Classic Sword-Swinging Action Manga!

Tanjiro sets out to save his sister and avenge his family in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

By Mike Montesa July 06, 2018

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At the start of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba , we are immediately introduced to our protagonist Tanjiro Kamado, struggling through the snowy wilderness with his unconscious and dying sister on his back. While off selling charcoal one day, a demon slaughters Tanjiro’s entire family. When he returns to his home, only his sister Nezuko is still barely alive.

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As Tanjiro attempts to carry her to safety he makes a terrifying discovery—Nezuko has become a demon herself! Demons hunger for human flesh and blood, and while Tanjiro desperately tries to fend off his sister’s attacks, he can’t believe what’s happening. Tanjiro is saved by the intervention of a swordsman named Giyu, a member of the Demon Slayer Corps, and organization devoted to the hunting and killing of demons.

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But when Giyu realizes Nezuko still has some spark of humanity left in her, and sees the lengths to which Tanjiro will go to protect his sister, he spares her. Instead, Giyu tells Tanjiro to seek out a man named Saikonji Urokodaki, who can train Tanjiro in the ways of the Demon Slayer. Thus begins Tanjiro’s quest to find a way to return his sister’s humanity and destroy the demon who murdered his family and turned Nezuko into a demon.

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Demon Slayer is set during the Taisho period in Japan, from 1912 to 1926. For Japan, it was an era of modernity, exuberance, and political turmoil. Wedged between the massive changes of the Meiji period and the militaristic Showa period, Japan as a nation struggled to find a direction for itself. The influx of western cultural influences and consumer products accelerated and Japan seemed to be on the verge of great things.

Tanjiro begins his journey in the mountains far from the cities of modern Japan. But when he eventually reaches Tokyo, he is literally dazzled by the crowded streets and hustle and bustle of the metropolis he’s entered. Scenes like this are fun to watch through Tanjiro’s eyes as he tries to deal with the big changes Japan is going through.

Tanjiro himself is a kindhearted boy, and at first seems to lack the ruthlessness necessary to face down man eating demons. But driven by his love for his sister and thirst for revenge on the demon who cursed her, he becomes a Demon Slayer. In the time-honored tradition of vengeful heroes, he completes a harsh training regimen on a frozen mountaintop under the stern gaze of his teacher, Urokodaki, a mysterious figure who always wears a mask.

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Nezuko, now turned into a demon, has not yet actually eaten human flesh, so Tanjiro holds out hope that he can somehow find a way to restore her humanity. To stave off Nezuko’s demonic hunger pangs, and keep her from biting anyone, she has a short length of bamboo in her mouth. And since demons can be destroyed by exposure to sunlight, Tanjiro carries Nezuko in a specially made wooden box on his back.

The Demon Slayer Corps, at least what we see of it in the first volume, seems to be a shadowy organization devoted to destroying demons. They subject potential candidates to a selection process worthy of any military Special Forces unit, and the survivors are given a special sword for hunting demons.

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Despite the frightening duties imposed on Tanjiro as a Demon Slayer, he often finds the shred of humanity left in the demons he encounters. The tragedy is that these demons that he must kill were once humans, and have unwillingly been turned into monsters. Once they have eaten a human being, they are irrevocably damned, but in their death throes, these demons reach out to the memories of the human lives they once had. Tanjiro sympathizes with them in a way that makes his desire to find and destroy the demon who cursed all these people even stronger.

One thing I like about is that it moves along at a brisk pace. Tanjiro’s training as a Demon Slayer takes place entirely in the first volume, so we can get right into the task at hand. Tanjiro’s earnestness and sympathy for others is a good contrast to the cold pragmatism of the other Demon Slayers he runs into. With an interesting setting and some surprisingly frightening demonic foes, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba draws you into Tanjiro’s quest for revenge.

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