With a title like “Demon Slayer” you might expect a well trained professional in the lead role, like some kind of Van Helsing type. You’d be wrong. The first volume of this series introduced a character who was forced into a tough situation, rose up to the challenge, and ended up having a knack for killing demons. Part of his inspiration comes from his desire to save his sister, who was changed into a demon. Surely if he can learn all the ways of a Demon Slayer, he may learn of secret ways to fix a demon and turn them back into a human. Right?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
During final selection for the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjiro faces a disfigured demon and uses the techniques taught by his master, Urokodaki! As Tanjiro begins to walk the path of the Demon Slayer, his search for the demon who murdered his family leads him to investigate the disappearances of young girls in a nearby town.
Why does this matter?
I described the first volume as, “a great adventure manga with fantastic action montages and a fresh story.” It set things up well and got the story in a place where the main character was no longer a victim, but ready to fight back with a sword. That puts this second volume in a good place to kick the adventure and action up a notch.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This second volume can be broken down into three parts. The opening concludes the great trial Tanjiro completed in the woods by killing and outliving a giant demon. The second part has Tanjiro fight a demon that can split into three, and the third has Tanjiro track down a mega-demon who changed his sister (and who may be the best chance of fixing her). The backbone of this volume resides in how Tanjiro views the demons not as vile monsters but people. It’s due to his sister’s situation, but also his ability to see the humanity still inside the demons. That adds a nice layer of complexity to Tanjiro’s interactions with demons and also to his job as a Demon Slayer.
If you’re looking for monster mayhem you’ve come to the right place. This volume contains four major demons for Tanjiro to face, each of which has a different power. The lore behind demons is further developed, as are their various powers. By the end it’s pretty clear demons are basically mutants like in the X-Men since each has a unique power and they’re also cast out of society. Drinking human blood can do that to you.
Koyoharu Gotouge keeps the action loose and interesting. The various moves Tanjiro utilizes are shouted out and are easy to follow. The gore in this volume can get quite graphic and it’s played up for comedic effect near the end nicely.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It takes a while for this volume to get going, wrapping up Tanjiro’s acts from the last volume and then getting him into his next mission. There’s a good deal of exposition and detail going on too, slowing the narrative to a crawl.
Tanjiro himself doesn’t get a lot of characterization in this volume. His ability to smell and have compassion for demons aside, he’s rather flat, always doing what crows tell him or worrying too much about his sister. At one point a demon calls his sister a hag and the dialogue bounces back and forth awkwardly. Do brothers really care that much about their sisters’ looks?
Is it good?
A good volume that takes a bit to get going but fleshes out the demon’s abilities while delivering big action scenes.