Surprisingly not. It is not inspired by Michael Jackson
One of the main villains in Kimetsu no Yaiba is Muzan Kibutsuji, the so-called king of demons., who with his blood can turn any person into a powerful being, in exchange for his subordination. However, one of his most characteristic elements is his white hat, pants of the same color, jacket and curly hair that could have reminded you of Michael Jackson, the king of pop (coincidence that they are both kings). But where does this curious appearance come from??
One of the first clues we have is the historical period in which the work of Koyoharu Gotouge takes place, the Taisho Era (1912-1926), the so-called process of modernization of Japan, in which they opened their doors to the world with fear, skepticism and desire for power. For this, it is not surprising that the inspiration of the main villain comes from the Italian mafias of that time, who dominated the area of Manhattan and the state of New York:
This date squares with the period, according to The Spanish: On January 17, 1920, the United States ran dry. The 18th Amendment, ratified a year earlier, prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” within the country. Thus began the era of Prohibition, almost 14 years of an unparalleled crime spree. Despite the fact that, technically, the Taisho Era is already a time of modernization and peace (contrary to the turbulent internal wars of the Meiji Era), Japanese society was still afraid of everything that came from the West.
Another example of them is Ten Nights of Sleep Natsume Soseki, in which through Ten dreams, ten trips to the subconscious, ten dreamlike, melancholic, anguished, dark, stormy visions and in which death is sometimes glimpsed, this Japanese author reveals his fears and insecurities (which he shared with most of the society of that time). On the last of nights we meet a dandy named Shōtarō who wears the so-called Panama hat, he ends up fighting a gang of pigs who try to lick him to death.
Since Sōseki seeks to share his inner fears, it’s not hard to see that this character represents his fear of what Western influence can do to the country.
Muzan Kibutsuji from Kimetsu no Yaiba is the fear of an age
For this reason, it is not surprising that Koyoharu Gotouge has decided to use this archetype of the Japanese imaginary of the time to represent his greatest fears and insecurities in the “King of Demons”. Another example of this Western connotation of this villain is the first meeting between Muzan Kibutsuji and Tanjiro Kamado, when they meet in the Asakusa entertainment district, a place that represents “Western perversion” in Japan.. Tanjiro even expresses how overwhelmed he is by all this technology and noise, and retreats to a udon stall to order noodles topped with grated Japanese mountain yams.
Everything about their meeting establishes the two characters as polar opposites. In one corner, you have Muzan in his modern-style clothes and hat that allow him to blend into a world of technology and electricity, where he can hide in plain sight. In the other corner, there is Tanjiro in his traditional Ichimatsu pattern (checkered) jacket, who has trouble assimilating and finds solace in food that reminds him of his rural upbringing in the natural world of the Japanese mountains.
The best way to “represent” how the West perverted Japanese society is that Muzan Kibutsuji has to give him his blood to “turn innocent beings into demons” and how they replicate his evil in society.. For example, Rui the Spider Demon creates a whole family of grotesque Spider Demons. Contrary to what we might think, spiders are considered very benevolent creatures in Japanese Buddhism. But Muzan, the walking symbol of modernity, took this gentle creature of nature and corrupted it into something terrifying.
Also Muzan also appears as a woman who wears a kimono when she is courting other demons., most of whom also wear traditional Japanese clothing. This type of seduction is one that plays with this symbolism between Japan and the West. It is for this reason that Muzan is depicted in all these various and seductive ways.
Related topics: demon slayer
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