A Shonen series is rarely known for its romance. But when the topic of Tanjiro marrying Kanao came up in Demon Slayer, well I wouldn’t say it was surprising. I mean, most Shonen are pretty shallow when it comes to any intimacy beyond the Power Of Friendship™ and what not. But Demon Slayer has always been an outlier, using emotions to not only fuel conflicts, but the resolutions as well. After all, love is a huge aspect of the plot itself.
So, Tanjiro does marry Kanao at the end of the manga. Following Muzan Kibutsuji’s defeat, Tanjiro Kamado ends up getting into a relationship with Kanao Tsuyuri, a fellow Demon Slayer, and the two go on to start a family. And their life from then on is peaceful and happy, growing old together and getting to see their great-grandchildren. The reason why this is especially heartwarming is because most times, Demon Slayers don’t live very long. And yet, Tanjiro does get his happy ending.
Again, this is the same Tanjiro who had to see his entire family be slaughtered at age 15, with the only surviving member of his family, Nezuko, becoming an inhuman Demon herself. He took on the responsibility of not only protecting her, but looking for a cure to help her. Like, when you think about it, he was no more than a child when had gone through unimaginable traumas. How do you even find the time for romance when you’re fighting for survival in a world that would literally eat you up, given the chance?
But somehow, Tanjiro does make it. Despite his Demon Mark damning him, or the adversaries he faced in trying to help Nezuko, or even the regiment of being trained at the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjiro never let any of that crush his spirit completely. And so, love found it’s way to him, in the form of another Demon Slayer who could empathize. So, today, let’s explore why Tanjiro and Kanao marry each other in another segment of Lore Analysis!
Tanjiro And Kanao: Rivals To Lovers?
Okay, so maybe terming the two of them as enemies-to-lovers, or even rivals, is a stretch. But hear me out. When we first see Kanao, she is pretty much a background character without any focus on her. Hell, she and Tanjiro don’t even interact, despite being in the same place at the same time.
But we do learn one thing about Knao, which is that she is the antithesis of Tanjiro. Where Tanjiro is passionate and driven, Kanao is near emotionless, stemming from a life of indeciseveness. Her quiet nature is a defense mechanism, but one that puts her up for a ton of misunderstanding. And at first, you’d easily believe that Kanao is nothing more than a wallflower. But considering the fact that she not only survived the Final Selection, but was also one of Tanjiro’s assailants, proves her merit as a Demon Slayer.
But Tanjiro didn’t recognize her as such when they met again at Natagumo Mountain. During a fight with Kanao, he gets knocked out cold. After he recuperates at Butterfly Estate, he starts training alongside Kanao and finds out that he struggles to keep up. But together, the two flourish and soon Tanjiro is adapting to most of the advanced techniques.
A Soft Romance And Marriage:
I think the point where Tanjiro and Kanao really end up connecting is when Tanjiro was tasked with throwing a foul-smelling tea on Kanao, but refused to because it didn’t seem right to him. Again, there’s no reason for him to be kind to her, considering they are both preparing for much harder things. But instead, he talks to her about being more open with herself and taking things lightly.
After he leaves, we see the change happen. Kanao blushes, showing flustered emotions for the first time since we’ve seen her. Hell, she doesn’t even notice when she’s being called forward. And when we reach the Functional Recovery Training arc, it is confirmed that Kanao has developed a crush on Tanjiro, going as far as to aid him and fuss over his injuries when he comes back to the Butterfly Estate following the events of the Entertainment District battles.
But we see the height of Kanao’s determination when she remains the only standing Demon Slayer still fighting Muzan, the Demon King. She holds her own, determined to hold him off for as long as she can. But obviously, she starts to fall behind and he almost succeeds in killing her too. However, Tanjiro arrives in the knick of time to immobilize Muzan, distracting him enough to move Kanao to safety.
Kanao has now shown that she will be there to support Tanjiro time and time again. But the moment you really see it settle is when she looks at both Nezuko and Tanjiro struggling after he transforms into a Demon, and cries. To help the siblings, she ends up activating the Breath of the Flower, Final Movement: Eyes of the Lycoris, a technique that allows the demon-to-human cure to be injected into him. However, this does leave her partially blind, though it also shows just how far she’ll go for Tanjiro.
When Tanjiro transforms back into a human, you could see that her love was returned. So, Tanjiro decides to marry Kanao, and together they started a family. Their love took time, as all good things do. But it was earnest and beautiful, leading to both becoming stronger together.
Shounen And Romance In Retrospect:
Shounen gets a bad rep when it comes to romance because, well, it was supposedly targeted at boys, right? And boys didn’t really care for that sort of thing. But anime has evolved so much that it isn’t just for children anymore. And Demon Slayer, with its violence and traumatic scenery, is a prime example of that.
So it’s only fair that the themes in Shonen anime also evolved the same way. We saw a hint of it with Naruto Shippuden, where Hinata Hyuuga took somewhat of a similar position as Kanao, especially when she stood her ground during a fight with Pein. But even that felt rushed. Her relationship with Naruto Uzumaki, to me, always felt more forced and less organic.
But that’s why Kanao and Tanjiro feel much more believable as a couple. It’s because it isn’t a relationship out of nowhere, and Tanjiro isn’t your usual oblivious protagonist. That means there’s actual potential there, with Tanjiro and Kanao’s relationship evolving over time instead of her just suddenly becoming a love interest. Tanjiro and Kanao marry each other because it was the natural progression to their relationship
Shounen has become very different in the past decade. We have gone from long form manga that span decades to super popular series that actually do have an ending in sight. Female characters are more developed, being multifaceted characters with their own stories instead of just tropes. And while friendship is still an important aspect, it’s also layered with nuance.
So naturally, romance in Shonen would also evolve into something better. And it did. And boy, am I glad for it.