Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol. 11 sees the continuation of Tanjiro and Uzui the Sound Hashira’s fight against Daki in the Hanamachi district. The last volume ended with Daki’s brother, Gyutaro, emerging from her body to join the fight. One of Muzan’s Upper Moon demons was more than enough for the gang to handle, so Tanjiro, Inosuke, Zenitsu, and Uzui are pushed to the limit in trying to survive against their strongest foes yet.
Most of this volume’s pages are filled with the slayers’ fight against Daki and Gyutaro, making it a fast read packed to the brim with chaos and bloodshed. The action isn’t completely illegible, but there are a lot of very busy panels that require a bit of studying to really understand what’s going on in a fight. Gyutaro’s blood blades and Daki’s razor-sharp obi attacks end up filling a lot of space in the panels, which leads to that feeling of business. What’s more, their attacks are so chaotic, the moment to moment action begins to feel a tad repetitive, even if Daki’s character design is still neat–if fanservicey–to look at when her whole body is in the panel.
Gotouge excels at creating a feeling of desperation in the fights against the demons. In almost every arc, but in this conflict in particular, it really feels like the characters are pushed to their limits, pulling out every last resort they have to not only survive, but slay the demon so others will survive in the future. Though the action is busy, seeing Tanjiro leap to guard Uzui’s back, then turning the page to reveal one of Uzui’s shinobi wives, drenched in sweat, firing a bevy of kunai from a rooftop–some of which Uzui lets pierce his own body–is a sequence that’s not only exciting, but highlights how these slayers are pushed to the brink in these struggles. This keeps the stakes high as we’ve already seen one Hashira go down earlier in the series, so no one is immortal.
Because of how desperate the situation is, everyone in the main cast is given time to shine. It’s especially exciting seeing Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu work together to fight Daki as they use their breathing forms in sync to gain any ground they can against the Upper Moon demons. Even Nezuko gets a moment in the spotlight in this volume. Does she function as a kind of deus ex machina at the eleventh hour as she has in previous arcs? Perhaps. But after her Super Saiyan moment in the previous volume, I can’t be too mad about putting her a few paces to the side so the other characters can take center stage for a bit. I especially loved all the page time Uzui and his family got, as they are very charming and I’d like to apply to be one of Uzui’s wives, please.
Speaking of the cover art, I would be remiss not to mention the element of fanservice in this volume. The cover art heavily features Nezuko’s entire legs right up to her butt, and her breasts are almost completely exposed save her nipples. Her position as a victim with various degrees of both empowerment and infantilization make these elements of her presentation in the volume a little troubling. Paired with Daki’s fanservice-heavy design, the volume continues the imbalance within the series in sexualizing the women over the men in all cases besides Uzui, and even he is presented as more beautiful and virile than outwardly objectified.
It doesn’t help matters that once Gyutaro appears, Daki is positioned as completely dependent on him from their battle abilities to their backstory which is revealed in this volume. That imbalance of agency made it a bit harder to empathize with this pair of demons when their origins were revealed, but it was still a good story regardless. Another big player in the story was also introduced during said flashback which perhaps recovered some of those lost points for me.
Turning to the artwork, there are some stunning fullpage and two-page spreads in this volume from a triptych of panels featuring Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu roaring with determination to busy, but not illegible scenes of key moments in the fight I won’t spoil here. Gotouge also peppers in some of the already classic low-detail renderings of the characters for both comedic and convenience sake. The paneling throughout relies on a lot of diagonal frames that keep the action exciting and keep the eye traveling up and down the page more than static rectangles would. Beyond that, it’s continued excellence from Gotouge working in Demon Slayer‘s iconic style to present big, sometimes wild looking eyes full of emotion and tons of patterns on the characters’ clothes. A lot of the patterns in this volume don’t even read clearly as screen tones, so whether they’re screen tones with added detail or all completely hand drawn, I’m inspired with anxiety for Gotouge’s hands and wrists.
Overall, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol. 11 is an exciting read that keeps the reader at the edge of their seat as the high stakes are made very felt. Though I have some gripes with how the women’s presentation affects my ability to connect with some aspects of the story, fans of the series will have plenty to enjoy as each character gets time to shine in this wild conflict against the Upper Moon demons.