Kimetsu no Yaiba, otherwise known as Demon Slayer, follows Tanjiro Kamado as he fights demons in the hopes of one day exacting revenge against the one who ravaged his home and turned his sister into a demon. As a demon slayer, Tanjiro travels to various destinations and becomes friends with a cowardly Zenitsu and wild Inosuke.
Koyoharu Gotōge’s hit manga was born from a simple premise layered in unique characters and circumstances that allowed it to stand out in a world saturated with dark fantasy. So, what manga sources did Gotōge pull inspiration from as he crafted this well-received story? Let’s review some famous and not so famous manga that influenced the making of Kimetsu no Yaiba.
10 Not So Famous: Blood+
In Blood+ Saya Otonashi is searching for her identity since her blood has the power to destroy grotesque creatures. Although not hunting for his identity, Tanjiro is on the lookout to better understand the new demonic version of his sister Nezuko, and how to revert her identity back into a human. By comparison, it’s another dark fantasy where a slayer is on the hunt to regain a precious part of their identity. The influential aspects may appear small, but the representation of dark supernatural and tragic elements is one found in various stories of this particular genre.
9 Famous: D. Gray-man
Besides the whole demon-creator/demon hunter combo, readers and viewers of D. Gray-man and Demon Slayer note distinct similarities between the two. First, both protagonists survive through tragic pasts that greatly impact their futures. Secondly, both protagonists possess an intrinsic kindness, akin to healing energy, when around others.
So, despite their frustrations, they continue to exude kindness. However, Allen Walker’s ending is not considered a happy one, but it may just prove different for Tanjiro.
8 Not So Famous: Peacemaker Kurogane
Both fall under the typical trope where the protagonist suffers an unfortunate tragedy that shapes their future. So, in Peacemaker Kurogane, Tetsunosuke Ichimura seeks revenge, which then leads to his journey of training in order to avenge his parents.
This mimics the sentiments held within Demon Slayer as Tanjiro seeks power to slay demons in order to not only avenge his family but to find the answer to saving his beloved sister. In this way, the influential power lies in the character arc and their journey of trial and error to reach greater heights.
7 Famous: Inuyasha
Demon Slayer possesses one too many similarities to hit manga Inuyasha to write it off as mere coincidence. One crazy influential aspect is the villains. The red eyes, wavy black hair, top-tier demon with minions, shape-shifting abilities, and goals both mirror each other.
Muzan may not obsessively seek out Kikyo like Naraku, but other than that, the two are eerily similar. Of course, other areas of the manga are strikingly similar to Inuyasha, but they both retain a load of lovable differences as well.
6 Not So Famous: Shiki
Drawing from the similarities between the two manga, Shiki possesses tell-tale components that point to influences in Demon Slayer. While Shiki learns towards the horror end of the dark fantasy spectrum, it includes supernatural elements of shiki, otherwise known as demon corpses, that take over a village.
Toshio Ozaki ends up leading the hunt and working to exterminate the shiki and find its main source. This mimics the way that Tanjiro works towards eliminating demons and finding the one pulling the strings behind the scenes.
5 Famous: Jojos Bizarre Adventure
The references plastered throughout Demon Slayer suggest that Gotōge took inspiration from Jojos Bizarre Adventure. Viewers and readers turned to Jojo upon finishing Demon Slayer, because of the intense amount of similarities between the two. So much so, that it’d come as a surprise if the manga didn’t influence Gotōge’s work.
One main similarity is combat style: Each possesses a breathing style, that when mastered, allows them to fight and defeat demons. In Jojo, this is known as Hamon.
4 Not So Famous: Dororo
Dororo, written by Osamu Tezuka, came out in the late 1960s but is currently undergoing a remake. What strikes a chord between the two manga is the search to transform the protagonist’s companion into a human. Both companions are female and provide motivation for the main characters to continue on their journey.
Nezuko becomes the motivation behind Tanjiro’s journey to gain strength and face down demons, while Dororo becomes the light for Hyakkimaru in order to propel him forward as they slay demons.
3 Famous: Rurouni Kenshin
When creating the main protagonist Tanjiro Kamado, Gotōge went to the drawing board with their editor’s feedback and took inspiration from Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga series Rurouni Kenshin.
The main character of Watsuki’s work has a distinct appearance with a striking scar on his face. Likewise, Tanjiro possesses a scar on his forehead. However, Gotōge goes further to incorporate earrings and works towards providing the audience with an androgynous protagonist.
2 Obscure: Gyo
Junji Ito is known for producing horror stories with many of those gaining a huge fan base. However, not all of his works make the top-tier. Although Gyo is more well known, the reference alluded to in the Demon Slayer manga strikes readers as one that provided a bit of influential pull in the hit series.
“Gyo” is typically used as a sound to indicate a fish out of water. However, it poses another meaning in Demon Slayer as Tokito, the mist Hashiro, is unable to defeat the fishy beast until the vase on its back is destroyed. This is similar to Ito’s work, where the fish remain unharmed until the machine device they carry is destroyed.
1 Famous: Kagarigari
Kagarigari is the manga that Gotōge not only created but used as the baseline for his hit manga Kimetsu no Yaiba. This 45-page one-shot demon slayer manga won in the 2013 Newcomer Treasure Award.
Gotōge used his manga as inspiration to further the development of a demon slayer premise and build upon that by layering in the addition of unique characters, demon powers, slayer abilities, and overall techniques. As you can see, even the incorporation of swords and the clothing style appear similar.
Demon Slayer had many manga influences, both famous and not! Here's a look at 5 famous manga that inspired this dark anime series & 5 non-famous ones!