Book Review | Demon Slayer: Stories of Water and Flame by Koyoharu Gotōge
There will be spoilers for the manga and anime series for Demon Slayer. This review is exclusively for the manga, but because the anime is based on the manga, there is a likely chance this will spoil both.
Trigger Warning: Discussion of blood and gore as it appears in the manga Demon Slayer: Stories of Water and Flame will be discussed.
This is a collection of stories following Giyu Tomioka (the Water Hashira) and Kyojuro Rengoku (the soon-to-be Flame Hashira based on the timing of his story). They are two separate tales, providing more insight into their personalities and lives prior to and during the main Demon Slayer storyline.
The first half follows Giyu Tomioka alongside Shinobu Kocho, hunting down what the villagers are claiming is a man-eating bear. While doing so, they meet Yae, a young girl with a rifle, and her dog Taro who claims the man-eating bear killed her father. They all join forces to discover the real identity of the bear.
The second half follows Kyojuro Rengoku. His father has abandoned all of his sense of duty when it comes to the demon slayer corps, so Kyojuro takes his father’s place and goes on a mission in his father’s stead. Unfortunately, in doing so, he runs into a demon who recognizes Kyojuro as his father and seeks revenge for what the father did to him.
I will go ahead and get this out of the way: I was already super biased about this before it was even released, as Giyu is one of my favorite characters from this series. So, seeing my boy was enough to get me pumped about this short spin-off.
However, the real star of the show for this collection is Kyojuro. We get the most growth and insight into his character from his section. He feels compelled to carry the Hashira role in his father’s stead, and immediately he is forced to fill his father’s shoes by fighting a demon that mistakes him for his father. This situation is poetic in its setup. A child is forced to become a man due to his father’s neglect, and as a result, is facing the consequences of his father’s actions.
Of course, knowing the character that Kyojuro is, he has no problem stepping up to the plate. That in itself is sad simply because Kyojuro shouldn’t have to do this, but he does because of the kind of person he is. Kyojuro doesn’t complain; he doesn’t disparage his father; he simply takes responsibility and does what he feels he has to for his family and the demon corps. It’s an unfortunate situation but highlights the unyielding, fiery spirit Kyojuro has despite all he goes through.
While I loved getting more stories on Giyu, one of my favorite characters from the main series, it was disappointing. I felt like his particular section was more about Yae than Giyu. As a result, the water portion of this is fairly weak compared to the flame portion. I really wish we saw more of Giyu’s character and his backstory, rounding out his character like it was done in Kyojuro’s story.
This was a nice introduction back into the world of Demon Slayer since the end of the series not too long ago. This is especially nice for big fans of Kyojuro and Giyu (more so Kyojuro, in my opinion), two characters we don’t get as much insight on during the main series. Is it necessary for the series? Not at all. Is it a nice addition? Yes, and I recommend it for anyone who is craving more for the illustrious world of Demon Slayer.
Have you read Demon Slayer: Stories of Water and Flame? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!