TV News

The "Bleach" Anime Is Back, But Why Was It Ever Canceled?

The Bleach anime is finally returning with the Thousand-Year Blood War arc.

Shueisha

Few anime series have had as depressing a trajectory as Bleach.

If you were an anime fan in the early-mid 2000s, three shonen series dominated the medium: One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach. In time, these series became known as "The Big Three"—a term encompassing everything from the massive length of their long-running stories to the size of their fanbases to their obvious influence on the culture surrounding anime.

One Piece, which is still running strong today, has gone on to become the top-selling manga series of all time, and also the third best-selling comic series overall (currently edging up on Batman's number two position's number two position). Naruto remained a flagship title through the end of its anime run in 2017, and then immediately spawned Boruto, a spin-off series following Naruto's son. Bleach, by contrast, just kind of fizzled out, with the anime getting canceled in 2012 right before the final arc.

Bleach's cancellation was a blow from which its most loyal fans never truly recovered. But now, eight years later, the seemingly impossible is happening. Bleach's final arc, "Thousand-Year Blood War," is getting an official adaptation. Moreover, so is Burn the Witch, a Bleach spin-off manga by series creator Tite Kubo. 2020 is quickly shaping up to be the year of Bleach's revival, but this begs the question: Why was the Bleach anime canceled in the first place?

To answer that, it's important to understand how publication works in Weekly Shonen Jump, the Japanese manga magazine where all of these titles are serialized.

Unlike American comic series, which typically debut as single chapter comic books before being compiled into multi-chapter graphic novels, manga chapters usually debut in magazines. Of these manga magazines, Weekly Shonen Jump is the longest-running (since 1968), best-selling, and most prestigious. Success in Weekly Shonen Jump means taking a seat alongside global phenomena like Dragon Ball.

Perhaps the main reason that Weekly Shonen Jump has been so successful is its reliance on weekly "reader surveys" to determine which series people are most enjoying. As such, it's not just hyper-competitive for manga artists to get their series published in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump; it's also hyper-competitive to continue being published in Weekly Shonen Jump. Any series that consistently performs poorly in reader surveys becomes more likely to get cut, as is currently happening to Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto's newest series, Samurai 8.

On the other side of the coin, any series that consistently hits the top of the reader surveys is encouraged to run for as long as possible. Thus, while many shorter series complete full runs while maintaining their status in the middle-ground of Weekly Shonen Jump's rankings, the goal is usually to create a top-ranking series that readers can stick with for years and years.

Unfortunately, the pressure to consistently create new story content for an indeterminate period of time doesn't necessarily mesh well with every franchise. One Piece works incredibly well in the context of Weekly Shonen Jump, because its narrative impetus revolves around a pirate adventure, which means author Eiichiro Oda can spend as much time as he wants focusing on elaborate world-building and epic-scale battles. Naruto, too, succeeded in its ability to follow its heroic young ninja from childhood to adulthood, allowing him to grow up alongside the readers. But Bleach didn't have the world-building of One Piece or the character development of Naruto.

Ichigo Thousand Year Blood War Shueisha

What Bleach had was a whole lot of style. Following a teenager who gets shinigami (soul reaper) powers, Tite Kubo managed to create a world that felt edgier, more mature, more punk rock than its contemporaries. The series had an incredibly strong hook and a phenomenal first arc, too. After Ichigo Kurosaki becomes a shinigami, he learns that Rukia, his shinigami mentor who transferred her powers to him in order to save his family, has actually committed a cardinal sin according to the leaders of Soul Society (the shinigami world). As punishment for transferring her powers to a human, Rukia will be sentenced to death. This leaves Ichigo with the task of infiltrating Soul Society, defeating its most powerful captains and rescuing Rukia.

To this day, Bleach's Soul Society arc still holds up as one of the best shonen arcs of its genre. The tension is always palpable, and the battles are phenomenal. The problem, though, is that Kubo didn't really seem to know what to do with the series afterwards. The characters in Bleach weren't as strongly defined as the characters in One Piece and Naruto, and the world-building for Soul Society was never especially prominent. So Bleach tripled down on style, essentially repeating similar "rescue" arcs again and again with cool new villains who were, indeed, very stylish.

Sadly, style isn't enough on its own to carry a long-running shonen for years and years. While the battles continued to be very cool, Bleach's plot started to feel weaker and emptier, especially compared to One Piece and Naruto, both of which seemed to have clear narrative arcs that had been set-up far in advance. Eventually, Bleach began falling in the Weekly Shonen Jump ranking. Its solo manga sales dwindled. And while Kubo was allowed to see his series through to completion, the anime was canceled before the manga ever even finished.

The most depressing thing about Bleach is that if it had been allowed to wrap up shortly after Soul Society, it might still be remembered as a phenomenal series instead of a series that fell from grace.

So then why is the Bleach anime returning now, eight years later, to finish its last leg? Maybe demand from Bleach's most dedicated fanbase has finally paid off. Or maybe with recent resurgence of Dragon Ball with Dragon Ball Super, Shueisha (Shonen Jump's parent company) thought that exposing a younger generation of anime fans to Bleach might result in a similar outcome.

Regardless, as a Bleach fan, this is incredibly exciting news. Even considering how the source material fell off the map, the Bleach anime always deserved a proper conclusion. Modern animation can do wonders, too. Just look at how the Demon Slayer anime turned a formerly middle-of-the-rankings franchise into the most popular new series in years. Let's hope that Bleach's "Thousand-Year Blood War" arc will follow the same path.

Culture Feature

"Demon Slayer" Slayed at Crunchyroll's Anime Awards

Demon Slayer's big win was the right choice.

Shueisha

In the world of anime, 2019 will forever be known as the year of Demon Slayer.

Crunchyroll announced the winners of their fourth annual Anime Awards this weekend in a live event hosted by WWE Superstar Xavier Woods (AKA Austin Creed), and in a victory that likely came as a surprise to absolutely no one, Demon Slayer took home Anime of the Year. Demon Slayer's kind-hearted protagonist, Tanjiro, also won the coveted Best Boy Award, and Tanjiro & Nezuko vs. Rui won Best Fight Scene. Considering all of its major category wins with over 11 million global votes cast this year, it's clear that Demon Slayer has taken the anime community by storm.

Tanjiro Shueisha

But while some anime fans might balk at the idea of a battle shonen winning the ultimate accolades, it's worth considering the fact that Demon Slayer stands as a testament to the power of anime–specifically, as a medium. After all, Demon Slayer's success story is somewhat atypical.

Normally, shonen anime series that achieve massive popularity are backed by extreme levels of manga-reader hype. This is because shonen anime series are almost always based on already popular manga, meaning that their core fanbases are essentially built in from the get-go. As an example, manga volumes of My Hero Academia had been selling out in Japan before the anime ever aired.

Demon Slayer, however, didn't enter the anime scene with those same levels of fan excitement. In fact, the Demon Slayer manga––which began publication in 2016––was considered by many to be just okay, and a lot of readers of Shonen Jump (the Japanese manga magazine where Demon Slayer is published) expected the series to be canceled early into its run. So when the Demon Slayer anime started airing in April, 2019, most people didn't have high expectations.

Studio Ufotable didn't let that stop them. They went all out on Demon Slayer, crafting brilliant fight animations that gave the impression of woodblock prints come to life. Every battle in the show, from the smaller Zenitsu scenes to the Best Fight-winning Rui brawl, played out in spectacular fashion. The anime performed so fantastically that fans began clamoring for the manga, with new volume sales in Japan even giving One Piece a run for its money.

Tanjiro vs Rui Shueisha

So yes, while someone might personally think that Attack on Titan Season 3 deserved every single award ever (Tetsuro Araki and Masashi Koizuka did rightfully win Best Director), Demon Slayer's big win was the right choice within the larger context of the medium.

The full list of Crunchyroll 2020 Anime Awards winners can be found below:

  • Anime of the Year: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Best Animation: Mob Psycho 100 II
  • Best Opening Sequence: Mob Psycho 100 II, ♪ 99.9 - MOB CHOIR feat. sajou no hana
  • Best Ending Sequence: KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR, ♪ Chikatto Chika Chikaa♡ - Konomi Kohara
  • Best Boy: Tanjiro Kamado, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Best Girl: Raphtalia, The Rising of the Shield Hero
  • Best Score: Mocky, Carole & Tuesday
  • Best VA Performance (JP): Yuichi Nakamura voices Bruno Bucciarati in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
  • Best VA Performance (EN): Billy Kametz voices Naofumi in The Rising of the Shield Hero
  • Best Director: Tetsuro Araki, Chief Director and Masashi Koizuka, Director – Attack on Titan Season 3
  • Best Character Design: Satoshi Iwataki, Original Character Design by Hiroyuki Asada, Dororo
  • Best Protagonist: Senku, Dr. STONE
  • Best Antagonist: Isabella, The Promised Neverland
  • Best Fight Scene: Tanjiro & Nezuko vs. Rui, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Best Couple: Kaguya Shinomiya & Miyuki Shirogane, KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR
  • Best Drama: Vinland Saga, WIT STUDIO
  • Best Fantasy: The Promised Neverland, CloverWorks
  • Best Comedy: KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR, A-1 Pictures
  • Industry Icon: George Wada, WIT STUDIO

CULTURE

My Hero Academia Backlash and the Art of the Bad Faith Take

#WeSupportYouHorikoshi is a nice sentiment, but the threat is mostly imaginary.

Shueisha

The My Hero Academia Twitter fandom is up in arms against the evil SJW portion of the My Hero Academia fandom over their brazen attempts to cancel the popular manga series' creator, Kohei Horikoshi...Or at least that's what some bad faith actors want you to believe.

According to Bounding Into Comics––a nerd culture website deemed to have a "Mixed" factual reporting record by Media Bias Fact Check, as well as a strong right-wing bias due to "editorial positions that align with the alt-right"––Horikoshi is experiencing major backlash from "outraged readers" who discovered that a few of the characters have the same birthdays as historic fascist figureheads like Adolf Hitler and WWII Japanese Navy Admiral, Isoroku Yamamoto. Their article proceeds to claim the backlash has "rampant support" before embedding a video titled, "Outrage crowd labels Hero Academia 'My FASCISM Academy', now they're upset over Characters BIRTHDAYS" by a YouTuber whose content includes an endless stream of videos defending a Funimation voice actor who was fired over multiple sexual assault accustions by both co-workers and fans.

Hero Hei "Quality Content"

It should also be noted that this controversy comes right on the heels of a prior backlash over a character's name, "Maruta Shiga," which seemed to potentially reference victims of human experimentation in Japan during WWII. This prior backlash was swift and widespread, resulting in Horikoshi and Shueisha (My Hero Academia's publisher) issuing an apology, clarifying that the name was a play on words and that the reference was unintentional, and they agreed to immediately change the character's name.

Bounding Into Comics didn't seem to like that Horikoshi issued that initial apology, so they highlight this quote from the YouTuber: "...If there is anything they don't like in the show they can now organize together, bombard Horikoshi with hate and attempt to get him to change things because he's done that now. He has changed the content to their demands and apologized to them."

The problem isn't that Bounding Into Comics is outright lying in their article––There is, indeed, a tweet from a Japanese Twitter account, @Object501, which points out the same birthdays and currently has 28,000 likes. The story also seems to have received at least some coverage in Japanese media. The problem is that Bounding Into Comics is skewing the story to fit their own agenda. Their take, as seems to be the trend amongst alt-right media outlets and YouTubers, is intentionally made in bad faith and tailor-made to rile people up.

Because there's one more very important aspect of this story, which Bounding Into Comics only kind of mentions deep into their article: This new backlash is almost entirely limited to Chinese and Korean Twitter accounts, many of which are either brand new or low-follow accounts displaying bot-like behavior, with very little support from Japanese or English-speaking accounts. But why would Bounding Into Comics intentionally obfuscate that fact?

Bounding Into Comics is an American website. They know that the vast majority of their readers hail from Western countries, and when a person from a Western country reads an article about cancel-related backlash, they typically assume that backlash is also coming from a Western audience unless something is explicitly stated to the contrary. Considering their status as a major hub for Comicsgate––an alt-right movement that primarily targets and harasses women, people of color, and LGBT people in the comic book industry––Bounding Into Comics also knows that the majority of their readers are politically right-leaning people with an active grudge against "SJWs." As such, by presenting My Hero Academia's detractors as "fans attempting to find the smallest source of fuel for an outrage mob" instead of "primarily people in China and Korea, many of them almost certainly bots," they can rile up their followers against an imaginary SJW fanbase that doesn't actually exist, without technically lying.

Their tactics work alarmingly well. Western My Hero Academia fans got #WeSupportYouHorikoshi trending on Twitter in the United States, with concerned fans offering support for Horikoshi mixed with targeted outrage at "the My Hero Academia fanbase" and "SJWs" in equal measure. The scariest part is that many of the Tweets express understanding and even agreement about the initial "Maruta Shiga" name complaints, but they have now decided that the fanbase has gone too far. Many of them are even actively expressing fear that this backlash will cause Horikoshi to quit the manga industry...which, no, that's absurd.

Funnily enough, the main My Hero Academia subreddit is entirely unconcerned with any of this manufactured drama and has continued to enjoy the series as usual.

My Hero academia class 1a Shueisha

To be crystal clear, the initial backlash to the "Maruta Shiga" name was entirely real and wholly understandable, considering Japan's atrocities with Unit 731. By being honest about the miscommunication, apologizing, and changing the name, Horikoshi did right by his fans. On the contrary, the birthday backlash, to the extent that it actually exists, is absurd and a complete non-issue. But by purposely conflating the two, and pretending that there's major Western My Hero Academia fan outrage over the latter, Bounding Into Comics has successfully convinced many fans on Twitter that Horikoshi's initial apology was a misstep that opened floodgates to SJWs' influence over their favorite series.

They present themselves as "rational" and "logical," imploring you to look beyond "the mainstream narrative" in order to "draw your own conclusions." But unlike any source with an ounce of integrity, they don't actually give you all the facts from which to draw your own conclusion. They lie through omission and suggestion, providing specific facts in a specific way to lead you to a specific conclusion, while disregarding or burying any facts that might lead you to the full picture. That's the real trick to alt-right bad faith takes.

Oh, and My Hero Academia Season 4 is currently airing on Crunchyroll. Even better, you can read the entire manga series on VIZ.com. If you haven't checked it out yet, do yourself a favor. It's awesome.

TV

A Definitive Guide to the Crunchyroll 2020 Anime Awards

The top picks for "Anime of the Year," and more importantly, "Best Boy."

Shogakukan

When winter winds howl through the air and the snot dribbling down your nose starts to freeze into tiny icicles, that's how you know that the most hallowed time of year is upon us once again–the time of year when anime fans gather round and vote for which anime bishounen is truly "Best Boy."

The 2020 Crunchyroll Anime Awards are finally here.

But how do you possibly choose between Mob and Bucciarati? And if that's not hard enough to decide as is, what do you nominate for "Anime of the Year?" Don't worry. I gotchu' fam'.

Anime of the Year

Demon Slayer Shueisha

Upfront, I placed my Anime of the Year vote with a major caveat––my real top anime of 2019 (not to mention, my top TV show period) was not on Crunchyroll's shortlist. That show is, of course, Attack on Titan. Season 3 was a genuine masterpiece of storytelling, character-building, tension, and animation, and Crunchyroll's failure to include it in their top 2020 category will forever be a stain on their record.

That said, of the options we do have, it really comes down to Demon Slayer and Mob Psycho 100 II. The Promised Neverland, and Vinland Saga––both great shows––didn't quite make the cut for me (although I'm sure Vinland Saga will as it catches up to the manga).

Mob Psycho 100 II, the phenomenal second season of Mob Psycho 100, easily solidified the series amongst the best shows of the entire decade. It's ridiculously wholesome with a solid emotional core and gorgeous battle sequences. I'd go so far as saying it's better than Demon Slayer on every front short of actual animation.

But to me, "Anime of the Year" isn't necessarily reserved for "the best" anime of the year, so much as "the most definitive." And in that regard, Demon Slayer gets my vote. The series went from a decent manga that most people didn't care about to one of the most talked about shonen series of the decade. Ufotable's incredible battle animation is largely to thank, but Demon Slayer also has a lovable cast of characters that keeps me wanting to come back. I'm hoping the next season will live up to the hype.

Best Protagonist

Tanjiro Shueisha

Keeping in line with "Anime of the Year," Demon Slayer's Tanjiro is an easy choice for "Best Protagonist" category. He shirks a lot of the traditional shonen hero tropes, displaying unprecedented levels of empathy to even his most evil opponents. As a result, despite the fact that Demon Slayer marches to the same tune as plenty of past shonen fare, Tanjiro makes the series feel like a nice change of pace.

Best Antagonist

Garou Shueisha

As horrendous as Isabella was in The Promised Neverland, my vote for "Best Antagonist" could only ever possibly go to Garou from One Punch Man. A great antagonist is one who believes that they're the protagonist of their own story, and in Garou's story, he's a beacon of hope for monsters who get a bad rap. That doesn't stop him from saving kids or being a big dweeb. Dude just wants to be a monster.

Best Boy

Mob Psycho 100 Shogakukan

Ah, "Best Boy." Always the hardest category. A "Best Boy" isn't just "nice" or "likable." He's husbando material, your one and only. Tanjiro is nice, but he's not "Best Boy." Mob, on the other hand… Well, he's the kind of guy you'd need to lift up out of the dumps every now and again. But at the same time, he's loyal to a fault and would always support you in following your passions.

Bucciarati, on the other hand, would straight up die for you. He's a bad boy with a heart of gold, the kind of person who would join the mafia with the goal of getting drugs off the street. I love Bucciarati, and if the real world was as bizarre as JoJo's, I'd give him my vote. But I'm looking for a boyfriend, not a martyr. As hard as it is to reject Bucciarati, my point goes to Mob.

Best Girl

Nezuko Shueisha

Nezuko. No question. Come on.

Best Director

Attack on Titan Levi Kodansha

Finally, we get a category with an Attack on Titan Season 3 nomination. Tetsuro Araki's direction of the Return to Shiganshina arc was absolutely unparalleled. From its full display of the sheer terror leading up to Erwin's charge to the incredible shots throughout the Levi/Beast Titan fight, and everything beyond, it's hard to imagine a more perfect season of anime. This one is a no brainer.

Best Animation

Armored Titan Kodansha

Again, Attack on Titan Season 3 takes the cake. Demon Slayer certainly had the more beautiful battle animation, but the animation in Attack on Titan Season 3 served a greater goal that enhanced the narrative. For instance, the POV ODM gear shots placed viewers directly into Levi's shoes as he sped through the streets in his life-or-death fight with Kenny. The animation in AoT wasn't just badass; it was immersive.

Best Character Design

Dr. Stone Shueisha

As far as new character designs go, it's hard to top Dr. STONE. With his crazy green-tipped hair and tan robe-coat, Senko Ishigami truly feels like a young anime Bill Nye, assuming Bill Nye existed somewhere in the JoJo-verse.

Best Score

attack on titan fallen angel Kodansha

I'm just going to keep saying it: Attack on Titan Season 3 was perfect. The score exacerbated the intensity of every scene, and the gorgeous, haunting opening of the first half of the season perfectly set the mood for the rest of the show.

Best Fight Scene

Levi vs Beast Titan Kodansha

Oh man. Levi vs. Beast Titan. Did you really think I'd pick anything else?

Best Couple

Ymir and Historia Kodansha

Yes, I picked Ymir and Historia.

"Attack on Titan again? Really?" you're thinking.

Yes. Really. I'll admit, there are strong arguments to be made for other entries here. Baki Hanma & Kozue Matsumoto was a strong contender. But the beauty of Ymir and Historia's relationship was its subtlety––an unrequited LGBTQ+ romance that took a backseat to everything else happening in the story (as one would expect of any romantic relationship in a world as brutal as Attack on Titan), while ultimately influencing and changing both participants' actions and character development in major ways. It's not just a great romance. It's an amazingly written one.

Best VA Performance (JP)

Bucciarati Shueisha

Yuichi Nakamuro killed it as Bucciarati. No contest.

Best VA Performance (EN)

LOL Dubs. Nah, I'm good. I abstain from voting.

Best Comedy

kaguya sama love is war shueisha

KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR had an especially clever take on the romantic comedy genre, so it's hard to pick anything else as the standout comedy of the past year.

Best Fantasy

Attack on Titan Season 3 Kodansha

Attack on Titan Season 3. Shut up.

Best Drama

Promised Neverland Shueisha

I have to give it to The Promised Neverland. While Vinland Saga will, no doubt, reign supreme in later seasons, the first season of The Promised Neverland was simply more consistent.

Best Opening Sequence

Mob Psycho 99 Shogakukan

Since, again, Attack on Titan isn't listed, Mob Psycho 100 II is the clear winner. "99.9" is super fun, catchy, and high-energy. I didn't even skip it once––what better compliment can one give an opening sequence?

Best Ending Sequence

Vinland Saga Torches Kodansha

Sorry to end on a bit of a fizzle, but none of the listed ending sequences were absolute knock-outs. I did enjoy "Torches" from Vinland Saga, but it's not a passionate choice like a lot of my other votes.

Ultimately, when it comes to the Anime Awards, it's best to vote with your heart. But if your heart says anything other than Attack on Titan, I'm here to inform you that you're wrong.

CULTURE

34 Pop Culture Things We're Most Thankful For This Thanksgiving 2019

We're all counting our blessings at Popdust.

square enix

It's almost Thanksgiving, so here at Popdust we're trying our best to stop dwelling on the fact that our entire world is going to sh*t, and instead, be appreciative of all the pop culture stuff we're thankful for in 2019.

Here they are in no particular order:

1. The Lumineers New Album

The Lumineers

Instant Classic.

2. The constant whining of the Pokemon fanbase on Reddit and Twitter

Pokemon Sword and Shield The Pokemon Company

A week after the launch of Sword and Shield, the angry man-babies are still crying hard.

3. Baby Yoda

baby yoda disney

Even cuter than a whole flock of Porgs.

4. Keanu Reeves still not getting #MeToo'd

Keanu Reeves AFP/Robyn Beck

Keanu Reeves has continued to be infallible.

5. Veterans Day trending spelled wrong

veterans day

A boomer misspelled it "VeTRANS Day." Hilarious.

6. White Men arguing for more representation for White Men

angry white man

If there's one thing all white men have in common, it's constant oppression.

7. Our new writer Keith and also our other new writer Abby

Combos Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Keith brings me Combos to snack on. Abby is also nice.

8. That video of Amanda Bynes confirming that she was sincere about wanting Drake to murder her pussy

Amanda Bynes ABC

This was important to clarify.

9. That none of us got famous for our famous moms paying for us to get into college

Olivia Loughlin CREDIT: ROB LATOUR/SHUTTERSTOCK

We're all failures, but at least we're not Olivia Jade Loughlin.

10. Attack on Titan Season 3

attack on titan kodansha

Attack on Titan still has my vote for absolute best TV season of 2019.

11. The optimistic hope that the FFVII Remake will actually be amazing

final fantasy 7 remake Square Enix

I'M GOING TO RELIVE MY CHILDHOOD.

12. A New Half-Life game

half life alyx Valve

It might be a dumb VR game, but it gives us hope that Half-Life 3 is on the horizon.

13. Fleabag Season 2

Fleabag Season 2 BBC

The second season was somehow even better than the first.

14. Another year without a Toby Keith hit

No matter how bad the rest of the year was, we can all take solace in the fact that Toby Keith doesn't have any hot new songs.

15. Harry Styles

Harry Styles THEO WARGO GETTY IMAGES

Our boy killed it on SNL.

16. A conclusive ending for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

marvel endgame Disney

Mainly though, we're just done with Marvel.

17. That I can bring "OK Boomer" with me to Thanksgiving dinner

OK Boomer Shutterstock

Seriously though, shut your awful, racist boomer family down.

18. Dolly Parton's resurgence

dolly parton

Dolly Parton will always be a national treasure.

19. The Angry Woman Vs Cat meme (the cat's name is Smudge, fun fact)

woman vs cat meme

Meme of the year.

20. The Cats trailer horror

Cats Trailer Universal Pictures

Scarier than any horror movie of the past twenty years.

21. Finding out 21 Savage is British

21 Savage ROY ROCHLIN/GETTY IMAGES

Seriously?

22. That they still play 21 Jump Street and Superbad on TV

Superbad Sony Pictures

Some things never change.

23. Tekashi 69 snitching on everybody

tekashi 69 GETTY IMAGES

Place your bets.

24. FKA TWIGs

FKA Twigs 22nd Annual Webby Awards WireImage

Robert Pattinson done goofed.

25. That Taylor Swift wrote the song Lover all by herself, and then didn't get nominated for a Grammy

Taylor Swift CREDIT: EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

She has enough Grammys as is.

26. Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself

jeffrey epstein

Really though. It was an inside job.

27. Ronan Farrow proposing to his husband on a page of his own book

Ronan Farrow NPR

Talk about balls.

28. Amanda Palmer's Antics

James Duncan Davidson

Love her or hate her, at least she's interesting.

29. Dan's brief stint as a beloved ARMY spokesperson

BTS Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

That time when I called out The Hollywood Reporter.

30. The Edne and Mack Feud of 2019

CBD hemp leaves on wooden background, seeds, cannabis oil extracts in jars Getty Images/iStockphoto

CBD is bullsh*t.

31. Victoria's Secret fashion show canceled officially forever

victorias secret

It's about time.

32. A$AP Rocky a point of discussion in impeachment hearings

ASAP rocky trump

We truly live in the stupidest timeline.

33. Vastly improved Sonic trailer

Sonic Trailer Paramount Pictures

Conspiracy theory: They had the original design ready to go all along.

34. The incredible art in Demon Slayer

Demon Slayer Shueisha

Most gorgeous anime of 2019.

TV

How "Demon Slayer" Went From an Okay Manga to the Best New Anime of 2019

The Demon Slayer anime takes its source material to new heights.

Shueisha

With its first season having just finished airing and a new movie (Mugen Train) on the horizon for 2020, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has never been more popular.

Although initially released to little fanfare, the anime picked up major steam around the latter third of its 26-episode run, generating massive hype within the anime community. Now it sits in the top 20 best anime seasons on MyAnimeList. Even more telling, Demon Slayer manga sales in Japan have recently started gaining on the all-time top-selling manga, One Piece (at least in terms of weekly sales during October). All this is to say that, as far as newer anime series go, Demon Slayer is having a real moment.

Demon Slayer Mugen Train Shueisha


But that wasn't always the case. Unlike fellow Weekly Shonen Jump darling My Hero Academia, whose manga volumes had been selling out even before the anime premiered in 2016, the Demon Slayer manga was well-liked by people who read it, but it wasn't necessarily generating buzz. The most obvious reason is that, while a series like My Hero Academia felt especially fresh with its Western superhero tropes-meet-shonen hook, Demon Slayer's story is a lot more standard within the realm of shonen: After his family gets slaughtered by a demon and his sister, Nezuko, turns into a demon, Tanjiro, a kind, empathetic young boy, must become a Demon Slayer in order to prevent further tragedies and, hopefully, find a cure for his sister.

Hunting demons (or any other supernatural monster, for that matter) is a pretty common story basis for shonen, and Demon Slayer doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. Moreover, the actual art in the Demon Slayer manga by first-time artist/writer Koyoharu Gotōge, while still very good, is arguably less polished than a number of other mainline Weekly Shonen Jump series. As such, Demon Slayer gained a large enough popularity to continue publication but not much else.

Demon Slayer Manga Shueisha


Then the anime hit.

Produced by Ufotable (an anime studio best known for their adaptation of Fate/Zero), the Demon Slayer anime kept everything that made the manga enjoyable (likable characters, a solid plot, and creative battle concepts) while cleaning up and building upon all of the weaker points. Most specifically, the Demon Slayer adaptation features an incredibly strong, unique aesthetic that oftentimes resembles flowing ink paintings. Coupled with complex camera movements and brilliant battle choreography, every battle in Demon Slayer becomes a gorgeous, memorable event.

***DEMON SLAYER EPISODE 17 SPOILERS FOLLOW***

For example, take the battle between perpetual coward, Zenitsu, and the Spider Demon from Episode 17 (Chapter 34 of the manga)––a relatively minor fight within the context of the story.

In this battle, Zenitsu needs to cut off the Spider Demon's head before succumbing to a heavy dose of poison with which he's been injected. But the Spider Demon is high above the ground, and Zenitsu has only one chance to attack before inevitable doom. The Spider Demon believes that Zenitsu is weak and that the battle has already been won––right until he realizes that Zenitsu is preparing for his final move. Here's the build-up in the manga:

Zenitsu vs Spider Demon Shueisha

The Spider Demon witnesses Zenitsu gearing up for his attack by stating its name. Then we get this single panel shot, tracking Zenitsu's attack path, from tree to tree, up into the sky, through the Spider Demon's den:

Zenitsu Thunder Clap Flash Shueisha

Now, watch how the battle plays out in the anime:

Zenitsu vs Spider Demon ~ Demon Slayer youtu.be

Instead of simply watching from up high as Zenitsu states the name of his attack, the anime builds up Zenitsu's total body shift with a multitude of interesting shots. The camera moves in close as the air around Zenitsu bristles with electricity. His eyes glow white as the screen gets doused in yellow light. Then as he names the attack, the electricity intensifies, shaking everything around him. We see Zenitsu's footwork as he leverages a taut string of web to gain air before following him as he soars into the sky. Then we move through a recreation of the single panel shot from the manga, tracking Zenitsu's actual path to the Spider Demon's decapitation. Finally, we land on a gorgeous shot of Zenitsu airborne in front of the moon.

The single lightning track shot from the manga, in context, was a very cool battle moment, but not an entirely memorable one––the Spider Demon isn't even a major villain. But in the anime, it's the kind of battle scene that sticks with you, an absolute visual spectacle.

And things only get better from there. Just two episodes later, Demon Slayer features what might be the single most incredible battle animation I've ever seen in an anime. It's no wonder that Demon Slayer has become such a hit when episode after episode delivers such phenomenal animation. In doing so, Demon Slayer proves that not every great series needs to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes, greatness means building the same old wheel better than anyone else ever has before.