Given the things the Demon Slayer characters go through, sometimes we forget these are teenagers or even kids. (Nezuko was probably about 12 when the series began!) I feel like this makes the newly localized Demon Slayer: Kimetsu Academy manga even more of a pleasant read, as we finally get a chance to see these silly interactions between characters and chances for them to be more like kids.
First, a bit of background. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu Academy has nothing to do with the original series, beyond featuring all of its characters in an alternate universe. It’s a work by Natsuki Hokami based on the original Koyoharu Gotouge creation. So everything here is isolated, contained, and playful take on things we know and recognize. Parts of people’s personalities and traits will be emphasized or taken to extremes. (For example, Nezuko is always munching on bread in the mornings, instead of wearing a muzzle.) It builds on concepts and ideas, so it is recognizable, but also lively and new.
Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke are all students at Kimetsu Academy, alongside others like Kanao and Genya. Members of the Hashira, such as Giyu, Kanae, Shinobu, Kyojuro, Sanemi, and Tengen, act as teachers. Each chapter is a self-contained story going over elements of their daily life. So the first chapter involves Tanjiro and Zenitsu being late to school and dealing with Giyu’s wrath as a result. In another, Nezuko deals with her first cavity. (She also talks here, but only in the afternoons after finishing her daily bread. Until then, only grunts.)
It’s the nature of each of these isolated events that makes the manga entertaining. Seeing Sanemi as the strict teacher dealing with the students who failed his exam — Tanjiro, Murata, and Inosuke — is great. Tengen is incredibly at home as an art teacher, and seeing Zenitsu’s drawings and his reaction to his final submission is probably the goofiest moment in the book. Finding out Nezuko and Makomo are friends makes a lot of sense! It’s these little things that makes it quite delightful.
Plus, I’m a big fan of the artistic direction Hokami took. The characters are all immediately recognizable, even with the different clothing and chibi appearance. Seeing how Hashira members’ iconic elements are preserved is a nice touch. Also, the exaggerated facial expressions for every character leads to some good moments, since many of them still remain in-character.
The series can get extremely silly sometimes. However, that really is what makes it all so charming. With Demon Slayer: Kimetsu Academy, we get to enjoy the characters and see the lighter sides of their AU counterparts’ personalities. We can enjoy seeing people interact, especially when we didn’t get to see as much of that in the original story. Yes, it’s completely an AU tale by Natsuki Hokami that reimagines Koyoharu Gotouge’s original work, but it’s still very well done and fun.
Volume 1 of the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu Academy manga is available via Viz Media. The company also handles publishing of the original series and light novels outside Japan. The regular Demon Slayer anime adaptation and Junior High and High School!! Kimetsu Academy Story are streaming on Crunchyroll.