What would have happened to Tanjiro if Nezuko had died?

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The brother-sister duo Tanjiro and Nezuko Kamado, widely adored in the field of shonen, have had their share of adventures. Despite their young ages, the two suffered severe losses throughout Demon Slayer, which brought them closer than ever.

With Tanjiro’s strong will and incredible sense of smell, coupled with Nezuko’s strength and Blood Demon Art, the two make formidable opponents, destroying anyone who blocks their aim. However, Tanjiro’s strength is undeniably built on Nezuko’s presence, so what would his life be like if his sister hadn’t survived Muzan’s massacre of the Kamado family?

Tanjiro’s benevolent nature towards demons stems from Nezuko

Tanjiro Kamado is well known for his calm temper and understanding presence in Demon Slayer. He shows great empathy towards humans and demons alike, and always seeks to comfort demons who pass through the afterlife. This empathy and level-headedness makes Tanjiro an excellent demon slayer, as he truly sees the best in his opponents and goes all out so they die remembering the comforts of their human lives.

However, if Tanjiro’s approach to demons is so benevolent, it’s thanks to Nezuko. When she was turned into a demon by the antagonist Muzan Kibutsuji, he must have believed there was humanity in demons or else he would have admitted that he couldn’t save his sister. His empathy for demons comes to him from Nezuko, and in a way, he uses that as a coping mechanism. Nezuko robbed Tanjiro of his roots after their family was slaughtered. So he relies on seeing the good in demons to keep hope alive of saving what’s left of his cherished family.

What if Nezuko hadn’t survived Muzan’s attack?

tanjiro attack

With that in mind, if Nezuko had also been murdered by Muzan, Tanjiro would have no reason to empathize with demons. His transformation gave him perspective of both demons and humans, but if Nezuko hadn’t become a demon, he would have had no reason to consider their feelings. The only other demons Tanjiro encountered, other than Tamayo and Yushiro, were obviously cruel and selfish, so Tanjiro’s opinion may have been built on these encounters.

With that in mind, if Nezuko had also been murdered by Muzan, Tanjiro would have no reason to empathize with demons. His transformation gave him perspective of both demons and humans, but if Nezuko hadn’t become a demon, he would have had no reason to consider their feelings. The only other demons Tanjiro encountered, other than Tamayo and Yushiro, were obviously cruel and selfish, so Tanjiro’s opinion may have been built on these encounters.

In Nezuko’s absence, Tanjiro couldn’t have found the strength within himself to empathize with the demons’ fear and sadness at the time of their death. For example, Kyogai, the drum demon, trapped people in his maze-like house to kill and consume them. Yet he wept when it came to his own death, remembering his life as a human and feeling devalued. Without Nezuko, Tanjiro might have interpreted a demon’s grief as self-pity. After all the demon-inflicted pain he’s been through, it would infuriate Tanjiro and fuel a vengeful streak by killing demons.

Tanjiro’s fight against the spider demon Rui is a fight that would have looked drastically different had Nezuko been slaughtered. After seeing how Rui mistreats his own family while Tanjiro’s members are all dead, this confrontation would quickly become personal. This encounter could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for the protagonist, causing him to lose all his temper, even after Rui’s death.

Tanjiro’s Encounters With Demons Will Change, But His Human Relationships Will Not

tanjiro and his friends

Tanjiro’s character would no longer exist for the demons to feel forgiven in their final moments, but to avenge his family, making sure the demons know they are unforgiven. It’s likely that the demons will make kind Tanjiro blush, ensuring that they never forget the pain and suffering they caused.

While Tanjiro’s attitude towards demons may have changed with Nezuko’s death, his human relationships would likely remain similar. Her anger and compassion could co-exist, which realistically would cause her to bond the same way she did with Nezuko’s company. For example, Tanjiro would still have found close friends in Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira, but he would likely be less tolerant of their misbehavior.

After losing his entire family, Tanjiro would probably – and understandably – have a short temper and struggle to show much empathy. That said, none of his relationships in Demon Slayer changed for the worse, and he was able to befriend those who could relate to his anger, like the insect Hashira Shinobu, who also lost his family to demons.

While his interactions with humans are no different, Tanjiro’s associations with demons would have been far more difficult had Nezuko not survived Muzan’s attack. Tanjiro would surely hold a grudge, needlessly slaughtering demons in a furious attempt to avenge his family, which would turn him into an entirely different character. Hatred towards demons would bubble up within him, creating a protagonist unrecognizable from the one Demon Slayer fans love so much today.