Demon Slayer is a mega-popular action shonen series taking place in Taisho-era Japan, where sword-slinging demon slayers risk their lives every night to exterminate demon-kind. This is a tough job even for experienced slayers, who are at a natural disadvantage against the supernatural powers of demons.
The demon slayer corps does much to support its fighters, such as inns where slayers can stay the night for free and the use of messenger crows. However, given how often rank-and-file slayers get killed in the line of duty, perhaps they need some extra training and mentoring from the nine Hashira, the most elite slayers. In fact, the demon slayer corps could stand to borrow some ideas from Star Warsof all things.
The Proven Benefits of a Master-Apprentice System
So far in the Demon Slayer anime, protagonist Tanjiro Kamado underwent plenty of training, but he also had to figure out many things on his own in the middle of mortal combat, such as how to use the Hinokami Kagura technique, an element of sun breathing. Tanjiro underwent rigorous but generic training with Urokodaki, and even when he and his friends trained at the butterfly estate, nothing that Tanjiro learned was especially unique or special. Tanjiro may be an impressive self-taught demon slayer, but most other demon slayers will need more than that to succeed and survive as demon exterminators. What the demon slayer corps needs is a master-apprentice system like those found in Naruto, Star Wars and other franchises.
In franchises like Naruto, it’s not enough for a group or nation to have elite fighters on their side. Those elites will eventually perish or retire, and if they don’t take on an apprentice, everything they know might die with them. A good example is Jiraiya the toad sage, Naruto Uzumaki’s long-term mentor and father figure. Jiraiya and his toad allies taught Naruto all about chakra control, the Rasengan technique, Sage Mode and more — things Naruto never could have learned from the ninja academy or even Kakashi Hatake. In this way, Naruto rapidly grew as a specialized shinobi and ensured that Jiraiya’s best techniques lived on in him.
similarly, in Star Wars, Jedi Masters such as Qui-Gon Jinn teach all they knew to apprentices like Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi Order routinely assigns veteran Jedi to coach their teenage and young adult apprentices, which is an opportunity for those Jedi Masters to pass on their hard-earned wisdom and lightsaber combat techniques. Trainee Jedi do undergo training at the temple, but that’s just a set of generic starter lessons. Jedi are fully trained only after they are coached one-on-one by masters and follow them around for years. A Jedi Master can pass on their unique knowledge and skills to their apprentice — something that’s not possible with temple training — and Demon Slayer could learn from that. Too many low-rank demon slayers die because their basic training is not enough. They need their own Jedi Masters — the nine Hashira.
The Best Hashira to Mentor Tanjiro’s Squad
Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough Hashira for one to be assigned to every new demon slayer, so a few solutions could be implemented to make this system work. Other high-rank demon slayers such as kinoe-ranked members could be travel companions and mentors for the rookies, while middle-rank slayers such as tsuchinoe or tsuchinoe slayers have proven themselves worthy of having a Hashira mentor of their own. Those middle-rank slayers have proven their worth, but they still have a way to go, and the Hashira could help them become truly extraordinary slayers. However, compatibility in terms of both sword techniques and personalities should be considered.
Tanjiro Kamado would benefit from having either Giyu Tomioka, the water Hashira, or Kyojuro Rengoku, the flame Hashira, as his mentor. The former could teach Tanjiro the true extent of water breathing and help Tanjiro invent new techniques, while the latter could be Tanjiro’s personal role model and teach him how to fight with fiery conviction and faith. Tanjiro and Kyojuro got along well in the “Mugen Train” story arc, after all. If Kyojuro had survived, he could have been Tanjiro’s Qui-Gon Jinn, and if Kyokuro is dead, Giyu should take over. Even if Tengen Uzui learned to respect Tanjiro later, Tengen’s ninja-like fighting style and loud personality don’t mesh well with Tanjiro’s fighting style or personality.
Meanwhile, Zenitsu seems to be the future Hashira material, and if he gets the right mentor, he just might realize his potential as a thunder breathing warrior. He might do well with Kyojuro Rengoku as well, given Kyojuro’s aggressive, straightforward techniques and friendly personality, though Zenitsu might also learn some special techniques from Sanemi Shinazugawa, the wind Hashira. Lightning and wind are roughly similar in technique, after all.
Inosuke Hashibira would do well with the love Hashira, Mitsuri Kanroji. Mitsuri’s style relies on her immense strength and muscle density to function, but given Inosuke’s brutish strength, agile combat and emphasis on brutal attack patterns, he could learn much from Mitsuri and develop new techniques based on Mitsuri’s own. Mitsuri’s honest, heartfelt attitude would also mesh well with Inosuke, who is finely attuned to his instincts and emotions.