*Warning: this article will contain spoilers for the Demon Slayer: Mugen Train film and minor spoilers for the manga.*
The moment this dude showed up in the movie, I knew I was going to have to write an article about him.
Extreme is a word that describes Demon Slayer very well. Each character has at least one aspect to them that is inflated to an absurd degree. Tanjiro is inhumanly kind and selfless. Zenitsu is cartoonishly cowardly. Muzan is the most extremely evil bad guy anime has seen in a looooong time. So on and so forth.
But none of them come close to the Flame Hashira: Kyojuro Rengoku.
Rengoku doesn’t have a lot of time in the limelight. He’s briefly introduced at the end of season one and he plays a starring role in the Mugen Train film/arc, then he’s gone forever. Yet even still, with such a short amount of time, he has managed to solidify himself as a fan favorite character. He’s so cool even the bad guy that killed him loved him! Everyone who read the manga or watched the film loves and respects him more than pretty much any other member of the cast.
Which begs the question: why? Why does everyone love a character who is so quickly introduced and discarded? Well, it all comes down to the most crucial aspect of Rengoku’s character: purity.
What is one thing everyone in the Demon Slayer Corps. has in common? The answer is: tragedy. They’ve all lost family/friends/lovers to demons at some point in their lives. And if they don’t have one at the start of the story, they most certainly will by the end. For example, Inosuke discovers the demon that killed his mother and Zenitsu faces the demon responsible for the death of his master. Even incorruptibly pure-hearted Tanjiro has a vengeful chip on his shoulder.
Rengoku doesn’t have that. He isn’t driven to fight demons by vengeance. Rather, he does it out of his overwhelming sense of justice. The man fights with eyes unclouded, aiming solely to protect the living rather than avenge the dead.
It’s not just in his fighting, either. Even in a calm, day-to-day situation, Rengoku is as pure as snow. He’s friendly to everyone he meets and openly willing to give a helping hand to anyone, whether they ask for it or not. He loudly proclaims how delicious his meal is with every single bite. When Tanjiro tells him what his father could do with the Hinokami Kagura, Rengoku comments on how amazing he must have been to be able to do it. Every single action he took, every word he spoke, was kind, friendly, and helpful.
This is all simply because his mother told him to. She told him that it was his responsibility to use his strength to serve and protect others. So that’s what he spent his life doing. Whether he was protecting people from demons or simply giving them advice, Rengoku is always willing to be kind to others.
And he does it all with a cartoonishly explosive attitude. Half of his dialogue is delivered in explosive shouts and with a smile as bright as the sun. In every action he takes, Rengoku has an energy that could power a car! It’s infectious how energetic and charismatic this guy is!
Yet through it all, he’s still the most grounded character in the series. I know that sounds weird, given how cartoonishly pure I just described Rengoku to be, but hear me out!
When in the train, everyone is sucked into unrealistic dreams where all their deepest desires are fulfilled; Tanjiro has his family back, Zenitsu gets to run around and be fawned over by Nezuko, Inosuke gets to be a leader and fight things, you get the picture. But Rengoku’s dream wasn’t like this at all. His father was as depressed and apathetic as he was in real life and his little brother was still as weak and nervous. If anyone else were having this dream, his father would be happy and supportive and his father would be as confident and strong as he wanted to be.
However, Rengoku isn’t like this. He understands how the world is and he is content with it. Hell, he’s proud of it! Rather than wishing away the tragedies of life, from negligent parents to the tragedy of death, he embraces them. He even takes pride in it; he says so to Akaza many times throughout their fight.
It certainly helps that Rengoku embodies everything the three main characters want to be. He’s a fearless and charismatic leader, which is what Inosuke wants to be. He is as courageous as a lion, which is what Zenitsu wants. He has the power and skill to protect everyone, which is what Tanjiro wants. They all admire him, which makes it all the easier for the audience to do the same.
Also, he’s crazy strong and cool. Did I mention that? Cause Rengoku is crazy strong and cool.
It’s easy to see why so many people love Rengoku. He was built from the ground up to be loved! The dude was the purest display of kindness, strength, and justice we’ve seen in the series to date! It’s not hard to see why everyone in the story itself admired him so much. Because now, we all do to.
Fuck, I’m gonna miss this guy.