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Cruelty ( (ざん) (こく) Zankoku?) is the first chapter of Koyoharu Gotōge's Kimetsu no Yaiba.

Summary

The chapter starts off with a young boy, Tanjiro Kamado, carrying an unconscious girl through a snowy path on his back. This girl is revealed to be his younger sister, Nezuko Kamado, and she is seen to be bleeding profusely. Tanjiro treks frantically through the snow and begs her to stay alive, vowing he would save her.

The scene then cuts to a flashback of events that had occurred the day before. As the New Year was arriving, Tanjiro intended to go into town to sell some charcoal in order to have plenty of food on the table for New Years. His younger siblings, Hanako and Shigeru, overhear him and beg to go as well but their mother sternly refuses, saying they would only cause him trouble. Tanjiro calls out to his younger brother, Takeo, and asks him to chop the firewood while he's away, much to his disappointment of wanting to chop wood with Tanjiro.

Despite his mother's concern for his safety, he bids goodbye to his mother and his siblings, as he sets off he runs into Nezuko who is rocking the youngest child, Rokuta, to sleep. She bids him farewell and Tanjiro sets off on his journey towards the nearby town.

As Tanjiro arrives in the town, everyone is delighted to see him and immediately call him over to buy some of his charcoal. One of the villagers cries out to Tanjiro and asks him to take a whiff of a broken vase to see who the culprit was, his keen sense of smell is able to detect that it was a cat at fault and not the villager who was being held responsible for it.

As the sun begins to set, Tanjiro begins his journey home however as he begins to ascend the mountain he is stopped by an elder by the name of Saburo. He forbade him from going back to the mountains as the sky was about to turn dark. Tanjiro told him not to worry as his nose can smell anything but Mr Saburo told him to take refuge in his house for the night in case of a Demon attack. Tanjiro then gave in to the persistent man. Although he dismissed Mr Saburo's words, Tanjiro remembered that his grandmother said the same thing before she passed away.

Once the sun rose, Tanjiro made his way back. The first thing he saw was a bloodied Nezuko and Rokuta lying on the snowy ground. Terrified, he went to check the house. It looked ransacked, and there were blood splatters everywhere. Everyone in his family is dead. His mother died protecting Hanako, and Takeo and Shigeru were lying beside them. As Nezuko was the only one with somebody warmth, Tanjiro hurriedly brought her to see a doctor.

On the way down, Nezuko started to come to life. She tries to bite him with her fangs but Tanjiro was able to block the attack with his axe handle. Many questions emerged in Tanjiro's mind in a split second– was Nezuko a demon? But isn't she a human? Was she the one that killed his family? He theorizes that she did not kill them as she had a different scent from the person who attacked his family.

As she was pinning him down, her body and strength grew. Tanjiro suddenly felt guilt and remorse for not being there for his family, and even more so for his sister, as he was not able to save her from becoming a Demon. He felt that her new Demon blood would overpower her, therefore he decided to try to save her from taking her first victim– her own brother.

He tried to appeal to her humanity, or what's left of it. Tanjiro encouraged her to stop, and to try her best to hold the Demon blood back. Eventually, she stopped and started to cry; and upon seeing her tears, he cried too.

Suddenly, a man tried to strike at Nezuko. Tanjiro rolled himself and Nezuko away to avoid the attack. This katana wielding man asked why Tanjiro was protecting a Demon. Tanjiro told him that Nezuko is his sister, but the man still insisted on killing her. Tanjiro begged him and reasoned that Nezuko has not killed anyone, he will stop her from killing anyone, and that he will find a cure for her. Angrily, the swordsman went on a tirade telling Tanjiro that he was too weak to protect himself, let alone his sister. However, deep down, the swordsman felt slightly guilty as he arrived too late to prevent Tanjiro's family from being killed.

While Tanjiro was left forlorn, the swordsman stabbed Nezuko in the chest, causing her great pain. Tanjiro immediately threw a rock at him and charged at him. The man became angry, as it was merely an emotionally charged attack. He knocked Tanjiro out cold but realizes that Tanjiro was not carrying his axe. He looks up into the sky and nearly dodges a falling axe attack. The swordsman then becomes aware of Tanjiro's resolve to save his sister while sacrificing even his own life. Tanjiro had used the rock to distract the swordsman while he threw his only weapon in the air, leaving himself defenseless as Tanjiro put in motion the plan to take out both himself and the swordsman.

While the swordsman was distracted, Nezuko rushed to Tanjiro's motionless body. The swordsman cursed for letting his guard down, as he will now be witnessing a Demon attack. However, he was unprepared for what he was going to see. Nezuko was defending her brother from him! The swordsman then recalled that there was a person who once said the same thing– that the Demon would not eat anyone, but the person was eaten by that very Demon in the end. Demons high up in the mountains will even eat their parents and siblings if they're hungry. This Demon in front of him not only did not eat her brother to replenish her already starving condition, but her defensive stance was also warning the swordsman not to hurt Tanjiro. She then charged at the swordsman who decided to sheath his sword.

Feeling that she will be different from the other Demons, he knocks her out too instead of killing her.

As he was unconscious, Tanjiro dreamt that his dead mother and siblings were surrounding him. His mother apologized for leaving him and told him that she will be leaving Nezuko in his care. Tanjiro woke up with tears in his eyes, and Nezuko, with bamboo in her mouth to rein her fangs, still lying unconscious beside him. They were still alive.

The swordsman appears behind a tree and asked them to look for an elder named Urokodaki Sakonji who lives at the foot of Mount Sagiri and to tell him that Tomioka Giyu sent them. He also advised Tanjiro not to bring his sister out in the sun before disappearing.

Tanjiro then buried the dead members of his family beside his house while Nezuko looked on dazedly.

Finally, the Tanjiro took Nezuko by the hand and they started on their journey to look for this man named Urokodaki Sakonji.

Characters in Order of Appearance

Gallery

  • The deceased Kamado family
  • Tanjiro saving Nezuko
  • Giyu attacking Nezuko
  • Nezuko and Tanjiro burying their family

Events

  • Kamado Tanjiro's whole family is killed by a Demon
  • Kamado Nezuko is turned into a Demon
  • Tanjiro and Nezuko encounter the Water Pillar, Tomioka Giyu.

References


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