It usually takes some sort of really strong hook to get me into a shonen series these days. This isn’t to knock the mangas and shows themselves. There are amazing stories out there. Rather, it can feel like such an investment when stories easily run for over 10 volumes or involve over 50 episodes. So, there has to be something to pull me in. For Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, a series with a widely popular manga and record-setting movie, it is Nezuko Kamado. The heroine is in a unique position throughout the story and, while the story is genuinely fun and I enjoy it, it’s wondering what happens to her that keeps me coming back.
First, odds are you’ve seen Demon Slayer’s Nezuko even if you aren’t familiar with the series. She’s the very identifiable girl with a muzzle in her mouth. Which… strikes a very odd picture to begin with. While part of my deciding to start watching the anime adaptation and going through the manga was work related, since it will be getting game adaptations, I also wanted to know why? Why is that in her mouth? Should I be concerned about this adorable child?
I mean, the answer is sure. I should be. Because Nezuko is a tragic character who has been through something unimaginable. For those unfamiliar with the series, demons came and tore through her family. She even tried to protect one of her siblings. Once the attack was over, she was left a demon and only her brother Tanjiro remained. We understand the pain she went through and the losses she experienced, perhaps forging a connection.
Despite becoming a demon, the sort of creature who would normally slaughter humans, Nezuko doesn’t. She remembers her brother and doesn’t hurt him. She becomes someone who, even though she often ends up beaten up due to not being a fighter before all this happened, continues to stand up for those she deems worth protecting. But what also makes her great is how, throughout the anime and manga, we see her grow into her powers and abilities. We watch 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’s dealing with so many challenges with this new life. The sun can harm her. She wears a muzzle to prevent blood from getting in her mouth. She can’t remember her past. She can’t even speak anymore. And because she’s a peaceful ally and, after certain measures, fights alongside and protects her Demon Slayer Corps allies and people she chooses to stand alongside. We have this general idea of the challenges she faces and see her fortitude.
All of these elements of Nezuko’s backstory feel designed to help make Demon Slayer so captivating. There are many goals characters have throughout the series, and Tanjiro’s dedication to restoring her humanity is so striking. We’re constantly given opportunities to root for 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 get you to care about its characters. Cute character designs, attaching notable creators, or attempting to follow classic tropes aren’t enough. It has to be good at forging connections. I know I’m focusing only on Demon Slayer’s Nezuko here, because I’m especially invested in her tale, but the series as a whole does its best to make its cast compelling. You want to support all of them, see them grow, and ideally get the endings they deserve.
All 23 volumes of the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga are available through Viz Media. The anime is available on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu. Mobile and PlayStation 4 games are in development.