By Koyoharu Gotouge
The first thing that sticks out about chapter 140 is that it’s titled “The Final Battle Begins.” For a while, there have been signs that the series has been heading towards an endgame, but Gotouge now seems to be addressing that question in a more straightforward manner. While this can certainly just imply that we are entering the final battle with Muzan and an even greater enemy is on the horizon, Muzan has been the catalyst of Tanjiro’s journey throughout the entire series, so it’s hard to imagine the series without his presence. For now though, we must focus on the present and the interesting situation our heroes have been placed in.
Following the events of the last chapter, Tanjiro and The Pillars have been split up and sent into what seems to be the dimensional fortress controlled by the newly appointed Upper Moon Four Nakime. The majority of this chapter focuses on where everyone has been situated inside the fortress, and how they’re dealing with the swarms of demons that are after them. We start off with Tanjiro & Giyu, Iguro & Kanroji, and Gyomei & Muichiro, who have all respectively dropped into the fortress near each other. This allows us to see some nice character interactions such as Tanjiro being intimidated by Giyu’s ability to adapt to combat so quickly, as well as Iguro being over-protective of Kanroji as she gushes over him in the background. Meanwhile, Muichiro’s interactions with Gyomei delves into his thoughts on Ubayashiki as a father-figure, which drives his desire to kill Muzan even more. Gotouge also does a great job of developing the motivations and feelings of our cast as they are approaching the danger that awaits them. The most powerful of these scenes within the chapter is when we see a mentally broken and isolated Senemi, crying with a sadistic smile as he mourns Ubayashiki’s death while declaring to kill all the demons surrounding him. Interestingly, it appears that Genya, Inosuke, and Zenitsu have all been sent into the fortress as well, each coping with the situation in their own way. Zenitsu, in particular, is surprisingly determined in contrast to his usual frightened demeanor, which may have something to do with the letter that he received a few chapters ago. The chapter finally ends with the focus finally shifting to our remaining Pillar Shinobu, who comes across a frightening scene; Upper Moon Two Doma feasting upon a pile of female corpses, choosing Shinobu to be his next victim.
Beyond the narrative, Gotouge showcases their versatility as an artist with this chapter. Panels such as the ones focused on Tanjiro being intimidated by Giyu are drawn in an amusing gag-like style, but Gotouge is able to shift to their more detail-oriented artwork for action sequences almost seamlessly. Like in the previous chapter, another highlight of the artwork is the facial expressions. When Sanemi is crying with an unsettling smile, you can see the swarm of emotions going through his mind that form his obsession with slaughtering demons. The final scene of Doma smiling as he’s eating the arm of a young lady additionally brings about a sense of pure terror, conveying the danger that this demon represents even against a powerful demon slayer like Shinobu.
While Muzan has escaped death for the time being, the demon slayers are determined to conquer the fortress they’ve been trapped in and finish off the monster once and for all. With the additions of Doma, Genya, Inosuke, and Zenitsu, this battle is beginning to feel like the definitive fight against Muzan and the Demon Slayer Corps. If we are to assume that the remaining three Upper Moons are planning to fight The Pillars inside the fortress, the biggest question is the current whereabouts of Nezuko and whether or not she has also been transported into the fortress with everyone else. In any case, Chapter 140 serves as another suspenseful build in growing conflict of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, and it seems like Gotouge is going to keep us on the edge of our seats for the coming weeks.