Welcome back to Manga Talk!
Today we are going to be talking about probably one of the biggest manga properties right now.
To put this into perspective, this franchise has an estimated reported revenue of 9.31 billion dollars, putting it below the Jurassic Park franchise and above the Angry Birds franchise, which according to Wikipedia as of me writing this, makes it the 60th highest grossing franchise at the moment.
This is higher than properties like Digimon, Minecraft, and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Today we are talking about Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba! MASSIVE SPOILERS for the first volume ahead, so if your part of the few who haven’t watched or read the series you have been warned.
Let’s get started!
The story begins with a boy carrying his sister in the snow, saying that he will do what he can top save her.
Flashback to the previous day where we see the boy, Tanjiro the oldest of six children going off to town in order to sell the nearby village some charcoal.
He interacts with his family, who all look up to Tanjiro, especially after the death of their father.
While at the village, Tanjiro does a couple of small tasks for people while managing to sell all of his charcoal, and we learn that Tanjiro has a keen sense of smell.
When Tanjiro is heading back up the mountain to go home, he is stopped by an old man who tells him it’s dangerous to go out alone in the dark, because of the demons.
Tanjiro stays the night, while it’s explained that demons are incredibly dangerous, but there are Demon Slayers to kill them.
Tanjiro believes that demons are a myth, but his mind becomes occupied by other things when he makes it back home and see his happy family is mercilessly murdered.
The only one who was still warm was his sister Nezuko, who he starts to carry her down the mountain to get help from a doctor.
As Tanjiro wonders what killed his family as his Nezuko begins to transform. The two slip off a cliff, and when Tanjiro looks for his sister, Nezuko attempts to bite him.
Tanjiro just manages to use the handle of his hatchet to keep Nezuko from biting him, and he is in disbelief that Nezuko may have killed his family.
He knows that there was an unfamiliar smell in the cabin, and there were no signs of Nezuko having attacked the family, so Tanjiro believes that there was someone else in the cabin.
As Tanjiro wonders how he can save Nezuko and Nezuko grows bigger and stronger to eat Tanjiro, he begs her to fight the transformation and she begins to cry.
However they are then accompanied by a man with a sword, who is very much in the business of slaying demons. Tanjiro tries to protect Nezuko, but to no avail as the Demon Slayer manages to grab Nezuko from Tanjiro, and is prepared to kill her.
Tanjiro begs the man to not kill his sister and how he is going to find a way to save her, but the man berates Tanjiro for begging, asking how Tanjiro expects to save his sister if he cries and begs.
The man sympathizes with Tanjiro, wanting him to take the anger and fury to remember what happened to his sister and use it. As the man is about to kill Nezuko, Tanjiro goes on the offensive and pulls a clever maneuver that nearly caught the Demon Slayer by surprise.
Nezuko manages to escape the man’s grasp and as it looks like she’s about to kill Tanjiro, she takes a defensive stance protecting Tanjiro. The man, impressed by this, only knocks out Nezuko and sends the two to find a man by the name of Urokodaki Sakonji and tell him that Tomioka Giyu sent them.
The two manage to find the old Urokodaki, after a demon encounter where it is shown that demons can regenerate and can die by sunlight.
Urokodaki asks Tanjiro what he would do if Nezuko killed or hurt another human, and after some hesitancy Urokodaki hits him for thinking too slow.
Urokodaki then says that the only way for Tanjiro to be accepted as a student is if he passes a test. Go down a mountain and reach Urokodaki’s house before sunrise.
As Tanjiro goes down the mountain he encounters a bunch of traps, getting hurt but managing to make it down the mountain in time.
This begins the training, which consists of dodging traps, taking hits, swinging a sword, and the usual protagonist far, with the most unique training coming from breathing techniques. It is also important to note that Nezuko is asleep this entire rest of this volume.
After a year of training, Urokodaki says that the last thing for Tanjiro to accomplish before Urokodaki can send him to the Final Selection exam to become an official Demon Slayer is for Tanjiro to slice a boulder in half.
Tanjiro tries, but fails multiple times. He is close to giving up when he meets two individuals with fox masks, a boy named Sabito and a girl named Makomo. Sabito kicks Tanjiro’s ass over and over again, while Makomo helps Tanjiro with his techniques, and these two kids help train Tanjiro some more.
During the last confrontation, Tanjiro manages to beat Sabito and when he a Makomo vanish into the mist, it is revealed that Tanjiro split the boulder in half after another year of training.
As promised, Urokodaki approves Tanjiro for the Final Selection, explaining that the only two things that can kill demons are sunlight and a specially made sword called a Nichirin Sword that Demon Slayers use.
When Tanjiro goes off, with a fox mask of his own, he asks Urokodaki to thank Sabito and Makomo for him. Out of earshot, Urokodaki wonders how Tanjiro knows the names of two dead kids.
When Tanjiro makes it to Mount Fujikasane for the final selection, and it is also revealed by two creepy twin kids that wisteria flowers act as a demon repellent.
The group of candidates are tasked to survive in an area that is infested with demons for seven days, with the survivors becoming Demon Slayers.
The task begins and Tanjiro manages to do well by killing two demons at once with the Water Breathing techniques that he learned during his training.
His celebration is interrupted by a young man getting chased by a massive demon, who eats a potential candidate.
When Tanjiro interrupts the demon, it is revealed that the demon was captured by Urokodaki 47 years ago, and it has had a grudge ever since. The demon makes it a point to kill any candidate that has a fox mask, as they are made in a similar style to Urokodaki’s tengu mask, and he has killed 50 candidates, 13 of which were Urokodaki’s students.
Tanjiro learns that the demon killed Makomo by pulling her limbs apart and killed Sabito when his strike failed to slice through his tough neck.
Tanjiro loses focus briefly and gets hit hard, breaking the fox mask and knocking him out for a brief moment. He awakens when he hears the voice of his young brother waking him up and goes to slice the demon’s neck.
Sabito and Makomo are talking, with Makomo being worried that Tanjiro would die and Sabito saying that while there is a chance that Tanjiro will die, there is one important fact.
That Tanjiro sliced the biggest and hardest boulder, and we end the volume with Tanjiro using a Water Breathing technique to slice the demon’s head.
The art in this manga is fantastic.
The character designs are unique, and even side characters stand out from one another. It helps that the clothes that everyone wears are distinct while not feeling out of place for being in a manga.
The faces of the characters are stand out in the character design, which is a mix of being sort of standard manga styled while having unique eye shapes and wider faces that make them distinct.
The fight scenes are especially well done, which is good when you consider this to have plenty of demon fights in the future. There are scenes where there is little dialogue and a lot of action, and it flows smoothly from panel to panel.
The use of silence is amazing, especially during moments like when Tanjiro and Nezuko are burying their family.
The silence makes this a breezy read as well.
What also helps is that most of this volume was covering Tanjiro’s training arc. While training arcs are nothing new in shonen manga, it is nice to see a two year training arc expedited in a way that didn’t make it feel boring or rushed.
I also really dug the fact that it took time for Tanjiro to get better instead of being strong from the get go. He was a charcoal seller, not a swordsman, so of course it’s going to take a long time for him to become any good at swinging a sword correctly.
Having not seen the anime when I started reading this manga, I was genuinely surprised when Sabito and Makomo were revealed to have been dead, which was refreshing for me to be surprised by a manga.
The last thing I’ll say is that the art used for the Water Breathing techniques is absolutely gorgeous, and I know that the water isn’t really there and it’s done for effect, but my goodness it actually looks like water is being used when Tanjiro uses the techniques.
While I enjoyed a lot about the manga, I do have my gripes.
Firstly, Tanjiro is a fairly standard shonen protagonist. Good kid, loves his family, hardworking, wants to save his sister, etc.
It does make him fairly milquetoast as a character in this first volume. This isn’t bad, but it can be a bit boring if you know the archetype.
I will also say that for being prominently featured on the cover of the volume, Nezuko has very little to do in the back half of the volume.
She is relegated to being asleep for two years while Tanjiro trains, which kind of sucks because rescuing her from being a demon and not killing people are interesting things about her character.
Those really are my only complaints of this first volume.
I would highly recommend this manga for pretty much everyone, especially if you like action, some light comedic moments that don’t bring the story down, and some amazing art.
I am definitely going to buy the next volume of the series and I can see myself getting deep into the series in the future.
Since there will not be an article on Saturday, I will see you on Monday when we talk about a series that has an anime adaptation that I started watching as it was airing.
From swords to sorcery, we will be taking a look at The Ancient Magus’ Bride!
So until then,
Heiwa to sayonara!