Story & Art by Koyoharu Gotouge
Translated by John Werry
English Adaptation by Stan!
Touch-up Art & Lettering by John Hunt
Design by Adam Grano
Edited by Mike Montesa
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba started in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2016 and since that time the series had a slow build to popularity. With the release of the anime (that comes highly recommended, by the way) sales of Demon Slayer shot up to over 40 million copies as of February 2020 and the demand for more has been high. Thankfully, there are plans for a movie, two games (PS4 and mobile) and undoubtedly a second season of the anime. But back to the first volume. There are seven chapters crammed into this first volume but creator Koyoharu Gotouge manages to keep the pace high from start to finish, even while moving through over two years of time.
Sure, those two years go by in a handful of pages but adding some time and weight to main character Tanjiro Kamado’s Demon Slayer training makes it feel like he’s actually put in some effort. It felt refreshing that Tanjiro wasn’t just instantly godly when given a sword and just started hacking demon’s heads off like it’s no big deal. Along with great pacing, Gotouge’s character work also starts to bubble to the surface, though it’s still in its infancy. Tanjiro’s driving force behind his work ethic is Nezuko–his sister and the only surviving member of his family after a demon slaughtered everybody else while he was away–and trying to turn her back into a human after she was changed into a demon.
Gotouge’s art also shines in this first volume with his dynamic action and heartfelt close-ups. There has been a lot of mangaka that have created series in the shonen genre but Gotouge stands out. He’s unique, like Oda (One Piece) or Toriyama (Dragon Ball) or Horikoshi (My Hero Academia) before him. It’s not generic manga; Gotouge’s style jumps off the page–and really shines in anime form just in case the previous recommendation wasn’t worded strongly enough–and brings his characters to life in a way that, honestly, not everybody is capable of. He draws the reader in (unfortunate pun not intended) and by the time you’ve finished the first volume you’re itching to get on to the second.
This is only volume one, granted, but it feels immediately apparent that Demon Slayer has the potential to be something special. Maybe not to the length of things like Naruto or the previously mentioned (and still on-going) One Piece but it has that special something to at least give it some meaningful longevity. Maybe to the point of taking one of the coveted top spots in the Shonen Jump magazine for years to come. If you haven’t already tried this series, either in manga or anime form, please do. If you like any of the series that have been mentioned above, chances are really good that you’re going to dig this series as well.