Story/Art: Koyoharu Gotouge
What They Say
Legend has it, a flesh-eating demon hunts in the woods at night. But it’s only a myth. Right?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Shonen Jump is digging into a new Jump Start series with the first of three chapters of Kimetsu no Yaiba from Koyoharu Gotouge, which translates to Blade of Demon Destruction. Gotouge has had a few one-shots in Shonen Jump in Japan before but this is the first to get a fuller attempt at something longer running. It certainly starts off well as we get a standard opening color page and a great two-page color spread that showcases the two main characters that we get to work with, giving us a real feel for the art style. Part of me feels like it’s working off of a rougher version of mid 80’s Rumiko Takahashi when she wasn’t focusing on the simple gag comedy material but some of the more detailed pieces.
The book takes place in older times where we’re introduced to Tanjiro, a young man who is now the head of the family in a mountain village after his father had died. With several brothers and sisters and his mother to take care, Tanjiro comes across well as the hard working and honest type that does what must be done, which means traveling down the mountain to sell charcoal in the deep of winter and even trying to make his way back as it gets dark in order to be there for the family. Through his journey we get to touch on some of the residents of the village as well as Tanjiro’s skills in figuring out things but also just that he’s generally well thought of. What we do get when he stays in the village down the mountain overnight, however, is tales of what this village has been facing in some sort of demon that’s been causing trouble in the woods at night.
Suffice to say, things are bleak when he does return home as he finds everyone has been slaughtered and only his sister Nezuko is barely alive. This starts him on the path to carrying her down the mountain to get help only to run into Tomioka Guy, a demon slaying swordsman of the serious vein. The book spends the majority of its time in these first fifty-odd pages working through the dialogue, tension, and various fight aspects as Tanjiro does his best to protect his sister – who is trying to kill him as well since she is possessed by a demon. This is the conflicting area for the characters as Tanjiro believes that she hasn’t killed anyone and can be made better while Tomioka “knows better” and is intent on killing her. That Nezuko seems to defend Tanjiro later in the fight is surprising and opens up the potential for something a little different, but it’s hard to say at this point.
The problem with this opening chapter is that it’s just too long and there’s too much said while being shown. It’s overly wordy when just the action would suffice, especially since it’s a combination of talking about what’s happening and Tanjiro’s own views on what’s going on with his sister and Tomioka. The concept behind all of it is solid enough, but by the halfway mark and then more so when Tomioka and Tanjiro really start talking I found myself becoming more and more bored by it. It’s just so strung out and decompressed when it could have used some real tightening up. I do like the artwork as it has a really rough feeling about it that comes across as appropriate, but some elements just felt off, such as Tomioka’s first “masked” appearance and some of the more blunt aspects such as a forced close-up of his sword handle and saying as opposed to a more natural expression of it. It’s definitely a work-in-progress series.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media via Weekly Shonen Jump from ComiXology
Release Date: February 15th, 2016