Demon Slayer Vol 21: Ancient Memories. Infinite Castle, Infinite Carnage.

Demon Slayer Volume 21 Cover 1. Published by Shueisha.

Demon Slayer Volume 21: Ancient Memories.

Collecting Chapters #179-187.

Story and art by Koyoharu Gotouge.

Last time around, the battle against The Upper 1 Kizuki reached its peak, as about half of the Hashira and a few others threw themselves at this Moon Breathing, Demon Art using monster. Then, the volume wrapped up with some backstory, detailing the fairly happy childhood of Kokushibo and his brother Yoriichi, AKA, the creator of Sun Breathing. Read on, to see how this epic fight concludes, and to see the last great battle begin!

Chapter 179: Feelings For Elder Brother, Feelings For Younger Brother. The Upper 1 Kizuki is dead, but the Slayer Corps has paid a heavy price. Those that remain, mourn those that have fallen.

Chapter 180: Recovery. After decimating the Kizuki, but paying a steep price to do so, the Demon Slayer Corps get some time to rest and recover. Hahahahah, just kidding. With no time at all to rest, the few remaining Slayers must battle Muzan Kibutsuji, as he breaks free from his containment.

Chapter 181: Disaster. Kiriya loses his calm, the Snake Hashira and Love Hashira lose the plot. Muzan runs into Tanjiro and Giyu, and his words cause Tanjiro to lose his cool. Oh, it's ON.

Chapter 182: RAGE. Tanjiro and Giyu try and fail to do anything to Muzan, and when some bad news throws them further off their game, things start to look grim. But this is Demon Slayer, so help is always on the way.

Clash of Wills, starring Will Smith and Will Ferrell. I would watch that.

Chapter 183: A Clash Of Wills. Muzan engages in a battle of the mind, with young Yushiro, while the Hashira do everything they can do assist him.

Chapter 184: Leaving The Warfront. Muzan and the Demon Slayers take the battle outside. But, with 90 minutes to sunrise, and their only chance at victory, can the Hashira hold out against such an overwhelming foe?

Chapter 185: A World Without Smell. It seems they can't. With Tanjiro at death's door, Nezuko awakens and rushes to join the battle. More Hashira join the fight against Muzan.

Chapter 186: Ancient Memories. In his near death state, Tanjiro journeys through his inherited memories, and spends a quiet afternoon chatting with Yoriichi. We get to hear the other side of the story, regarding Yoriichi's childhood.

Chapter 187: Innocent Person. Yoriichi utterly, hilariously, totally embarrasses Muzan Kubutsuji, before having a short conversation with a younger Tamayo.

Gee, I wonder when he'll learn that final technique.

Man, that was freakin carnage. That was a seriously brutal volume. After losing half of the Slayers that took down the Upper 1, you'd think things would relax a bit... but then Muzan Kubutsuji turns up, and shows the world why he's the king of the demons. What an absolute monster... And then, to balance out all the gore and whatnot, we got Yoriichi's side of the story, regarding his childhood with Kokushibo. More on that, later!

Or DID it! The foreshadowing in this volume was a lot. Also, RIP Tamayo.

Okay, first things first: RIP to my favourite character, Genya the Goner. He tried so hard, and got so far, but in the end it didn't even matter. My big issue with this scene, which I touched on before, is that we're clearly meant to feel for Sanemi, as his says his tearful goodbye to his brother Genya...

You know, the brother he's been an absolute tool too, for the entire run up to this point, yeah that guy. Spoiler warning: If it's your job to fight demons, and risk your life on a daily basis AND, if you're about to go into a fight that you have very little chance of winning, or even surviving, maybe use that as an opportunity to make up with your siblings BEFORE they're on their deathbed?

Like, you've had years, dude. Don't be a dick to him "to keep him safe" and then try to make us feel bad, when you fail. The whole scene felt incredibly flat, to me, because it all felt so unearned. Treasure what you have, while you've got it. Don't wait until it's slipping from your fingers to appreciate it.

You kind of are, sorry. Don't worry, you're not alone.

Okay, just had to get that off my chest. This volume was mostly just BRUTAL fights, so there isn't a huge amount to discuss, however there is one part that I really enjoyed and wanted to chat about for a little while:

Every day I wake up, happy that I'm born at the same time as Amber Rose Revah.

So, after getting thoroughly ruined by Muzan, on the very edge of death Tanjiro returns once more to that all important scene we've seen many a time. Where Yoriichi, the ultimate Demon Slayer, talks to some ancestor of Tanjiro's.

This time around, we get to see a lot more of the scene, and there's some interesting parts to note. Mostly, we get to hear Yoriichi's side of his life story. And funnily enough, despite the fact it's essentially the same story that we were told last week by Kokushio, the way it's told and the parts that are focused on tell you everything you need to know, about the two siblings and their innate differences.

While Kokushibo's version was this brutal tale of jealousy and corruption, where he focused on how torn up he was that he'd never be as good a fighter as his brother... Yoriichi's tale is a far calmer tale. It skips almost totally over the parts that seemed to so consume Kokushibo, he barely mentions his sword training and talks at length about how kind his brother was, and how protective. He then jumps ahead to the part where he leaves, and meets the love of his life; a young woman named Uta. He talks of their love, and all the lessons she taught him... a stark difference to Kokushibo, who only mentions in passing that he married and had a child, and how much life with them bored him.

Even if you discount every other part of both stories, that one difference tells you everything you need to know about both brothers. If you take a step back, both brothers have very similar story arcs. Both grew up, met a woman, married and had a child, lost their families, and became Demon Slayers. But the WAY they tell that story, could not be more different.

Kokushibo is constantly talking about how much his lot in life sucks. He's never as good a swordsman as he wanted, he gets married and has a kid and it bores the crap out of him, he joins the Demon Slayers, but doesn't do as well as he thought. Every time he gets something, not matter what it is, it's NEVER enough. He's never satisfied and is always looking at what others have. Always wanting more.

Meanwhile, you've got Yoriichi, who has basically had a rougher version of the same life: born into the same home, but cast out, lived a simple life farming rice with the woman he loved, before losing her and joining the Demon Slayer Corps, because when his simple life with his wife and child was denied to him, he wanted to make sure that didn't happen to anyone else. He didn't join the Corps to kill, he didn't join it for glory. He joined because he saw that the other Slayers didn't use Breather techniques like him, and he wanted to make sure that they could fight demons as efficiently as possible, to make sure no one else had to suffer like he did.

One brother would never be satisfied, because nothing was ever enough. One brother was content to live a simple life with his family, because he knew he had all he'd ever need.

And that's why one brother became a demon, and the other became a hero. Super cheesy line, I know. But you've got to admit it's accurate.

Okay, Tanjiro is dead. Series is over. Everyone go home!

Overall, Volume 21 was... all right. Not a mind-blowingly brilliant volume, but not the worst this series has ever given us. The fight against Muzan was utterly savage, and he's really showing us why he's the final boss of the series. But, this is clearly the start of what is going to be a long and (hopefully) epic fight, so the opening salvo is never particularly interesting. We got some great art, some really impressive splash pages and Muzan's final form is suitably body-horror... but it does all feel a little rushed. Seeing Tamayo get taken out so easily, after not really being present for about 20 volumes was an interesting choice, BUT I'm hoping that much like Shinobu, her effect on this fight will be felt long after she's left it.


Then, as I mentioned above, it was very interesting to see a little more backstory for Yoriichi. Seeing him utterly ruin Muzan's day really hammers home just how impressive his skills were, and highlights just how huge a task the Corps currently faces in trying to take him down. It also nicely set in place some breadcrumbs for the 13 Hinokami Kagura form, which I'm sure will be revealed at the most dramatic possible moment. It was also good to see Nezuko, albeit briefly, as I was starting to think writer/artist Gotouge had forgotten there are TWO Kamado siblings! I'm guessing she'll have a vital role to play in the next volume...

If you want to see how vital that role turns out to be, then come back next time for the penultimate volume! Demon Slayer Volume 22: The Wheel Of Fate, collecting Chapters 188-196. After centuries of preparation and training, the Demon Slayer Corps has come face-to-face with their nemesis, Muzan Kibutsuji. It is a desperate battle and several Demon Slayers have already been killed. Tanjiro himself has engaged Muzan, and, despite giving it everything he has, is taken out of the fight! Although severely injured and near death, he sees a vision of his ancestor that may hold the key to finally destroying Muzan! Can Tanjiro recover enough strength to fight Muzan to the finish?

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!

She smacked him so hard, she knocked the ink off the panel!


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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