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Demons of many varieties roam the Earth and only the Demon Slayers who act like ronin stand between them and us. These aren’t just pointy-tailed red demons, but monsters with all sorts of powers and abilities. It requires special skills and any edge you can use to defeat them. At its core, this is a series about a hero finding the strength to beat the odds, keep his demon sister alive, and be kind to others along the way.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Tanjiro and Nezuko cross paths with two powerful demons who fight with magical weapons. Even help from Tamayo and Yushiro may not be enough to defeat these demons who claim to belong to the Twelve Kizuki that directly serve Kibutsuji, the demon responsible for all of Tanjiro’s woes! But if these demons can be defeated, what secrets can they reveal about Kibutsuji?
Why does this matter?
Koyoharu Gotouge has created a well-crafted monster mash fight comic if I ever saw one. This is a good mix of fight scenes and supernatural elements in a creative period piece that harbors a classic hero’s journey tale.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
It’s starting to become clear that this series is structured around two or more fight sequences per volume. The battles require main character Tanjiro to use all the skills he’s learned but also work his strong sense of smell and knack for problem solving to win the day. In this volume Tanjiro must continue to fight two demons with very special skills, then later fight off a many-armed demon in a house that can move its rooms by the bang of a drum. Oh, and Demon Slayers are told where the nearest demons are via bird. Yeah, it can get weird.
This volume leans into the weird with its demons, which reveal some amazing powers and with them freakish physical changes. The book actually lays out some scary moments with these monsters and also uses a bit more gore in its violence, heightening the horror vibes of the series. The whole talking bird thing is also much more matter-of-fact which gives the tale a dark fairy tale tone.
Probably the most exciting element of this volume is how high the stakes get for Tanjiro. So often in fight books you won’t worry for the heroes since they’re never really in danger. Not so here, as Tanjiro literally can’t save his own butt at times unless he changes how he fights. This is due to the very specific power sets of the demons, but also because Tanjiro hasn’t even healed from the battles of the last volume.
The art by Gotouge continues to meld sound effects and fight moves very well. Tanjiro’s fight moves are very specific and important to the narrative as they connect to an almost spiritual form of fighting. The art visualizes this literally, but also figuratively at times (in one case with waves of water), which helps pull you into the moment Tanjiro is enduring as he fights. This volume is also quite strong in its drawings of Tanjiro’s expressions, which the last volume was lacking.
It can’t be perfect can it?
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This volume has a monster of the week vibe. It seems to have lost touch with the main villain in the story and any definitive direction beyond who Tanjiro must fight because a demon is within his proximity. There is very little buildup to the second half enemy Tanjiro fights–and the opening half actually reduces the importance of the demons involved–making all the battles in this book less consequential, though still fun. The sister element, which is the driving foce for Tanjiro, takes a back seat in this volume, further making the overall experience not entirely necessary.
Is it good?
A better volume than the last due to the great fight sequences and visual flair. Still, the purpose of it all is lost since it seems to be more focused on fight scenes of the month rather than a bigger story to push toward.
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