After re-watching Season 1 Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, I realized one more element that adds to the popularity of this show – the Taishō Period (1912 – 1926). The Taishō Period is the timeline of the Demon Slayer series before World War 1 and 2 occurred.
It was confirmed in episode 4 during Tanjiro’s spectacular battle with the Hand Demon. Ufotable Studio worked an outstanding job to highlight the magnificent aspects of this period in the anime. This is especially true when they released episodes 7 and 8 on Season 1 of the anime.
In conclusion, Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba takes place during several years of the Taisho Era of Japan in general, from the year 1912 to 1915.
Episode 7 & 8
Episode 7 – This is a very important episode not only because of the tense encounter between Tanjiro and Muzan Kibutsuji, the antagonist of the show.
It is also an important episode because viewers’ impression of the Taishō Period in the anime heightened after seeing some spectacular city sceneries of Asakusa, Tokyo during that era.
Episode 8 – This episode shows the continuation of the encounter between Tanjiro and Muzan from episode 7. Viewers get to gaze upon some of the European and American-influenced fashion sense of the Japanese at that time.
Other than clothing, people during those times also use steam-powered transportation modes. In addition, the decorum inside a Taishō home can be seen through some of the minor character’s houses: Dr. Tamayo and Yushiro’s house.
What does it imply?
These two episodes alone goes to show how Ufotable Studio painstakingly researched the authenticity of the manga’s timeline.
They were able to communicate to the audience how knowledgeable and familiar the animation staff are with Japanese history. Of course, sword fighting styles during the Taishō Period are essential pieces in the series. So, we will also discuss them here.
Disclaimer: This blog will discuss Season 1 of the anime, but it will also include some minor spoilers from the manga.
In episode 7, Tanjiro and Nezuko visited Asakusa, Tokyo for the first time and the anime showcased this scene gloriously – like a golden dinner platter.
It is as if the viewers themselves are entering a festival: the bright street lamplights add glow to the busy lifestyle of about a hundred citizens walking in the night. Even though it is in anime format, the anime portrays a gleaming Asakusa during the Taishō Period under the moonlight.
Nowadays, Asakusa is one of the districts that retains its traditional roots. To be blunt, it maintained its former Tokyo vibes and is very different from its surrounding areas.
When you get the chance, would you be interested in visiting Asakusa to see how it stood out from Minato, Shibuya, and other of Tokyo’s special wards? Let us know in the comments below.
Clothing and Attire
Looking closer, I noticed the city people’s fashion attire during episodes 7 and 8. Some of them are wearing Western clothes, while others also wear traditional Japanese clothes.
This makes sense because the Taishō Period is when Japanese people are already influenced by Western culture to some degree. Nowadays, the Japanese wear a mix of Western and traditional clothing.
Tanjiro and Zenitsu are wearing brightly patterned-colorful Haoris (robes) over their moisture-and-fire repellent Demon Slayer Corps uniforms. For their feet, they wear wooden sandals. Meanwhile, Inosuke wears a boar mask; black rustic pants with feathers at the end; and black feathery boots with front openings.
He grew up in the mountains which is why his attire is like that throughout the series; it’s also part of his character design and backstory. The only female among the main cast is Nezuko; she wears a leaf patterned rose kimono and wooden slippers. Another fun fact is that Yushiro (Dr. Tamayo’s assistant) is wearing an early Taishō male school uniform or a Meiji-style one.
If you didn’t know, Kibutsuji Muzan is also known as “That Time Michael Jackson Got Reincarnated as a Demon King.” XD
As a contrast, notice how Muzan (posing as Mr. Tsukihiko, and a husband) is wearing a stylish Western-induced attire in episodes 7 and 8. He is wearing white pants, black shoes, and a golden-buttoned black coat that is stylized with swirly patterns around the chest. He also domes the following white-colored accessories: a tie and a hat with a single black stripe around it.
In the meantime, Muzan’s female companion (Ms. Rei) is wearing a light mint themed outfit: a cloche hat embroidered with a purple floral accessory; a turtle-necked, long-sleeved white blouse; a long skirt; and high-heeled shoes.
Meanwhile, her daughter is domed in white socks; colored shoes; and a long, white-sleeved, ribbon-decorated lacy dress. She is like an American or a European doll, especially when she adorned her brunette hair with ribbons.
The fashion sense between Muzan’s family and Tanjiro’s group is sufficient evidence of their lifestyles in the series. It’s stated in Chapter 127 of the manga that Muzan has been living since the Heian period (795 – 1185).
It’s safe to conclude that he has probably travelled to many cities. His knowledge of the busy city life during the Taishō Period (1912 – 1926) is very telling just by the way he wears his evening suit and pants.
Tanjiro’s group, on the other hand, are living in the countryside. Therefore, they often wear traditional Japanese clothes when travelling throughout the mountains. We know that Tanjiro’s Haori varies throughout the first season of the series. He domes a green-and-black checkered Haori as his regular attire. But when he underwent training at the mountains, his master (Sakonji Urokodaki) gave him a cloud patterned sky-blue Haori.
Regarding the Demon Slayer Corps’ black uniforms, it’s actually based on Imperial Japanese military uniforms from back in the day. Zenitsu stated in Chapter 54 of the manga that demon hunters belonging to the Demon Slayer Corps are not officially recognized by the government; hence, the use of the word “Corps”.
The colorful Haoris worn by each demon hunter hides the “Destroy” Japanese kanji character at the back of the military outfits. The Haoris also stylize the neutrality of the black uniforms as the mangaka’s way to add unique personalities to each character.
Since the demon hunters must hide their true identities, they cannot walk around with swords in plain sight because it’s illegal; more so if they constantly disguise themselves as civilians.
As I said before, the Japanese people during the Taishō Period wear contemporary clothes because of the West’s influence. But the westernization of Japan did not start between 1912-1926; rather, it started way back in the Meiji Period (1868 – 1911).
When it comes to weapons, Western weapons and military technology were introduced to the Japanese much earlier; this was during the Edo or Tokugawa Period (1603 – 1868). The influence in the Japanese military were so strong that machine guns, tripod-mounted guns, and gas-operated weapons were utilized in the warfare.
Then, Western influence started bleeding through several Japanese transportation and construction sectors. If you return to episode 7, Tanjiro was impressed with the tall structures of the buildings when he and Nezuko visited an Asakusa district for the first time. In Chapter 13 of the manga, he wondered whether all cities are like this (implying that this is the first time he visited Tokyo Prefecture).
The buildings Tanjiro saw were very different from the simple and traditional Japanese homes he is used to seeing in the countryside. As the economy moves to an industrialized era, constructing tall, contemporary residential and entrepreneurial buildings like the American’s and European’s becomes the trend.
Eventually, the Western influence continued to spread through Japanese citizens’ lives until it reached and permeated through consumers’ fashion tastes.
Mugen Train – Transportation
Transportation-wise, there’s a cable train passing through the city streets in episode 7; while in episode 26, Tanjiro and his friends jumped aboard a railway train to travel to their next destination.
As a side note, this train hints viewers to the upcoming Demon Slayer movie: Mugen Train (or Kimetsu no Yaiba movie: Mugen Ressha-hen), which is premiering on October 16, 2020 in Japan.
If you also notice, Ms. Rei and her daughter use a black automobile to get a ride home in episode 8. Based on my research, I would say that that black automobile looks almost like either a “1929 Austin Seven” or a “1928 Ford Model A Tudor sedan”. But I could be wrong because the Taishō Period occurs between 1912 to 1926; the vehicles I mentioned were obviously models released from 1928 to 1929.
In any case, people of Asakusa in the Demon Slayer anime prefer using pedal-based cars to establish a control system among their vehicles. In real life, these types of cars can only be afforded by the rich during the early 1900s. Ms. Rei and her daughter seem to come from an affluent family; so, it makes sense that they are living a comfortable lifestyle.
Since we’re talking about the affluent, we might as well talk about political governance and Japan’s representational government. The Taishō Period lasts for fourteen years from 1912 to 1926 under Emperor Yoshihito, the 123rd Emperor of Japan. He is also known as Emperor Taishō, the origin name of the Taishō Period
As we’ve discussed, this is the period when Japan slowly opens its international borders to the West. But truthfully, the foundation of modern Japan is initiated during the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912) during Emperor Meiji’s governance.
With the morphing of two worlds between East and West, the changes extend to the people’s idea of liberalism. Will they choose to stay true to their Japanese roots, or accept some of the changes brought by European and American countries? As seen in episode 1 of the anime, Tanjiro grew up in the countryside.
He is the breadwinner of his household and earns a living through charcoal sales. His family and other villagers still wear traditional Japanese clothing like kimonos, Haoris, slippers, and sandals. They follow a lifestyle akin to people living during the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912), or even, the Edo or Tokugawa Period (1603 – 1868).
Because the villagers’ lifestyles are clearly segregated from the civilians of Asakusa, Tokyo, viewers can theorize that the first season of the anime occurs between 1912 – 1915. This is supported by the Hand Demon’s statements during the Final Selection Arc in episode 4, “I’ll never forget that day 47 years ago!” It was referring to that time when Urokodaki hunted it.
At that time, Urokodaki lived during the Edo or Tokugawa Period and wore a uniform akin to a Samurai’s. The Hand Demon was captured by Urokodaki during the Keiō Era (1865 – 1868) of the Edo or Tokugawa Period (1603 – 1868).
It thought it was still living during the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912). If you do the math, Year 1865 plus 47 years equals the Year 1912, the beginning of the Taishō Period. This is the reason we can confidently theorize how Season 1 of the anime occurred between 1912 – 1915.
Meanwhile, the sword fighting techniques used in the anime enhance the glorious battle animation scenes and orchestral-like soundtrack of the anime. Swordsmanship is incorporated in the series because Wani-sensei (Koyoharu Gotōge, the Demon Slayer mangaka) likes Taishō Period a lot even if this period bans or illegalizes the use of real swords.
The mangaka could have used other periods like Meiji Period (1868 – 1912), Edo or Tokugawa Period (1603 – 1868), or Sengoku Jidai (1467 – 1615) because sword-wielding is prominent and legalized in Japan’s history. However, they thought that Taishō is the best period to fit swords and other warfare technology without going too much into the science fiction genre. Also, Taishō Period Japan has stronger ties and closer business relations to the West than Japan today.
Did you also know that demon hunters were supposedly called samurais during the Taishō Period? Their swordsmanship in the anime falls under the Japanese swordsmanship or martial arts called “kenjutsu” (剣術). Members of the Demon Slayer Corps used “kenjutsu” techniques because the former samurais’ fighting styles utilized them. They likely incorporated “kenjutsu” to modify and stylize their unique Breath Styles. However, “kenjutsu” struggled to stay afloat during the Taishō Period, resulting in the decline of samurai classes.
Carrying swords in public is illegal, which means that no real-life Japanese swordsmen should wield real swords during the Taishō Period. The exception are the following people below, which means that they can carry real swords during the Taishō Period:
- Military personnel, police staff;
- “Kenjutsu” teachers (or a “Kenjutsu” sensei);
- Former or old samurais who have been living since the Edo or Tokugawa Period (1603 – 1868) or the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912).
Even if military personnel or the police staff are allowed to carry real swords (since it’s part of their jobs), their superiors would still recommend them to use handguns instead. Japan certainly had tough sword control laws before even creating several of their gun control laws.
Just look at the scene when Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke were trying to board the railway train. Railway train officials took it seriously when they saw the youngsters were carrying swords; they blew their whistles and yelled for the police.
So, rather than being called “demon samurais”, either “demon hunters” or “demon slayers” are used to refer to members of the Demon Slayer Corps. Besides, they were never called “demon samurais” in either the anime or the manga series. As a side note, Breath Styles or Breath Control is a real-life technique that swordsmanship students and their teachers use in Japanese swordsmanship or martial arts classes. However, only wooden swords or “bokken” are used nowadays instead of real ones.
About Demon Slayer
Kimetsu no Yaiba follows the journey of Tanjiro Kamado in becoming a demon slayer to help cure his human-turned-demon sister, Nezuko Kamado. The brother-sister duo shed the tragic events of their family’s murder and step into the world of demons and demon slayers. Their unique situation and their inclusion in the demon slayer politics sends ripples within the community.