WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba #204, by Koyoharu Gotouge, John Werry and John Hunt, available now in English from Viz Media.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba centers around Tanjiro Kamado and his quest to return his sister Nezuko into a human. He also shares the goal of killing Muzan Kibutsuji with the entire Demon Slayer Corps, and the fights against Muzan and his Upper Moon forces are among the series’ best. With that in mind, let’s take a look and rank the manga/anime’s most significant battles.
Zenitsu and Kaigaku were both trained in Thunder Breathing by the former Roaring Hashira, Jigoro Kuwajima and were to become his joint successors. However, Kaigaku’s arrogance and frustration at being compared to Zenitsu, who he perceives as weak, push him to become a demon. The news of this causes Jigoro to commit seppuku because “the wielders of Thunder Breathing had produced a demon,” and both events bring a profound change within Zenitsu.
Inside the Dimensional Infinity Fortress, Kaigaku insults the deceased Jigoro, which angers Zenitsu, who mocks Kaigaku in return. Unlike his usual timid demeanor, Zenitsu is confident and determined throughout this fight as he uses speed and his newly created “Thunder Breathing Seventh Form: Honoikazuchi no Kami” to defeat his former friend. The battle ends with a touching moment in the afterlife where Zenitsu apologies to Jigoro, who lets him know he is proud of him before Zenitsu comes back to life.
This two-part fight against Doma begins with Shinobu Kocho, the Insect Hashira, who attacks using her various poisons in an attempt to kill the murderer of her sister, Kanae. Though she is ultimately defeated and absorbed by Doma, her sacrifice isn’t without cause. Kanao, who arrives just as her adoptive sister is killed, fights using her Breath of Flower forms, but Doma’s Blood Demon Art keeps her at bay until Inosuke joins in as well.
In addition to killing Shinobu and her sister, Doma reveals he killed Inosuke’s mother too, recognizing the resemblance in their eyes. Kanao and Inosuke’s desire for vengeance stems from their feelings of loss, which Doma can only pretend to have when in truth, he feels nothing. Doma is eventually defeated after the poison within Shinobu’s body takes effect, and Kanao and Inosuke cut off his head.
The clash itself is a wonderous flash of Kyojuro Rengoku’s Fire Breathing and Akaza’s Destructive Death techniques that highlights their strengths, but what makes this fight especially poignant is their differing ideals. Akaza recognizes that Rengoku is powerful and tries to convince him to turn into a demon instead of being killed. Still, the Flame Hashira refuses, saying, “Growing old and dying is what gives meaning and beauty to the fleeting span of human life.”
Though the fight ends with Rengoku’s death and Akaza escaping the rising sun, Tanjiro makes it a point to let the demon know that the victory belongs to the fallen Hashira. Rengoku dared to fight until the end, saving everyone regardless of the perceived weakness of humanity, while Akaza’s fear of the sun forced him to flee. Rengoku’s death and his final words profoundly affect Tanjiro, Inosuke and Zenitsu, and serve as a turning point for the young Demon Slayers.
The fight between Yoriichi and Muzan takes place hundreds of years earlier, but it’s one of the most impactful of the whole series as it sees the most powerful swordsman battle the progenitor of demons. Yoriichi uses his Sun Breathing forms and ability to see the “Transparent World,” a skill that allows him to observe opponents’ blood flow, muscles and joint movement, to cut down Muzan. However, Muzan splits his body into enough smaller pieces to safely make his escape.
Though Yoriichi and Muzan both survive their clash, it leaves a lasting impact on them. Tanjiro experiences an inherited memory, which allows him to be told the tale from Yoriichi himself through the eyes of his ancestor Sumiyoshi. Yoriichi explains how he believes he was born with exceptional strength to defeat Muzan, and the idea that the demon is still out there pains him. Touched by Yoriichi’s sadness, Tanjiro makes the best of this experience, memorizing everything he can to help defeat Muzan.
As the surviving Demon Slayers battle to keep the King of Demons engaged until the sun rises, we see everyone pushing beyond their limits. In addition to learning of Yoriichi’s fight with Muzan, Tanjiro’s inherited memory allowed him to witness all the forms of Sun Breathing first-hand. While this improves his usage of the breathing technique, both Tanjiro and Muzan realize it’s not at the same level as Yoriichi. Thankfully, as Tanjiro strings together all the Sun Breathing forms, he has the remaining Hashira throwing everything they have at Muzan, too.
The waves of Demon Slayer attacks, coupled with the several poisons administered by Tamayo, the demon doctor fighting on the side of humanity, finally begins to slow Muzan down. His regenerative ability decelerates and, eventually, the old scars from his fight with Yoriichi appear. While it comes with the severe price of many lives lost and Tanjiro briefly becoming a demon, the Demon Slayer Corps is successfully able to keep Muzan exposed to the sun long enough to defeat him.
With the Demon Slayer manga coming to an end, let's look back at the most significant battles of the series.