So I finally got around to Demonslayer, when the anime series popped up on Netflix. Only the first season is up so far, so I watched half of ep 1, stopped, binged the entire manga in a day, then went back and binged the anime in 2 days. Then I watched Mugen Train on the weekend. Yes, the series is that good.
Written by Koyoharu Gotouge, a mangaka who's been featured on TIME Magazine's 2021 100 Next, Demonslayer has already shattered records. The film has broken Spirited Away's 19-year record as the top Japanese film worldwide, and has been submitted for an Oscar Nomination. It's a gorgeously animated, fast-paced film with a lot of heart, much like the manga and the series. The premise isn't complicated: the progenitor of the flesh-eating oni monsters randomly murders the main character's family and infects his sister. In order to try and find a cure, he joins the Demonslayers, a group committed over the centuries to destroying oni to protect people.
The main character, Tanjiro, is a refreshing change from the usual lone wolf / super talented sort of shounen manga teen, a boy who retains immense compassion even for most of his enemies, someone who is genuinely kind. Despite lacking talent, he makes up for it by hard work and with the support of all his friends, a support that he repeatedly and honestly acknowledges. For all that Demonslayer is a brutal manga -- even children die violently -- for its storyline to be driven by a kind and gentle character whose kindness is so core to his person that it's never ripped away despite all he faces is amazing. I'd love to see more stories like this. Looking forward to the next season.
Things I wrote
It's been nearly a month now and I still don't believe it, but my short story, "The Same Old Story", is in the March/April issue of Asimov's! Continued not to believe it even when I got their Christmas card last year. So happy to be published in that magazine, and I hope people enjoy the story -- and support some of their local restaurants afterwards.
I also have a featured blog post up on Asimov's: Do You Dream of Soy-Braised Duck. It's a personal piece of writing, almost as personal as the short story it's paired to. I do try and reward authenticity -- my definition of authenticity. For me, it's more about parity than a creative restriction. The post sets down my thoughts about that, hopefully giving the short story any additional context it might need.
Finally, I was part of a group AMA over on r/Fantasy on Reddit. That also feels unreal to me. Thanks to Dave of Neon Hemlock for arranging it! Was over 3 hours late thanks to the time difference, but I hope I've answered everyone's questions. Cradle and Grave is still up for purchase if you haven't read it.
What I've Been Watching
Demonslayer | Netflix / Film | As mentioned before above. Great watch. The film's just been released in Australia, so check it out if you can. Gorgeously animated fight scenes, just like the anime. It does take place immediately after the Netflix series, with almost no context, though, so I'd recommend at least watching the Netflix anime first.
Nezha Reborn | Film | A cyberpunk fantasy animation, while some parts of the animation do look a bit unpolished, it was still an entertaining, fun watch. Some parts of the film made me laugh in an unintentional way (if you can read mandarin, a certain tombstone burial scene halfway through the film is really unintentionally funny), but overall a fun take on Nezha.
Word of Honour | YouTube/Youkou | Adapted from Priest's danmei novel Tian Ya Ke / Faraway Wanderers, Word of Honour is surprisingly close to the novel so far. Action scenes are great, and the MCs are well-cast. Hopefully it'd go the way of CQL/MDZS and not introduce a het relationship that isn't there, but if it follows the book even 80%, the series is going to be a wild ride.
What I've Been Reading
2021 continues to be a struggle to get through my to-read list, but here are the books I managed to get through in February:
Priest | 天涯客 / Faraway Wanderers | Binged the book after watching the first four eps of Word of Honour. Depressed ex-spymaster decides to punish himself over the things he's done during his life and decides to live his last 3 years in agony as a wanderer, but runs into a handsome stalker, then somehow gets embroiled into the latest jianghu power struggle. Found family, lots of combat, compelling characters and worldbuilding. Great read.
Yoon Ha Lee | Phoenix Extravagant | YA queer silkpunk fantasy about magical automatons animated by grinding up masterpieces by dead artists. Entertaining read.
Kazuki Sakuraba | A Small Charred Face | Brutal set of 3 stories about the Bamboo, immortal grass vampire monsters. Don't get attached to any of the characters. Enjoyed the worldbuilding, and the first story is about two gay vampires who attempt to raise a human child who they rescue from a bad situation. CW for the situation: rape, child sexual assault.
Nnedi Okorafor | Remote Control | Another gorgeous story from Nnedi, about a girl who develops strange powers after touching what appears to be an alien artefact. You become extremely invested in her story early on, and can't help but rush to the end to see what happens to her. Great story, easy read.
Ambelin Kwaymullina | The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf | Ambelin wrote one of my favourite YA stories ever, Catching Teller Crow, which was why I decided to try her other books. I confess, usually I lose interest quickly if a book opens with a girl who's meant to be canny/strong/smart being Laid Low because she fell in love with the wrong boy -- YMMV, but it's not my thing. Read on because I love the author, and my trust was definitely justified after the plot twist halfway. Dystopian futuristic science fantasy, great worldbuilding, recommended especially if you like the X-Men. Might try the rest.
A Final Note
The snap lockdown in Melbourne over Valentine's Day / CNY was tough for businesses here, but looks like the state got things under control. Back to 0 cases per day. Hope everyone got through that with minimum pain. Best of luck for the days ahead.