Demon Slayer has a Nezuko problem (2024)

Demon Slayer anime and manga spoilers – including Infinity Castle – follow.

Demon Slayer is a world of demons and slayers. That much shouldn't be surprising. But the backbone of Koyoharu Gotouge's manga (and the anime that followed) is the bond between one demon and one slayer in particular.

Everything that happens throughout this epic saga began with the slaughter of Tanjiro Kamado's family at the hands of a demon. Everyone died except him and his sister, Nezuko, but during the attack she was transformed into a demon herself (albeit one with a measure of human emotion still).

Undeterred, Tanjiro trained to become a demon slayer and find a way to restore Nezuko's humanity. An admirable notion, we're sure you'll agree. But what that amounted to was Nezuko being muzzled while Tanjiro carried her around in a box on his back.

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The reason given for all this was that Nezuko was still dangerous, so the muzzle was needed to protect others around her. The box was necessary too so Tanjiro could travel around in the daytime without fear of losing his sister to sunlight, which would instantly kill her new demonic form.

In reality, this meant that Demon Slayer's most important female character by far was effectively silenced and boxed-in for three seasons without any say over what happened or any agency of her own.

Throw in some bizarre moments where the animators objectified her adult form and it's safe to say that Nezuko hasn't had it easy, despite how integral she and her relationship with Tanjiro are to this show.

The end of season three looked set to change that, however.

When Tanjiro was forced to choose between saving his sister or a group of innocent people who were being attacked by a demon, Nezuko made the decision for him and sacrificed herself so that others could live. Finally, some agency of her own.

And it gets better because Nezuko later appeared alive and well. Her burns had healed and she could now speak a bit too. Although her vocabulary was still limited, Nezuko had miraculously started to become human and find her voice again.

It's exactly what Nezuko needed, and by extension, the show itself.

Centring Nezuko and her voice would strengthen the bond that Demon Slayer is built upon, reinforcing that emotional tether which gives Tanjiro a personal reason to keep fighting.

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But then season four returned and Nezuko only appeared briefly in one scene that was more about Zenitsu and Inosuke fighting over her than Nezuko herself. For the rest of the Hashira Training Arc, Nezuko was then presumably holed up in her box somewhere, waiting the season out alone.

There are reasons for this, technically speaking. Nezuko used up a huge amount of energy becoming more human in the sun last season, and given that she doesn't eat human flesh, a lot of time is needed to recuperate.

And then there's Muzan Kibutsuji to consider as well. The daddy demon of all demons — a "demon daddy", if you will — has learned of Nezuko's evolution, and he's pissed. Because, despite all his strength, Muzan still can't walk out into the sun without dying. In fact, it's his only weakness. But if he devours Nezuko, Muzan can steal this power for himself and become even more unstoppable.

It makes sense then for the slayers to hide Nezuko away. Losing her would mean they lose the entire battle for all of humanity. But why did the show have to hide Nezuko away from us as well? It's not like we're a threat to her wellbeing. If anything, it's the writers who are.

After teasing a levelled up Nezuko at the end of the Swordsmith Village arc, she's since been reduced to a mere plot device and nothing more. And that's bizarre, because at one point, it's even stated "the battles will start to centre around her". Shame on us for assuming that meant Nezuko herself might also figure in the battle somehow.

It's not like Nezuko is weak, not by any means, but her impact on the show has been for quite some time now. To be fair, that's also true of the manga Demon Slayer draws so heavily from.

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In chapter 136, Tanjiro briefly reminisces about Nezuko after leaving her behind at the start of this Hashira training arc. Having to worry about his sister the whole time could be quite the hindrance, we suppose, although there's nothing stopping the story from checking in on Nezuko beyond this name drop or even giving her a storyline of her own.

There's so much to explore with Nezuko's returning humanity yet neither the manga nor the anime bother mentioning her much at all after this.

Of course, there's still a chance that Demon Slayer could rectify this mistake in the final three movie chapters of the anime. We're not counting on it though. The Infinity Castle arc is balls-to-the-wall action in the fight to end all fights against Muzan. There's little time for character development of any kind, let alone adding in something extra for someone who's already been historically overlooked.

Warning: Demon Slayer manga spoilers for Infinity Castle appear from here on out.

It's easy to argue that Nezuko had to be kept out of the last fight because everyone would lose if Muzan could get his hands on her. But wouldn't that create even more tension? The kind of impossibly high stakes you would want to see in the final battle of a show that's defined by god-tier battles? How else do you one-up yourself by that point?

The manga forgoes this though, choosing one last showdown between Tanjiro and Muzan instead. Nezuko never shows up to fight alongside her brother, even though that would have been a perfect full-circle moment. The story started with them, so it should have ended with them. And it does, kind of, but in a very anti-climatic way after the fight is over.

When the dust has settled, Nezuko arrives on the battlefield just to remind readers that she exists. Now fully human, she's finally got the happy ending she and Tanjiro always deserved. Except, Nezuko deserves so much more than this.

The least the upcoming films could do is cut away from the action a bit to show how Nezuko is getting on while everyone else is fighting. Or Infinity Castle could even go one better and switch things up by bringing Nezuko into the fight, after all.

The Demon Slayer anime does make tweaks to the source material here and there, but this would easily be the show's biggest departure from the manga yet. And that's why we're not convinced the films will actually go there.

It's somewhat ironic that a story revolving around a demon and a slayer would forego the demon entirely once she starts to become human, especially when this all started with her. Why let Nezuko finally stand in the sun if she's not allowed to shine?

Demon Slayer seasons one to four are available to watch on Crunchyroll and Netflix in selected territories.

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David Opie

After teaching in England and South Korea, David turned to writing in Germany, where he covered everything from superhero movies to the Berlin Film Festival.

In 2019, David moved to London to join Digital Spy, where he could indulge his love of comics, horror and LGBTQ+ storytelling as Deputy TV Editor, and later, as Acting TV Editor.

David has spoken on numerous LGBTQ+ panels to discuss queer representation and in 2020, he created the Rainbow Crew interview series, which celebrates LGBTQ+ talent on both sides of the camera via video content and longform reads.

Beyond that, David has interviewed all your faves, including Henry Cavill, Pedro Pascal, Olivia Colman, Patrick Stewart, Ncuti Gatwa, Jamie Dornan, Regina King, and more — not to mention countless Drag Race legends.

As a freelance entertainment journalist, David has bylines across a range of publications including Empire Online, Radio Times, INTO, Highsnobiety, Den of Geek, The Digital Fix and Sight & Sound.


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