By Koyoharu Gotouge
Chapter 144 takes us away from the battle with Doma, allowing us to see what else is going on in the grand conflict between Muzan’s forces and the demon slayers. Tanjiro and Giyu are still heading towards Muzan’s location when they learn of Shinobu’s death via a messenger crow sent by Kagaya Ubayashiki’s son Kiriya. Tanjiro had established a bond with Shinobu through his training at her estate, so her quick death has taken a toll on him. That being said, it’s clear that he understands that his primary target is still Muzan, and that he needs to confront him as soon as possible to end this battle. The core of this chapter focuses on Zenitsu’s confrontation with his former peer Kaigaku. It’s revealed that the recent shift in Zenitsu’s personality was due to his master’s death, who had killed himself after learning that Kaigaku had become a demon. Zenitsu has always been one of the more comedic characters in the series, so his genuine anger towards Kaigaku over their master’s death comes with a strong impact. Interestingly enough, it seems that while Zenitsu can use only the first form of thunder breathing, Kaigaku can use all the thunder breathing techniques except for the first form. The chapter ends with Kaigaku finally attacking Zentisu, but Zenitsu avoids the strike and retaliates by making a swift cut to Kaigaku’s throat.
While there were less opportunities for Gotouge’s artwork to shine in this chapter, there were still some great moments dispersed throughout. Tanjiro’s eyes starting well up after learning of Shinobu’s death perfectly conveys his the emotional connection he has to his fellow demon slayers, while also showing his determination to keep pushing forward regardless of the hardship that awaits. The highlight of the chapter was Zenitsu’s confrontation with Kaigaku. You can clearly see the animosity between them in their facial expressions, and it helps appropriately establish the tone of their coming battle. The final page of the chapter encapsulates perfectly how Zenitsu is not taking this battle lightly, and is fully prepared to avenge his master’s death.
The stakes are only continuing to rise in Demon Slayer, and it’s keeping me on the edge of my seat. It’ll be interesting to see how Zenitsu fairs against Kaigaku by himself, and if we’ll see our first victory for the demon slayers in this conflict. There are still four other Kizuki who’ve yet to appear in the fortress, so Tanjiro and his companions still have a long battle ahead of them. That being said, I’m more than ready to continue on this intense ride.