Nezuko’s adult form in ‘Demon Slayer’ causes a stir

demon slayer is one of the hottest anime shows right now, with manga sales so high it’s grabbing the attention of Western news. The story of Tanjiro Kamado, orphaned by a demon attack, trying to become a demon slayer and turn his younger sister, Nezuko, into a human caught the attention of many, myself included. With the most recent episodes, the show has made Nezuko one of the show’s most powerful characters, but her adult form creates talk.

Spoiler for demon slayer

In the current arc of demon slayer, the characters are on a mission in the Red Light District (renamed the Entertainment District arc, due to concern from Japanese parents). Tanjiro is with the Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui, and the good trio of Zenitsu and Inosuke, with Nezuko in his box for the majority of this arc.

While fighting the Upper Six Demon Daki, unfortunately, Tanjiro found himself outmatched, but Nezuko kicked out of his box. She started to confront Daki and had her body severed multiple times. She then transformed, due to the fight, into her adult demon form and became… well, a busty demonic woman.

nezuko in her demonic form vs her normal form

It started a conversation because Nezuko was canonically 14 and some thought it was hyper-sexualization of minors, and others thought the backlash was a policy of purity on an adult show.

My feelings about fan service in anime have always been on a case-by-case basis.

Although overdone and off-putting to many, I’ve come to really love the series. kill her kill her and enjoy his story even if you’re still wondering if he should be as fan-service as he was. Fire Forces fan service regarding one character was handled in such an obnoxious and gratuitous way that I actively fast-forwarded through his scenes.

Personally, I’ve never been upset that women have big boobs in anime if they’re mean and not just defined by it (Tsunade from narutoRangiku Matsumoto’s Bleachand even the women of Tengen in demon slayer because all of them, including Tengen, are hot). What I find irritating about Nezuko’s adult design is how generic and uninteresting it is.

Despite the violence and disturbing scenes, it is also important to realize that shonen is a genre aimed at teenagers. It’s not “for adults”. It’s literally for 12-18 year olds. The way female characters have been poorly served in the genre is one of them. It is not because it is translated, in the United States, by an “R” that the public for which it is intended is made up of adults.

Changes have been made, and we have so many badass female characters, but it still sometimes leads to times where the character who usually looks like a twelve-year-old suddenly transforms into a buxom form to show that she’s “an adult”.

I don’t find that offensive; I find that boring. As a busty woman, I love seeing busty women kick ass, but if all you want to do is sexualize boobs, then maybe you don’t deserve them?

I’m just laughing at how the outfit works perfectly to show off her curves, but it’s done in the most fashionable way possible. I’d appreciate it more if it was just that, you know, his clothes don’t fit and everything looks awkward, rather than his clothes fitting perfectly on his body – more Hulk, less fan service.

There is no problem with Nezuko’s adult body or adult form having large breasts. It’s just kind of annoying that her body in this form only exists to look sexy.

Especially when she can’t speak or be an active part of the story because she’s in the box a lot. It would be really interesting if we got a glimpse of how Nezuko feels about being in a child’s body all the time and not being able to grow normally.

Also, I don’t like that she has a mature, adult body also means she’s out of control. Part of the story is that being in this form, right now, means she’s out of control and bloodthirsty, and that’s a bit of a shame.

People brought up the fact that the creator of the series, Koyoharu Gotouge, was revealed to be a woman (apparently, an employee of Weekly Shōnen Jump revealed it), and it’s used as a “gotcha” when people talk about it.

(1) Women can perpetuate sexism, (2) women can also simply enjoy the aesthetics of large breasts, and (3) Nezuko’s juxtaposition with breasts in her adult form against her preteen form is also a choice of design that makes the revelation more interesting and therefore this could be the reason.

Anime fandom has always been a place where nuance will die, but even more so now, with Twitter, it’s become a place where every disagreement has to be moral judgment beyond measure. If you’re uncomfortable with an element of fan service, you’re called a prude who doesn’t get anime and can’t tell the difference between real and fictional boobs. If you don’t mind, you are told that you are comfortable sexualizing minors.

None of these hyperbolic statements protect anyone online. There are a lot more nuances to be had, but they get lost because Twitter is awful and has fostered an environment where hyperbole is better for clicks.

I’ve been reading manga since I was a preteen. My parents, though cautious, didn’t censor things too much for me. I didn’t need to learn from manga and anime how young girls can be sexualized. I learned walking outside in a shirt that because of my own bust, grown men would see me in a hyper-sexualized way. For this reason, badass busty girls in fiction have always been my heroes.

That’s why I tend to push back when people act like Lara Croft having big breasts makes her an inherently weaker character than the more “realistic”, smaller, more athletic build (realistic to whom?) of the recent version of the character. Having curves while wearing clothes and just wanting to exist, when people want to judge you for your cleavage, it’s exhausting.

But while that’s true for real people, fictional characters are designed by people whose motives are right to criticize.

I can appreciate and enjoy Nezuko stomping on a demon in her adult form, while wondering…did they need to design this transformation in the sexiest way possible? Because Nezuko isn’t real. She was drawn that way.

Engaging in this review doesn’t mean you want to cancel the show. That doesn’t mean you can’t tell real boobs from fake ones. That doesn’t mean you’re thinking, “Couldn’t somebody please think about the kids?”

This means that you are simply asking the question whether this design choice was good, because it has been a choice that was made and not made in a vacuum. I love demon slayer; that’s why I’m getting involved.

And as always, the best way to protect minors, especially young girls, is to listen to them and not shame them with their bodies.

TL; DR having big boobs in anime is not automatically sexualization. How this design is presented and the context around it makes all the difference, and Nezuko’s demonic form leans a bit towards fan service for me. But that’s just my opinion.

(photo: Fuji TV)

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