Demon Slayer Vol 16: Indestructible MANGA RETROSPECTIVE. Well. That escalated quickly.


Demon Slayer Volume 16 Cover 1. Published by Shueisha.

Demon Slayer Volume 16: Indestructible.

Collecting Chapters #134-142.

Story and art by Koyoharu Gotouge.


Last time, the battle in the Swordsmith's Village came to its epic conclusion, and Tanjiro once more had a chance to test out the amazing healing facilities at Demon Slayer HQ. Then, because you can't keep a good Slayer down, he began training once more, in the brutal Hashira Training program. Then, Tanjiro got into a fight with the Wind Hashira, because he's kind of a dick. Now, the final stage of training begins, and then... who knows!


Chapter 134: Repetitive Action. Tanjiro begins his training with Gyomei Himejima, the Stone Hashira. Needless to say, when you train with the strongest member of the Hashira, things are going to be quite intense...


Chapter 135: Himejima Hell. With a little help from his good friend Genya, Tanjiro finally begins to make some progress with Himejima's final lesson. Then, we learn a little bit about Himejima's past, and how he came to join the Demon Slayers.


Chapter 136: Moving. A trip to see Giyu ends in an unexpected manner. Then, Kagaya has an unexpected visitor.


Chapter 137: Undying. Kagaya and Muzan discuss the finer parts of their lives, their dreams and their deep-seated, unshakable desire to utterly destroy each other.


Chapter 138: A Sudden Turn. Kagaya executes his plan to bring Muzan Kibutsuji down, once and for all. Alerted to his presence, the Hashira all converge on their foe. But will this be enough to take down the First Demon?


They've made the chapter titles super tiny now. I don't like it.

Chapter 139: Falling. Kagaya's full plan is revealed, as well as the full depths of Muzan's terrifying powers. As the Hashira are scattered, will any of them be able to make it back, and take down Muzan for good?


This cover is in full colour. You can't see it, but it's AWESOME.

Chapter 140: The Final Battle Begins. As the Hashira fall into Muzan's Infinite Castle, they're confronted by seemingly endless hordes of demons, each as strong as a Lower Kizuki.


Chapter 141: Vengeance! Shinobu confronts a demon she's been searching for, for a very long time. But will her opponent prove to be too much, ever for a Hashira?


Chapter 142: Insect Hashira, Shinobu Kocho. With her sister's killer in front of her, but increasingly growing resistant to the effects of her poisons, Shinobu must think fast, and act faster, if she's going to claim victory.


Damn, dude... that's harsh. Hilarious, but harsh.

Well, that went to 11 pretty freakin' fast, didn't it? We got the conclusion to the training arc and then suddenly AH FINAL BATTLE TIME! I mean, I know I said that the final arc was probably close, but I didn't know it was this freaking close. That said, since there are still seven volumes left, I'm guessing this is going to be quite the epic showdown. Of course, it's taken three volumes to drop a Kizuki before...


Just cut it in half, like you did before!

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure where to start with this. The training arc was decent, but I really feel like it needed to be a little longer. I was honestly expecting it to take up this whole volume, with the final arc starting in Volume 17 at the earliest. The chapters with Himejima were very strong, and between his suitably tragic backstory and Genya once again being the MVP, I could honestly have spent way more time with them training and developing the characters, and just getting to know the cast and the world a bit more, before we move on to the final showdown. We got maybe two panels, where Genya comments that Tanjiro's markings are a little darker now, and that Himejima is the strongest Hashira, but doesn't seem able to manifest any markings, and then it was all just sort of done...


Cool beans, hopefully you'll tell us about it, some time.

It's interesting. Despite being a fairly major part of the early arcs, it feels like Inosuke and Zenitsu have fallen by the wayside, somewhat. Even now, it really feels like they're building to something with Zenitsu, and clearly he's going to have some big stuff to do, in the coming chapters... but that very much feels like a bandaid applied to a bullet wound. It feels like they're setting up some kind of big, emotional arc for him, but I can already tell that I'm just not going to care. Why? Because we were introduced to the slightly annoying Zenitsu pretty early on, given some hints and a few brief glances that there was maybe more to him than we'd been lead to believe... and then he basically vanished, showing up now and again to do something sort of interesting in a fight, before leaving again to spend an arc or two in recovery. Same thing with Inosuke, who hasn't really been seen since the Entertainment District arc, and wasn't exactly pivotal to that tale either.


NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPPEE

This is why I talk so much about character development. Because honestly, it's VITAL to investment in a story. It doesn't matter how great your plot is, if you don't care about the characters that are central to that plot, you're not going to care how it turns out.


This volume is a damn near perfect example. Muzan Kibutsuji rocked up to Demon Slayer HQ, had a really interesting conversation with Kagaya Ubuyashiki, Head of the Demon Slayer Corps and, apparently, a fairly important figure in the lives of all his Hashira. Kagaya then proceeded to blow himself up, also taking out his wife and two kids, and most of their house.


It was a grand sacrifice, and could be considered a truly heroic action.


It would probably be quite emotional, if I gave even the SLIGHTLY shit about his character. But I don't, because he's had almost no development. I barely know the guy, so how am I supposed to care for him? It really feels like this scene should have had way more impact than it did. We see the Hashira reacting, and they're all obviously distraught. But we can't feel any of that ourselves, because we don't really know Kagaya, and we barely know the Hashira.


It's like when you're flipping through channels on the TV, and you catch the last five minutes of a movie, or an episode of some show. You're watching these scene play out, and it's CLEARLY intended to be super emotional... but you have no idea who these people are, or why you should care. So how are you supposed to feel invested?


Now, I know by using a television-based metaphor, I'm showing my age somewhat, and a good selection of the people reading this won't understand... but I hope you get my point.


It doesn't matter how heroic and awesome your character's sacrifice is, when we don't know enough about the character to care. And I can tell, as we move into this final arc, that we're going to lose more people... but frankly, if it's not Tanjiro, Nezuko, or Genya, I'm probably not going to give a damn.


This is why you need to spend time developing your secondary, and even tertiary characters. If you can do something horrible to your lead and make people care, then grats, you've achieved the bare minimum required.


But if you can make people feel, REALLY feel, for background characters, and supports? THAT is when you've really done something.

Kibutsuji, his Blood Demon Art is EPIC drip.

Overall, Volume 16 was something of a surprise. The volume starts off slowly, with some interesting training montages, and hints to greater developments, and then suddenly before you know what's happening, everything is on fire and the final battle is here. In my previous Retrospectives, I've mentioned my concerns with pacing in this series, and once more it feels like we've rushed right from one climactic battle into another. Seeing as this is literally the final battle of the series, I can't help but feel a little cheated that we're going in with so much left undone. I know there are seven volumes left, but given that one of those will probably be an epilogue, and based on prior performance, we're looking at two to three volumes per major fight... I can't help but think that this series is going to end with more than a few questions left unanswered.


Which does upset me, I can't lie. Because Gotouge has set up a really interesting world here, and there are plenty of aspects that I really enjoy... but most of them are either still unexplained, or have only had the vaguest of half formed explorations. It really feels, to me, like this series could have been at least 5 or 10 volumes longer, with that extra time being used to explore the world, and expand on the characters.


I guess I'm just showing my age now, aren't I?


If you're ready for the beginning of the end, join me next time for Demon Slayer Volume 17: Successors, collecting chapters 143-151. The Demon Slayer Corps plunges into Infinity Castle to confront Muzan. Shinobu engages in a fierce fight against Doma, the Upper Rank 2 demon. Poison doesn’t work on him, so she finds herself in an intense struggle. Will she be able to defeat the demon who killed her older sister?! Then another demon appears before Zenitsu and blocks his way…


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!


I agreed. Kids are the freakin worst.

 

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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