Young Tanjiro and his family make a living selling charcoal. One cold winter he goes down the mountain to the village to sell his wares and returns home to a scene from a nightmare. His mother and siblings have been slaughtered by a demon and his beloved little sister has been turned into a demon. Tanjiro searches for a way to return his sister Nezuko’s humanity. While it seems impossible, a young demon slayer named Giyu offers a slender ray of hope. If Tanjiro can become a demon slayer himself, he may be able to get the information he needs from the demons before he kills them. But the road to becoming a demon slayer is grueling. Giyu gives Tanjiro the name of a teacher and so begins his journey.
Steeped in the supernatural, Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba has an engrossing plot that moves at a good clip, balancing action and character development. Tanjiro struggles, works, and fights, never giving up, though it’s easy to see his compassion and morals will be tested in future volumes. Unfortunately, about halfway through the first volume Tanjiro’s demon sister Nezuko is sidelined, draining some of the tension while the manga switches to training mode. But the training is imaginative. Tanjiro has an unusual skill: he’s a super smeller, able to detect the tiniest fragrances and their origins. Somehow this also allows him to sniff out the optimal time to strike.
The art is stiff, but instead of looking like rough drawings or traced photo composites, Demon Slayer looks as if it were carved and printed from woodblocks. The characters are well drawn and the stiffness grounds them in a stark world that airier artwork with delicate linework wouldn’t be able to achieve. Solid blacks and strong patterns break up the snowbound winter setting in the first half of the book. For Japanese readers, the fashions and art style firmly establish the manga in the Taisho era, establishing a clear milieu that many manga lack. With an engrossing plot and characters, Volume 1 builds to a cliffhanger that makes it hard to wait for the next volume.
publisher: Viz Media
story and art: Koyoharu Gotouge