WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol. 19, by Koyoharu Gotouge, John Werry and John Hurt, available in English from Viz Media now.
The latest volume of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 19, which collects Chapters #161-169, features the infectious conclusion of Kanao and Inosuke's fight against Doma, and the Hashira-packed clash against the Upper-Rank 1 Demon. With the pursuit of Muzan Kibutsuji nearing its climax, the Demon Slayers continue despite exhaustion and injury, in hopes of defeating each of the Upper-Rank Demons within the Infinity Castle.
Many have been scorned by Demons who have taken their loved ones away, and Kanao Tsuyuri and Inosuke Hashibira are no different. They find themselves facing Doma, the Upper-Rank 2 and emotionless Demon responsible for killing both Kanao's adoptive sisters -- Shinobu and Kanae Kocho -- and Inosuke's mother. Though Inosuke just learned of his mother and her fate, the Beast Breathing user is incensed all the same after Doma trivializes her life and death.
Shinobu's Secret Weapon Is Revealed
Doma initially tries to flee, leaving an ice-like doppelgänger to fight in his stead, but stops when his face inexplicably begins to liquefy, revealing why Kanao was so determined to prevent his escape. Before this mission, Shinobu -- the Insect Hashira -- discussed fighting Doma with Kanao and told her that the Demon would need to eat her for them to be successful. Over the past year, Shinobu ingested small amounts of Wisteria Flower Poison until it circulated throughout her entire body.
Shinobu begrudgingly perfected the poisons alongside the Demon doctor Tamayo, but Ubuyashiki believed that alone still wouldn't be enough to defeat an Upper-Rank. So, after Shinobu's poisoned body takes effect within Doma, Kanao unleashes a dangerous technique, "Equinoctial Vermillion Eye," which raises her eyes' dynamic vision, making surrounding movements look dull and slow. However, the pressure it puts on her eyes causes bleeding, staining them red. The technique could cause her to go blind.
While sacrificing vision in her right eye, Kanao strikes Doma's neck with Inosuke instinctively throwing his swords at Kanao's to add enough force to finish the Demon. Kanao collapses in relief and sadness as she remembers the fallen Kocho sisters, who saved her from an incredibly harsh upbringing. Exhausted, Inosuke and Kanao weep over their respective losses.
Kokushibo, the Upper-Rank 1 Demon, Takes Center Stage
Elsewhere, Mitsuri Kanroji, the Love Hashira, and Obanai Iguro, the Serpent Hashira, take on Nakime -- the newly promoted Upper-Rank 4, Biwa-playing Demon -- and Muichiro Tokito, the Mist Hashira, finds himself staring down the daunting Upper-Rank 1, Kokushibo. Known as Michikatsu Tsugikuni when he was human, Kokushibo reveals that Tokito is his descendent. While much of Kokushibo's past currently remains a mystery, his relation to Tokito also means the Demon comes from the creators of Sun Breathing.
Kokushibo's appearance -- which resembles the famous Yoriichi -- and use of a katana lead Tokito to believe he was once a Demon Slayer, further confirmed when he uses Moon Breathing. While Tokito fights through nerves and manifests his Demon Slayer Mark, Kokushibo easily cuts off his arm, pinning the Hashira to a wall with his own blade. Due to their distant relation, the Upper-Rank Demon plans to have Muzan turn Tokito. Genya listens in, attempting to sneak attack, but Kokushibo quickly senses the Demon-eating Demon Slayer and cuts him down.
Sanemi Shinazugawa Stands Against Kokushibo
Before Kokushibo can kill the resilient Genya, Sanemi Shinazugawa, the Wind Hashira, arrives to protect his brother. Despite the seemingly palpable animosity between the Shinazugawa siblings, a flashback to Tanjiro's chat with Genya highlights the opposite. When their mother became a Demon, she killed all their siblings before Sanemi finally ended her. His frustrations aren't with Genya, but with himself for failing to provide his surviving brother with a safe, happy life. After their mother's death, he banishes himself to a life of hunting Demons as a form of suicide before joining the Demon Slayer Corp.
Sanemi's Wind Breathing and techniques impress Kokushibo as he finds inventive ways to fight on, but eventually suffers a severe wound, bleeding heavily. As Tanjiro and many Hashira have done before, Sanemi coagulates his blood at will to slow the bleeding. He also possesses blood known as Marechi, a blood-type so rare the scent alone can intoxicate Demons to a debilitating degree. Snatching at any advantage, Sanemi refuses to back down against the Demon responsible for hurting his brother.
Ubuyashiki's Kindness Inspires the Other Hashira
A unifying factor in the Hashira's drive to defeat Muzan comes from their adoration of Kagaya Ubuyashiki and his family. The kindhearted leader of the Demon Slayer Corp sacrificed himself at the beginning of "Infinity Castle Arc," but the feelings he instilled within his comrades give them continued strength. During Sanemi's inspired stand against Kokushibo, he remembers his first Hashira meeting, where he questioned Ubuyashiki's resolve. However, Ubuyashiki quickly won Sanemi over with his detailed knowledge of every Demon Slayer -- even those killed -- and a genuine desire to keep everyone safe.
While Tokito continues trying to pry himself free, Gyomei Himejima, the Stone Hashira, arrives to reprieve Sanemi, who begins stitching his wounds. Himejima's brute strength and flawless fighting style put Kokushibo on the ropes. Still, with the Upper-Rank 1 Demon having just warmed up, the Stone Hashira's newly awoken Demon Slayer Mark will be a necessary tool if they hope to reach Muzan.