Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotouge. The manga has been serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump since February 15, 2016. Its series has also been republished in English by Viz Media.
The Demon Slayer series officially ended on May 18, 2020 (Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #24) after 205 chapters. It became the best-selling manga of 2020 in Japan, having ended an 11-year streak held by One Piece. By February 2021, the manga had sold 150 million copies, including digital versions, making it the ninth best-selling manga series of all time.
Demon Slayer did not just record a massive success as a manga, it became a record-shattering TV series and film after the adaptations were released during the height of the manga sales.
What is Demon Slayer manga?
The Demon Slayer, also known as Kimetsu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) or “Blade of Demon Destruction”, is a Japanese manga series that was written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotouge. The series follows the story of Tanjiro Kamado, a kind-hearted and intelligent boy, whose world is turned upside down after he returns home to find his entire family murdered except his sister Nezuko, who has turned into a demon. Determined to avenge his family and find a cure for his sister to return to being human, Tanjiro sets out on a journey to train for the Demon Slayer Corps.
The story is set in early 20th-century Taishō-era Japan, in which man-eating demons roam the land each night. These demons are former humans who possess supernatural abilities like super strength, regeneration, and special powers that they can obtain called “Blood Demon Art”. However, they can only be killed if they are decapitated with weapons crafted from an alloy known as Nichirin, injected with poison extracted from wisteria flowers, or exposed to sunlight.
The Demon Slayer Corps underground is an organisation of skilled fighters who dedicate their lives to protecting humans from vicious creatures. They are entirely human and use special elemental breathing techniques, known as “Breathing Styles”, which grant them superhuman strength and increased resistance to help them fight against demons.
The strongest Demon Slayers are known as the Hashira, a rank that can only be achieved if a Demon Slayer kills a member of the Twelve Kizuki, the twelve strongest demons, or kills fifty demons after ranking up multiple times.
The Demon Slayer was serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump from February 15, 2016, and ran periodically until its final volume was released in 2020. Note that Weekly Shonen Jump is a long-running manga magazine that has published some of the most iconic series, from Naruto and Dragon Ball to One Piece and Yu-Gi-Oh!
The Demon Slayer saw moderate success in sales in Japan during its first years of serialisation. However, sales surged in 2019 after the anime version was released. The 26-episode television adaptation was produced by Ufotable, a Japanese studio, and received critical acclaim for the stunning animation of the fight sequences. Indeed, The Demon Slayer was regarded as one of the best action anime of all time based on the battle scenes alone.
In addition, the manga ended an 11-year streak held by One Piece to become Japan’s best-selling manga of the year in 2019, according to the Oricon chart.
Speaking in an interview about the manga’s success, Hiroyuki Nakano, Editor-in-Chief of Weekly Shonen Jump, said: “Normally, a manga gradually sells more copies throughout the anime’s run, but Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba‘s sales shot up straight after the anime ended.”
The Demon Slayer also became the best-selling manga of 2020 in Japan. At the height of its popularity, a film adaptation, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, was released. Directed by Haruo Sotozaki and produced by Ufotable, the film was released in more than 400 theatres across Japan and grossed $44 million over its first three days, marking the biggest opening weekend in Japan’s history. The film also hit a revenue of $100 million, within 10 days of its release, making it the fastest to reach this milestone in Japan.
In addition, the film has grossed over $500 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2020 and becoming the highest-grossing Japanese film and anime film of all time.
Overall, the Demon Slayer manga is one of the best-selling manga series of all time. In February 2020, the manga series sold 40.3 million copies, making it the fifth best-selling manga in Oricon’s history. It also became the ninth series from Weekly Shōnen Jump to reach 100 million copies in circulation, after KochiKame, Fist of the North Star, Dragon Ball, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Slam Dunk, One Piece, Naruto and Bleach.
According to ICv2, an online trade magazine that covers geek culture for retailers, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba was the best-selling manga franchise for fall 2021 in the United States. The website also revealed it was the second “most efficient manga franchise” for retailer bookshelves, based on calculations of which manga franchises had the highest sales per volume.
How to read Demon Slayer manga
In 2016, Viz Media, an American manga publisher partially owned by Shueisha Inc., released the first three chapters of the manga in English, alongside the Japanese version. In 2018, Viz began to periodically release new volumes of the series in English.