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Demon Slayer & the New Sympathetic Shonen Protagonist

Ghouls are joined by their friend, Jeff to talk about their favorite horror anime of the past few years, Demon Slayer. Heroes like Tanjiro offer a refreshing look at the Shonen Hero that offers kindness. There's a trend in horror anime of combating otherness and prejudice by featuring protagonists that exist in both worlds. Learn more on today's episode!

Joined by guest, Jeff Bethea. Follow Jeff on social: Instagram @Quiet.Twin or visit his websites:

Sources in episode:


Demon Slayer & the New Sympathetic Shonen Protagonist Gabe Castro

RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

Demon Slayer and other horror anime allow us to understand the “other” monsters we encounter. By giving us a protagonist that lives in both worlds - human and monster, we can see the humanity in the monster.

Tokyo Ghoul - Kaneki is made into a ghoul to save his life and slowly sees the humanity in the Ghouls who are just trying to survive. The fact that there’s unrest within the underworld of Ghouls so the complexities of this race. There are good ghouls, bad ghouls and all the spaces inbetween. Looking at you gourmets. Sure, they’re enemies to humans but they’re not all evil, mindless, eating machines. They have feelings.

Parasyte: the Maxim - Shinichi and Migi Lefty Lopez are combined bc antics. This allows Shinichi to do the cliche Alien-visits-earth-and-learns-at-least-one-human-is-good-so-save-them-all act of convincing Migi not to eat people because that's bad?? But Migi also convinces Shinichi that his race is really just trying to survive. People happen to be really tasty. -shrug emoji- Shinichi eats meat, doesn’t he? Well, Migi and co are just the next rung on the evolutionary track. Sorry bud.

Demon Slayer - Although TANJIRO!!! (said like Zenitsu) isn’t a demon, his precious sole-surviving family member, Nezuko, is a demon. We know demons are evil. They eat people and wreak havoc for giggles. They murder his precious sweet too-good-to-be-true-you-know-they-were-gonna-get-murdered family.

And I would argue it isn’t Nezuko who teaches us that demons need sympathy because she’s honestly just unique and special. It's actually Tanjiro’s love and pure softboy heart that allows us to see the humanity in the demons. In a Yedoye episode of Get in the Robot (now Beyond the Bot) titled, Anime Sadboys: Not All Shonen Heroes are Jerks, Yedoye goes on to explain this new trend of having soft heroes like Tanjiro and Deku of My Hero Academia. Our protagonists’ role is to provide shoes for the audience to step into. Tanjiro’s shoes walk along a path of compassion and caregiving. As Yedoye explains in the video, he extends his compassion and care to more than just his family or friends but to strangers and even, his enemies. Even so far as to pray for them or provide mercy when bringing about their end, like he does with Mother Spider. It’s an interesting approach to provoking empathy that I hadn’t seen before.

With Kaneki and Shinichi, they had to become the enemy to understand they are people doing what they need to to survive. I think Tanjiro’s beautiful big softboy heart would have always allowed him to feel this empathy towards the demons. I mean, they murder his entire family and yet, he doesn’t harbor resentment. We don’t get a big angering speech like we get from Erin in Attack on Titan about how he’ll eradicate an entire species because he lost someone he loved (as if everyone else hasn’t lost someone. I guess no one cared enough huh?). No, instead Tanjiro plays a Dr. Kevorkian role of releasing these demons from their pained existence and not holding them at fault for succumbing to the curse that is being a demon.

Because of Tanjiro’s softboy heart and his intention to care for the enemy, the show gives us backstories for the villains we watch. I’d say all but the pedophile demon are someone to feel bad for. Even the spiders, as sinister and TERRIFYING as they are, they were given the care treatment. Mother Spider literally controls people with her strings and what terror the victims feel from being manipulated into murder and they’re CONSCIOUS THE WHOLE TIME and yet, Tanjiro gives her a swift and painless death. Older Sister Spider puts people into spiderweb balls that slowly disintegrate them for later consumption. Yo. And Older Brother Spider turns folx into Toy Story monstrosities of people-turned-spiders. Wild. Nightmares. And yet, we still feel bad for them. How can you do this to us, Tanjiro??


Media from this week's episode:

Demon Slayer (2019)

Summary by IMDB: A family is attacked by demons and only two members survive - Tanjiro and his sister Nezuko, who is turning into a demon slowly. Tanjiro sets out to become a demon slayer to avenge his family and cure his sister.


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