By Koyoharu Gotouge
While the past few chapters haven’t progressed the plot much, Gotouge has effectively built up the decisive battle against Akaza. As Akaza takes Giyu and Tanjiro more seriously, he overpowers the two demon slayers with his overwhelming force. Of course, neither Giyu nor Tanjiro are willing to fall easily and are pushing past their limits against their formidable foe. Throughout the series, Gotouge has done a wonderful job of showing her characters adapt to their situations and learn to overcome obstacles in the heat of the moment. Tanjiro is continually trying different methods of attacking Akaza, attempting to understand the vulnerabilities in his opponent while also capitalizing on the strengths of his own techniques. It helps provide a sense of realism to battle, even when our heroes are stacked against an opponent above their own strength. As the fight intensifies, Giyu is pushed to the point where he finally awakens his mark, allowing him to face Akaza on stronger footing. This development is huge for Giyu due to his self-deprecating feelings towards his position as a Hashira. The awakening of his mark serves as proof that he is worthy of his position, and his resolve to defeat Muzan and his forces. That being said, Tanjiro notices that Akaza is able to seemingly predict their movements, possibly due to some sense of fighting spirit. As Tanjiro continues to watch Giyu and Akaza fight each other, chapter 150 ends with Tanjiro finally understanding the secret behind Akaza’s predictions.
Beyond the waves of action that fill these three chapters, this fight also serves as a battle of ideology between Akaza and Tanjiro. Akaza views the weak as a burden to the world, and it is a part of nature for them to be weeded out. He believes that the Hashira Kyojuro fell under this “weakling” category, and that his death was a necessary sacrifice in order to make those around him with more potential stronger. Tanjiro is enraged by this viewpoint, as he believes that everyone is born weak, and that it is the duty of the strong to protect the weak until they can gain their own strength. These two viewpoints are also reflected within the characters themselves. Tanjiro started the series as someone who was weak, but worked towards becoming stronger to protect Nezuko and other innocent people. Meanwhile, Akaza chose to acquire the strength of a demon for his own sake and kill those that he viewed as inferior beings. While we still don’t know much about Akaza’s past and what drove him to become a demon, Tanjiro’s words have clearly affected him, as he recalls the words of a man from his past who had similar beliefs to those of Tanjiro. A looming external factor in this fight is a messenger crow from Kyojuro’s brother Senjuro, who has sent information regarding the records of the Swordsman of Sun Breathing’s fight against Muzan. It seems doubtful that Tanjiro will be able to receive this information until he defeats Akaza, but it will surely be vital for the coming battle.
As mentioned before, this set of chapters is primarily action focused, which allows Gotouge to show off some spectacular art and panel work. A particular stand out moment is the sequence of panels where Giyu awakens his mark, seeing a set of silent panels showcasing the accelerated power and speed of his techniques. There is a great sense of scale in the fight, and it serves to solidify the importance that it holds to our heroes.
It’s unclear how much longer this battle will last, but the climax may very well be in sight. With Tanjiro having seemingly found the secret to Akaza’s power, he and Giyu may finally get the upper-hand on their threatening opponent, and at last avenge Kyojuro’s death. Whatever the case may be, Gotouge is keeping Demon Slayer an incredibly engaging read and I’m excited to see where things will go from here.