Demon Slayer Volume 18: Assaulted By Memories.
Collecting Chapters #152-160.
Story and art by Koyoharu Gotouge.
Last time, I was pleasantly surprised by the volume. Which is a rare event, these days. In the actual volume, we got not one, not two, but fully THREE fights, against members of the 12 Kizuki. Yup, it was a harmful Hat-Trick as Shinobu got eaten alive by Doma, Zenitsu made up a new technique against his former training buddy, and then finally Giyu and Tanjiro got a chance at revenge against hashira killer and body art enthusiast Akaza. But, as so often happens, the volume ended before the fight did, so let's dive in and see how it all wraps up now, shall we?
Chapter 152: The Transparent World. Tanjiro finally masters the technique his father told him about, but even with this new ability, Akaza proves to be a formidable opponent. Can the slayer duo truly beat such an awesome foe?
Chapter 153: Pulled. Akaza, too angry to die, attempts to push past his limits, and continue the fight. There's a reason this guy is the Upper 3, after all!
Chapter 154: Assaulted By Memories. Yup, it's that time again folks! Who's ready for another sad backstory! This time around, we find out that Akaza isn't bad, he's just misunderstood. Also, still kinda bad.
Chapter 155: Useless Komainu. As Akaza's backstory continues, we learn about the redemptive power of moe. And then everything goes to hell. Because of COURSE it freakin does.
Chapter 156: Thank You. A decisive blow is struck, in the battle against Akaza. If not quite the one we were expecting.
Chapter 157: Returning Spirit. As the crows spread word of the battle to the other members of the castle, we jump back to the battle against Doma, where Kanao is attempting to succeed where her mastered failed.
Chapter 158: CHAOS. The battle continues, as Kanao's flower based attacks are all pushed away by Doma and his strange hat, that I'm starting to think isn't a hat. Then, when things start to look a little dicey, help arrives from an unexpected avenue.
Chapter 159: Face. Inosuke crashes the fight, and proceeds to Inosuke all over everything. Doma doesn't seem all that worried though... but there may be more to this fight, than we initially though.
Chapter 160: Similar Features, Returning Memories. Doma can't seem to shake the thought that he's met Inosuke somewhere before. So, he has a little poke around in his memories and realises why Inosuke seems so familiar. Needless to say, this fight just got serious.
That was a pretty decent volume. Not quite as good as Volume 17, but still a reasonably solid entry. My main problem with it, is really a problem with the series as a whole... The whole thing has become increasingly more formulaic, and it's making the whole series rather predictable. I hope that with so few volumes left in the series, writer/artist Gotouge will mix things up a little from here. But I'm starting to worry that's not going to happen...
Soooo. Who's ready for another volume of sad backstories! Boy, I hope you like sad backstories, because honestly, that's basically all we have for you.
I like this series, I really do. It has a lot of potential, the world building early on was solid, and there are some characters I've started to really enjoy.
But man, I'm 1000% done with all the sad backstories. It's EVERY freakin' arc, and I'm just done with it.
Let's play a game. . . I'm going to roughly describe an arc for you; see if you can guess which one I'm talking about:
Tanjiro goes on what should be a simple mission. It turns out the mission is far more complex than he thought, and a Kizuki shows up. They fight for a bit, before we get a flashback about their tragic backstory, where we realise that they're not really BAD people, they just had a shitty life and met Muzan at their lowest point, and got recruited by him when they were too weak to resist. We then jump back to the fight, and Tanjiro uses one of his memories/the power of friendship to unlock a new ability and narrowly wins the fight, before passing out.
Okay, have a good think, have you guessed which arc that is?
Yup, you're right. That's ALL OF THEM. That is the basic framework for pretty much every arc since... maybe "Mugen Train". "Mugen Train", "Entertainment District", "Swordsman's Village", "Hashira Training". . . all followed the same basic plot structure, and now we're into Infinity Castle and, you guessed it, it's basically the same plot again.
Want to know the most annoying part of it all?
The backstories are all pretty damn good! Like, genuinely, Akaza's backstory was really strong. I kinda hate that guy, because he's a tool... but even I was starting to feel for him, by the end of that story. Like, he REALLY tried to turn his life around, lost his family to illness, found a cute sick girl to look after, nursed her back to health... BOOM, killed by jealousy. That's messed up! I really felt for him. I mean, yeah, he was never exactly a shining paragon of good behaviour, but it felt like he was really trying to improve, and you can't hate the guy for that.
But it's hard to really feel for the guy, when this is the sixth or so "Actually, they're not that bad, you know." story we've heard.
It REALLY feels like they wanted to make Akaza a big villain in this series. Way back in "Mugen Train", he shows up, wrecks the whole train, killed Rengoku, hands Tanjiro his first major loss, then just vanishes like the troll he is. Then, he pops up every so often, before arriving now and dying in a fairly short amount of time, all things considered. I can't help but feel like we're meant to care WAY more about his guy than we do. It feels like this was meant to be Tanjiro's big fight for the arc, but the whole thing just kinda. . . missed something.
I can't help but feel like if we'd had a little more build up for Akaza, had him show up a few times, maybe fight Tanjiro again between "Mugen Train" and now, give him another absolute spanking, just to really solidify his spot as Tanjiro's big rival. . . THEN have him show up now for their big final fight, that would have been something to really write home about.
THEN, just when we're really ready to hate him, when we're sitting there, crouched over like a feral beast, baying for his blood, THEN you hit us with his sad backstory, that would have utterly destroyed us all.
And, just to really twist the knife, make sure it's the first time we get a really sad backstory for a member of the Kizuki... I mean, come on. That would have been amazing.
I'm not saying don't make the Kizuki relatable characters. I get what Gotouge is trying to do and I've gone over that ground many times in these retrospectives, but can you imagine the impact of building up Akaza as this horrific figure, who murdered Tanjiro's mentor, kicked his ass a bunch, and then show us that he's actually a decent guy, that just met the wrong person at the wrong time?
I don't know about you, but I would be in a pile on the floor, rethinking everything about my life, after that. That would have hit like a truck, covered in spikes, filled with TNT, thrown by the Hulk.
But anyway, enough of the sad backstory stuff. Let's see what's going on with Doma Vs Kanao and Inosuke...
Oh, for crying out loud.
So, yeah. It seems we took a break from Akaza's sad backstory, to learn a bit about Inosuke's sad backstory. Because this whole series is basically people getting over their past trauma by hitting each other.
I have to say, though, sad backstory nonsense aside, I have high hopes for this fight. I'm really enjoying Kanao and secretly kind of prefer her to her mentor and former Hashira Shinobu, who got nommed last volume. Her fighting style is a lot of fun to watch and she's the latest member of the "Super Senses" club, alongside Tanjiro and his magic nose, Inosuke and his extreme feels and. . . I want to say Zenitsu had good hearing? But only for creeping on ladies, of course.
Kanao has probably the most "combat ready" ability, though. She has some incredibly impressive sight based abilities, and is using them fight on par with The Upper 2, which is beyond impressive, for a non-Hashira. Her abilities kind of remind me of Cass Cain from DC, she's able to laser focus on body language and other tiny details, and use them to predict movement before it's happened. At one point she's able to observe a large cloud of horrible death moving towards her, and move herself to the path that results in the least damage. If I were in this series, that's the kind of ability I'd want to have, because it's crazy useful for defending yourself against scary enemies like Doma, but can be used to quickly shift to offense, should you need it. I hope we see this ability develop a little more, as this fight goes on, because there's SO much you can do with it.
And then, there's Inosuke. Who continues to just be the weirdest freakin dude in this series. I kinda like him, but I really thought I was going to hate him, when he was first introduced. As a general rule, I'm not a huge fan of the "Waarrrrggg, fight me now!" archetype in anime, and he seemed like yet another in a long line of characters that mistake "Wanting to fight all the time" for "having a personality".
Thankfully, after his initial appearance, he's slowly become a marginally more well-rounded character. I mean, he does still go on about fighting quite a lot though.
However, I guess that's going to change a bit, in the next volume. Because it seems that Doma killed his mother, so I'm guessing that in the same way Volume 17 gave us some time with Zenitsu and gave him some development, Volume 19 is going to spend a little time fleshing out Inosuke. Maybe explain why he always wears that boar head.
Okay, fight idea. Inosuke vs Louise Belcher. Loser has to take off their hat, FOREVER.
Overall, Volume 18 was all right. It gave us a well written backstory, that left me feeling surprisingly kindly towards a character I'd previously disliked, but after a non stop barrage of tragic backstories, it's really hard to care when one more person is revealed to have actually been alright, before Muzan ruined their life. I WANT to care about these people, but the burnout is real. I just wish we could maybe dial a few of them back a little, so that when you get hit by one that really connects, you feel it so much more.
But yeah, that aside, the action was strong and it feels like Volume 19 is going to be a bit of a beast, so fingers crossed this volume will work as set up for that, making both seem that much better, when read as an ongoing arc.
If you want to see if the build up pays off, come back next time for Demon Slayer Volume 19: Flapping Butterfly Wings. Collecting chapters 161-169. The Demon Slayers fight hard to get their blades closer to Muzan’s neck! To avenge her family, Kanao must continue to battle Doma head-on while Iguro and Kanroji find themselves slashing through the shifting rooms of Infinity Castle. Elsewhere, Tokito, Sanemi, and Genya come face-to-face with a villain who recognizes Tokito, but Tokito doesn’t know him. Who is this powerful adversary?
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!
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.