Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 1 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 1

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 3, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga//192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Tanjiro and his family have a hard life, being rather poor. But Tanjiro works hard and does what he can to help provide for his mother and many siblings after the death of his father. Hoping to provide for a happy New Year for his loved ones, the weary Tanjiro wants to go into town, despite the weather, to sell more charcoal. But he is prevented from getting back and ends up spending the night there, heading home at first light. Upon his return, he is met with the horrific sight of his family, dead and bloody from some sort of massacre. The stricken Tanjiro realizes his sister Nezuko is still breathing, and hurries to get her to town, where she can be helped. When he slips and accidentally drops her, he realizes that Nezuko has become a demon, turned by the same creature that killed his family!

Just after this realization hits him, as he attempts to keep his demon sister from biting him, a stranger unexpectedly swoops in and attempts to kill her. He is confused as to why Tanjiro, a human, should be protecting a demon. But Tanjiro tells him that she’s his sister and he will do everything he can to help her become human again. He tells the stranger that Nezuko hasn’t killed anyone and won’t harm anyone.  He finally persuades the man, whose name is Giyu, and Giyu tells him to go to see an old man named Sakonji Urokodaki at the foot of Mount Sagiri, and to tell him Giyu Tomioka sent him.

In order to travel that far, Tanjiro realizes he can’t avoid sunlight, much as Nezuko would like to, so he acquires an old basket and fixes it up for her so he can carry her on his back. On the journey, they are attacked by a demon, but luckily they are met by Urokodaki, in a tengu mask, who was apprised of their arrival by Giyu. Giyu told him Tanjiro seems promising, and has the same strong sense of smell that Urokodaki does.  The older man makes Tanjiro figure out how to kill the demon himself then leads both him and Nezuko back to his mountain, never cutting the boy any slack. He leaves Tanjiro at the top of the mountain and says he’ll train him if he can make it down by morning. Tanjiro thinks that’s easy, with his sense of smell, but of course it isn’t.

Tanjiro has taken his first step toward becoming a Demon Slayer and recovering his sister’s lost humanity.

I have been watching the anime, and just started reading the manga. I really like it, and I think they complement one another well. It’s a sad story about bravery in the face of tragedy, of a brother’s love for his sister and his determination to give her back the life she had before, as well as a supernatural story about demons and humans. Tanjiro is a sweet boy, and very kind. Sometimes too kind, to the point of being indecisive, which his mentor fears in his nature. But he also has a steely quality that I think will stand him in good stead in the future.

Urokodaki’s tengu mask is intriguing, and I’m sure there’s a story as to why he always wears it, one we will find out later.  A side note, the actor who voices Urokodaki in the anime is the same one who voices Jiraiya in Naruto (win-win for me because I love Jiraiya lol) The story of how Tanjiro splits the boulder is sadly sweet. Tanjiro’s trial as part of the final selection to become a demon slayer is filled with intrigue and potential death for all involved. Not all the candidates will come out alive.

I like the artwork very much, and I look forward to reading more volumes.

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