Summary

  • Demon Slayer
    ‘s Hashira Training arc was one of the manga’s shortest and weakest parts.
  • The manga didn’t offer enough screen time to the Hashira, ultimately harming the finale.
  • The anime’s original content enhances the Hashira’s story, making their fate in the final arc more impactful.



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Like many fans of Demon Slayer, I had mixed feelings when it was announced that the next season would cover the Hashira Training arc and that arc only. Compared to what’s come before, and what comes after, the Hashira Training is easily one of the weakest parts of the manga, even if it is an important part of the story. It’s also the shortest, covering a mere 8 chapters, the same length as the “rehabilitation training arc” which was covered in only four episodes in the anime’s first season. I was concerned as to how they’d be able to stretch this for an entire season, even if it’s an abbreviated one.


On the other hand, if any arc of Demon Slayer needed to be expanded upon, it was this one. One of my problems with Demon Slayer, by this point in the manga, is that there were still several Hashira who had barely been introduced; while Tanjiro works directly with Rengoku, Tengen, Muichiro, and Mitsuri, and gets rescued by Shinobu and Giyu, he never gets a chance to work side-by-side with the Wind, Serpent, and Stone Hashira.

Demon Slayer: Sanemi and Obanai discuss the castle.

That gives these three a real disadvantage when it comes to getting to know their characters before the final battle, and this opportunity to expand on the arc was the perfect chance to fix this.


I Expected More from the Hashira

The Hashira Don’t Get Enough Screen Time In General

Demon Slayer: Hashira Training


When the Hashira were first introduced, it reminded me greatly of meeting the Gotei 13 in Bleach for the first time. Like Bleach‘s Captains, the Hashira are the strongest warriors of their organization, and are given leadership roles as a result of their strength. Consequently, I expected they would become incredibly important to the story, just like the Gotei 13 did. The manga opted to get to know them a few at a time after introducing the group as a whole, which was totally fine by me, particularly after the Mugen Train arc and how well Rengoku was handled, becoming instantly beloved despite receiving so little screen time.

This definitely continued for the next few arcs, as we got to know Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui, and then in the Swordsmith’s Village, Love Hashira Mitsuri Kanroji and Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito. However, I was disappointed to then find out that the remaining Hashira wouldn’t be getting spotlight arcs of their own, as the manga instead headed into its endgame and kicked off the (very long) final battle. In Bleach, the story spread out and split its focus from just Ichigo, but Demon Slayer keeps its focus rather tightly fixed on Tanjiro, eliminating one of the easier ways to give the Hashira more characterization.


Given that one’s emotional investment in the final battle depends heavily on their connection to the Hashira, this struck me as a big mistake. With almost half the Hashira not having their own adventures with Tanjiro, it was up to the final battle itself to give readers a reason to care about these characters, which was a risky proposition. What was especially frustrating was the existence of this Hashira Training arc, which should, by its very name, offer more characterization to the Hashira, but instead rushes through the training to get on with the final battle. If that’s to be the case, why have the training at all?

The Anime Has Helped Offer More Characterization to The Hashira

The Anime’s Original Content Has Built Up the Hashira Better


So, with that in mind, I began to consider that perhaps expanding this arc into a full season wasn’t such a bad idea. I was surprised at just how much of the arc the first episode adapted, and knew immediately that there would definitely be a lot of anime original content (what some might derisively call “filler”) to help turn this into a season. Episode 2 of Hashira Training confirmed this with some new scenes with Giyu Tomioka, but it really kicked in with episode 3, which was almost entirely new content not drawn from the manga. What was once only a few panels was now an entire episode.

While it was certainly good to catch up with Tengen, I was mostly pleased with what this meant for the rest of the arc. Episode 4 also featured a heavy dose of new content, with an entire paper airplane flying contest that was apparently based upon a databook entry stating that Muichiro had an interest in origami and paper airplanes. It made a lot of sense, given Muichiro’s age, that he might have a hobby like this, and even getting to see a Hashira’s hobby at all made him feel like that much more of a character. Given the change he undergoes in the Swordsmith Village, this kind of new characterization was highly valuable.


Even the more mysterious Hashira got a little focus; it didn’t go unnoticed that Sanemi and Obanai appeared in most episodes at least a little, and that they showed the two both in action and just hanging out, helping to humanize them a bit more. Of course, these two are also the two Hashira most antagonistic towards Tanjiro, so there’s only so much you can do to make them more likable. Episode 5 returned to following the manga more closely, and moved through their training relatively quickly. Given what happens between Sanemi and Tanjiro, though, there really wasn’t much opportunity for expansion on that particular part of the training.

Expanding On the Hashira Training Was the Right Move

More Characterization Will Make the Final Arc All the Better

Tengen flicking his haris with his finger with a big smile


Anyone who has read the Demon Slayer manga knows that the final battle is an incredibly bloody one, and that a lot of characters are going to die. For these deaths to matter, the audience needs to be invested in them, and using this opportunity to get to know them better will only help the final arc. Every moment we spend with the Hashira before their final battle will make their ultimate fates that much more impactful.

While the season isn’t over quite yet, I feel that Demon Slayer‘s anime original content has only enhanced the story by giving more opportunity to know the Hashira as characters. Although it may technically be “filler,” this new content feels like what filler should be: an expansion of what’s already present, designed to showcase certain characters and fix the issues with rushing in the manga.

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