bit), and for a good reason. However, the reason the anime is able to thrive so well is because of how incredibly detailed and bold the art is in this series.
Demon Slayer has one of the most flexible art styles I’ve ever seen in a manga series. In one panel, you’ll see a character with bold shading and sparkly effects around their eyes, and the next moment they look like that Saitama OK meme from One Punch Man.
The Demon Slayer series has so much personality that is present throughout its pages. This is also necessary, given the harsh nature of the story and its almost entirely too serious plot. This versatility is present in how it seamlessly shifts between action scenes and heartfelt moments.
The art is even able to shift at times, with almost this divide between pages that the manga creator uses wisely to change the art style. On one page, you’ll have this fluid style that has thin borders and wide backgrounds, as the action begins in a major fight between a demon and a slayer, such as a fight between Daki and Tanjiro during the Entertainment District Arc.
Then, it will turn on the next page to deeper environments with a lot of shading and bold borders to represent the emotional aspects of the fight as it drags on and the characters suffer injuries from the events that have occurred in the middle of it.
This varied art style is also complemented by the immense detail that Gotouge has going on. Every inch of each manga panel is used to its fullest. From the scars on someone’s cheek to the tree swaying in the background to the crowded city streets is unbelievable.
This mix of flexibility, fluidity, and detail is the crux of the intense and overwhelmingly impressive Demon Slayer art style.
Transformation and Improvements to the Manga’s Aesthetic
What I love about the Demon Slayer manga is that it starts out so strong in terms of the drawings. It shows near-genius level skill on the part of the manga creator because, unlike other manga out there that are similarly popular, it starts super strong in its style, and it improves from there.
Some of the other series start out messy or unorganized and then improve over time to get much better and what people love. Or, worse, there are times in the series when it starts well and gets worse. Demon Slayer’s consistency across all of its volumes is so impressive.
That said, there are still some changes and improvements that happen over the course of its 23 volumes. It starts strong with this emotional and heavy drawing style that emphasizes everything. What I find is that the series feels darker towards the beginning, ironically, but it brightens up some toward the end.
This is a little ironic since the events only get crazier and darker as time goes on, but the art style feels more vibrant in the later volumes than ever before. Some of the fights even feel different. I feel like the earlier fights are intense in a different way than the later ones, being more zoomed-in and close-up.
But then, as you get to the later volumes, the fights change to these more sweeping battlefields that have full environments and scenes around them going on at once.
This wider scope isn’t necessarily better or worse than the tighter focus earlier in the series, but there is something to love about this sometimes subtle transition in the manga. It makes sense, and it certainly feels like the series is taking the reader on an actual journey and adventure along with the characters.
Action Unlike Anything Else in Manga
If you were to ask me the number one aspect of the Demon Slayer aesthetic that sticks out more than anything else, I would tell you the action. There is absolutely nothing in the manga that is like the action experienced in this series. It is one of the best action series in manga history.
The moment Tanjiro steps out into the woods to fight for his life to become a member of the Demon Slayer Corps instantly shows that this series isn’t your typical fair. Everything hinges on the fights in this series, and Gotouge does so much with so little.
This isn’t the anime adaptation, so you have to make do with these 2D characters and moments. That said, what Gotouge does is shine in showing the intensity of the action with horrifying detailed moves and wounds. He doesn’t hold back in the slightest, showing off some rather gory moments that would be out of place in other manga in the genre, like Boruto and My Hero Academia.
The action is gruesome and powerful. Characters twist and turn into whacky positions that lead to horrifying moments that will sometimes even make your stomach lurch. One of my favorite fights in the series is one I reference a lot: Daki and her brother Gyutaro versus Tanjiro and his pals.
This fight goes on for a long time, so you truly to get see some of the rawest action ever made. The characters are bent and broken in such bizarre and terrifying ways, and Gotouge holds nothing back in showcasing this. Within this fight, my favorite part has to be when Gyutaro shows up for the first time.
Everything about the style and focus of the action changes entirely. Everything from the shading to the outlines of the characters to even things like the font of the text and the thought bubbles changes shape to match this horrifying sequence when the heroes realize they aren’t even close to winning this fight.
Each major fight in this series always keeps the reader on their toes, finding new ways to make use of the characters, powers, weapons, and environment. When it comes to the best action and fight scenes in manga history, I would likely put Demon Slayer in the top three, perhaps even further.
The World of Demon Slayer Is Key
Outside of the action, one of the key parts that stick out to me about the manga aesthetic is the setting. For starters, Demon Slayer has a unique environment in being set during the early part of the 20th century. This fascinating time is so far removed from the usual present-day or fantasy settings that most series seem to have.
It has this excellent position of having a somewhat similar feeling to modern-day with electricity, trains, and the like, but also the exotic nature of this past setting with clothing and a culture that is even far different from the Japan of today.
The best part is that it takes all of this intriguing premise and then adds the horror of demons to it. There is this nice twist in which you see the deepest darkest parts of this otherwise nearly idyllic world. The series plays with the setting, too, focusing on mountainside villages hidden in the snowy countryside, steam trains with fascinating period-specific furniture, and the corrupted beauty of the old red-light district of Tokyo.
The world is so alive and feels so well-thought-out to the point where it, too, is a character in the manga. This is such a rare achievement for a manga because it usually is an anime that fills in the gaps with the world, and Demon Slayer doesn’t need that to make it happen.
Outstanding and Memorable Character Designs
The characters carry Demon Slayer and are the crux of why the action is so impactful and meaningful. What manga lacks over anime is the ability to hear and see characters in their most whole form. This is why the limited writing and the designs are of the utmost importance.
One of the core pillars of the Demon Slayer aesthetic is the various character designs in the series. I appreciate that this series has an intriguing blend of grounded characters that aren’t too extraordinary in their designs a la Tanjiro, Kanao, and Nezuko (when she isn’t her chibi or demon version).
But then you have some wild character designs that are wholly original to this series. Inosuke, Rengoku, and nearly all of the other Hashira are so fascinating. You won’t find characters that look like them anywhere else, and they are the utmost extreme of their designs. Be it their body proportions, muscles, and fan service levels; they are all far out there.
I like this mix because it shows that the mangaka is able to have a range in his character designs. It also means that you have memorable characters that appeal to just about anyone, no matter what type of characters you like. While there are far more males than females in the series, both sides have iconic designs.
Tanjiro represents one of the best protagonist designs I’ve ever seen. I love the mix of color in his hair and the scar that defines his facial features. Then there are the wild characters I like, such as Tengen Uzui. His long white hair and buff muscles are enough to clarify why he is among the most handsome Hashira around.
The Demon Slayer Anime’s Aesthetic Is Unparalleled
I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the massively popular and influential anime adaptation of Demon Slayer. There is something unbelievable about how well the manga version of the series was translated into the anime edition. I won’t hold back; Demon Slayer’s anime adaptation has the best animation of all time.
Up until the point where I am writing this, no TV series has come close to matching the animation quality of this series, and even the anime movies with the highest budgets out there can’t compare in the slightest. The quality of this series is on an unprecedented level.
The colors are the part that sticks out the most to me. The foundation was already laid with the manga and its fantastic aesthetic, which is somehow made even better in the anime version. Manga lacks color, which is where I adore the Demon Slayer anime’s aesthetic.
This show has some of the boldest colors I’ve ever seen in an animated series. It smartly uses color to distinguish between parts of the scene you’re supposed to focus on. The environment is generally quite dark, and it is then lit up by the various effects and moments that happen.
Fights are even better than ever in the anime version because the skills and blood demon arts are so bursting with color against the otherwise blander environments. There is no better animation than what Studio Ufotable has made, and it complements the also unstoppable drawings from the original manga series.
Question: Is Demon Slayer inappropriate for 12-year-olds?
Answer: This is a question that every family needs to carefully consider. There are some 12-year-olds who could easily enjoy Demon Slayer and separate the darkness and seriousness of it, and others that it is a bit too mature for them. I challenge each parent to read a bit of the manga or watch some of the anime and choose for their own family.
Question: Is Demon Slayer OK for a 10-year-old?
Answer: Demon Slayer is not OK for every 10-year-old. I think it could be fine for some families but for others; it is far too gory and filled with elements of scary parts. Like with every situation like this, be sure to read some of the manga and watch some of the anime before you decide for your kid.
Question: Why is Demon Slayer so pretty?
Answer: Demon Slayer is so pretty because it is made by Studio Ufotable. This is the studio that previously made some of the best-looking anime, like the Fate series. They put so much into their work, and it pays off, but it comes at a cost. Be sure to look up their working conditions, as this beauty isn’t for nothing.
Naruto’s Aesthetic Is Vital to Series like Demon Slayer
Demon Slayer’s aesthetic is one of the most essential parts of one of the best manga series in recent memory. When it comes to the best-looking manga of all time, I have to give it to Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Even in the anime version, it is the premier and best-looking anime you’ll ever find.
There is a reason that this series came out in 2016, and over the course of the only four years it was around, it was able to amass a following that purchased more than 150 million copies of it. In fact, it is the only manga that is even in the top 10 list of all manga that began in the 21st century, and it was only a few years ago.
A huge reason behind this success for Demon Slayer is the manga aesthetic that is unlike anything else. Another series that is in that same top 10 conversations at the sixth-place spot is Naruto and the aesthetic that it brings as this look at a fantasy version of Japan with its shinobi and powers and the occasional mix of modernity.