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The Intense Requirements For Becoming A Hashira In Demon Slayer

The Hashira, also known as "Pillars," are the strongest fighters in the Demon Slayer Corps — the crème de la crème, as they say. Slotted above the ostensibly highest ranking of Kinoe, the Hashira are the very best at what they do. Every ambitious slayer dreams of becoming an apprentice to one of the venerable swordsmen –- a Tsuguko — and succeeding in rising to the highly respected top rank.

At the beginning of Koyoharu Gotouge's "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba," there are nine active — and undeniably colorful — Hashira. There's the stoic and mysterious Giyu Tomioka (Takahiro Sakurai), the fervent Kyojuro Rengoku (Satoshi Hino), the duplicitous but caring Shinobu Kocho (Saori Hayami), the flashiest man alive Tengen Uzui (Katsuyuki Konishi), the airheaded young genius Muichiro Tokito (Kengo Kawanishi), the sweet and excitable Mitsuri Kanroji (Kana Hanazawa), the somewhat harsh but devoted Obanai Iguro (Kenichi Suzumura), the brazen Sanemi Shinazugawa (Tomokazu Seki), and last but not least, the perpetually-crying gentle-giant Gyomei Himejima (Tomokazu Sugita).

Each of the Hashira has their particular set of breathing techniques and talents, which are highlighted one by one in the series' story arcs: the Mugen Train Arc with Rengoku, the Entertainment District Arc with Uzui, and the upcoming Swordsmith Village arc with Kanroji and Tokito.

But what must a demon slayer do to become one of the topmost-ranked combatants in the Corps?

The Demon Slayer Gaiden holds the answer

So, what are the requirements to earn the prestigious title of Hashira? Well, as you might've guessed by now, it is not an easy feat and there are no shortcuts that can be taken. It's either the hard way or the highway, and the highway often ends in a gruesome death.

The answer to this question can be found in Ryoji Hirano's "Demon Slayer: Stories of Water and Flame," popularly known by fans as the "Demon Slayer" Gaiden, a companion side story to Gotouge's manga. In the afterword, Hirano thanked Koyoharu Gotouge for his contributions, saying, "I am deeply grateful to Gotouge Sensei for taking time out of a busy schedule to check my rough layouts and even make corrections." Gotouge also expressed glee in having collaborated with Hirano. "I was very happy to have Hirano-sensei create these stories," he wrote. "When I had the chance to meet him at a New Year's party, I had no idea fate would bring us together like this."

The Gaiden contains two stories — Giyu Tomioka's story and Kyojuro Rengoku's story — which not only add further characterization to these two beloved Hashira but also to some others who are featured, like Kocho and Kanroji.

A demon slayer's perilous climb up the career ladder

On the page prior to the Gaiden's table of contents, we learn exactly how one becomes a Hashira. When a position becomes vacant, a Kinoe-ranked slayer is selected and promoted to Hashira. This Kinoe-ranked Corps member must've "either [defeated] 50 demons or one of the Twelve Kizuki demons."

There is possibly a third way, which a Redditor, u/CrazySource2046, pointed out. "Be a Tsuguko, aka the apprentice of a Hashira and inherit the role after they pass away or retire," they wrote. But it is possible that even a Tsuguko must also meet the aforementioned requirements in order to qualify for the promotion.

In the anime adaptation, brilliantly produced by studio Ufotable, there already have been some changes to the elite group of swordsmen — one was killed, and another was forced to retire, but not before wowing fans with stunning fight scenes against some of the strongest demons in existence: the Upper Moons of the Twelve Kizuki. Fans can expect to keep learning more about the seven remaining Hashira, discovering the secrets of their swordplay and breathing styles. But for now, we must patiently wait for the 3rd season, which is sure to spotlight more epic edge-of-your-seat fights between the strongest demon slayers and the strongest among Muzan Kibutsuji's (Toshihiko Seki) minions.