- Kyojuro Family Background
- What is the meaning of Kyōjurō Rengoku (煉獄杏寿郎) in Japanese?
- Kyōjurō’s First appearance in Demon Slayer
- Kyōjurō Relationship with other characters
- Kyojuro Abilities and Powers
- Notable quotes
- Notable scenes
- Kyojuro’s character traits
- About Kyojuro’s clothing
- Kyojuro in conclusion
Kyōjurō Rengoku (煉獄杏寿郎) is a major supporting character in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba . He is also a major character in the Mugen Train story arc. He is both a Demon Slayer of the Demon Slayer Corps, and one of the inner sanctum of Demon Slayer Pillars (Hashira). Here, he holds the post of “Flame Pillar” (炎柱 En Bashira).
Kyojuro Family Background
Kyojuro was the eldest son of Shinjuro Rengoku, a former Flame Hashira.
Shinjuro is a somewhat enigmatic figure. It is never stated how and why Shinjuro retired from the Demon Slayer Corps.
Kyojuro also has a younger brother named Senjuro Rengoku. Senjuro trained alongside Kyojuro up until the time their father put a halt to their tuition.
What is the meaning of Kyōjurō Rengoku (煉獄杏寿郎) in Japanese?
Like many other names in manga or anime, and especially within Demon Slayer, the name Kyojuro Rengoku is not a common name in Japan.
What does Rengoku mean?
- The “Ren (煉)” from Rengoku means to smelt metal, or to train oneself.
- “Goku (獄)” has a somewhat darker (and more fiery) meaning – Hell.
- Together, these two characters go together to form the Japanese word for purgatory, the place between heaven and hell.
What does Kyojuro mean?
The name Kyojuro is divided into three kanji:
- Kyo (杏) means apricot. This is not a kanji character that gives a sense of strength and is generally a character you would associate more with girl’s names. But when you think about the color of an apricot, red and yellow, the character choice makes more sense. Just take a look at the hues of Rengoku Kyojuro’s hair!
- Ju (寿) is one of the most festive and lucky characters in Japan. You’ll see this symbol on gift wrapping, on envelopes and at happy events like wedding ceremonies. It also has the meaning of “longevity”, in the sense of “Long-Life”.
- Ro (郎) means “man, husband, or partner” and it’s frequently used for boy names. Tanjiro also has the same letter for his Ro. Having this character included at the end of the characters’ names makes their names sound a little closer to what could be a real-life plausible character name.
Kyōjurō’s First appearance in Demon Slayer
Kyojuro first appeared during Kamado Tanjiro’s trial, together with the other Hashiras.
In the scene, Tanjiro faces a trial for harbouring and protecting a demon. It is argued that this breaches the code of the Demon slayer.
Kyojuro agrees with Himejima Gyumei’s idea that the Demon Slayers should go ahead and kill Kamado Nezuko themselves. Luckily they are unable to carry out their plan thanks to Ubuyashiki Kagaya’s arrival and intercession.
Kyōjurō Relationship with other characters
Kyōjurō and Kamado Tanjiro
During their first meeting at the Ubuyashiki Estate, Kyojuro doesn’t like Tanjiro. Later, during their encounter on the Mugen train, Kyojuro finally warms towards our young protagonist. The two boys develop a mutual respect for each other as fellow ace Demon Slayer Corps members. Kyojuro offers to make Tanjiro his “Tsuguko”, a Tsuguko being an apprentice and eventual successor to the Pillars (Hashira).
Tanjiro develops a strong admiration for Kyojuro, he even calls him “Aniki” (literally meaning “brother”). On his deathbed, Kyojuro entrusts his will to Tanjiro. This suggests that Kyojuro has indeed grown very fond of the young Demon Slayer in the relatively short time they have known each other.Kyojuro’s hilt is passed down to Tanjiro by Kyojuro’s younger brother Senjuro.
Kyojuro’s death and final message become one of the driving forces that motivates Tanjiro to keep moving forward. Tanjiro remembers Kyojuro’s words “set your heart ablaze” in key confrontations with Daki and Muzan.
Kyōjurō and Hashibira Inosuke
As is so often the case between the characters of Demon Slayer, Inosuke doesn’t particularly like Kyojuro when they first meet. In particular, Inosuke is angry at being given an order by Kyojuro. And yet, Inosuke is in awe of Kyojuro’s power.
Indeed, Inosuke admits that Kyojuro is on a completely different level in terms of power and ability. After witnessing Kyojuro against Akaza, Inosuke develops a deep, abiding respect for the Flame Hashira.
Echos of this respect return when, in the wake of the battle leading to Kyojuro’s demise. Inosuke is the one to pick Tanjiro up and remind him of the words Kyojuro had shared in the final moments before his death. In his own attempts to cheer up Tanjiro, Inosuke himself breaks down in tears.
Kyōjurō and Kanroji Mitsuri
Kyojuro was Mitsuri’s mentor, with Mitsuri thinking of Kyojuro as an older brother. While training under him, Kyojuro is strict with Mitsuri’s training. Even so, Kyojuro shows patience and at times doted on his protege.
Kyojuro and Kanroji share a gluttonous side, enjoying copious snacking on their breaks. Mitsuri derives her own unique Breathing Style, Love Breathing, from Kyojuro’s Flame Breathing. She holds extreme gratitude towards Kyojuro for his guidance and kindness. Unsurprisingly, Mitsuri is duly shocked and saddened after she hears of Kyojuro’s death.
Kyōjurō and Akaza
Akaza is one of Kyojuro’s arch nemisises.
Kyojuro hates Akaza because of their fundamentally contrasting beliefs. The Upper Ranked demon Akaza believes that humans are weak and “just get in the way”. He believes their existences are basically worthless.
In contrast, Kyojuro believes that the strong should protect the weak. Akaza, somewhat sadistically, takes a liking to Kyojuro. He can sense that Kyojuro’s battle spirit is strong. He even offers Kyojuroa “a chance” at becoming a Demon.
But Kyojuro says that he will never sacrifice the beauty of humanity for immortality.
Kyojuro Abilities and Powers
Kyojuro has honed his senses so much that he is able to perceive Akaza’s presence and demon aura. Kyojuro even discerns that Akaza is a Demon of the Upper Rank. Kyojuro is capable of sensing demons faster and more accurately than Tanjiro.
Kyojuro has an undaunted spirit and indomitable willpower.
From childhood, Kyojuro has a will and passion that stems from a solemn promise that he has made to his late mother.
He remains steadfast and resolute despite the horrendous wounds he receives from Akaza. Even after Kyojuro loses an eye and has internal wounds, he manages to maintain his will and determination. He says that he will protect the lives of innocent people, no matter what.
He also possesses great knowledge in the use of Total Concentration Breathing (全集中の呼吸 Zen Shūchū no Kokyū).
Kyojuro knows how to plug minor wounds and staunch bleeding, which we see when he saves Tanjiro from dying of blood loss.
Flame Breathing (炎の呼吸 Honō no kokyū): A Breathing Style taught to Kyojuro by his father, Shinjuro Rengoku. Kyojuro goes on to master the breathing technique after reading an instructional book on the subject. These books have been passed down by Flame Hashira through Kyojuro’s lineage.
As the Flame Hashira, Kyojuro is his generation’s most skilled “Flame Breathing” user. He becomes proficient in fighting with this Breathing Style. being able to defeat former Lower Rank Two, Hairo and later hold his own against Upper Rank Three, Akaza.
Here is a list of techniques attributed to Kyojuro from fandom.com
First Form: Unknowing Fire (壱ノ型不知火 Ichi no kata: Shiranui) – The user charges towards their target at high speeds and unleashes a singular slash that aims to decapitate them.
Second Form: Rising Scorching Sun (弐ノ型昇炎天 Ni no kata: Nobori En Ten) – The user releases an arching sword slash upwards.
Third Form: Blazing Universe (参ノ型氣炎万象 San no kata: Kien Banshō) – The user swings their blade downwards in an arc.
Fourth Form: Blooming Flame Undulation (肆ノ型盛炎のうねり Shi no kata: Sei En no Uneri) – The user swings their blade in a circular motion that is used to defend from incoming attacks or slash multiple targets in one swoop.
Fifth Form: Flame Tiger (伍ノ型炎虎 Go no kata: Enko) – The user performs a series of powerful sword slashes that seemingly takes the form of a flaming tiger.
Ninth Form: Rengoku (玖ノ型煉獄 Ku no kata: Rengoku) – The most powerful Flame Breathing technique. The user takes a high stance with their sword before dashing forward at high speeds. The technique is powerful enough to completely carve out the ground in its wake. In the movie and anime adaptation, this technique seemingly took the form of a flaming Japanese dragon that envelopes the user as they are charging towards the target.
(To a demon) “However, if you bare your fangs at innocent people, my bright red flame blade will burn you to the bone!”
Forget about “fight fire with fire”, this is fang vs. fire, all the way.
(To Senjuro Rengoku) “And, Senjuro, you’re different from me! You have a big brother! And he believes in his little brother! Whatever path you walk you’ll be a great person! You have a burning passion in your heart! So let’s do our best! Let’s work hard in life! Even if we’re lonely!”
Here we see the deep familial bonds that under-gird Kyojuro’s heroism.
(To himself) “To think that all of this happened while I was dozing… How could this be? I’m ashamed as a Hashira. If only I could crawl under a rock!”
This quote highlights just how seriously Kyojuro takes his responsibility as a Demon-Slayer.
(To Akaza) “Growing old and dying is what gives meaning and beauty to the fleeting span of a human life. It’s precisely because we age and die that our lives have value and nobility. Strength is not a word that means much in regard to the flesh.”
Kyojuro is not incapable of a few life-insight bombs! There is a deep appreciation of the ephemeral nature of existence here, perhaps influenced by a zen-like world view?
(To Akaza) “I will fulfil my duty! I won’t allow anyone here to die!”
One of Kyojuro’s many references to honor, duty and responsibility. In this respect, he comes across as the quintessential Japanese-aesthetic hero.
(To Tanjiro Kamado) “Go ahead and live with your head held high. No matter how devastated you may be by your own weakness or uselessness, set your heart ablaze. Grit your teeth and look straight ahead. Even if you stop and crouch down, time won’t wait for you or snuggle you and grieve along with you. Don’t feel bad that I’m going to die here. As a Hashira, of course, I would shield my juniors.”
Even in death, Kyojuro’s perspective is on his duty and responsibility to those around him. He is the embodied symbol of the ideal of the hero as someone who has courage for two. He is a living flame of courage.
“Life is a series of decisions. You never have unlimited options or unlimited time to think, but what you choose in that instant defines who you are. Warriors who strive to save other people’s lives are precious. Their pure and single-minded dedication is separate from their natural talent. They don’t risk their lives to earn praise. They simply feel that they must. What they choose in that moment, is a cry from the depths of their souls. Isn’t that right… my friends?”
More sage words from the warrior-philosopher. Isn’t it true that life is a “series of decisions”? Decision comes from the Latin Decidere, meaning to kill or cut off. Each time you make a choice, you inevitably kill off a whole myriad of other choices. Kyojuro points out that often those choices are made in an instant, even not so much as a “choice” per se as much as response to an uncontradictable need.
Kyojuro and Akaza’s fight is one of the most iconic fights of the series and is found in the Mugen Train Arc. Tanjiro finds Kyojuro eating a bento from one of the carts of the train, shouting “Umai!” – delicious! So the whole episode starts with one of the more “humanising” scenes that features Kyojuro.
Later, the heroes find out that the train is under the influence of the Demon Blood Art of a Lower Demon One, Enmu!
Eventually, they are able to defeat Enmu. The train derails and Upper Rank Three Demon Akaza arrives. He immediately tries to kill Tanjiro, only to be spectacularly thwarted by the mighty Kyojuro.
Kyojuro’s character traits
Kyojuro is enthusiastic about his work as a Hashira and has a keen sense of “duty”.
He is often seen as cheerful, and eccentric. He is amiable, pure of heart, and boasts extraordinary technique. These traits, along with his considerable swordsmanship skills, stem from his strict practice and discipline. He is an honorable warrior who adheres to his code of morals and principles. His mother has instilled these values in him at a young age. The most significant of these values is his belief that those who were born strong have a duty to protect the weak.
Kyojuro loves his family, displaying great respect and worry towards his father. He remains loving, despite his father growing more aggressive and apathetic towards Kyojuro over time. Kyojuro is encouraging towards, and optimistic around, Senjuro Rengoku. Kyojuro believes in his brother and always wishes him the best no matter what. This is further accentuated during Kyojuro’s death scene. His final words for his father and his brother are “take care of your body” and “follow your dreams no matter what”.
About Kyojuro’s clothing
Kyojuro wears a paler brown version of the regular Demon Slayer uniform. This includes a brown gakuran jacket, a white belt around his waist and tattsuke-hakama pants. Over these, he wears a haori with a white-yellow gradient pattern and red flame-like ridges at the end. Kyojuro’s father most likely once wore this haori when he was the Flame Hashira.
Kyojuro also wears red kyahan with yellow flames erupting from the bottom up. With these he matches pale brown tabi socks and a pair of white zōri with red straps.
The hems on some hakama during the Sengoku period were made narrower than the body to imitate the ballooning trousers worn by Portuguese. This style continued into the Edo period, though it became less common over time. This style was known as karusan-bakama.
You can find some more information about these types of clothing on wikipedia but the basics are:
- A haori (羽織) is a traditional Japanese hip- or thigh-length jacket, which resembles a shortened kimono without any overlapping front panels.
- A haori typically has a thinner collar than a kimono, and is sewn with two thin, triangular panels at either side seam. Haori himo are two short cords used to tie the haori at the front, which attach to small loops sewn inside the garment.
- Kyahan (脚絆) In Japanese, the word ‘kyahan’ is used to describe something like Western soldier’s gaiters. Essentially, Kyahan are cloth leggings which were worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan.
- Tabi (足袋) Traditional Japanese socks called tabi are worn with thonged footwear such as zori, and date back to the 15th century.
- Zōri (草履), Japanese sandals made of rice straw, cloth, lacquered wood, leather and rubber – or most commonly synthetic materials – are called thonged zori.
- They are closely related to the similar tied-on waraji sandals.
What does Kyojuro clothing tell us about who he is?
Kyojuro is a passionate, headstrong, on fire type of a person. His haori with the flames on it complements his traits completely.
Kyojuro in conclusion
Without a doubt Kyojuro is the most influential amongst the Hashira. At different points, each of the Hashira compliment Kyojuro for his kindness and his passion.
Kyojuro Rengoku from Demon Slayer is a great example of someone with a strong sense of duty. He is always looking out for others and puts their safety above his own. He is a selfless individual who is always putting others first.
In many ways, these are great qualities to have and ones that we could probably all learn from.
Article by Dhanie James Perez
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