it’s a well-known fact that Akaza is one of the best written characters in demon slayer, and that he is favored by most of the community to be the best upper moon in terms of character. But often, people cannot seem to articulate their appreciation for the character, so I thought, “Hey, I like Akaza too, so let’s talk about him.” It should go without saying, but spoilers. Also, make sure to like and subscribe to the channel since it helps me know whether you guys like this content and if I should make more.
I know he had a human name before, but it’s much easier to refer to him as one name throughout, so I’ll be using his more well-known name. Akaza is the killer over and Goku, and further strengthens Tanjiro’s drive to start Muzan. Akaza is a deep character whose every action in some way ties back to his past, and every comment he makes and action he takes stems directly from his past.
By no means am I saying this is the pinnacle of storytelling, but I am saying that this is one fact about his narrative that really helps to connect his past to his present, and it is instrumental in making the audience believe that he is a real character. Humans are complex creatures that are shaped by their environment and their experiences, and for someone who abandoned their humanity, it’s demonstrated so clearly how he is connected on a deep level to his past.
We should probably talk about his past and stop dodging it, since it is a key part of who he is. he was a young boy who was chained down by poverty, and this problem was only exacerbated by his sick father, whom he shows endless affection for. He became a pickpocket in order to get his father medicine so he could avoid dying, and is willing to lose limbs in order to keep stealing so he can protect his father’s health.
He was branded a demon child because of his criminal activities at such a young age, and this is where he acquired his infamous tattoos. We see the consequences of his actions. However, he sought strength so he could steal medicine. If he did not become stronger, then he could not win if his victims retaliated, and if he did not get stronger, then the magistrates would catch him and punish him.
However, in seeking strength, Akaza lost sight of the very thing that drove him to acquire it in the first place – his father. In seeking strength to steal medicine, Akaza placed a burden on his father, and he took his own life not wanting to live off stolen goods. And here we see the first of Akaza’s flaws as a human – his failure to see the problem. Instead of realizing that lusting for strength is what ultimately led to his father’s death, he instead blames the world around him and begins lashing out and assaulting those around him.
The final word Akaza ever received from his father was “live a righteous life, you can still change.” His father simply wanted Akaza to be a good person, and he failed to see his father’s wishes and instead directed the hate he was feeling towards himself towards others. Akaza reflects that he would have done anything for his father, he would have taken lashes for 100 years if it was for his sake, yet Akaza portrays that very notion by lashing out with his strength against those who would have done no wrong.
It is repeated many times that he should be honest and righteous, and at the critical points in his life, he fails to do so, showing a deep flaw within Akaza and a flaw that stands at the very center of his character. After assaulting many innocents, Akaza encounters Kaizo, someone who is perhaps one of the most important characters to his narrative.
Kaizo tells Akaza that he will be reborn. Akaza lashes out and is swiftly defeated by someone who walks a more humble path. Akaza then awakens sometime later. Kaizo has his own narrative that I won’t delve too deep into, but suffice to say, by Demon Slayer standards, he is a decent character. He is tasked by Kaizo to look after his sick daughter since Kaizo’s mother had drowned herself recently, and Kaizo must work, so he cannot look after her. It is here that we see the wall that is Upper Moon 3 begin to crack open, as he realizes that Koyuki reminds him all too much of Kaizo.
From here, we are introduced to Koyuki, the one who truly kills Akaza and brings back the human that was always there, buried beneath layers of guilt, regret, and self-hatred. The very instance that he remembers Koyuki, he begins to let out his true thoughts that he has been lying to himself the entire time, saving others, protecting them. He’d been lying through his whole life. Akaza reminds himself that Kaizo had truly saved him by bringing him to the dojo, and we see this really in effect after a three-year time skip. He seems much calmer and more humble, even blushing when he was told that Koyuki had feelings for him.
Kaizo also trusted this Akaza to inherit his dojo, continuing to teach the Suryu style, showing how he had changed from this raging animal that lashed out at the world, and into a calm master capable of inheriting Kaizo’s dojo. Akaza had truly been reborn that day in the street when he lost to Kaizo. He became a better person when his strength failed him that day. He became human. Akaza was so overcome with emotion that he would have died for the two people in front of him.
He would have given everything for them. They were true family to him, people he loved more than anything he ever had before, and people who had turned his life from being lashed and branded a demon child to a master of a dojo possessing a loving family. To further the righteous man he was becoming, only after losing to Kaizo did Akaza truly abide by his father’s dying wish. Only by not having enough strength to win did Akaza truly claim victory over his life.
Akaza had reached his happiness, and then it was ripped away from him through his lost decisio, and becoming a good man. Akaza and Kaizo were unstoppable and undefeatable masters of combat, whenever they thought they could not be defeated, and so someone placed poison in the well that they drank from and killed Koyuki and Kaizo. Akaza only survived because he was off doing something else at the time.
We are shown a scene of Akaza and Koyuki at a nighttime fireworks show, something Akaza had told the then-sick Koyuki that she would eventually see. She tells Akaza of this, how Akaza told her that she could see the fireworks next year. He had seen into her future, whereas everyone else had only seen the present Koyuki, who was frail and sick. This meant everything to Koyuki, and Akaza is made aware, and a heartwarming scene ensues.
Koyuki asks Akaza to marry her, and he accepts, vowing he will become stronger than anyone else in order to protect her. This promise is critical to who Akaza is and who he became. The death of Koyuki and Kaizo broke Akaza. He abandoned all the growth he had made. He once again betrayed his father’s wishes, and this time he betrayed Kaizo too.
Kaizo had helped Akaza to be remade into a man who wasn’t held down by the criminal tattoos on his body, but in the aftermath of his family’s death, Akaza lashed out at the world once again and brutally murdered the opposing dojo, killing all of its students who may or may not have any involvement in the poisoning. Akaza did not ask questions; he simply lashed out and killed without remorse.
Akaza lost sight of who he was as a human, and this is where he became a demon. Encountering Muzon, the first demon, forcefully turns Akaza into a demon, and Akaza loses his memories as a result. From this encounter, Akaza completely regressed as a person. He lost sight of who he was, lost sight of the people he held close and what they had taught him. He lost sight of his father’s words, lost sight of Keizo’s teachings, and most importantly, he lost sight of the one he loved.
Akaza once again began seeking strength. He had nothing left; he wanted to protect. He was simply seeking strength without rhyme or reason, without a cause. Akaza had nothing. For over 100 years, he pointlessly killed, and for over 100 years, he betrayed everything that he once was.
Tandro had forced the memories Akaza had lost to re-enter his mind, and with one last punch from Tandro, Akaza finally remembers who he was. “It’s time for you to be reborn,” Tandro says. Akaza remembers that fateful day, how his entire life changed, and from a demon to a human. Akaza then loses the will to fight anymore. This one scene is a perfect reflection of his history repeating itself and how his father told him it’s not too late to change.
Instead of lashing out at the world, Akaza lashes out at himself. All the self-hatred he had buried floods to the surface of who he was. He had covered his master Soryu’s style in blood. He had killed with fists meant to protect. This all boils to the surface, and Akaza, from the demon he was, lashes out at himself as the true person he wanted to kill was himself.
He hated the things he had done and how much he had betrayed the people he loved. With an air of gratitude directed towards Tanju, Akaza unleashes his annihilation style upon himself. However, his demon body would not allow him to enter hell, keeping him alive forcefully due to his regeneration.
It is here that Akaza encounters the ghosts of his past: his father, who smiles at Akaza, holding no malice towards him as he never had; his master Keizo, who reminds him that even in death, they would not forsake him, reminding him of the bond that they once shared.
Akaza begins to cry as it all floods into him, and then he remembers Muzan, who, in stark contrast to the warm hands of his master and father, grabs Akaza forcefully by his hair, signifying the distinction of love and indifference that separates those who cared for Kaiser and those who did not. Muzon asks Akaza, “Wasn’t your goal to be strong?” And Akaza begins to regress. He stands ready to fight; he will get stronger.
Losing his head means nothing, and he will just kill them all. But then Akaza sees the purpose of his strength, why he wanted to be strong, the reason he was so blinded by this being the strongest, the embodiment of his promise. On that night, he sees Kaiuki and she thanks him, “You’ve done enough.” Muzan’s black void is drowned out by her light, and without another word, Akaza begins to cry, grabbing Kaiuki and holding her tight. He begs for her forgiveness, apologizing over and over, begging to be forgiven and bowing his eyes.
In this moment, Akaza returns to who he once was, he returns to the man that would inherit Keizer’s dojo, the man that would marry Koyuki. He becomes Hakugi once again, he becomes human again, echoed by his transition on the page from his demon form to himself before becoming a demon, his human form.
And then Akaza passes away, free from the guilt he once held and the hatred he possessed. He completes his narrative. It is not an understatement to say that in all of Knoy, he is the single best-written character. His development from a troubled youth into a man who had won in life, who had a family and a reason to live, developing from the demon child into the righteous sorry master, and then falling from this into the demon that is Upper Moon Three, it’s truly amazing to see his whole narrative.
In my eyes, it’s about losing sight of who you are. He echoes this throughout his entire story, and it is especially apparent with how Akaza has this duality with strength. He endlessly seeks to get stronger, but because he lost sight of who he was, he also lost sight of why he wanted to get stronger, to protect what he held dear, the promise he made with his wife.
His story, minus some details, can happen to anyone, and it makes it incredibly relatable, but not only that, it makes it incredibly enjoyable too. He is a deep character because he reflects the reality of a person who has lost sight of themselves. Take a look at Akaza. I think another aspect of his narrative, and perhaps maybe a wider trait of Demon Slayer as a whole, is this idea that weakness is not something to be ashamed of, but it gives us strength.
Every time he lost a fight, he became a better human. His last decays completely changed his entire life, and his last encounter made him realize all the sins he had committed. “It’s time for you to be reborn.” It’s such a critical quote because it is applied in both instances. It was never strength that protected he or protected those around him. It was staying on the righteous path and becoming a better person like his father always wished for him.
If he had never sought strength so feverishly to protect those around him, he would likely never have become a demon or betrayed his master. Akaza’s character arc is him developing from a demon into a human and then losing sight of who he was as a human and thus becoming a demon once again. And when he finally remembers who he truly was, he embraces his humanity and completes his arc. The moral of his story is that no matter how far gone you are or how blind you have become to who you really are, it is never too late to turn back and become the human you once were.
So some miscellaneous stuff that I wanted to talk about, but I couldn’t really fit in that section about his history. First, I want to return to how I mentioned that everything he does is influenced by his history. We see this pretty evidently with his views on weakness. He despises weakness because it was those weaker than him that poisoned his family and took away those he loved. Thus, he seeks to remove it wherever he can, which ties into his endless goal of strength, which in and of itself further ties into his promise with his wife.
Another thing I should mention is his refusal to hurt women, which is almost certainly born from his promise to protect his wife. Even an amnesiac he seemingly cannot bring himself to hurt women since probably the most important person in his life was a frail and sick woman who he vowed to protect. This is slightly different, but I want to get into a little meta for a moment and talk about his compass. I believe his compass to be an analogy to himself.
The compass and how it improves his combat ability is analogous to his search for himself through combat, endlessly fighting to either run from his past or discover who he once was. Thank you for reading, and stay cursed everyone.
That’s me, Andreea Blaga, author of the blog anime-everything.com. I work as a content creator in the US. I am also passionate about Japanese Anime.