Demon Slayer Needs to Cool It With Its ‘Dead Mom’ Act

Demon Slayer has plenty of family drama to drive its story along, including the frequent deaths of the main characters’ parents. Shonen anime fans are used to the “dead protagonist parents” trope, starting with Kie Kamado’s death at Muzan Kibutsuji’s hands, but Muichiro Tokito’s recent flashback has finally gone too far with the “dead mom” trend in Demon Slayer.

Most of Demon Slayer’s mothers seem to exist solely so they can die and give their sons tragic backstories to motivate them, and it has become shallow and repetitive to see. Muichiro’s unnamed mother wasn’t even slightly developed as a person, partially ruining the point of Muichiro regaining his memories of his childhood and family.

Muichiro Tokito’s Memories & Dead Mothers In Demon Slayer

In Demon Slayer’s “Swordsmith Village” story arc, Muichiro was introduced as the absent-minded but stern mist Hashira, a young man who’s all business and evidently has no emotional attachments to anything. Then protagonist Tanjiro Kamado passionately urged Muichiro to fight hard for others, which helped Muichiro recall his childhood memories. In those days, he wanted so badly to help others, but his overbearing brother Yuichiro had other ideas. The brothers couldn’t save their mother, after all, and their father died trying to help her. This clearly explained Muichiro’s mindset, but it also did a disservice to the brothers’ unnamed mother.
In Muichiro’s memories, his mother served only as a plot device and nothing more. She had no name, no dialogue and no personal development, becoming yet another dead mom whose passing motivated the hero. Muichiro’s father was hardly any better, with his anticlimactic death reinforcing the grim point Yuichiro wanted to make about the risks of helping others. Even if shonen anime often takes parents lightly and kills them off for drama’s sake, this flashback with Muichiro regaining his memories is a waste. Muichiro’s unnamed mother joins the ranks of Kie Kamado, Genya’s mother, and even Daki and Gyutaro’s mother as token Demon Slayer moms who died simply so the characters would have something to cry about.
All this does a disservice to Demon Slayer’s most wholesome and lovable characters — the mothers who gave everything for their sons and daughters. Demon Slayer’s flashbacks are thus becoming same-y with all these helpless moms getting killed off, and it actually harms rather than helps the series’ emotional core. Strong emotions are a major foundation of the franchise, and if the emotions derive from the same overused trope that insults the series’ most underrated female characters, it may bother even the most devoted fans. This trope is sticking out for all the wrong reasons.
How Demon Slayer Can Improve Its Mothers
Even if shonen parents are expected to play only minor roles so their teenage kids can be the stars, Demon Slayer can and should give the parent characters, especially the mothers, a little more substance. They can be more than convenient plot points to drive the story’s drama — they can also be inspirational and influential characters, and Demon Slayer’s main cast will owe their mothers everything if this is done right. So far, Tanjuro Kamado is the series’ best parent, with Tanjiro’s memories of Tanjuro’s ceremonial dance about Hinokami Kagura. Tanjiro owes a lot to his father via that informative flashback and Tanjuro’s words in the “Mugen Train” story arc, so the mothers can and should follow suit.
Already, Demon Slayer has proven that its mother characters can do better, mainly with Kyokuro Rengoku’s mother, Ruka. While Kyojuro’s father Shinjuro played a larger role in Kyojuro’s life, Ruka had a substantial role as well, inspiring her eldest son with kind, motivational words that stuck with him. When Kyojuro was dying in the “Mugen Train” arc’s finale, he fondly recalled not his father but rather, his mother, and he thanked her for everything as he prepared to die. For once, Demon Slayer made a mother important and impactful in a major character’s life, slightly offsetting the anime’s trend of helpless moms who get killed off so casually.
Muichiro memories, unfortunately, continued the dead mom trend, but if Demon Slayer can have one good maternal flashback sequence, it can do so again, and several Demon Slayer heroes might have better, more interesting mothers to think about — perhaps Mitsuri Kanroji the love Hashira, for example. Demon Slayer needs another Ruka Rengoku to make up for Muichiro’s mother, who wasn’t even flattered with a name, let alone a substantial role to play in her two sons’ tragic stories.

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