By Koyoharu Gotouge
If you were to ask me what my favorite currently running manga of the past year has been, my answer would immediately be Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Demon Slayer was a love at first sight for me, and it has continued to draw me in with its compelling cast of characters and a story that continues to escalate its stakes at every given opportunity. When Viz finally announced that they would be simul-publishing the series, I was ecstatic and eager to share my thoughts on this wonderful manga. Which thus brings us to this review of chapter 139.
This chapter straight away answers one of the lingering questions on readers’ minds. Demon Slayer Corps leader Kagaya Ubuyashiki is dead, taking his life in an effort to blow up Muzan alongside his house and family. Ubuyashiki has had a prevailing presence in the series since the introduction of The Pillars, being shown to be an insightful leader that continues to motivate his disciples to fight back against the demon swarm despite his deteriorating health. His death drives home how much his fellow subordinates respected him and his ideals. We can see that even the most cold hearted of Pillars, Sanemi in particular, are distraught over the event and are fully prepared to retaliate against Muzan. This all culminates in Tanjiro and The Pillars all preparing their breath techniques in an attempt to finish off Muzan. Of course, Muzan is far from finished himself, and opens a set a doors beneath everyone to separate them. The defining moment of this chapter is seeing Tanjiro and Muzan finally meet each other face-to-face once again after over 10+ volumes of material. Both are out to kill the other and their final confrontation seems to only be getting closer.
Like always Gotouge’s unique artwork continues to be major draw to this series, and it’s in full force with this chapter. The facial expressions of Tanjiro and The Pillars as they see Muzan conveys the anger that each demon slayer has towards their common enemy, and Muzan’s reaction as he proclaims his intent to kill them all brings an immediate chill down the reader’s spine. The two page spread near the end of the chapter as Muzan separates the demon slayers is an effective way of breaking up the building tension, so that it can resurge even harder with Tanjiro and Muzan’s ending conversation. The competency of Gotouge’s art has seen a massive evolution throughout the entire run of the series, and it’s clear that they’re at their very best here.
Looking to the future, a major unknown that is evident in this conflict is whether Muzan is really alone in the present situation. It’s completely possible that the remaining four Upper Moons are in hiding at the moment as a last line of defense, or are currently located in the domain that Tanjiro and The Pillars are being sent to. It’s also worth noting that Giyu and Tanjiro as well as Iguro and Kanroji are each going through the same door together, so it’ll be interesting to see how both duos will overcome what’s in store for them. Additionally, Tamayo still has her arm lodged inside Muzan’s chest, and if the drug inside it is actually capable of ridding him of his demon powers, this battle may become more difficult for Muzan than he initially planned.
After a long wait, it’s fantastic to see Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba getting a proper simul-release, and this was an impressive chapter for it to start on. Muzan has once again established his presence as the prime enemy that Tanjiro must defeat, and with the loss of Ubuyashiki, he and his fellow demon slayers are as determined as ever to finish him off for good. Whether or not Gotouge is preparing us for a final bout with Muzan or is simply setting up a new wall for our heroes to overcome, they have created an intense story that will surely be a pleasure to read in the coming weeks.