Anyone who has even caught a glimpse of Demon Slayer in passing is likely to recognise Giyu Tomioka. He saved Tanjiro from his sister’s wrath and subsequently taught him the water breathing techniques., making him a pivotal figure in the boy’s life.
He’s strong, handsome and stoic, but unnaturally quiet and isolated. Why? What happened in his childhood that makes him feel so distant to people. And why did he feel he’s not suited to be a Hashira?
Well, like any other anime character with tragic backstories, Giyu is no exception. Let’s find out!
Why is Giyu Tomioka always depressed & serious?
Well, wouldn’t you be mentally distraught for the rest of your life if you witnessed your sister die in cold blood and watch your best friend die to save you? That’s exactly what happened to our young Hashira as well.
Giyu’s older sister, Tsutako Tomioka, was an integral part of his upbringing. Unfortunately, his sister gave her life to shield him from the Demons when he was a child.
The fan book mentions that he tried to inform people that she had been killed by a Demon, but he was labelled as mentally sick and forced to live with a doctor relative. During the trip there, Giyu ran away and nearly perished on a mountain, but he was rescued and eventually became an apprentice to Sakonji Urokodaki.
During his apprenticeship, he met a 13 year old boy named Sabito, who was just like him, in the sense that he too lost his family to demons. He and Giyo quickly bonded due to their similar pasts, age and their shared sense of “isolation”. Additionally, both had a strong sense of justice and were kind to all.
As with any aspiring Demon Slayer, the two friends entered the “Final Selection”, which a rigorous screening procedure for those who wish to join the elite ranks of the Demon Slayer Corps. Mount Fujikasane, where Wisteria flowers bloom from base to summit every season, is the setting for the selection.
Despite training together, Sabito was leagues ahead of Giyu, killing all the demons on the mountain almost single handedly, whereas the latter was injured by the 1st demon that attacked him, falling into a daze.
Sabito had to come save him and later proceeded to help the others. The lad was a true prodigy but going about fighting nearly EVERY SINGLE DEMON in a location will definitely have its toll. By the time the Final Selection ended, everyone but Sabito had passed because he was no longer part of the living.
Giyu ends up passing and his comrade becomes one of the spirits that helps Tanjiro prepare for the entrance exam.
Taking his death on his own head, Giyu began to have serious doubts about the legitimacy of his new role as Water Hashira.
Is Giyu Tomioka A Hashira?
Yes. Giyu is confirmed to be the Water Hashira due to the Demon Mark he acquires later on during the Infinity Castle arc.
But why was he referring to as a Fake Hashira?
Why did Giyu Tomioka referred to himself as a Fake Hashira?
The term “Fake Hashira” acts as a way to remind Guys of his shortcomings and how things could have been different if his friend survived.
Ever since Sabito’s death, he had this inferiority complex, began distancing himself with others and told himself that he’s not worthy of being a Hashira.
Actually, the source of this inferiority complex is the feeling that HE’S the one that needs protection rather than him protecting others, which is exactly the job of the Demon Slayers. His sister and Sabito died trying to save him (and others) and he felt so helpless.
Until he finds closure, move on and gain confidence in his abilities, he cannot protect others.
Furthermore, every Hashira had the Demon Slayer mark, except for Giyu. So not only he felt mentally unfit but symbolically as well. The Hashiras were requested to train hard to manifest their mark urgently but the Water user didn’t wanted to be involved so he didn’t train.
Demon Slayer Marks are birthmarks that resemble demon crests that emerge on the face or body of Demon Slayers. The distinctive design of each Demon Slayer’s Mark appears to be predicated on the individual’s Breathing Style.
The Mark, when activated, gives the bearer unique skills and bolsters their already established character attributes, but only under extremely precise circumstances. And that’s exactly what happened to Giyu in the Infinity Castle arc.
How did Giyu Tomioka get his Demon Slayer Mark?
Giyu awakened his mark during his battle against the Upper Rank Three demon Akaza by fulfilling the requirements.
So the key requirement for awakening the mark is is holding on while facing potentially fatal situations such as a high heart rate (over 200 BPM) and a high core temperature (above 39 C, or 102.2 F). This can be possible while facing a life threatening situation and the zest for battle erupts from within.
Tokito also explains that people who manifest the mark have a stronger will to survive than those who do not.
Giyu satisfied both of them in the battle against Akaza. Just before the mark appeared, Tanjiro raised a morale argument that the strong should aid the weak for a balanced society & prompts Akaza to give his philosophy of how he hates the weak and wishes they were eliminated.
This debate tickled Giyu’s senses with the urge to protect. He now realizes that he’s strong enough to save others, including himself. As he severed Akaza’s hands and stood there to face him, he began to self reflect and garner the thoughts necessary to sharpen his abilities further.
Like Gohan from Dragon Ball, Giyu too seems to possess a pacifist mentality, who doesn’t want to draw his sword nor loves to fight. But after succeeding in aiding a weaker person (Tanjiro), his instincts to survive, fight & protect shot up as he faced an opponent who can actually overwhelm him. In other words, Giyu has finally become a warrior.
And what did he get? all his stats increased, including his speed, ferocity, accuracy, etc. He feels the senses that were closed until this point in time have been awakened and now he’s able to use the full potential of his abilities.
And there we see the mark of the Water Hashira – a symbol of water waves.
But, awakening’s one mark isn’t enough. Maintaining it throughout the day is another task in itself. For that, the Hashiras train day and night to utilize those enhanced abilities in a better fashion.
With this awakening of Giyu’s Demon Slayer Mark, he finally becomes what he dreamed as a child of being worthy of his sister’s and Sabito’s sacrifices – saving a potential Hashira and killing a powerful Demon by overcoming his guilt. With the help of Tanjiro, Giyu successfully kills Akaza and becomes a true Water Hashira.
What do you think of Giyu Tomioka’s character development? Lemme know in the comments below!