WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol. 23, by Koyoharu Gotouge, now available in English on VIZ Media.
The US edition of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Volume 23 – the latest installment in the popular series – is packed with bonus material. In volume 23, chapters 204 and 205, the penultimate and the last, contain many additional pages of material that were not included in their original editions. Among the new content, the poignant and necessary lightness of Tanjiro and the gang after Muzan’s defeat stands out.
In the original publication of chapter 204, once Tanjiro has recovered from his injuries, he, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke return to the Kamado family home, where the chapter quickly ends. After the lengthy and intense drama of the final showdown with Muzan, the series didn’t have much time for substantial interactions between the main group characters, something that the bonus material in Volume 23 addresses excellently.
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In the extended version of chapter 204, the manga can take its time with its main characters, allowing them one last scene together in their makeshift family. The group re-enters the Kamado family home, where Zenitsu and Tanjiro are surprised to see that it has been thoroughly cleaned. A note left behind indicates that Uncle Saburo and some neighbors kept it clean for the children. This new material also allows the series to expand on the budding personality of Nezuko, who has just regained her humanity and is still finding herself.
In a final scene of Inosuke’s delightful antics, Inosuke notices claw marks on the wall, which Tanjiro says are marks that measure his family’s height. Inosuke demands that they measure his height as well, yelling that he will surpass them all. This scene also sets up a change in group dynamics now that Nezuko is human again. Putting on a handkerchief, much to Zenitsu’s delight, he declares that they should start cleaning immediately. After Inosuke throws a tantrum because he wants his height to be recorded now, Nezuko goes into older sister mode and agrees, asking her to stay put, to which Zenitsu comments that the Kamado brothers are too soft on Inosuke.
This lovely new scene is the best of Demon Slayeras it relies on nothing more than his compelling and entertaining relationships with the characters. It even goes further by giving an indication of what kind of person Nezuko is, considering that audiences didn’t get to spend a lot of time with her as a human in the original post. It turns out that she is very much like her brother, serious and caring beyond the capacity of kindness of a normal person, especially when dealing with a screaming boy with the head of a boar.
In another fan service move – in a good way – the series takes a look at characters like Kanao, Aoi, Sanemi, Giyu, the Ubuyashiki family, Rengoku’s family, and others during an inner Tanjiro monologue. As he wishes all his friends and comrades a full and happy life and the chance to smile without fear, the remaining characters who survived the final battle with Muzan are seen moving on with their lives, all of them certainly with smiles on their faces.
The original publication of chapter 205, the last one, did not include the main cast at all, but instead focused on their descendants in the distant future. Although it was interesting from a thematic point of view, since Rengoku’s dying wish was for Tanjiro to look to the future, it was still a bummer not to see Tanjiro and company one last time. Volume 23 also remedies it, with a kind of panel assembly that allows us to know the life of the main cast of Demon Slayer in the time between the end of chapter 204 and the timeskip of chapter 205.
This new section of the manga takes place after the original conclusion of chapter 205 and features various characters falling in love, explaining the precise lineage of the descendants introduced by chapter 205. It also offers another glimpse into the happy domestic life of Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu. and Inosuke. Individual panels of mundane activities, such as Inosuke violently chopping firewood, Zenitsu brawling a snowman, the group eating huge watermelons for lunch, and even just napping in a field of flowers, give the reader a better idea of the peace our heroes achieved with their victory over Muzan and the eradication of Demonkind.
In the name of pacing, the type of content that has been added to volume 23 is a logical thing that has been left out of the original publication. It doesn’t advance the story to a degree that deserves the precious space at the end of a series. However, little moments like this are important to fans. Nobody likes to see the end of their favorite stories, so every extra second with these characters is worth it from the fans’ perspective. The fact that volume 23 includes this type of material is a moving gesture from the creators, a recognition to the fan base that shows that even a little goes a long way.