Demon Slayer Volume 17: Successors.
Collecting Chapters #143-151.
Story and art by Koyoharu Gotouge.
Last time, things went crazy SO FREAKIN FAST. As a simple training exercise turned into a fight for their lives, when Muzan Kibutsuji arrived in Demon Slayer HQ. Sacrificing his life to weaken Muzan, Lord Kagaya bought the Corps a little time, but Muzan is a fierce foe, and even the intervention of Lady Tamayo may not be enough. Now, it's time for the fight to get serious, as The Insect Hashira attempt to take down the Upper 2 Kizuki. Let's see how this plays out.
Chapter 143: Wrath. Pocket-sized perpetual anger machine Shinobu continues her fight with terrible hat aficionado Doma, the Upper 2 Kizuki. But with him growing increasingly resistant to her poisons, and her strength too low to take his head, is the Hashira doomed?
Chapter 144: Successors. As the result of Shinobu's fight is broadcast to the other Demon Slayers, the contents of Zenitsu's letter is revealed, and he tries to claim a little vengeance of his own.
Chapter 145: Box Of Happiness. In my late 20s, a pizza place near me used to sell a huge box of mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, chicken nuggets, and fries for a super low price. Me and my friends called that "The Box of Happiness". Yes, we were very high at the time. Sadly, Kaigaku's box of happiness isn't as satisfying as that one.
Chapter 146: Pride. Zenitsu's duel with Kaigaku comes to its end, and the benefits of not being a tool to everyone all the time are finally revealed. Yushiro makes his grand return to the series to assist, right when it's needed most. He's not the only old character to return, though...
Chapter 147: Small Cogs. As Tanjiro and Giyu fight the powerhouse Akaza, Urokodaki looks after Nezuko and ponders Tanjiro's amazing growth. Akaza also seems impressed.
Chapter 148: Clashing. Giyu, Tanjiro, and Akaza square off. With Akaza's Demon Art activated, things are looking dangerous for the Slayers. But things get a little too excited, when Akaza tries to compliment Tanjiro.
Chapter 149: Disgust. Akaza tries to work out why he's so disgusted by Tanjiro. Tanjiro mostly just tries to stay alive. Meanwhile, a very important letter makes it's way to Tanjiro. Will he live long enough to read it, though?
Chapter 150: Noticing. Giyu manifest his markings, and the playing field evens a little. While Giyu and Akaza continue to battle, Tanjiro thinks back on an earlier conversation with Inosuke, and wonders if the secret to victory lies within.
Chapter 151: The Sound Of Bells On A Snowy Moonlit Night. Tanjiro's dad goes out one night, looking for a bear. Tanjiro goes along, and what he sees will stay with him forever.
Well, that was a real step up. I was worried they'd just throw some meaningless fights at us, and hope we were too distracted to notice the lack of plot. In the Industry, that's called "Catesing it". But actually, we got some solid character development, and some power growth that actually felt earned. Can't hate that! Hell, we even got some strong scenes from characters we hadn't really met before, and that's tough to pull off.
That was a REALLY good volume. I haven't enjoyed a volume this much in this series in quite a while...
First off, got to get the sad stuff out of the way. The Volume opens with Shinobu Vs Doma, the Upper 2 Kizuki. It's a pretty short, but brutal fight as Shinobu threw basically everything she had a him at the end of the last volume, and it just doesn't seem to stick. We got some interesting insights into her thought process, combined with the now traditional "Every Hashira has a depressing childhood" backstory.
She then gets eaten. Which is pretty gross, really. However, I can't shake the feeling that she's just snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. On the surface, she just got swallowed whole. Consumed by Doma's grossness.
But is that exactly what she wanted?
I mean, 'wanted' might be a strong word. Pretty sure no one wants to get eaten alive by a demon... but it was clear before this volume even began, that Shinobu was on the back foot. She knew that she just wasn't strong enough to take Doma down, and her poisons didn't seem to be working any more.
So, what if she'd worked out a different way to win? I mean, she's the Insect Hashira, Mistress of Poisons. What if she knew the only way to win, was to lose? This dick Doma killed her sister, she must have been studying him for a while; what if she knew about his abilities, and planned a worst case scenario counter? I'm not saying she went into that fighting wanting to lose, but we know she had a secret conversation with Kanao (who showed up just as the fight was ending), before this all kicked off. What if all of this was within the scope of her plans?
I'm thinking: Shinobu had infused her whole body with some kind of slow-release, but fast-acting poison. She knew that worst case scenario, Doma was going to absorb her... so why not spike her body with all manner of horrible potions, so that if that happened, Doma would be weakened to the point that he'd either just die outright, or if not, Kanao would be able to finish him off?
It's not the craziest plan. And it feels quite fitting, for her character. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Speaking of people doing awesome stuff:
After being out of commission for an arc or two, Zenitsu returned last volume, and spent most of the time complaining. Then, he got all mysterious and serious, and I figured very little would come of it. I'm very glad to have been so wrong.
It seems there's another new Kizuki in town. In addition to creepy cyclops lady from last week, we now also have Kaigaku, AKA, Zenitsu's old senior classman. It seems back when Zenitsu was studying Thunder Breathing, with the old Hashira, Kaigaku was training as well. And while Zenitsu could ONLY learn form one, Kaigaku could learn everything EXCEPT form one. This lead to the awesomely mustachioed Hashira deciding that both Zenitsu and Kaigaku should be his successors. This didn't go down too well, with Kaigaku.
I really enjoyed this showdown. Not only did we get a decent bit of backstory for both characters, but we got some real growth from the formerly incredibly annoying Zenitsu. I know people find his whole "Whiny punk while he's awake, Ultimate Badass while he's asleep" thing cool, but honestly, it always bugged me.
It was also getting BEYOND ridiculous, by this point. Some time around the Entertainment District arc, I just stopped buying into the premise. It was fine when he'd fall asleep, get off one strike, defeat his foe and then wake up none the wiser... but during their fight with Gyutaro, he was "Asleep" for about 3 volumes, fighting for his life, taking huge amounts of damage and coordinating with Inosuke. It got to the point where my suspension of disbelief just couldn't take it anymore.
So, thankfully, it seems that whatever was holding Zenitsu back is now gone! He's been fighting Kaigaku this whole time, totally awake, and aware of everything. And, what do you know, he's even managed to use a second technique!
And, even better, it's a technique that he's made himself! How cool is that? I've been saying since Sun Breathing was introduced, that I want Tanjiro to merge his styles, and create something all his own. He still hasn't done that, because he's lame, but Zenitsu took that idea and freakin ran with it.
I also really love the idea that Form One, the only form he knew, was the real core of the style. And even though he couldn't master any of the other forms, because he knew that one, and had truly mastered it, he was able to understand the essence of Thunder Breathing, and create a new Seventh Form, that was entirely his own. It was also freakin EPIC and allowed him to kill a Kizuki on his own. Admittedly, it WAS the new Kizuki that kinda only got the part because there was no one else. But still, it's pretty cool. Now that Zenitsu has shown his mettle, I'd like to see Inosuke get a chance to show off what Beast Breathing can really do, before the series comes to its end.
So, in the past, I have had a few. . . let's call them notes, about Tanjiro's magical ability to learn random new abilities, to help him win whatever fight he's currently in.
You would think, given how he's just pulled that exact move again, that I'd be kind of annoyed. But I'm not. So, Giyu and Tanjiro are up against Akaza, AKA that dick that killed Rengoku. It's not going amazingly well, because this guy is the Upper Three, and he's an absolute beast. However, Tanjiro is slowly but surely gaining the ability to read Fighting Auras or something, and it's allowing him to gradually be more useful, in the fight.
And I'm diggin' it. I can't lie.
Because it's not just a question of "AH, yes, I know how to win this because I do; shut up." He's not just randomly able to set his sword on fire because his sister has demon blood. They're actually taking the time to explain what he's doing, how he's doing it, and use stories from both near and distant past to explain how he's able to put those abilities to work.
Even then, it's not that he's really gaining a new ability. His senses have always been borderline superhuman, he's been smelling emotions and other nonsense since chapter one. This feels like a natural progression from that. It's also something that many master swordsmen have displayed an ability to do, in real life.
That's the difference, between a power-up that feels earned, and one that doesn't. This is Tanjiro, fighting for his life against an enemy that he REALLY wants to defeat, tapping into past experience, lessons he learned from friends and family, and his own natural abilities to hone those skills to a razor edge. That's what I came here for! That feels like natural progression and I'm 100% behind that.
Can't wait to see him put all these pieces together, and use them to get vengeance on that bastard Akaza. Stupid, cool, awesome fighting style Akaza. Why are the mean characters always so badass...
Overall, Volume 17 was a huge step up. Really great fights, some strong lore, good character development. I really can't ask for anything more. The only thing missing, which has been gone for a while if I'm honest, is some of Gotouge's signature body horror style art. This volume features a Hashira being slowly absorbed into a demon's body. I feel like they could have really gone all out with that. We also got a weird tumor thing, which seemed to be swallowing Tamayo, but honestly that's pretty tame by this series standards. Fingers crossed as the fights go on and get more desperate, the nasty stuff will dial up a bit.
I want to draw attention to how good the small character moments were, though. I covered the grander scenes above, but one of the parts that really made this volume great were the smaller scenes. I mentioned last time that losing Kagaya didn't really faze me, because I don't know enough about him to care, but seeing his kids pushing on in this volume, trying to keep everything going despite their grief. Seeing them nearly fall apart, but then get it together until the fight is over and his final mission is won... small moments like that really hit hard, because they're SO real. I think we can all relate to that moment, when you want to just collapse and let it all out, but you know you've got one last thing to do, before you let your feelings overwhelm you. Small scenes like that are what really make you feel for a character, so I'm glad we're getting a few slipped in, here and there. It makes the whole fight hit home a little harder, really shows you that there ARE stakes to this fight. Which is something that has felt slightly lacking, up to this point.
So, fingers crossed going forward, we'll get Tanjiro using his new, well earned, technique to get vengeance on Akaza, we'll get Inosuke being a boss, Kanao will see Shinobu's plans through, and we'll get a lot more of those smaller, more personal moments.
If you want to see how many of those actually happen, come back next time for Demon Slayer Volume 18: Assaulted By Memories. collecting chapters 152-160. The battle between Tanjiro, Giyu, and Akaza continues. To beat Akaza, Tanjiro must use an advanced technique his father taught him—the Transparent World—which will push him beyond his limitations. Elsewhere in the Infinity Castle, Shinobu, burning with hatred, confronts Doma, the demon who killed her family. Can she take on the powerful demon by herself?
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.