Demon Slayer Volume 6: The Demon Slayer Corps Gathers.
Collecting Chapters #44-52.
Story and art by Koyoharu Gotouge.
Last time, Tanjiro and friends finally managed to defeat the super creepy spider demons of Mount Natagumo, with a little help from two of the Hashira! One super cool, and one even creepier than the spiders... However, despite their assistance, and Tanjiro using some secret family breathing techniques, there were still plenty of injuries, all around. So this week, Tanjiro finally gets a chance to actually rest and recover. And maybe a little bit has to face trial for his actions... Just a bit.
Chapter 44: Against Corps Rules. Shinobu, the Bug Hashira, is hopping mad! For the second time, a volume begins with someone trying to kill Nezuko. Sadly, this time it's not some silly man in a boar hat, it's one of the finest swordfighters in the Demon Slayer Corps. Gulp...
Chapter 45: Trial By Hashira. We finally get to meet the rest of the team! We're introduced to all nine members of the Hashira, the Demon Slayers ranked highest in the corps, for their swordsmanship. Also, apparently, for their quirky personalities.
Chapter 46: Master Of The Mansion. The leader of the Demon Slayers finally shows his face. He tries to convince his Hashira to leave Nezuko alone, but it seems some of the more volatile amongst them need to see some real proof!
Chapter 47: HMPH! Nezuko is put to the test. And Kagaya Ubuyashiki, the head of the Demon Slayers, shows there's more to him and meets the eye...
Chapter 48: Butterfly Mansion. A lot of mansions, this volume. Tanjiro and Nezuko are dismissed, while the Hashira have their meeting. Tanjiro is sent to Butterfly Mansion, Shinobu's home, to recover and catch up with old friends.
Chapter 49: Rehabilitation Training, Part 1. Zenitsu is surprised and upset when his friends hold about, about their training. Tanjiro and Inosuke are just upset that they suck at it.
Chapter 50: Rehabilitation Training, Part 2. Tanjiro discovers the secret to his teacher's success, and tries to unlock some new skills for himself. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
Chapter 51: The Nichirin Sword Returns. Training continues and soon all three of the Newbie Slayers are starting to improve. Then, the day they've all been waiting for arrives, as Tanjiro and Inosuke get their new swords. Meanwhile, the Lower Kizuki finally gather, as Muzan's plans begin!
Chapter 52: Cruel and Heartless. We're given a little insight into the team dynamics and the 12 Kizuki. Then, Muzan Kibutsuji expresses his dismay at the poor performance of the Lower Kizuki.
Phew, that was some much needed downtime, for the gang! After five volumes of near constant action, it was good to have a small break. A chance to get some lore filled in, meet some new characters, and start to understand the world a little more. And then, just to remind us all that this IS still a Shonen battle manga, we had some of Gotouge's signature body horror to end the volume! As Muzan Kibutsuji showed up with a new look, but the same terrible attitude.
So! After all the name-drops and brief appearances, we finally get to meet the much hyped up Hashira! They're... quite a bunch. I'm pretty sure I've said this before, and I know for a fact I'm going to say it again, but: I'm a huge fan of unique and interesting character designs. And I've got to say, Gotouge is getting damn close to pantheon tier with their work so far.
I mean... look at those oddballs. That dude on the far right has two swords, connected by freaking chains! Nunchuck Katana. That is BAD ASS. And he's the "Sound Hashira"... I swear, if that dude starts breakdancing, while spinning his katana around, I'm going to lose my mind.
I've always said, when the "elite" of the series are introduced, if your first thought isn't "Wow, that person looks AWESOME, I wonder what they fight like?" then the design has failed. If you're not instantly invested in these characters, and waiting on bated breath to see them thrown down, then something, somewhere, has gone very wrong.
And, going by that metric, these designs are an unmitigated success. From the first moment I saw them, I wanted to see more. Then, when you're introduced to each of them, and given their titles... that just made me more interested!
I mean that, see that big guy? With the not-at-all-worrying veins on his arms? He's Gyomei Himejima, The Stone Hashira. He doesn't seem to have a sword, but damn those forearms... Is he going to punch people? I kinda want him to punch people. But, then he starts to speak and you realise he's fairly emotional. He cries. A LOT. So is he maybe a pacifist? Or, is he one of the scary guys that murders people, and then says he's sorry and feels really bad about it? I can't wait to find out!
And what about that little one, in front of him? That's Muichiro Tokito, The Mist Hashira. Seems to be a TOTAL space cadet, keeps getting distracted while all hell is breaking loose around him. BUT, he's 14 and already a Hashira... So you just know he's going to be an absolute beast. Maybe he'll join the ranks of Kuchiki Byakuya and Kirsch Vermillion, and fight with a big cloud of Mist that he can control. Although, that's probably a little too... magical, for this series.
And then there's that chick on the right, Mitsuri Kanroji, The Love Hashira. Nope. Just nope. You KNOW she's going to be a psychopath. She talks about stuff being cute way too much not to be a bloodthirsty monster.
I could go on for days, theorising about these new characters, based purely on the short amount of page time they got... but I'll hold back for now. The point I'm trying to make, in my usually rambling, easily distracted way is that I really like the character designs in this series so far. If you can nail your designs, and make sure that readers are instantly intrigued, you've already won the battle, as far as I'm concerned.
Speaking of 'instantly intrigued', take a look at this creepy dude. This is Kagaya Ubuyashiki, the leader of the Demon Slayer Corps. I've been saying since his first ever so brief appearance that this guy gave me the wrong vibes, and nothing I saw today in his 'full' introduction has convinced me that initial impression is incorrect. That said.... Ooooooh I love him. LOVE him. Such a creepy bastard; he has that real "Messing with me would be a HUGE mistake" vibe. Like, he's not physically intimidating, and I don't think that's a front, but he just has this aura that even if he can't hurt you physically, he can and will destroy you in other ways. Ways you're not prepared for. Ways you CAN'T prepare for.
I'm really starting to think Tanjiro is going to have to fight him, at some point. And it's going to make the puppet battle with Spider Lady before seem tame, in comparison. Because your boy has POWERS.
Yup, while he may not have the muscles to do it, this dude's voice can move mountains. Trust me, big burly no brain types are dangerous in the short term, on a small scale. But people who can convince large crowds to do what they want? People with the power to sway nations, without leaving their seat?
One look at a history book is all it takes, to tell us that those are the kinds of people that cause GLOBAL problems, should they choose to. I googled 1/f fluctuation, to see if it was a real thing, and what it meant. I found a large number of articles explaining it, but honestly the more read the more confused I got. If I understood science I'd be off breaking bad somewhere...
The point is: this is the second time this series that a new ability has been introduced (the other being total concentration breathing), that has actual scientific basis for the way it works. It's really cool to see Gotouge continuing to keep the Demon Slayers abilities relatively grounded. For me, it makes the series far more enjoyable to see heroes that feel like you could meet them in real life, fighting such epic and powerful villains, and finding a way to overcome them.
Of course, there's still every chance that once the Hashira cut loose, that whole thing goes out the window. But we'll deal with that when it happens! For now, I'm enjoying the grounded skills.
But of course, it wasn't all training montages and fun games of Tag. Just when everyone was feeling nice and calm, Muzan Kibutsuji showed up, in his female aspect, to give us a lesson in the Kizuki, and scare the crap out of everyone with his Tetsuo Shima impression.
It would seem, that the Twelve Kizuki are split into two tiers. The Upper Kizuki and the Lower Kizuki. You remember Mui? That creep spider demon from last time? you know the one: he kicked the stuffing out of Tanjiro and all his friends, and required a Hashira to put down?
Yeah, he was Lower Kizuki. Not only that, he was Lower-5. AKA, the second weakest Kizuki. It seems the Lower Kizuki are all fairly weak, to the point that Muzan spends a whole chapter debating if he even NEEDS them, and then proves himself right by brutally murdering all but one of the remaining Lower Kizuki, before turbocharging the survivor and sending him after Tanjiro. So, yeah. Tanjiro just might be in trouble, because even if he DOES beat this guy, the gap between the Lower Kizuki and the Upper Kizuki is apparently pretty huge.
And I can't lie. Given what we've already seen, and given how Gotouge's character designs have been, so far... I can only guess what absolute HORRORS they have in store, once the Upper Kizuki join the fight.
Oh man, I can't wait.
Overall, Volume 6 was a welcome breath of fresh air. After the nonstop action and light lore so far, it's been great to have a volume with a more sedate pace, and a real focus on building out the world. Concepts are introduced, and then almost immediately explained. It's awesome. We also go to meet some really interesting new characters, who I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of. Gotouge's art continues to impress, delivering interesting character designs and some beautiful scenery, alongside the now almost trademark HORRIFIC demon attacks, and a good dose of gore. Just to keep you on your toes! Put all of this together and you get a very fun, relatively peaceful chapter, but I can't help but think of a fairly famous phrase: The Calm Before The Storm...
If you want to be here when the storm breaks, come back next time for Demon Slayer Volume 7: Trading Blows At Close Quarters! Collecting Chapters 53-61. While under the care of the Demon Slayer Corps, Hashira, Shinobu, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, Inosuke, and Nezuko have recovered. They have even learned a new and powerful technique—Total Concentration! They’ll need this new power and all their skill on their next demon-hunting mission aboard the mysterious Infinity Train, as it takes them into the dreams of demons!
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!