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Who killed Tanjiro's family in Demon Slayer?

Tanjiro and Nezuko as seen in the Demon Slayer anime. (Image via Shueisha)
Tanjiro and Nezuko as seen in the Demon Slayer anime. (Image via Shueisha)
Joseph Brogan
ANALYST

Demon Slayer has captured the hearts and minds of fans with its heavy gore and adult themes present even in the premiere chapter. A major reason for this is the heavy handed reveal that most of Tanjiro’s family is murdered in the first chapter.

The first chapter details Tanjiro’s normal life and the 24 hours leading up to his family’s untimely death, as well as the immediate aftermath. Eventually, this sets up the plot of Tanjiro and Nezuko looking for a way to turn Nezuko back to human, while also discovering who killed their family.

Demon Slayer’s premiere chapter draws readers into the show, while suspending the identity of the Kamado family murderer. While this is eventually revealed later on in the series, the premiere chapter is still fantastic and incredibly engaging.


Demon Slayer's debut chapter doesn't answer the question of who killed the Kamados, but it sets the stage for this answer beautifully

Demon Slayer Chapter 1: Opening pages

Demon Slayer’s debut chapter opens with a flashforward, showcasing Tanjiro carrying a bloodied and unconscious Nezuko through a snowy forest. Tanjiro tells Nezuko not to die, saying he’ll save her, before fans reach the title page naming the chapter Cruelty.

We then cut to Tanjiro having a conversation with his mother and family. Clearly, the Kamado family has a lot of love for each other, despite the short interaction. Tanjiro comments on their life, saying it’s difficult but good and remarking how the smell of blood is always in the air when happiness ends.

Tanjiro receives praise and pleads for favors from townsfolk. (Image via Shueisha Shonen Jump app)
Tanjiro receives praise and pleads for favors from townsfolk. (Image via Shueisha Shonen Jump app)

Tanjiro walks through the town, expressing how loved he is by the townsfolk for always helping them out with various favors. Tanjiro’s excellent sense of smell is showcased here by his sniffing of a broken dish and deducing that a cat is responsible.

Tanjiro begins the trek home, up the mountain, but is stopped by a neighbor who says it’s better to stay the night and avoid running into demons. The neighbor Saburo begins lecturing Tanjiro about demons, saying Demon Slayers have protected mankind from demons for ages. Tanjiro falls asleep thinking how ridiculous the existence of demons is before remembering his grandmother saying something similar before her death.


Demon Slayer Chapter 1: “When Happiness Ends…”

Returning home, Tanjiro sees three of his family members facedown huddled together in the snow. Realizing they’re bloodied, Tanjiro rushes over shouting for answers before looking inside and seeing the horrible crime scene left behind. The blood and bodies soak in, and Tanjiro realizes his entire family is dead.

Tanjiro sees his home in bloody tatters, realizing his family is dead. (Image via Shueisha Shonen Jump app)
Tanjiro sees his home in bloody tatters, realizing his family is dead. (Image via Shueisha Shonen Jump app)

That is, except for Nezuko, who Tanjiro remarks was still warm at the time. As Tanjiro ponders what could’ve happened and dedicates himself to saving Nezuko, his sister literally roars to life on his back. Tanjiro falls down a snow mound and gets his bearings, realizing Nezuko is standing across from him.

Tanjiro berates her and goes to carry her again before Nezuko attacks, leading Tanjiro to realize she’s a demon. Tanjiro relents that he couldn’t help his family while accurately deducing Nezuko isn’t the one who murdered the rest of the Kamados. Pleading with Nezuko to fight her newfound instincts, Nezuko begins to cry and show signs of humanity.

Out of nowhere, fan-favorite Giyu Tomioka appears and attempts to kill Nezuko but Tanjiro successfully rolls them both away from the attack. Giyu asks Tanjiro why he protected the demon, replying it’s his little sister. The debut Demon Slayer then dashes towards them and grabs Nezuko, before explaining that Nezuko was transformed into a demon by demon blood.

Tanjiro notes here that he knows Nezuko didn’t kill his family, as he smelled another scent at the crime scene. This is fans’ first clue that an outside force is who killed Tanjiro’s family. Tanjiro pleads with Giyu on his hands and knees to not kill Nezuko, saying he’ll fix her and kill the one responsible for making her this way.


Demon Slayer Chapter 1: Closing pages

Demon Slayer Chapter 1 then shows Giyu berating Tanjiro for his pathetic begging and general lack of power. Giyu continues telling Tanjiro he must fight and become stronger if he wants to save his sister, before internally sympathizing with Tanjiro. Giyu stabs Nezuko in a non-fatal way, prompting Tanjiro to throw a snowball and rush at Giyu.

Giyu incapacitates and berates Tanjiro before realizing the hatchet is missing and seeing it careen through the sky towards his head. Giyu breaks down and is impressed by Tanjiro’s plan, when suddenly, Nezuko rushes towards her brother. Giyu curses his lateness before realizing Nezuko is protecting him.

Giyu remarks these two are different before non-fatally incapacitating Nezuko. Coming to, Tanjiro is told by Giyu to visit Sakonji Urokodaki and to keep Nezuko out of sunlight. Giyu quickly departs after these words, and Nezuko and Tanjiro bury the rest of their family before setting out on their adventure. So ends Demon Slayer's premiere chapter.

Giyu safely incapacitates Nezuko while remarking the two siblings seem different. (Image via Shueisha Shonen Jump app)
Giyu safely incapacitates Nezuko while remarking the two siblings seem different. (Image via Shueisha Shonen Jump app)

While Demon Slayer Chapter 1 doesn’t provide an answer to who killed Tanjiro’s family, this is answered a few chapters later. Muzan Kibutsuji, the progenitor of all demons and indirectly Demon Slayers, is revealed as the one who turned Tanjiro’s family. Tanjiro even meets Muzan a few short chapters after this and confronts him publicly, angering Muzan to the point of senseless murder.


Wrapping up

Demon Slayer’s premiere chapter gives certain clues as to who is responsible for the Kamado family’s death in many unique ways. While the answer isn’t made clear, fans do get some key clues as to who the culprit must be.

Giyu states that humans are turned into demons by ingesting demon’s blood in some way, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Tanjiro also cites a second smell at the Kamado household crime scene, confirming that Nezuko wasn’t responsible.

While Demon Slayer’s first chapter does a great job of setting the question up, the series doesn’t provide readers an answer right away. Roughly a dozen chapters later, fans are told that Muzan Kibutsuji, the forefather of demonkind, is responsible for the death of the Kamado family and Nezuko’s transformation.


Edited by Mason J. Schneider

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