Why Did Tanjirou Cut His Neck in Mugen Train?

It seems like a pretty drastic thing to do, but it worked out very well for Tanjirou. So, why did Tanjirou cut his neck?

Tanjirou has very keen instincts and felt something was off quickly after he entered his dream. He then surmised that his death in the dream world would wake him in the real world. It’s not a straightforward act, however, so he needed a little nudge from a vision of his father.

Why Did Tanjirou’s Father Appear in His Dream World?

Tanjirou’s father did not actually appear in his dream world. Instead, the vision of him was just the last chain in Tanjirou’s mental struggle to convince himself to cut his neck. The chain goes as follows:

    1. Tanjirou’s insanely keen instincts cause him to notice something is off about the dream world right away.
    2. The feeling of “out of placeness” causes elements from reality to appear. This starts small with a glimpse of Nezuko’s box but grows stronger until Tanjirou eventually sees his own reflection dressed in his Demon Slayer Corps outfit in the water.
    3. Tanjirou starts trying to wake himself up from this point onwards but is struggling.
    4. After Nezuko headbutts Tanjirou and she starts bleeding, Tanjirou senses this and goes back to his normal appearance. He still fails to wake up, but his subconscious hints become stronger and stronger.
    5. He starts realizing what he needs to do to wake up, but to cut his neck is not a straightforward thing to go through with. A vision of his father then manifests to put his realization into words.
    6. Tanjirou decides to follow his instinct, which tells him he needs to die in the dream world to wake up in the real world. He then cuts his neck.

Seems far-fetched? The Demon Slayer manga spells it out much more clearly than the Mugen Train movie and anime. Take a look below for yourself:

Tanjirou's instincts at work

How Many Times Does Tanjirou Cut His Neck?

It happens very quickly at times, so I may be off by 1 or 2 times, but it should be very close:

    • Once to wake up from his dream
    • 8 times in his initial encounter with Enmu
    • 7 more times when fighting Enmu together with Inosuke (almost 8 if Inosuke didn’t stop him from doing it in the real world)

…that’s a total of 16 times.

In the manga, it’s “only” about half of that. It’s quite a bit more gruesome in the manga, though:

Tanjirou cuts his own neck

Interested in other differences between the manga, anime and movie? Check out this article I wrote or buy the manga to experience it for yourself and support the author. You can buy volumes 7 and 8 of the manga (the whole Mugen Train arc) on Amazon here or click here to get the entire (completed) series (affiliate links).


John Winkels

In recent years, the amount of series I watched and read has reached three digits. I love digging deep into different versions of the source material (anime, manga, light novels) and sharing the results with you.

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