Demon Slayer Vol 13: Transitions MANGA RETROSPECTIVE. So many breadcrumbs, so little substance.


DEMON SLAYER Volume 13 Cover 1. Published by Shueisha.

Demon Slayer Volume 13: Transitions.

Collecting Chapters #107-115.

Story and art by Koyoharu Gotouge.


Last time, Tanjiro finally recovered from the whoopin' he took in the Entertainment District. He figured, barely recovered from his injuries and with a katana that had seen better days, his best bet was to go to the secretive Swordsmith's Village, get his training on, and get a new weapon. Because there's no way that could turn into a life or death fight with TWO of the Upper Six, right?


Chapter 107: In The Way. Genya attempts to solve all his problems via the accurate and timely application of sawed-off shotguns. It's fairly effective, but sadly his opponent is the Upper Four, who has some truly impressive capabilities.


Chapter 108: Thank You, Tokito. Taquito, the Mist Hashira, decides to act against type for a change, and be nice to someone. This is such a shock to his system that he begins to remember shrouded, long forgotten moments from his past.



Chapter 109: Won't Die. Genya and Nezuko attempt to take down two of the four parts of the Upper Four. Despite being WOEFULLY outmatched, they find a way to stay in the fight!


Chapter 110: Sneaking Around. Tanjiro continues to battle another fragment of The Upper Four, but once again finds himself in a dangerous position. Meanwhile, Tic-Tac, the Mist Hashira, finds out that no good deed goes unpunished.


Chapter 111: Pretentious Artist. Tactics, the Mist Hashira, finds himself in a tricky battle against The Upper Five! A fearsome foe, who has worked out a key weakness in the Demon Slayer's style!


Chapter 112: Transitions. As demons swarm the Swordsman's Village, it seems like no one is left to save them... Enter The Love Hashira, and her impressively flexible weapon.


Chapter 113: Bright Red Blade. Just when we all thought Tanjiro was out for the count, he comes back with a new power-up, a flaming sword and the will to keep fighting! Who could have foreseen such a new and unexpected turn of events!


Chapter 114: Wanted: Respect. Tanjiro and Nezuko keep the remaining fragments of Upper Four busy, while Genya tracks down the final piece. Will he be able to claims its head in time? Will he even be able to FIND the freakin thing? Who knows!


Chapter 115: To Be A Hashira. Flashback chapter time! Who's ready for Genya's tragic backstory? Then, Genya uses the lessons we all learnt from the Flashback, to save the day in the present time. Because that's character growth!


No, that's fine. I wasn't planning on sleeping again. Cool... Cool... Cool...

That's also the end of the volume! Because it wouldn't be the end of a volume of Demon Slayer if it didn't wrap up with someone moments away from cutting off a demon's head! If history has taught us anything, the next volume will either start with them successfully striking the demon down, only to find out that someone worse has shown up. OR, the demon will pull one last trick, and it'll be another volume until they're finally defeated. Given how another fight is already going on, I'm leaning towards the first one!


It's almost as if you're connected somehow...

I honestly can't tell if I liked that volume or not. There were some really interesting parts, that expanded on some characters I'm very excited to learn more about... And then there were whole chapters were it felt like very little was happening. Honestly, I know this is a shonen battle manga, so we're legally bound to have at least one fight a volume, but I can't help but think that Gotouge just doesn't write fights very well. Like, I honestly can't think of a single fight I've read so far in this series that has really engaged me in the way you would expect, from a series that is based around fighting.


Nope, no way at all that they're connected. No. Way. At. All.

Because I DO like this series, overall. I really enjoy the lore, and the pattern Gotouge is weaving here. I'm intrigued to learn more about the world, about the Hinokami Kagura, about whatever the frack is going on with Kagaya, and his connection to Muzan, and his obsession with that flower he's searching for. I'm REALLY interested in exactly what is going on with Tanjiro, his Sun Breathing, and whatever connection he has with this mysterious samurai guy that keeps showing up, and may or may not also be the Upper One Kizuki...


But, I just don't really care about any of the fights.


They're all drawn really well, Gotouge's art is fantastic from character designs to the creepy body horror demons, to the almost Ukiyo-e style they use for the Breathing techniques. It's all great.


I just feel almost no investment in the actual fights.


The funniest part is, I can't really put my finger on exactly WHY I don't care. I just... don't. I love a good battle: I've been rushing to my iPad every Sunday to read the latest One Piece, to find out if Luffy will ever defeat Kaido; I was GLUED to each chapter of Bleach, seeing what ridiculous nonsense Kubo would pull each time, to resolve the fights. But something about Demon Slayer's fights just leaves me cold.


I think the biggest problem so far, is that they've gone out of their way to show that the Demon Slayers don't really have powers, per se. They fight using Total Concentration Breathing, which allows them close to peak human stats, but they're not traditionally "powered" fighters, in the way you expect from Anime heroes.


Then, on the other side of the battle lines you have the Demons, who have increasingly more and more elaborate and TERRIFYING abilities; their Blood Demon Arts are everything from Spider-Family's puppet control, to Gyutaro's poisons, and now the Upper Four's splitting and regeneration.


So, it's very much a David and Goliath fight. Everything—from the moment the fight begins—is stacked against the Slayers. Which is EXACTLY what I'm looking for in a fight. Everyone loves a scrappy underdog, and there's nothing better than a weaker fighter using technique and skill to win against a stronger foe. That is MY JAM...


The problem is, that's very rarely what we get in this series. So far, most major victories have either boiled down to help arriving at the right time, or Tanjiro mysteriously learning a new ability, just when he needs it most.

Everyone mocked Bleach for constantly giving Ichigo new powers, whenever a new enemy showed up, so how are we now over a decade later, and that's still the go-to, for this kind of series? It feels like if you just give your heroes new powers every arc, there's real diminishing returns on how much your reader is going to care about each power up. Are people really as excited for Goku going Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Saiyan Plus Ultra Super Saiyan Purple Plus, as they were the first time he went Super Saiyan?


I don't know about you guys, but since Tanjiro spent more of the last volume training his sword skills, it all feels a little hollow this volume to see him defeat his enemy because his sister randomly set his sword on fire and that unlocked more abilities of the Hinokami Kagura, instead of him actually putting that training to use, and overcoming his enemy with his skill, determination, and refusal to quit.


That out of the way, let's talk about what I enjoyed, this volume!


Okay, so I think it's safe to say that Tokito didn't make the best first impression. However, I've got to say he's grown on me a bit, this volume. It seems, much like the morning mist clouding our view, Tokito's history is shrouded in mystery. And you KNOW I love a good mystery! I'm guessing that given how Tanjiro seems to have won his battle, next volume we're going to get some backstory for our newest Hashira friend, and I'm excited to see what's going on there.


I'm not sure why, but I have a feeling his backstory is going to be super messed up, and I can't wait to see it...


Speaking of messed up backstories: We also got some more information on my newest favourite character; the Shotgun Hashira, Genya. It seems young Genya is the younger brother of actual Hashira Sanemi Shinazugawa, who despite being kind of a dick now, was apparently quite a nice guy, when he was younger. Apparently, killing your mother because she turned into a demon and murdered all but one of your siblings made him somewhat cold. Which seems like a pretty reasonable reaction to the situation, honestly. I'd be far worse, if I was him.


Genya is sort of a mystery, though. Apparently he can't use Breathing, which is odd, because... it's breathing. I'm not totally sure if he means he physically isn't able to use the techniques for whatever reason, or if he just means he tried to learn and couldn't quite grasp the technique. Either way, he makes up for his lack of technique through excessive application of gunpower, and what appear to be shells made from the same Nichirin ore that the Demon Slayers' weapons are made from.


I do rather enjoy the idea that the ore is what's important and Demon Slayers just use that to make Katana because it's what they know. Opens the possibility of using other weapons, down the line, should you be able to forge them. I think I'd go full Captain America. Get a Nichirin shield and smack people with it.


Would it still count as cutting off the head, if I just smooshed it with my shield? I guess I'll have to ask Gotouge...


But there's more to young Genya that first meets the eye! Because despite being riddle with more holes than the plot of The Eternals, Genya just kept pushing forward, and stayed in the fight until the very end... In fact, his regeneration was almost demonic. As were his scary eyes. So what exactly IS his deal? It seems that while he might not be able to join the Hashira, due to his lack of Breathing ability, young Genya is still going to be a valuable asset to the Corps. Mostly as a human shield, but still, that IS a fine ability.


I got a little sidetracked there, but allow me to present my point, finally:

We've now had a fair few backstories explained to us, and one thing seems to unite all the stories...


They're all GRIM. There is not a single happy character in this series. Every story is death, on death, on death, on prostitution, on drugs, on death. Doesn't matter if it's a Kizuki, Hashira or Tanjiro. . . every backstory is just a long list of tragedy.


Which raises an interesting point. Your backstory is not what defines you, it's the people you surround yourself with, it's how you learn from your past, that shapes your future.


It seems, to me, that the only difference between The Hashira and The Kizuki in this series is how they learn from the horrors that were inflicted on them. So many of the Kizuki's backstories seem to be "I was at the lowest point of my life, when this dick Muzan showed up and offered me the power to get revenge". Meanwhile, the Hashira all come from equally tragic origins, but their stories tend to be "My life was pretty awful, so I decided to channel those horrors into making sure no one else has to go through that."


Much like my favourite '80s cheesefest Karate Kid, the only difference between the protagonist and the antagonist is the person that found them, when they were vulnerable, and showed them how to grow. This is echoed in basically every interaction we see in the series. Muzan, every time he talks to one of his followers, treats them like crap, and pushes them to do the same to others. Meanwhile, for all his creepiness, Kagaya has a much calmer, more nurturing attitude towards his followers.


So, basically, nice people make nice people, being a dick turns others into dicks. Not exactly a bright new philosophy, but it's executed very well here, and that's all you can really ask for, no?


Overall, Volume 13 was uneven. A slightly lacklustre fight takes up far too much space in the tale, leaving far less room for interesting characters to show off more about themselves. On the plus side, we got some great artwork, and enough breadcrumbs that we'll hopefully get some great development further down the line. Fingers crossed!


If you want to see the mists part, come back next time for Demon Slayer Volume 14: The Mu Of Muichiro. Collecting chapters 116-124! Tanjiro's sword is still not ready. The swordsmith Haganezuka tries to concentrate on finishing, while Tanjiro and his friends engage the two upper-rank demons, Hantengu and Gyokko, in a ferocious battle. Hantengu continues to create different forms to attack the Demon Slayers. Meanwhile, the Mist Hashira Tokito regains his memories of the past and confronts Gyokko, but what will these memories reveal?


And if you want to read along, you can find this volume at your Local Comic Shop, or on the Weekly Shonen Jump App, Enjoy!


So... he's every Shonen Protagonist ever? Cool.

 

Taheg Gloder is a Freelance Copywriter from England. Obsessed with comics and Manga since his teens, he now splits his time between writing comic reviews and retrospectives for POP, and doing reactions on his YouTube Channel, The Dragon & The Hound. He lives alone, because he’s a hermit.

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