It usually takes a kind of very strong hook to get me into a shonen series these days. This is not to knock the manga and show off. There are wonderful stories out there. Rather, it can feel like such an investment when stories easily run in over 10 volumes or involve over 50 episodes. So there must be something to draw me into Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, a series with a popular manga and record setting movie, it’s Nezuko Kamado. The heroine is in a unique position throughout the story, and although the story is really funny and I like it, it wonders what happens to her that makes me come back.
First is the odds you have seen Demon Butcher ‘s Nezuko even if you are unfamiliar with the series. She is the very identifiable girl with a snout in her mouth. Which … strikes a very strange picture to begin with. While part of what I decided to start watching the anime adaptation and go through the manga was work-related, since it was going to get game adaptations, I also wanted to know why? Why is it in her mouth? Should I be worried about this sweet baby?
I mean, the answer is sure. I should be. Because Nezuko is a tragic character who has been through something unthinkable. For those unfamiliar with the series, demons and foxes came into her family. She even tried to protect one of her siblings. When the attack was over, she became a demon again, and only her brother Tanjiro was left. We understand the pain she went through and the losses she experienced, perhaps forging a connection.
Despite becoming a demon, the kind of creature that would normally slaughter humans, Nezuko does not. She remembers her brother and does not hurt him. She becomes one who, although she often ends up being beaten for not being a fighter before all this happened, continues to stand up for those she deems worthy of protection. But what also makes her great is how we throughout the anime and manga see her grow to her powers and abilities. We see her learn how to use her blood to help or harm and become more skilled in ways similar to her allies.
When we meet her and see her, she tackles so many challenges with this new life. The sun can hurt her. She has a snout to prevent blood from entering her mouth. She can not remember her past. She can not even speak anymore. And because she is a peaceful ally and, after certain measures, fights together and protects her Demon Slayer Corps allies and people she chooses to stand with. We have this general idea of the challenges she faces and her courage.
All of these elements of Nezuko’s background history feel designed to help create Demon butcher so catchy. There are many goals the characters have throughout the series, and Tanjiro’s dedication to restoring humanity is so striking. We are constantly given opportunities to anchor Nezuko and hope that she gets the help and life she deserves, and the chapters and character progression all seem designed to make us care even more about her.
A sign of any great story is if it can make you care about the characters. Cute character designers, connections to remarkable creators or attempts to follow classic tropes are not enough. It must be good at making connections. I know I’m just focusing on Demon Butcher ‘s Nezuko here, because I’m particularly invested in her story, but the series as a whole does its best to make the cast compelling. You will support them all, watch them grow and ideally get the endings they deserve.
All 23 volumes of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu and Yaiba manga is available via Viz Media. Anime is available on Funimation, Crunchyroll and Hulu. Mobile and PlayStation 4 games are under development.