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Tanjiro's iconic look in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba almost didn't happen

All art is a collaborative process.

Demon Slayer Tanjiro's scar and earrings
Image credit: Ufotable

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Sometimes simple instructions can yield powerful results. When the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga was still in development, Weekly Shonen Jump editor Tatsuhiko Katayama gave series creator Koyoharu Gotouge a couple of notes to help bring the characters to life. The result was one of the most successful manga series of all time.

During an interview with Shueisha, Katayama explained that he felt that many of the character designs were too plain and lacked something unique to make them instantly recognizable. That included giving some notes on bringing the main character Tanjiro to life. “Tanjiro originally didn’t have any scars or earrings. I told Gotouge-sensei to add them when making a draft. I said there was no impact in his appearance and that I wanted something to make him pop, like how Rurouni Kenshin has that scar.”

Gotouge apparently responded with a simple “Got it” and made the requested change to Tanjiro’s appearance. While those details might seem small on the surface, one of the biggest reasons Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is so popular is its simple yet instantly recognizable character designs. Tanjiro’s earrings and scar not only make him “pop” on the page, but they have also become a core part of his character.

This collaborative approach isn’t unique to Demon Slayer’s manga – pretty much every book, movie, or comic you’ve read or watched is the result of multiple, sometimes dozens of people providing their input and striving to make it better. The best creatives are those who know how to use that feedback effectively, knowing it will improve their work as a whole.

Slay on, Demon Slayer. As we prep for new installments of the Demon Slayer anime, here's a survival kit to help you. First, a guide to all the major Demon Slayer characters. Second, recommendations for how (and where) to watch all of Demon Slayer. Third, context of why Demon Slayer is so popular. Fourth, when we think Demon Slayer season 4 is coming out. And also, how Demon Slayer ends (at least in the manga).

And as a bonus, you can watch the full NYCC Demon Slayer panel with the voice cast.

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