Despite her young age, Kanao is a high-ranking member of the Demon Slayer Corps, originally serving as the Tsuguko (successor) of her adoptive older sister Shinobu Kocho. She is a practitioner of the Flower Breathing form, a skill passed down to her by her adoptive older sister Kanae Kocho.
For most of her life Kanao was an emotionless husk who couldn't think independently due to her harsh upbringing. Kanao's emotional state began to change when she met Tanjiro Kamado, a fellow Demon Slayer who convinced her to live her life according to her heart.
Her arch-nemesis was Doma, a powerful Demon and member of the Twelve Demon Moons who held the position of Upper Moon Two. Doma was the Demon responsible for the death of both of her adoptive sisters, Kanae and later Shinobu. She was finally able to destroy her nemesis with the help of Inosuke Hashibira during the raid of Kibutsuji's fortress.
She is voiced by Reina Ueda in the Japanese version of the anime, and by Brianna Knickerbocker in the English version of the anime.
Kanao is a young teenage girl with large, lilac colored eyes that appear very gentle and are framed by thick eyelashes. She has thin black hair with a straight fringe and two chin-length strands that curve downwards from above each ear. She's commonly seen wearing her hair in a ponytail on the right side of her head which is fastened by a pink and green butterfly-themed hair clip that once belonged to her deceased sister Kanae.
During her childhood, Kanao was in a very deprecating state. Her hair was very bushy and unkempt and she was often seen covered in dirt and/or bruises. Before her adoption by the Kocho sisters the only thing Kanao wore was a tattered pink kimono with faded white dots scattered across the cloth. After being liberated Kanao's appearance was completely revitalized.
Kanao usually wears a purple-tinted version of the standard Demon Slayer uniform with a knee-length skirt instead of the hakama trousers. Over this, she used to wear a short white cloak, fastened on one side by a dark pink triple knot, although she later stopped wearing this sometime after Tengen Uzui's retirement. Kanao also sports knee-high lace-up white boots with tan soles, heels and toes.
By the time of her battle with Doma, her hair appears to have changed color, as the tips now fade from black to pink. After Doma's demise, Kanao wears Shinobu's hair pin instead of Kanae's, as the latter was destroyed during the fighting. Furthermore she loses visibility in her right eye due to unleashing the final form of Flower Breathing, even though the eye is unaffected visually.
|“||Nothing matters to me, so I can't decide for myself.||„|
|~ Kanao emphasizing her nihilistic attitude.|
She remained emotionally stunted for several years and expressed practically no desire to speak of. The only time she displayed any independence is when she developed a hatred of demons after seeing all the pain they caused for the residence of Butterfly Estate. She also apparently underwent Final Selection against her sisters' express wishes, perhaps implying she has some resemble of willpower.
Despite displaying the capability of decision making, Kanao was still unable to outwardly display any emotion, as she couldn't force herself to cry during Kanae's funeral. Although she couldn't cry, Kanao was never-the-less extremely distressed by Kanae's death internally, conveying that she was only really fully stunted externally.
By the time she met Tanjiro, Kanao was completely reliant on her coin. At this point Kanao rarely spoke, only doing so after consulting with her coin. During her conversation with Tanjiro, she spoke mechanically, urging him to leave by repeatedly stating "Farewell".
Using Kanao's own coin trick against her, Tanjiro was able to convince Kanao to follow her own heart and desires rather than the toss of fate. Since then, Kanao's emotional state has gradually improved, as she has shown herself to be much more capable of independent decision making.
It is strongly implied that Kanao has developed romantic feelings for Tanjiro. She is a lot more strong-willed and is better at exerting her own will when around him. When Tanjiro saved Kanao from the clutches of Kibutsuji, she was extremely relieved to see him alive, calling his name several times in happiness.
Tanjiro Kamado: During Final Selection, Kanao didn't interact with Tanjiro or any of her class at all due to her aloof nature. Their first proper interaction was during the Natagumo Mountain mission when Kanao was tasked with killing Tanjiro's Demon younger sister Nezuko. During the mission, Kanao and Tanjiro got into a physical altercation when the latter attempted to defend his sister in which Tanjiro was knocked unconscious.
The pair later meet when Tanjiro is brought to the Butterfly Estate to recover from his injuries. Upon being reunited with her, Tanjiro fails to recognize Kanao as his assailant, instead only remembering her from Final Selection. During training, Kanao repeatedly throws medicated water on Tanjiro without mercy despite its stench. When Tanjiro finally defeats Kanao at the cup game, he opts to place the cup of medicated water on Kanao's head, not wanting to subject her to the splashing.
Before leaving on a new mission, Tanjiro visits Kanao to bid her farewell. Although she originally remained silent, she began politely urging him to leave after flipping her coin. Upon being queried about her coin, Kanao explained its significance to her. Tanjiro, distressed at Kanao's emotional state, asked Kanao if she would follow her heart if the coin landed on heads. Naturally, the coin landed on heads, urging Kanao to think for herself. As he left, Tanjiro flashed Kanao a smile which caused emotion to swell in her eyes for the first time.
It has been strongly implied that Kanao has developed romantic feelings for Tanjiro. The strongest evidence for this is when Kanao remembers Kanae's words about finding a man to fall in love with and then begins to reminisce about Tanjiro. Whether or not Tanjiro reciprocates Kanao's feelings has been left ambiguous and it is also likely that Tanjiro is unaware that Kanao has feelings for him.
Muzan Kibutsuji: Kanao doesn't have a strong personal hatred against the Demon progenitor like she did with Doma. Never-the-less, she still harbors an intense rage against him, and would give her own life to end his without hesitation. Kanao believes that if Muzan were to die, then nobody would be sad anymore and everyone could live in peace. She also views him as the source of all of the death and pain suffered by her friends, as he is indirectly responsible for all of the actions of his "children".
During her battle against Muzan, she was amazed at how powerful the first Demon was. By the end of their duel, Kanao was completely paralyzed by fear as she was the only Demon Slayer left standing to oppose the Demon lord. Muzan, on the other hand, merely considers Kanao as another insignificant bug to be squashed.
Kanao was trained since childhood by her sisters Shinobu and Kanae in the arts of combat. As such, Kanao possesses superhuman physical traits and martial prowess that singles her out as a possible future Pillar. Tanjiro stated that during their first meeting at the Butterfly Estate he could tell that Kanao was the Demon Slayer that was the closest to the level of a Pillar just from sensing her aura.
Kanao's most keen sense is her eyesight. Using her eyes, Kanao is able to predict an opponent's next movement and/or attack by reading the subtle shifts in their muscles and joints, as well as the minimal movements of their eyes. Using this skill Kanao can make effective counterattacks and evasions, essentially allowing her to stay one step ahead of her opponents at all times.
Like all Demon Slayers, Kanao can use Total Concentration Breathing. This technique allows Kanao to increase the amount of oxygen in her blood by controlling her breathing pattern, affording Kanao with strength and agility equal to a Demon's. While using this breathing technique, wounds heal at an accelerated rated.
Although Total Concentration Breathing is usually a difficult technique to maintain for extended periods of time, there is an extended technique known as Total Concentration Constant. Total Concentration Constant allows the user to maintain Total Concentration Breathing permanently, affording the user with even greater physical prowess. Kanao is one of the few living people who have mastered Total Concentration Constant.
Breath of Flower: Breath of Flower is a breathing technique derived from Breath of Water. It combines a unique breathing style with several sword techniques to unleash powerful attacks. Kanao was taught this style by the former Flower Pillar Kanae until her untimely demise. Upon Kanae's death, Shinobu took over Kanao's training and helped refine her skills as a Swordswoman. Flower Breathing is made up of at least seven attack forms, although only five of these have been displayed.
- Second Form: Plum Spirit (In Jpn: 弐にノ型かた 御み影かげ梅うめ, Ni no kata: Mikage Ume): A defensive technique that deflects attacks using rotating sword slashes. Kanao used this technique to block a barrage of attacks from Doma.
- Fourth Form: Safflower Robe (In Jpn: 肆しノ型かた 紅べに花はな衣ごろも, Shi no kata: Beni Hanagoromo): Consists of a single sword slash that curves and twists. She attempted to use this on Doma when she encountered him devouring Shinobu. During her battle with Kibutsuji, Kanao unleashed this attack in conjunction with Zenitsu's Thunderclap and Flash.
- Fifth Form: Peony of Futility (In Jpn: 伍ごノ型かた 徒あだの芍しゃく薬やく, Go no kata: Ada no Shakuyaku): A graceful flurry of nine consecutive attacks that flow and weave in on themselves. Kanao used this as her opening attack on Doma during their battle in Muzan's fortress.
- Sixth Form: Swirling Peach (In Jpn: 陸ろくノ型かた 渦うず桃もも, Roku no kata: Uzumomo): A technique used after or during evasion, the user spins around moving with their body-weight to deliver an attack. Kanao was first seen using this form to evade and counter an attack from Doma.
- Final Form: Scarlet Spider Lily Eyes (In Jpn: 終ついノ型かた 彼ひ岸がん朱しゅ眼がん, Tsui no kata: Higan Shugan) A focusing technique that raises the users kinetic vision to its maximum, while using this technique the user perceives the world as if it were in slow motion. Usage of the technique however is highly dangerous, as the tremendous strain caused to the eyes ruptured blood vessels and could cause partial or complete blindness. Kanao used the Final Form to defeat Doma, although it rendered her almost blind in her right eye.
- Kanao's surname contains the kanji for "chestnut" (栗 tsu), "flower, blossom" (花 yu) and "fall" (落 ri).
- In the first character popularity poll, Kanao ranked 8th with 712 votes.
- Kanao decided on her own surname from a short list of possible candidates. Apparently Aoi wanted Kanao to use her surname as she always wanted a sister.
- Her birthday was decided to be May 19, the day when Shinobu and Kanae adopted her. She is currently 16 years old, making her older than Tanjiro.
- Kanao's Japanese voice actress, Reina Ueda also voices Kisa Sohma in Fruits Basket, Miyako Hoshino in Wataten! An Angel Flew Down to Me, Jasminka Antonenko in Little Witch Academia, Mallow in the Pokémon: Sun and Moon anime, and Shiori Shiomiya in Sakura Quest.
- Kanao's English voice actress, Brianna Knickerbocker, also voices Rem from Re:Zero - Starting Life in Another World, Filo from The Rising of the Shield Hero and Wiz from KonoSuba: God's Blessing on this Wonderful World!.