Demon Slayer Volume 8: The Strength Of The Hashira.
Collecting Chapters #62-70.
Story and art by Koyoharu Gotouge.
Last time around, Tanjiro took a ride on a demon train, because he can't do anything without it turning into some kind of adventure. Along the way, he met Kyojuro Rengoku, the Flame Hashira. Sadly, Rengoku didn't have much to say on the subject of the Hinokami Kagura, but had a LOT to say on the subject of being awesome. Then they all got dragged into their dreams, which turned into nightmares, which turned into fighting a freakin' demon train. The volume ended on something of a cliffhanger, so let's dive right in and see how it goes! I'm sure it'll be a nice happy volume...
Chapter 62: Ending In A Dream. Tanjiro struck true! Last chapter ended with him cutting the train's head off, and it seems it worked. The demon train has been slain, and now all their troubles are over for good... right?
Chapter 63: Akaza. A totally safe and nice chapter, where nothing horrible happens and we absolutely are NOT introduced to Akaza, the Upper 3rd Kizuki. This Kizuki, that we haven't met, does not engage in a life or death duel with Rengoku.
Chapter 64: The Strength of the Hashira. While Inosuke and Tanjiro watch from the sidelines, Akaza and Rengoku have a polite discussion, on the true nature of strength.
Chapter 65: Whose Victory? Tanjiro tries to help, but doesn't really do a huge amount. He does, however, make some strong points in the ongoing debate, regarding the nature of victory.
Chapter 67: Scattering Into Dawn. Rengoku gives Tanjiro a few tips, on where he should look for information on the Hinokami Kagura, and asks Tanjiro to pass on a couple of messages, for him.
Chapter 67: Looking For Something. Akaza has a report for Kibutsuji, and we find out a little more about his motivations. Muzan seems a little underwhelmed by it all though. Meanwhile, Tanjiro pays a visit to the Rengoku House.
Chapter 68: Wielder. Rengoku's dad is kind of a dick. A bunch of other stuff happens, a few parts of it are quite important. But the main takeaway from this chapter is that Rengoku's dad is kind of a dick.
Chapter 69: Move Forward - Even If It's Just A Little. Tanjiro's efforts to research the Hinokami Kagura reach an unsatisfying conclusion, but he'll keep pushing forward. Because he's Tanjiro, that's kind of his whole thing.
Chapter 70: Kidnapper. Ooooh, time skip! Four months have passed since Chapter 69. Tanjiro and friends have spent that time recovering and training. But now, another Hashira needs assistance on their next mission, and they're not ASKING for help...
So, that's the volume... Anyone else got something in their eye? I think I just need to wipe my eyes a little. Because of the dust. From... my iPad. Dust. Yes. That's all.
A rather emotional end, to what was a really cool arc. Packed with great action and some solid development, the Mugen Train was certainly a journey that Tanjiro and friends won't soon forget. And neither will we!
So, we finally got to see a Hashira unleash their full power AND go against an Upper Kizuki. That was pretty cool. I'm a LITTLE sad that my prediction turned out to be accurate, and the upper ranks of the Hashira have powers that are definitely supernatural in nature, and that Tanjiro will almost certainly be learning them by the end of the series. Already he's been able to stop himself bleeding out by controlling his breathing, and Rengoku going full out was doing some serious things with his Flame Breathing!
It's the balance we all know this series was going to have to tread. So far, Gotouge has kept the Corps abilities jjuussttt on the right side of scientific accuracy, to allow them to do some cool things, while also remaining more of less believable... But now we're starting to see the higher ranks fight. It was easy to keep things simple when it was noobies like Tanjiro et al fighting lower ranked Kizuki. When things got a little TOO hairy, you'd maybe get Nezuko to pop out of her crate and do some low level demon nonsense.
But now, we're seeing Hashira fighting, so it's harder to show just how huge the skill gap is between them and Tanjiro, without relying on old anime favourites like "My sword swings can conjure animals made of *Insert element here*". I mean, I think we all knew this would happen eventually. There was no way that Tanjiro would be able to defeat Muzan without using some kind of haxx... but I was hoping that things would stay a little more realistic, for a little longer.
I blame Buffy, and the old Hammer horror movies. I just love the idea of "ordinary" humans, overcoming crazy monsters by being AWESOME, not necessarily magical. And speaking of being more awesome than we'd previously thought:
Turns out, the reason that none of the Flame Hashira knew about the Hinokami Kagura is because... it's NOT Flame Breathing. YUP, it's not just his all powerful sniffer that makes Tanjiro special, he's actually the heir to a super special style of Total Concentration Breathing: Sun Breathing!
What's so special about Sun Breathing? I hear you ask. Easy: It's the OG. The One And Only. Sun Breathing is THE Breathing style, from which all others are simply offshoots. Which goes a way to explaining how Tanjiro was able to use Water Breathing and switch to effortlessly to Hinokami Kagura. It's basically just shifting from one facet of Sun Breathing to another.
Which, given all I know of Manga lore, leads me to believe that the next few arcs are going to consist of Tanjiro going on missions with a few of the other Hashira, learning from them, maybe picking up a few breathing techniques and by doing that, slowly he'll start to unlock the full power of his Sun Breathing heritage.
But that also leads me off on a different wild tangent. Because Papa Rengoku knew that Tanjiro was a Sun Breather the moment he saw him, all he needed was one glance at those Hanafuda earrings!
Yup, the mystery of the earrings deepens once more. The question now, is: DOES Kibutsuji want Tanjiro dead because of some deep grudge with his family, based on Kamado-daddy wrecking him when they last met OR, are those earrings the badge of a Sun Breathing specialist, and old Kibutsuji knows that Sun Breathing is his main weakness?
I mean, given how all the breathing styles we've seen so far seem to be able to summon up the element that they're aligned to, and given how one of the most surefire ways to kill ANY demon is to expose them to sunlight, having a sword style that is based around summoning the powers of the sun seems like it might be pretty handy to have around.
Which leads me to wonder: If this ability is so powerful, why do the Demon Slayer Corps not use it? Why do they not have ALL the Hashira focus on that style, if it's the original Breathing technique?
And why do I think it's old Mr Magic Voice's fault?
Speaking of our friend Kibutsuji, he's back again with another new look! This time, he's a creepy kid. Because he's the worst. It seems he's got some plan brewing, in addition to his "Murder Tanjiro as quickly as possible" plan. We don't know much about it, right now, but we DO know it involves tracking down a super rare flower. Which tells us... basically nothing.
But it IS a good reason for the Upper Kizuki to be out of the picture right now. If this McGuffin is really THAT important to him, it makes sense for him to have his most reliable minions hunting it down. Can't wait to see what horrible nonsense he plans to unleash once he has it. Cursed Potpourri, maybe? He DOES seem to live with an old lady.
Which raises another question... We've not had three major appearances from Muzan. One where he was rocking the Smooth Criminal look, one where he was a Yukata clad foxy lady, and now once where he's a creepy kid.
When he was suited up, he had a wife and kid with him. Now, he's living with an old lady and is unable to leave him room...
Is it just me, or is Kubutsuji starting to feel like some kind of parasitic organism, rather than a single all-powerful demon.
Every time we see him, he's in a different design, because he doesn't HAVE a set form, he just jumps from host to host, stays in that body until it's exhausted, and them jumps to someone else. He's quite the mystery, is Mr Kibutsuji. I can't wait to get some actual information on him... If only because that will stop me from coming up with all these almost certainly incorrect theories!
The volume ends with a nice little hook for the next big arc. Tanjiro is press-ganged into working with another of the Hashira: Tengen Uzui, the Sound Hashira. Together, Tengen, Tanjiro Inosuke and Zenitsu are off to The Entertainment District! This should be... entertaining?
Overall, Volume 8 was a strong, emotional addition to the story. I wasn't totally sure how they were going to wrap up the Mugan Train arc, but I WASN'T expecting that. Even though we'd only just met him, and hadn't really had time to get to know him, I have to admit Rengoku's end had me a little choked up. It also really helped to set the stakes SKY HIGH for the series. Knowing that no one, not even the vaunted Hashira are safe really makes you realise just what an impossible task Tanjiro has ahead of him. Let's hope he can use all the tropes that are starting to work their way into the series to his benefit, and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat!
If you want to see if he can do it, join me next time for Demon Slayer Volume 9: Operation: Entertainment District! Collecting chapter 71-79. Tanjiro and his friends accompany the Hashira Tengen Uzui to an entertainment district where Tengen’s female ninja agents were gathering information on a demon before they suddenly disappeared. In order to investigate, Tanjiro and the others disguise themselves as women to sneak in! As they close in on their target, the demon reaches out for the courtesans of the district!
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.