Muzan’s Demon Slayer Hat has a horror tradition behind it

When Tanjiro Kamado first met Muzan Kibutsuji on Demon Slayer, series ‘Big Bad maybe not exactly what most viewers expect. Dedicated to the legendary Demon King who lived over a millennium and set Tanjiro on the path to becoming a Demon Slayer by ruthlessly slaughtered most of his family, Muzan looks… um, a bit like Michael Jackson from the “Smooth Criminal” video: White pants, white tie and loose curly hair coming out from underneath a white hat and all. But that outfit isn’t just a bold fashion choice. It’s another example of the Japanese horror tradition of dreading modern things and their perverse effects.

Demon Slayer took place during the Taisho Era (1912-1926), a period of steady modernization following the tumultuous years of the Meiji Restoration when the shogunate was abolished, the Emperor returned to power and Japan opened up. border with the world. During this time, foreign fashion became very popular in Tokyo and beyond, which Muzan is fully embracing. Demon Slayer not the first work of fiction to associate Western-style clothing with something scary and sinister. You can find a similar theme in one of the earliest works of the modern Japanese horror/fantasy genre, of the same genre. Demon Slayer happen find itself in.

Published in 1908, just a few years before the beginning of the Taisho Era, Ten Nights of Dreams is the work of Natsume Sōseki, one of the most famous writers in Japanese history. Every school in the country has at least one work by Sōseki, and while the 1908 anthology rarely makes the list, not a single Japanese adult lives without knowing its author’s name.

Stories featured in Ten Nights of Dreams most of them have no connection other than the fact that they take place in dreams but all in all, they seem to revolve around a central, dual theme: the fear of an unknown future , modernizing, and yearning for a traditional world that is peaceful but also full of power and Nature. In “The Seventh Night,” a character dreams of being on a giant steamship that sends black smoke into the sky. Most of the passengers were foreigners and the dreamer felt lost and alone among them as the train headed west. On the other hand, “The Sixth Night” is about the dreamer who cannot find beauty like the sculptures of real-life artist Unkei (1150 – 1223) in wood from the Meiji period.

The main themes of the collection seem to come together in “The Tenth Night” about a dashing Shōtarō, who wears a hat known as Panama and is really the only character to flow from story to story. another story, briefly mentioned in “Eighth Night. In the final story of the anthology, Shōtarō arrives in a green meadow and ends up fighting a herd of pigs that are trying to lick him. Given the way that all the previous stories will inevitably read like Sōseki when dealing with his legitimate anxieties about his rapidly changing homeland, it’s tempting to interpret the story as fearsome. more afraid that going full (I said what I said) about foreign culture will lead to some kind of disaster and turn nature into something sinister.

Muzan says goodbye to his family in a still from season 1 of Demon Slayer

Image: Ufotable

It’s a choice that repeats through Muzan’s storyline, even if it’s not entirely clear what hat Muzan is wearing. Regardless of whether it is a real Panama hat (or a narrow felt hat, or a three-hole hat without the distinctive crease in the back), this choice evokes similar influences in the stories of Shotaro. This does not mean that the author of Demon Slayer, Koyoharu Gotōge, literally and figuratively, is modernization and technology – considering he almost certainly used a tablet to draw his best-selling manga and communicate using a mobile phone instead of Kasugai Crow. But there’s no denying that Muzan’s hat is Western, it seems that the anime has attempted to establish the Demon King as a malicious force particularly associated with modern times. And it doesn’t end with his outfit.

It’s no coincidence that Muzan and Tanjiro cross the street for the first time at the Asakusa entertainment district, a symbol of Western modernity bathed in artificial light with trams crossing the street. Right before the two characters meet, Tanjiro even expresses how overwhelmed he feels by this technology and noise, and retreats to a udon stall to order some noodles topped with sweet potatoes. Japanese mountains.

Everything about their encounter is establishing the two characters as polar opposites. In one corner, you have Muzan in a modern suit and hat that allows him to blend into the worlds of technology and electricity, where he can hide in plain sight. In the other corner, there is Tanjiro in his traditional Ichimatsu (checkered) cloth coat, who is having a hard time fitting in and finds solace in food that reminds him of growing up in Japan. his countryside in the natural world of the mountains of Japan.

Even if it was a deliberate nod Ten Nights of Dreams or not, it is definitely an example of Demon Slayer according to the well-established patterns found in great number of on the modern Japanese horror and fantasy genre, which itself seems to have taken a few cues from Natsume Sōseki.

In the novel of 1927 Kappa by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, another famous Japanese author, the world of typical Japanese works (traditions/nature) becomes a satirical backwardness where workers’ kappas are captured and consumed by their relatives after their society adopted the modern lifestyle. Gojira tells the story of an ancient beast (the natural world) that becomes destroyed by encountering an atomic bomb (modern/technological). More recently, you have Ring, where the ghost child Sadako is often seen drenched in water, making her look like a deadly water god (nature damaged) who kills people via VHS tapes, the modern technology of 1991 when the original was. Ring novel published. The Grudge franchise is a story about the destruction of a traditional Japanese family unit in a modern suburb, while 2021 Forest village commits suicide uses the internet as a mediator between the protagonists and a malicious force of nature.

Demon Slayer seems to be conversing with those stories, as it portrays Muzan as an evil force that infiltrates modern times to corrupt nature. The best example is Muzan’s creation of Rui, a Spider Demon who in turn creates an entire family of grotesque Spider Demons. Traditionally, spiders are actually considered very benevolent creatures in Japanese Buddhism. In the short story The thread of the spider by Ryunosuke Akutagawa – published in 1918 in the middle of the Taisho Era – a spider sent by Buddha to Hell to help save a sinner. But Muzan, the walking icon of modern times, has taken that gentle creature of nature and transformed it into something terrifying.

A spider demon in episode 17 of season 1 of Demon Slayer

Image: Ufotable

It is true that in later episodes, Muzan also appears as a kimono-clad woman as he stands trial before other Demons, most of whom are dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. This may be related to the Devil (or “Oni”) themselves being part of traditional Japanese culture. The myth of Oni dates back to at least the 10th century, and over the past millennium these creatures have become an important part of Japanese folklore, often playing villains. for the brave heroes of legends or classic plays to defeat. In anime like Seven Dragon Balls, They are even treated like a comic book. In short, they are not taken too seriously in their traditional state. Even in Demon Slayer, Before Muzan was born, Devils were primarily depicted as snarling, almost mindless beasts. Danger, sure, but no more or less, say, a hungry bear.

But after that Demon Slayer Dress the most powerful Oni out there in the official uniform of imagined terror and the corruption of his first appearance. It shows that the Demon King is very intelligent and capable of hiding in plain sight in the modern world, but he is also more than just a monster. He has transcended his traditional roots and become a more insidious, supernatural force to be reckoned with. And all those complicated themes were conveyed through a simple, soft white hat.

https://www.polygon.com/22904658/demon-slayer-muzan-hat-costume-explained-horror Muzan’s Demon Slayer Hat has a horror tradition behind it

Aila Slisco

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