Manga Reviews
Kimetsu no Yaiba by Gotouge Koyoharu
  • Review byJ.X. Fu
  • Oct 23, 2022
  • Chapters: 207/207
  • Status: Completed

Genres: Action, Fantasy, Shounen

"Swords, unexplained breathing styles, Sun dances, and of course, demons! Doesn't get more shounen than that."

I’ve both seen the anime (Up to Yuukaku-hen as of the time I’m writing this) and read the manga in its entirety. Before I ram my Truck-kun head into the details, let me establish a few opinions up front:

  • The anime production and quality absolutely tops the manga, but it’s not as much as some folks make it out to be. The manga is still great.
  • The quickened storyline is definitely visible, but it may not be as heavy of a flaw as you might think. There are many nuances involved.

With that being said, let me do my best to explain.

See my MAL Review.

Story Rating - 7/10

Let me break this down to what I liked and what I disliked. Let’s start with the former.

What I liked

The sad backstories and their connection to a character’s actions and motivations were brilliant. Be it a pillar or a demon, it seemed like everyone was getting a backstory, and everyone had some light shed upon them. Yet at the same time, readers were ensured that the four heroes of their beloved shonen manga - Tanjiro, Nezuko, Inosuke and Zenitsu - still got most of the spotlight.

The first half of the plot was also as epic as it was necessary - Tanjiro’s developmental stage and the introduction to the pillars were all what planted the seeds and made the story feel “authentic.”

What I disliked

Now for the poor feedback. A disappointing “sigh” to the storytelling that many pointed out is Gotouge’s “repetition” of backstories and the similarities involving thereof among each one. Backstories for both demons and slayers involving their loved ones being murdered before their very eyes felt common, or the act of torture/slavery. While I’m sure the effort was there to differentiate among every single one, my mind just couldn’t help but make this pattern.

Now, the 7 is still an okay rating - the storytelling for each individual character is what had me emotionally attached to the manga. The plot as a whole obviously has its weak spots as I’ve captured, but just being able to fully finish and conclude this manga with a fulfilling ending is an amazing achievement on its own, shadowed by the various flaws people point out. The final arc was still great - I just wished the “build up” to that said arc was more fleshed out. Also, that last time skip chapter? A plain piece of satire to say the least.

Art Rating - 8/10

Gotouge’s art is one of the most distinct styles I’ve seen in action manga. It feels quirky and whimsy, but still “cool” and detailed. One aspect I feel may fly under the radar is Gotouge’s ability to paint the details of countless fights and breathing styles (think Muzen’s final fight and how much work was put into that…). Some scenes were slightly more confusing than others, but their general ability to express humorous/comedic faces or effects on one page and then jump straight into “life or death” shounen-esque fights on the next is under-appreciated.

Characters Rating - 10/10

Ah, my favorite part of the manga, and I’m sure for many others as well. The antagonists were just as fleshed out as the protagonists, and some of their backstories truly did capture my heart. If there was a deadly demon who Gotouge truly did want me to hate, the demon’s personality and fighting style would do just that. Equally as true is if Gotouge wanted to pull a full 180 on me and make me like the demon that I just hated, they could and I would fall for it.

Yes, Tanjiro was great, Zenitsu was funny, Inosuke was compelling, and Nezuko screamed kawaii. But let’s not forget the vast cast laid upon us and the plethora of personalities, backstories, and fighting abilities introduced. Did Rengoku make us cry? Did Uzui’s harsh but caring nature make us forget that he had three wives? Did Gyomei’s blindness make him cooler? Heck, none of them were even my favorite pillar - it was Muichirou, because of his resolve and the love he had for his brother.

We don’t just stop there; raise your hand if you felt bad for Akaza or Gyuutarou. The antagonists were what made the manga truly shine and hide some of its plot-related flaws. Demons didn’t just act like your typical shounen “bad guy.” They weren’t painted in just black or white - they were filled with colors of reverie which made me almost shed a tear upon reading more about some of them. I’ll be honest - I cried as much for Akaza as I did for Rengoku.

Overall Enjoyment Rating - 8/10

Let’s top this all off by saying that I understand why some rated this manga poorly, and how its “underserved” flawless anime adaptations were the reasons why it even became a world beater in the industry.

I even know about how the manga ratings on MAL fell and rose like a rollercoaster when the anime was first airing. I remember reading abystoma2’s review back in May 2020 when the manga finished but they haven’t seen the anime adaptation: the manga leaped from a 7.46/10 rating back in 2017 from before the anime’s airing to a whopping 8.50 by the middle of it. It’s amazing what a brilliant anime adaptation can do for a manga’s rating.

But, Gotouge still pulled it together for a fulfilling finish, even despite the flaws. Because of how flawless I thought the characters’ writing was, I’m giving this an 8. It’s certainly a manga filled with a beloved cast, in which some have become worldly iconic to say the least.

Favorite Quote:

What’s the use of trying to preserve my life force, this late into the game? Nobody with half-assed resolve like that becomes a pillar. What an unbelievable insult. You’ve got my blood boiling.

I didn't even mention the head-scratching pillar rankings which seem to go on forever in r/KimetsuNoYaiba. Grab some popcorn; there's even a weekly power ranking thread :) Why can't every pillar just be appreciated equally? (anyways here's mine hehe):

  1. Like I said
  2. We should
  3. Acknowledge
  4. That every pillar
  5. Has their strenghts
  6. And weaknesses
  7. So we can't just
  8. Compare apples to oranges
  9. Sanemi
  10. Gyoumei

J.X. Fu

I'm a manga fanatic that reads many genres. I love writing, and have published two fiction novels: a YA Fantasy/Action titled "Darkness Me, Colorful You" and a RomCom light novel titled "Corruptions Are Best Exposed In The Autumn!"