Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Vol. 16 Sets Up the Manga's Final Arc
Erik Kozura
kimetsu no yaiba
kimetsu no yaiba
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol. 16, by Koyoharu Gotouge, available in print from Viz Media on September 1st.
The latest translated manga volume of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no YaibaVolume 16, which collects Chapters 134-142, features Tanjiro and the rest of the Demon Slayer Corp preparing for the final battle against Muzan Kibutsuji. As the grueling Hashira training nears its conclusion, a meeting between Kagaya Ubuyashiki, the leader of the Demon Slayers, and Muzan kicks off the series most significant confrontation yet.
The collection opens with Tanjiro, Inosuke and Zenitsu undergoing Gyomei Himejima's intense training regime, which looks to test their strength. The Stone Hashira stays true to his name, with the final challenge requiring them to move an incredibly large boulder. Though Tanjiro struggles with the task for days, he eventually runs into Genya Shinazugawa, who introduces him to the concept of Repetitive Motion. The technique opens all your senses, heightening concentration to the extreme, and helps Tanjiro finally succeed at moving the boulder.
Himejima praises Tanjiro for completing the training, which leads to a revealing conversation between the two where the Stone Hashira opens up about his past. Before joining the Demon Slayers, Himejima raised a group of young orphans at a temple who, barring one, were all killed one night by a demon. Though the blind Himejima ultimately beats the demon to death with his bare hands, he is profoundly affected by the loss. It's made all the more heartbreaking when he is imprisoned and blamed for the children's deaths.
Saya, the surviving orphan, in her horror and confusion, inadvertently blames Himejima for the deaths, saying, "That man is a monster! He killed everyone!" Since the demon's body had turned to dust, Himejima looked like the obvious suspect and was convicted of murdering the children he'd tried to protect. While Saya's accusation was accidental, it still left Himejima deeply distrusting, even after Ubuyashiki has him released from prison.
With his training complete, Tanjiro tries talking to Zenitsu, whose demeanor and attitude completely changed after receiving a mysterious letter. Zenitsu is well known for his ceaseless complaining and animated sadness over the arduous training. However, he suddenly becomes wholly focused on "what he must do," and urges Tanjiro to do the same. The complete tone shift is a clear sign that whatever Zenitsu learned from that letter has affected him to a high degree. Reluctantly, Tanjiro leaves Zenitsu to his training and meets up with Giyu Tomioka, the Water Hashira.
Ever since Nezuko gained the ability to survive in the sun, Muzan and his army of demons have vanished. This calm before the storm exists only for each side to prepare for the impending climax of the series. While the Demon Slayers have all been training, Muzan and Nakime, the mysterious Biwa demon, have secretly identified the location of 60% of the Demon Slayer Corps. Since the King of Demons still can't track down Nezuko, he makes his way to Ubuyashiki's mansion.
The bedridden Ubuyashiki expectantly welcomes Muzan for the pair's first meeting. Immediately, Muzan finds it strange that he feels no hatred towards Ubuyashiki, likely due to the Demon Slayer leaders naturally soothing presence. Ubuyashiki even reveals that the two come from the same bloodline, citing Muzan's status as the progenitor of Demons as the cause for the children of the Ubuyashiki family being born weak and not living past 30 years old. To make amends for someone of their lineage becoming a Demon, the Ubuyashiki's have committed their lives to killing Muzan in hopes of reversing their curse.
While discussing Muzan's dream of eternal life, Ubuyashiki calmly tells the King of Demon's he won't achieve his goal. The two argue over what eternity is, with Ubuyashiki claiming that "Eternity is human feeling. Only human feelings last forever and are undying." Muzan argues that in his thousand years of life, and countless murders, he has yet to be punished, thus finding validity in his "ultimate" existence. However, Ubuyashiki points to the mounting terror caused by all the death Muzan and his demons have created. The persistence of the Demon Slayer Corp to achieve their shared goal of defeating Muzan is a testament to the undying human feelings of the centuries of victims left in his demonic wake.
As Muzan advances towards the bedridden Ubuyashiki, the Demon Slayer Corps leader reveals that he knows that if Muzan dies, then so will the rest of the demons. Ubuyashiki speaks about his own death and how it won't be important but reiterates that it won't be insignificant either. He knows that the degree to which he has ingratiated himself with the Demon Slayers, and the Hashira, in particular, mean that his death will only bolster their determination. Ubuyashiki thanks Muzan for listening longer than he'd expected as the King of Demons prepares to kill him.
Tanjiro and all of the Hashira race towards Ubuyashiki's mansion as soon as they learn it's been invaded. Sanemi Shinaguzawa, the Wind Hashira, is the first to arrive as he witnesses the estate explode. Muzan stands in the explosion, which killed Ubuyashiki, Amane and two of their children, and as his body starts regenerating. He comments on how expertly Ubuyashiki hid his animosity and praises him for the willingness to use himself, and his family, as bait.
As the rest of the Hashira arrive, Himejima flashes back to a conversation he had with Ubuyashiki, where he tells the Stone Hashira of his sacrificial plan. In addition to the Ubuyashiki clan's soothing voices, they have precognitive abilities, which is why Ubuyashiki was expecting Muzan in the coming days. Back at the burning mansion, Muzan's head regenerates after being smashed off by Himejima, confirming that Muzan can only die from sunlight.
Before Muzan has the chance to regenerate fully, Tamayo, the demon doctor aligned with the Demon Slayers, injects him with a concoction she claims will turn him back into a human. Though the effects aren't immediate or confirmed, Tamayo does successfully slow Muzan's recovery as she restrains him. The King of Demons taunts the attacking Tanjiro and Hashira for believing they have him cornered as Nakime suddenly transports everyone into the Infinity Castle, Muzan's lair.
As Tanjiro and the Hashira battle, their way through hordes of demons, the death of their leader still spurning them on, Shinobu Kocho -- the Insect Hashira -- has a fated encounter with the Doma, the Upper Rank 2 demon. Shinobu reflects on the conversation she had with her dying sister Kanae, the late Flower Hashira, where she describes her killer. Shinobu quickly realizes that Doma is the demon responsible for the death of her sister and vows vengeance.
Shinobu and Doma clash, with the Insect Hashira using her signature poisons to try and kill the demon. Sheathing her sword allows for the compounds within her poisons to change, granting her a wide variety to test out on Doma. While the Upper Rank 2 Demon compliments Shinobu's impressive speed, his "Blood Demon Art: Frozen Lotus" makes it difficult for her to breathe, and he lands a lethal blow on the Hashira. She staggers to her feet, with a vision of her sister urging Shinobu to keep fighting.
The Demon Slayer volume ends with Shinobu plunging her sword into Doma's chest. With the series' final arc just underway, there's undoubtedly plenty of demon-slaying action to come, and an unwanted amount of heartbreak as the popular Weekly Shonen Jump manga releases the remaining volumes.