If there’s one thing that stands out about Demon Slayer (besides the unparalleled adorableness that is Nezuko), it’s the jaw-dropping animation. Studio Ufotable is best known for its stellar work on the Fate franchise, creating such awe-inspiring spectacles as the Saber versus Caster fight from Fate/Zero, so it’s no surprise that the most impactful moments from Demon Slayer are pure sakuga as well. Today, we’re shining a light on the most gorgeously animated scenes from this anime, so please come join us and enjoy the sakuga!
5. Shinobu Moves Like a Butterfly
- Episode: 18 and 20
This first entry actually takes place over two different episodes, but focuses on the same thing: Shinobu, the insect Hashira, moves exactly like a butterfly. It’s difficult to map non-human movements onto a human body, but Ufotable makes this work perfectly by animating the sleeves and train of Shinobu’s haori as if they’re butterfly wings flapping around her while she fights. She first appears in front of a poisoned and suffering Zenitsu, her “wings” spread in front of the full moon and her body angled forward like a curious insect. And when she faces off against the Spider Sister later on, she dodges the web attacks by flitting around them like a butterfly among flowers. It’s mesmerizing to watch!
4. Kyogai’s Spinning Room
- Episode: 13
The demon Kyogai can rotate the rooms in his enchanted mansion by striking several tsuzumi drums embedded in his body. He mostly uses the drums to disorient and exhaust his victims so he can drink their blood, but his battle with Tanjiro forces him to bring out the full extent of his power.
In a dazzling display of flawlessly integrated CG imagery, Ufotable shows Tanjiro desperately trying to regain his footing in an opulent Japanese room that constantly tilts in wildly different directions. The warm lamps and flying manuscript pages bring depth and movement to the already impressive scene, culminating in Tanjiro figuring out how to stay one step ahead of Kyogai’s attacks so he can slay the demon once and for all.
3. Inosuke Locates the Spider Mother
- Episode: 15
Inosuke is quite the boorish person (and since he wears a boar’s head as a mask, it seems only fitting), but his self-taught Beast Breathing is as effective as any other swordsman’s flashy techniques. When he and Tanjiro are facing off against other demon slayers who are being controlled by invisible threads, he uses the seventh form called Spatial Awareness to locate the puppet master behind the threads.
This is another well-executed CG sequence – Inosuke radiates mental shockwaves from his body throughout the forest, which wash over the richly detailed terrain until they eventually hone in on the Spider Mother and return back to him. The shift to black and white helps to highlight the dramatic, sweeping camera angles and the subtle light that emanates from the shockwaves. It’s a short moment, but an unforgettable one.
2. Zenitsu’s Sleeping “Thunderclap and Flash” Finisher
- Episode: 17
Usually regarded as the coward of the group, Zenitsu can only reach his full potential when he’s knocked unconscious. Then, he can unleash the full power of his one and only attack – Thunder Breathing first form, Thunderclap and Flash. When the older Spider Brother believes that he’s defeated Zenitsu by violently slamming him into a tree, the unlikely demon slayer stands up slowly and takes a fighting stance as sparks blow away the pile of spiders that has descended upon him. Then Zenitsu embraces his inner Dragon Ball Z character by making rocks float up from the ground with his powerful aura, zooming around from tree to tree as if he’s teleporting, and slashing through the demon against the backdrop of the full moon. Wow, we never knew Zenitsu could be so badass!
1. Tanjiro and Nezuko’s Hinokami Dance Combination Attack
- Episode: 19
Tanjiro’s last stand against the spider leader Rui has already established itself as one of the most beautifully animated scenes of 2019, and for good reason. Using his father’s Hinokami Kagura dance (which was a gorgeous use of rotoscoping on its own) to boost his power, Tanjiro transforms his water aura into a raging fire and slices through Rui’s blood red threads as if they’re nothing. Nezuko adds to the attack by awakening her Exploding Blood demon art, and together they manage to chop off Rui’s head with just a broken sword and the unbreakable bond they share as a family. Combined with the sweeping orchestral music and the emphatic voice acting, Ufotable’s glorious animation made this pivotal moment in Demon Slayer even more amazing than it was in the manga.
So many other sakuga moments jump out at us as well, such as the nighttime city scene in Asakusa and all of the times Tanjiro unleashes his Water Breathing techniques. We’re looking forward to seeing more gorgeous animation from Ufotable next season!
What did you think of our list? What are your favorite sakuga scenes from Demon Slayer? Are there any that we missed? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!