At this point, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Miss Nezuko Kamado is anime’s ultimate ‘little sister’. Like, even if you have never watched Kimetsu No Yaiba or read the wiki, you know about her and feel a form of sibling kinship, solely through osmosis from weebs online. And, like, how could you not? She is small, adorable, hides in a wicker basket and also happens to be a menace of a Demon with a taste for human flesh. Kind of.
But we all know that’s not really all Nezuko Kamado is. Nezuko is the secondary protagonist of Kimetsu No Yaiba, also known as Demon Slayer. She happens to be the younger sister of Tanjiro Kamado, his only surviving family following the mass murder of said family at the hands of Muzan Kibutsuji, and now, a Demon. In all honesty, she should’ve devoured her brother the moment he came back as well, but somehow she retained enough of her memories to hold back. Now, she travels with her brother while they search for a cure.
There is so much about Nezuko that is now cemented as iconic. From her tell-tale gag, meant to keep her biting in check, to her moments of clarity and the immense amount of care she shows despite everything in her demanding to kill and consume, Nezuko has become one of the most recognizable characters in anime. And you can see how she deviates from the usual trope of little sisters in anime. (Which, hey internet, can we collectively agree the pseudo-incest in some manga is nasty?)
Nevertheless, I know the details about her are already out there. I mean, the Kimetsu No Yaiba manga has ended, so there isn’t much to Nezuko’s story we don’t know. But it’s interesting to dissect what her character stands for, and how much she has changed in such little time. Because, let’s be fair, she is the complexity of the series. So, let’s break down Nezuko Kamado’s characterisation in today’s segment of A (Not-So) Wiki!
|Character Name||Nezuko Kamado|
|Affiliation||Demon Slayer Corps|
|Relevance||Secondary Protagonist/Resident Little Sister|
Who is Nezuko Kamado?
I mean, technically a wiki could tell you this. Nezuko Kamado was the second oldest child in her household, tasked with looking after her four younger siblings. She looked up greatly to her older brother, Tanjiro, and held an immense love for her family. However poor they were, and whatever corners they had to cut, she would do it gladly.
But everything changed when the King Of Demons, Muzan, targeted her household in an attempt to create a Demon that was resistant to weaknesses that often plagued his kind. In doing so, he killed her entire family while Tanjiro was off selling firewood, leaving Nezuko to turn against her will. By the time Tanjiro gets back, she is mostly feral and attacking him, with no recollection of what had transpired.
But when Giyu Tomioka comes across the sibling duo and tries attacking Tanjiro, some part of her mind fog clears and she jumps to defend her big brother. This is where we first witness the birth of a Demon that willingly protected a human, something unheard of before. After another tussle with a Demon, the siblings bury their family and are directed towards Sakonji Urokodaki, who takes Tanjiro under his wing.
While Tanjiro trains, Nezuko is put under a thrall to help her differentiate between hurting Demons, and protecting humans. And that’s how two years go by. When Nezuko awakens, it’s a new world.
The Pink Eyed Blossom Stained With Blood:
Again, I will never get over how beautiful the designs are for each character in Kimetsu No Yaiba. And Nezuko is probably up there as one of my favorites, alongside Mitsuri Kanroji. However, unlike the Love Hashira, Nezuko has a more family friendly look to her, considering she’s just a pre-teen.
Nezuko’s entire theme is like a facade over her true nature. Decked out in pinks and lilacs, she was already considered a budding beauty in her village. With her long black hair, pale skin and beautiful cherry blossom eyes, who wouldn’t be enamored? But the sweet looks hide a violent disposition, which cuts even more menacing once her pink Kimono is covered with splattered blood from a fight.
However, perhaps her most iconic accessory is her Bamboo gag, placed as a muzzle to keep her from biting everything.
Nezuko is a conundrum, but not one of her own making. Because age-wise, she’s technically only a teenager. Since she was helping her mother in parenting the rest of the family, she was mature for her age. However, once she got turned into a Demon, it’s like she is constantly at war with herself.
Which makes sense. Being a Demon is so far removed from what she actually was, which is a nurturing and gentle soul. Her Demonic nature clashes with the humanity that is still present in Nezuko. So, in order to get her in line and make her more susceptible to changes, her mind was regressed back into being a child and she forgot most of her memories. Which means her reactions in the beginning are more honest, if detached. For example, she will smile and laugh at things,or cry when the occasion calls for it. She still protects her brother fiercely. But she won’t show more complex expressions or even speak up as to why.
Her speechlessness also adds more issues, considering how she can never truly comprehend the scope of her wants and needs. In the end, she feels the same bloodlust as any Demon. But she is raised to protect humans instead, contradicting every base instinct she feels now. Nezuko repressed a big part of herself, all to gain more strength and become more resistant to sunlight. But as time went on, she did start forming more words, growing familiar with those speaking around her.
However, it’s Nezuko’s willpower that remains her most brazen change. As a child, she was more reserved. But growing up as a Demon, she is much more bolder and accustomed to violence, not cutting any corners to protect those she loves.
Young But Powerful: A Demon Like No Other!
Now, just because you wouldn’t assume this adorable girl to be one of the most outrageously powerful Demons out there, doesn’t mean she isn’t exactly that. Much like her brother’s insane growth as a Demon Slayer, Nezuko is a Demon that has gained so much power in very little time.
Not only is she resistant to most Demon weaknesses, such as sunlight, she doesn’t need to consume human blood in order to keep up her extraordinary growth rate. It’s why Muzan refers to Nezuko as the ‘Chosen Demon’, the end result of all of his experimentation in creating a Demon that doesn’t have their race’s shortcomings. But this is also where he made a mistake, because this very powerful Demon is on the side of humanity, becoming the first Demon to ever be recruited by the Demon Slayer Corps.
Nezuko’s age has no bearing on her skill set. She is more than capable of going up against Upper Rank Demons, even the Twelve Kizuki. Despite not being trained in it, Nezuko ended up creating her own form of Blood Demon Art when the situation called for it and her combat skill has only flourished since. She is so immune to dismemberment, that even Daki couldn’t keep up.
Her regeneration skills, Pyrokinesis and Exploding Blood techniques are merely a few of the assets she boasts. Nezuko has only grown alongside her brother, and her humane upbringing combined with her abnormal Demon physiology have set her apart as an unpredictable force of nature.
Why Nezuko Works So Well As the Moral Conundrum:
Let’s face it, Tanjiro should hate Demons with everything he has. Muzan killed his entire family and poisoned the well with Nezuko. And yet, it’s because Nezuko exists as the gray area for everyone’s morality, that adds the edge to Kimetsu No Yaiba.
Previously, Demons were viewed as a general evil, they weren’t doing themselves any favors either, in that regard. But grouping anything as a monolith is a bad idea, when exceptions like Nezuko come forward. And it’s her presence that creates a foil for Tanjiro. Of course, Tanjiro can’t kill his own sister, nor can he take her to someone who would know better because Nezuko is already a unique case.
Simply, there is no black or white anymore. It’s shades of gray in a world that is tinted with scarlet blood and their familial bond is the only thing they have in this world that is concrete. That adds so much more nuance to the plot, layering their relationship with fondness and despair in equal spades. And it’s this new normal that they have to live with that drives their motivation to co-exist.
And the way Nezuko is characterized, you can’t help but feel for her. It is so easy to understand why Tanjiro took one look at a half feral Demon and decided that, no, that is still his sister. And they don’t make it weird either, like some brother-sister relationships in anime tend to be. Both are technically the protagonists of Kimetsu No Yaiba, however they are both on different journeys. While one is moving on from a tragedy and coming into their own, the other is finding a place for herself in a world where she is already an anomaly.
Nezuko is such a layered character, without having much dialogue. She invokes a lot of emotions from her actions and expressions alone. And in Kimetsu No Yaiba, that makes her the epicenter of everything.