When it comes to both supernatural and action comics, few series stack up next to Koyoharu Gotouge’s Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. I’ve been charmed ever since reading the first volume about a month ago, and I’m now caught up and ready to tackle the series’s latest release: Vol. 7. In it, Tanjiro and his allies board a train they don’t realize is a hub of demon activity. Specifically, the sleep demon Enmu ups the ante with both grave physical danger and deep emotional drama. How successfully does Gotouge incorporate these various conflicts? Is Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol. 7 good?
This volume gets off to a bit of a slow start. The first couple chapters feel a bit awkwardly paced, with characters’ conversations needing a tad more room to breathe. Gotouge essentially moves the heroes from point A to point B as quickly as possible. The art here is also a little rougher than usual, with small details lacking their usual finesse. With that said these chapters aren’t outright bad. There’s plenty of humor– especially from Inosuke, who’s one of my new favorite characters in manga.
Slightly rushed though it may be, the manga’s quick transition has an advantage: the train ride arc is awesome, and the pacing improves considerably as soon as the protagonists set foot on board. They find themselves up against Enmu, a demon who lures his opponents into sleep states where they’re defenseless against his lackeys’ attacks. They should be, anyway– this being a shonen manga, having a strong will goes a long way in terms of shaking off the trance.
The dream sequences– and the heroes’ struggles to escape from them– are this volume’s biggest highlights. Tanjiro gets transported to a version of his life where his family never died, and while this type of illusion is common in fiction, Gotouge executes it in a way that doesn’t feel too played out. The emotional stakes are actually there, thanks largely to how expressive all Tanjiro’s faces of both happiness and anguish are. Even cooler are the visual representations of his unconscious mind, which is beautiful and matches his compassionate spirit perfectly. These scenes also add a surprising amount of depth to one of Enmu’s minions, and the brief bond forged between him and Tanjiro is quite poignant. This is a series that really excels at Unbeatable Squirrel Girl-style “Let’s be friends” conflict resolution.
Of course there’s also a lot of action here, and it’s awesome. The train setting is a perfect stage for combat on multiple levels. The interior cars are great for showing what the characters can do in cramped spaces where it would be easy to get overwhelmed. The presence of hundreds of innocent bystanders also limits the heroes’ options a bit. Not only that, but the division of demons across multiple train cars provides a plausible explanation for why the protagonists are mostly fighting solo instead of forming one large group. Of course, this is Demon Slayer, so Gotouge also incorporates some great body horror. Without spoiling anything I’ll just say that the creative use of gore continues to entertain.
All in all Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol. 7 is a very enjoyable read. It gets off to a bit of a slow start but it doesn’t take long before Gotouge stars firing on all cylinders. The body horror, action, and moments of compassion all deliver the sort of unique thrill ride I’ve come to expect from this manga.