TIME 100 Next is an annual list detailing 100 individuals who are shaping the future, are on the cusp of making history or are already making history. This year, a familiar name appeared on the list: Koyoharu Gotouge -- creator of the wildly successful Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba -- became the first manga artist to make the list.
Given Demon Slayer's popularity plus all of the records the manga and movie broke, it's no surprise to see Gotouge's name on it. Still, how did this feat happen, and why is having Gotouge on something as internationally reputable as TIME 100 Next a monumental step for the manga/anime industry?
Why Gotouge and Demon Slayer Deserve Recognition
Demon Slayer follows Tanjiro Kamado's story, who becomes a Demon Slayer to turn his sister back into a human. It's a classic hero's story where Tanjiro has to go through many trials, enduring his fair share of losses, to get stronger. The cast of characters, which consists mostly of the Demon Slayers, is unique, each with heartbreaking backstories that shed light on why they continue to fight every day. Although the Demons are responsible for destroying many characters' lives and families, they're shown in a sympathetic light through Tanjiro's perspective.
Demon Slayer's success was due in large part to the anime, which captured the series' unique magic with its gorgeous and clean animation, stunning fight choreography and soundtrack, making it one of the biggest hits of 2019. Still, over 82 million copies of the manga have been sold, making it the top best-selling manga series in 2020 as well.
It first began serialization in 2016, and manga sales didn't see a massive uptick until after the anime finished airing. Although a second season wasn't announced until this year, its popularity didn't disappear. If anything, it grew exponentially with the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Infinity Train film release. Despite the fact that it would premiere in the midst of a pandemic, it didn't deter the movie's success at all. It smashed Spirited Away's long-standing record, earning over 32 billion yen.
Many anime series had to be postponed due to the pandemic, with many staff working from home causing some difficulties and challenges in resuming voice acting. The movie industry also suffered from many films forced to move to online releases or postponed indefinitely. Still, the anime industry survived, and some credit should be shown to the box-office success of Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train.
Why This Achievement is Important
It's also worth noting that Gotouge wrote a story that resounded with everyone. 2020 was a challenging year, and with everything that's been happening since then, Demon Slayer was a much-needed escape and comfort. In an era where anti-Black and anti-Asian racism is prevalent, and many people feel disconnected from their loved ones, Tanjiro's unconditional kindness and empathy towards others' suffering and pain were the shining lights of hope everyone needed.