Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba could have been just another supernatural shounen action manga. But it’s definitely something more. In the US manga market, sales are driven by anime streaming, and the successful first season of a gorgeously produced anime has placed the manga version firmly on the list of most popular titles this year.

The series features Tanjiro Kamada, a young man who is supporting his mother and siblings by selling charcoal in Taisho Era Japan. While the era was one of continued progress and prosperity in post-WWI Japan, old superstitions and fears of demons lingered in the countryside.

Readers are rushed into the initial action as Tanjiro is shown carrying his sister, piggyback, through the snowy woods. We learn, through flashback, that while Tanjiro was selling a load of charcoal in town, his family’s isolated home was attacked by demons. Nezuko was the only survivor and, as Tanjiro carries her through the forest in search of help, Nezuko transforms into a demon. Tanjiro barely registers what’s happening before the pair are confronted by a boy who tries to kill Nezuko, introducing the Kamada siblings to the Demon Slayer Corps—a shadowy group of warriors chosen to kill demons and protect humanity.

The boy, Giyu Tomioka, senses something different in Nezuko and her brother. Nezuko not only doesn’t try to eat Tanjiro, but tries to protect him from Tomioka. Tomioka gives them a second chance, sending the pair off in search of Sakuronji Urokodaki. They find the man wearing a tengu mask and he agrees to train Tanjiro to be a demon slayer. If Nezuko can stop the demon bloodlust from overwhelming her and Tanjiro can find the demon who infected her, they may be able to cure her, restoring her humanity.

Tanjiro, while determined to find the demon that slaughtered his family members, is an ambivalent slayer. More than any of the other demon slayers, he can feel compassion and pity for the demons he battles. He senses the sadness of their deaths. His close ties to his sister allow him to consider the point of view of his enemies. But he’s forced to defend his sister against demons and will fight his fellow corps members for Nezuko’s right to continue to exist until he can find a cure for her condition.

Demon Slayer: Kimestu no Yaiba, Volume 1 sets up the epic adventure, as Tanjiro must first train as a demon slayer and then be selected for the corps during a grueling test, which could cost him his life. Volume 2 follows Tanjiro on his first mission for the corps, investigating the mysterious disappearances of young women. The manga has all the features of a typical shounen adventure, with an earnest hero dedicated to family and searching for vengeance for his family and redemption for his sister. Mangaka Koyoharu Gotauge has created unique characters and an interesting setting for this tale.

This is an action-packed manga—with artwork to match. The panels are filled with movement and there is plenty of bloodshed. The Taisho Era provides a mix of old and new backgrounds and settings, from wisteria-laden forests to the newly modern capital, Tokyo, where Tanjiro will have his first brush with the powerful demon who attacked his family.

The Demon Slayer series is featured in Shonen Jump Magazine, simulpublished in weekly chapter installments in English in digital format. In Japan, the series has recently started outselling the long-standing champion of shounen manga, One Piece. The high quality writing coupled with the popularity of the anime series means this is a must-have for a library manga collection. But be warned, it could be an expensive long-term commitment, as the series is up to 17 volumes and continues to gain in readership.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba vol. 1-2
By Koyoharu Gotouge
Art by Koyoharu Gotouge
vol 1 ISBN: 9781974700523
vol 2 ISBN: 9781974700530
VIZ, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen

  • Lisa P.

    | She/Her Library Associate in Youth Services

    Reviewer/Editor

    Lisa is a library professional and part-time comic shop employee in Central Wisconsin.

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