By Koyoharu Gotouge
This week’s chapter of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba continues the fierce battle between Doma and Shinobu, and gives us some further insight on their internal motivations. Doma’s flashback to his childhood helps explain his warped perception of humanity. He has looked down on people since his childhood, including his own parents. While he was made the leader of a religious faith, he had no such faith himself, viewing the beliefs of god and the afterlife as ideas made by humans to deny the reality of death. From seeing people constantly worship him and pray for happiness, he reaches the conclusion that the best way to “save” his disciples is by ending their lives himself. While Gotouge has made us sympathize with many demons through their backstories, it’s clear that Doma is different than what we’ve seen before. Doma never faced any adversity in his life and merely chose to kill humans to justify his own disturbing ideas of salvation. While this arguably makes him more one-dimensional than previous demons in the series, it also serves to establish how psychotic of an enemy that Doma is.
Shinobu also gets her fair share of development as well in this chapter. As she continues to struggle to kill Doma with her poisons, she starts to think about her own inferiority as a Hashira. She feels envious of her late sister and Himejima for having physical attributes far more ideal than her own for cutting off the heads of demons, and fears that those around her view her as too weak. Shinobu’s usual upbeat attitude makes it appear as though she is confident in her own skills, though it seems that may actually be a means for her to hide her own vulnerabilities. As she is on her last legs, severely wounded by Doma, she starts to hallucinate her sister, who motivates her to defeat Doma regardless of the cost to herself. Renewed with the resolve to keep fighting, the chapter ends with Shinobu driving her poison blade straight through Doma’s neck.
The main aspect of Gotouge’s art to stick out this week was easily the attack sequences between Doma and Shinobu. The clashes between the two are drawn in a manner that emphasizes the after-effect of each strike. When Doma strikes his critical hit to Shinobu near the mid-way point of the chapter, you can feel the impact as Shinobu’s blood spills out of the wound. A similar impact can also be felt at the end of the when we see Shinobu break through Doma’s defenses to strike him directly in the throat. One again, Gotouge has proven their skills in depicting these battles in way that excites the reader on every page.
While Shinobu appears to have the upper hand by the end of the chapter, it’s unclear whether or not Doma is really down for the count yet. Shinobu has already lost a lot of blood in this chapter alone, so she may not be able to last much longer unless someone steps in to help her. In any case, things are looking as bright as ever in Demon Slayer, and the next chapter can’t come soon enough.