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"Demon Slayer": Overview of the Manga's Best Moments

Sobriquet may not have a college or even high school diploma (yet), but he’s a Hashira when it comes to Demon Slayer knowledge.

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My Thoughts on the Demon Slayer Manga

February 2022 marked six years since the first chapter of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba released in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump. I remember it distinctly: hopping off the Tokyo subway and grabbing that week’s issue of Shōnen Jump at Comic ZIN Akihabara…

Just kidding. Like many Demon Slayer fans, I was somewhat late to hop on the bandwagon. Also, I’m American. Tricked ya. Still, none of that means the series doesn’t hold a special place in my manga-loving heart. The Demon Slayer anime hooked me, and the manga did not disappoint my appetite for demon slaying. With that being said, let’s dive right into this in-depth reflection of the Taishō period adventure.

(Spoiler Warning: If you have not read the manga, then read the manga! It’s good as hell! Also, you’re probably not going to want to read this.)

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Introduction

It’s hard not to look back fondly on the first few chapters of a story you love. Sigh. I just love watching an entire family get murdered.

And I mean it, I do, just not in the screwed up way it sounds. Emotional moments of inspiration are common in shōnen intros, and they get me every time. Demon Slayer did it differently, in my opinion, with very genuine reactions from captivating characters. A cinnamon-roll boy. A cinnamon-roll girl, but turned into a man-eating demon. A calm, tough, slayer of demons.

The following scenes were well written too. The training bit was somewhat cliché, right up until it was revealed that two of Tanjiro’s mentors were ghosts. I get goosebumps every time. Then, Tanjiro avenged their deaths, and we the audience were glad for it, but also sad for the poor innocent demons at the same time. I don’t know about you, but the demon sap-stories built up a lot of hatred towards the mastermind of it all: Michael Jackson.

Meeting Kibutsuji was a great scene, as it showed his power without revealing too much, so we could anticipate the final battle. The fight scene afterward was cool too, and Tamayo and Yushiro were great characters that deserved more time in the series.

But Demon Slayer really didn’t become great until it introduced its supporting cast in the Tsuzumi Mansion fight. Zenitsu and Inosuke managed to add to Tanjiro’s character while also maintaining their own development. They were funny, entertaining, and inspirational (most of the time). Gotouge really pulled out all of the stops when he came up with Tanjiro’s besties.

Overall, this arc (or combination of little arcs) may have been the best as it introduced all of the aspects of Demon Slayer we know and love. Looking back at it, the fight scenes weren’t quite as incredible as later ones, but that doesn’t make the beginning of the series any less iconic or fun to watch.

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Mount Natagumo

Suddenly, the series got a lot more intense, when before that seemed unthinkable. Tanjiro unlocking Hinokami Kagura was an exciting and pivotal twist in the manga and absolutely beautiful in the anime. Nezuko and Tanjiro learning from deceased family members and then nearly killing a Kizuki, both with flashy new powers, was such an impactful scene.

The other characters didn’t lose anything in terms of development either. We finally met our favorite passive-aggressive little Hashira. Tomioka returned and kicked everyone’s butt, including the viewers. Zenitsu made us feel for him and his whining. Inosuke learned to shut the hell up.

The best part of this arc was the introduction of the nine Hashira, the most powerful humans in the world. I don’t think I can name another group in anime/manga where each character was extremely unique and interesting. You could name any Hashira as your favorite character and I wouldn’t judge you. And that’s saying a lot, because I can be pretty judgmental about favorite characters.

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This arc added to the story, and relieved all of our concerns that Demon Slayer would start off strong and then peter out. My only complaint is that it was somewhat weirdly organized, and you never can really tell what the climax of the arc is. When every chapter feels like the climax, you know you have a story on your hands! Sorry, I just got really nerdy and excited.

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Mugen Train

The whole fight-on-a-train idea was pretty cool and well-done, especially with Enmu’s dream Blood Demon Art. This power not only did a great job introducing Rengoku and his past, but also forcing Tanjiro to face the fact that his family was dead. This was a topic that was covered a little at first and then kind of sidetracked, so the closure here was good.

Rengoku vs. Akaza was exceptional in the manga, but a billion times better in the anime. It makes me very excited for the animation yet to come for this series. At first, I felt that it was an injustice that Akaza got away, but I am now very content that he got to survive and grow as a character later.

Rengoku’s sacrifice was probably the main death for the duration of the series, as he was a character everyone could get attached to. His death continued to inspire the main cast to the very end, which was cool to see. Personally, I really loved Inosuke’s emotional reaction to Rengoku’s death. It was a pivotal moment in Inosuke’s transition from absolutely nuts to somewhat compassionate towards others.

I can’t lie and say this arc is as iconic in my eyes as some of the others. Nevertheless, Enmu was an interesting enemy, Rengoku was a beloved character, and Rengoku vs. Akaza was fan-freaking-tastic.

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Entertainment District

Perhaps the greatest criticism of this arc is that it was somewhat repetitive. Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke go an a mission with a Hashira and take down a Kizuki. I feel that Gotouge flipped that on its head by making this arc absolutely bonkers.

First of all, Uzui was quite a character, to say the least. He was a ninja, he had three wives and he thought he was the “god of festivals”. That about sums him up. Second of all, the Kizuki was a prostitute, and not only that, but our favorite teenage boys had to cross-dress and become prostitutes as well. Finally, an anorexic demon spawned out of the prostitute demon in a big plot twist to cap it all off.

Everything you want from Demon Slayer could be found in this arc. There was epic fights, powerful moments, and, as said before, crazy twist after crazy twist. Still, it didn’t quite stack up with the other arcs in overall importance. It may have been one of the less-enjoyable arcs in a great series, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad.

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Swordsmith Village

I absolutely loved this arc. An attack on the village where slayers get their swords was a great idea for an interesting battle, but I mainly enjoyed it because it basically introduced a whole new cast of characters.

The Hashira in this arc were great, one in particular. Kanroji was kind of dumb but likable. Ironically, the more lovable of the two was Tokito. His story was so good in this arc, and watching him completely transform after he remembered the lessons he learned from his family was very moving. Before he regained his memory, he was spacey and funny and a bite-sized butt-kicker. After he regained his memory, he was even more funny and now a very sweet little boy. Both ways, he was a great character.

There were two Upper Kizuki in this arc, which made it difficult for them to have quite as complex stories as the others, but they still completed their roles nicely. One thing Gotouge did really well throughout the series was introduce an extremely powerful Kizuki and then proceed to top that with the next one. These two may have lacked in character, but their powers were awesome, especially Gyokko’s funny “art” theme.

The Hashira and Kizuki weren’t the only phenomenal characters, either. Genya was one of my favorites in the entire series. He acted like a big tough guy, but he was just trying to win his brother back after all of the crap they went through. Also, his Demonic Transformation power was unique and (hot take) was more powerful than most Breathing Styles. In addition to Genya’s role, Haganezuka kicked butt despite not fighting, and Nezuko finally conquering the sun was a jaw-dropping turn of events.

This was my personal favorite arc, although on paper it might not have been as good as the intro or finale. Still, these characters made me laugh, gasp, and almost cry (I’m a big boy so I didn’t). What else do you need in an arc?

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Infinity Castle

Demon Slayer’s ending was my favorite in all of the anime/manga I’ve enjoyed, and that’s saying a lot as the ending is the most important part of a story. The fact that an entire third of the series was dedicated to that final decisive night is mind-blowing. It was a risky move, to have 78 chapters all cover the same battle, but this epic struggle for survival didn’t contain a dull moment.

The stakes for Zenitsu vs. Kaigaku weren’t quite as high as the upper three duels, but it still could have been my favorite. On the one hand, you had Zenitsu, a coward who only was an effective fighter while asleep. Only this time, he was fully awake, he had developed his own Thunder Breathing form, and he was avenging dear old Gramps. Kaigaku on the other hand was a trashy piece of trash from Trashtown, and that’s all I have to say about him. It made for a good fight.

Tanjiro and Tomioka vs. Akaza also went crazy. Tomioka finally getting to actually save someone and stop hating himself was nice. The best part of this fight was no doubt Akaza transforming from murderer to sweetheart. Before, he was widely hated for the killing of one Kyojuro Rengoku. In a few chapters, Gotouge managed to redeem him to the point where he chose to stop fighting the Demon Slayer Corps. After seeing his interactions with Koyuki, many of the female (and male) viewers thought to themselves, “Dang, was Akaza always this hot?” I know I did.

Swordsmith Village was my favorite arc, but Inosuke, Kanao, and Kocho vs. Doma was probably my favorite fight. Doma, like Kaigaku, was another one of those trash demons who you want to see die as they have no sap story to get behind, just a bunch of murders of likable characters. Kanao expressing emotions was a nice touch, and this was the climax of Inosuke’s development into a good human being. However, Kocho stole the show here with the greatest-written death of all time. When she seemingly failed to avenge her sister and died in a hug by that sleazy ball-sack of a man, I was enraged by her undignified end. Then, when Doma was about to leave Inosuke and Kanao to die and he started to decay, all I could think was, “Shinobu, you sly son of a bitch.” To clutch up from beyond the grave is quite a feat.

Tokito, Genya, Sanemi and Himejima vs. Kokushibo was just really freaking sad. As I’ve said before, the tragic moments are always the best ones. Tokito’s death was violent, courageous and tear-jerking. Genya’s death was equally sad, mainly because of Sanemi’s breakdown. Himejima was always sad, so that was nothing new. Kokushibo even almost got us to feel for him with the whole flute thing. Almost.

Like I said, Demon Slayer had the best ending ever, and I think this first half of it is what truly made it great. The pace was so fast and thrilling that, if you’re a geek like me, you actually felt anxiety for the characters involved. Gotouge managed to preserve his story while also providing non-stop action.

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Sunrise Countdown

Finally, the end. From the takedown of an immensely powerful and evil antagonist to a proper sendoff, this arc did the job nicely.

One thing I didn’t mention much in the previous arc was the role Tamayo and Yushiro played in the final battle. In my opinion, it made up for their lack of content after being introduced as such great characters. Both of them were absolutely pivotal in the fight, Hashira-level in fact.

Iguro’s backstory was very edgy and cool, but I felt like it was a little out of place. It was the only Hashira backstory to occur during the final battle, so I felt like it was kind of thrown in last minute. Regardless, I’m glad it was put into the story at all.

Tanjiro and his besties and girlfriend taking on Kibutsuji together was nice to see. It was a moment we had been waiting for since the gang first united. Baby Kibutsuji was weird, but I guess it made sense that his dying form would be very undignified.

Demon Tanjiro was the kind of insane ending that we expected out of Gotouge. For a minute, it actually seemed like something awful would happen, like Tanjiro forever being a demon or killing one of his allies. Luckily, Kanao swooped in and saved the day, showing everyone who wears the pants in the relationship.

There was a lot of death in this arc, each one a punch in the gut. We had begun to understand that Tamayo had to die, but Kanroji, Iguro, and Himejima’s deaths were swift kicks to the crotch, as it almost seemed like the hard part was over and they were going to make it. Kanroji and Iguro’s death was especially tragic at first, but I felt better about it after seeing their reincarnations.

The final chapter was a logistical nightmare, with so many ancestors, reincarnations, and questions about the afterlife that it was hard to comprehend. The chapter mostly served as a tribute to the fans, as we got to see some version of each of our favorite characters in the modern era.

Gotouge somehow managed to come up with a hero-beats-the-villian ending that was completely unique. There was fighting and death, but also sweet scenes of friendship that we all claim not to like but actually love. Each part of it was a treat that wrapped the series up nicely.

Why I Love Demon Slayer

You can probably tell that I’m a big fan of this series. What’s not to love? Some say it was a very cliché shōnen manga, and I agree to an extent. It’s based on several clichés. The dedicated hero. The unforgivable villain. The polygamous ninja god of festivals. Okay, maybe not that last one.

What I feel that Gotouge did is this: he made a basic shōnen outline for a story, and then added on to it with all sorts of interesting concepts and ideas. It was the perfect recipe for an entertaining story. To anyone that asks: yes, it’s worth the read. And the reread. And the reread again.

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