Sobriquet enjoys manga and Demon Slayer as well as basketball and brackets. Finally, he’s found a way to combine those interests.
It’s March, and you know what that means. People from all over are tuning in to watch athletes play ball in the best form of competition: the bracket. What makes brackets so special? It’s hard to be sure, just something about their element of elimination makes the contests more exciting. I’ve decided to apply that strategy of intense competition to my writing, in the form of a bracket of Demon Slayers.
Hashira Hysteria addresses the hotly-debated question on the power rankings of the highest-ranked slayers, with a twist. This is a one-on-one tournament to the death. The fights take place in an imaginary arena and the Hashira’s actual feelings towards each other don’t affect them. The bracket, seen below, was chosen alphabetically by last name, going left to right and top to bottom.
There are a few things to keep in mind before we begin. There are manga spoilers used as evidence for battle decisions. Additionally, the best Hashira may not win, merely the best duelist. Many factors were weighed in each fight to try and realistically gage how the pair would match up with each other. The results may be surprising.
Play-in Game: Gyomei Himejima vs. Obanai Iguro
Unfortunately, Hashira Hysteria had to have a play-in game. Just picture it like the March Madness First Four. The First Two contains two powerhouses, which is a bummer. Iguro was the most pivotal Hashira in the final fight against Muzan Kibutsuji. Himejima, meanwhile, is widely believed to be the best Hashira, coming in at number one in 9 out of 10 geek sources. Multiple in-universe sources agree, including praise from Kibutsuji and Upper Kizuki 1 Kokushibo.
But in UMBC style, Iguro pulls off the upset, and here’s why: Himejima’s strong suit is his physical strength, while Iguro’s is his shiftiness. Physical strength at the Stone Hashira’s level is unparalleled when it comes to long, intense battles with superhuman beings. Strength is not as important in a fight against a sword-wielding human. Iguro’s shiftiness is an incredible tool in a one-on-one fight. During Hashira Training, Tanjiro struggles with Iguro more than the others. He describes his attacks as dangerous, bendy, and overall impossible to predict. Himejima may be the most powerful Hashira, but he’s not superior enough to overcome Iguro’s nimble sword abilities.
Winner: Obanai Iguro
First Round: Mitsuri Kanroji vs. Obanai Iguro
How ironic it is that the unlikely lovebirds go head-to-head. That’s just the kind of drama you get in Hashira Hysteria, folks. This duel is a tough one for sure, mostly because of the immensely similar skill sets of Romeo and Juliet, here. Iguro’s strength lies in his agility. Kanroji’s lies in her flexibility. Both are skills that can be used to avoid attacks in close proximity and deliver unsuspecting blows. One cannot be chosen over the other.
That is, until you address other factors. This would be a defensive battle, and neither side could easily land a hit on the other side without skillfully being dodged, (see Iguro’s above-mentioned near invincibility in Hashira Training and Kanroji’s perfect dodging of Upper 4 Hantengu’s powerful attacks.) Kanroji has a better chance to hit Iguro thanks to her long, whip-like sword, one of the best slayer weapons we’ve seen. Thus, the Love Hashira wins.
Winner: Mitsuri Kanroji
First Round: Shinobu Kocho vs. Kyojuro Rengoku
In contrast to Himejima, Kocho is considered by many to be the weakest of the Hashira, as she does not have the strength to cut through a demon’s neck. Rengoku is strong, and possesses brilliant power in Flame Breathing, or at least it’s sure animated to look that way. Despite this, Kocho wins, thanks completely to her Insect Breathing.
As we saw against the unfortunate Spider Demon Daughter, a pinch of the poison in Kocho’s Breathing Style kills a demon quickly and efficiently. If she can cook up a poison for nearly-invincible demons, than surely she has some stored for humans, or at the very least she can use her demon poison on them. That means that all it takes is a nick to defeat Rengoku, and Shinobu is one of the quickest Hashira. Regrettably, old wounds are reopened with the result of this battle. If Kocho’s poison causes heart issues, than Rengoku really set his heart ablaze this time.
Winner: Shinobu Kocho
First Round: Sanemi Shinazugawa vs. Muichiro Tokito
Let’s start with Sanemi. The grumpier of the grumpy Shinazugawa brothers, Sanemi is a sight to behold in battle. He is among the fastest Hashira and is highly ranked in most lists thanks to his intense hatred of demons. I suppose that intensity can still apply in this hypothetical arena, even though there are no demons around.
Tokito’s strength is swordsmanship. He descends from the same family as the inventor of Breathing Styles and the sword-themed, highest-ranked Kizuki, so it’s definitely in the genes. Kokushibo, not one to often compliment fellow swordsmen, commended Tokito’s abilities. Swordsmanship talent has got to be the most important factor in a sword duel. It feels hard to pick someone so intimidating to lose to someone so… not. But I am.
Winner: Muichiro Tokito
First Round: Giyu Tomioka vs. Tengen Uzui
Tomioka is a fan favorite, mainly due to his can’t-be-bothered charm and significance to the plot. Uzui receives less credit than he deserves due to his retirement early in the story. I know picking Uzui over Tomioka is controversial, but I’m even going to go beyond that and say that this is a blowout in favor of the god of festivals.
I’m not hating on my man Bromioka, he is powerful. However, that power comes from his determination, not talent. This is evident in his Final Selection, where he was immediately saved by Sabito from death, and now lives with the purpose of making his second chance count. Uzui is the opposite, a 6’6” athletic wonder. Multiple sources throughout the story credit his flashy speed, and even Gotouge commends his strength, putting him second to only Himejima in the famous arm-wrestle-contest rankings. Uzui is a dark horse powerful Hashira that never got to show fans his potential.
Winner: Tengen Uzui
Semifinal: Mitsuri Kanroji vs. Shinobu Kocho
With the same argument I used against Rengoku, I almost feel inclined to take Kocho all the way. A poisonous sword is a tool like no other in a sword fight. On the other hand, Kanroji is a bad matchup for the girl with the Napoleon complex. With her flexibility and nimbleness, Kanroji may be the only Hashira who can effectively avoid Kocho’s strikes the whole match. Her special sword may help her take the Insect Hashira down from a distance, too.
Another contingency is that Kocho cuts Kanroji, but Kanroji survives the poison long enough to kill Kocho, which is still a win. Kanroji did well enough resisting Kibutsuji’s poison, so it would make sense if she pulled it off against Kocho.
Winner: Mitsuri Kanroji
Semifinal: Muichiro Tokito vs. Tengen Uzui
Surprising as it may be, Midget Muichiro is, to me, undoubtedly the best sword fighter. In a sword-fight tournament, that should be enough to send Tokito all the way through, right? It’s tempting, but with Uzui’s combined quickness and brawn, he cannot be ignored as a roadblock. How could Daddy Tengen lose to a 14-year-old boy?
Still, that boy is related to Yoriichi Tsugikuni, who could easily beat anyone in this tourney, and Tsugikuni blood runs strong. When it comes down to it, I’m picking Tokito because of his Breathing Style. Mist Breathing confounded Upper 5 Gyokko, while Sound Breathing didn’t really scare Gyokko’s subordinates Gyutaro and Daki.
Winner: Muichiro Tokito
Championship: Mitsuri Kanroji vs. Muichiro Tokito
It would take a lot to take down Tokito, the perfect swordsman and master of opponent-frustrating Mist Breathing. Nevertheless, Kanroji has the perfect formula. Her expert dodging abilities and whip sword can help her avoid a straight-up sword fight with Tokito, annulling his biggest advantage. To further cement her position as champion, Kanroji is far superior to Tokito in experience and strength, the latter thanks to her extremely dense muscles, (she ranks a tied third in the arm-wrestle contest).
The Love Hashira is an exceptional contortionist. Her weapon is a unique and absurd obstacle for her opponents. Her determination is commendable, with the ability to resist poison to an extent. Her experience-level is good enough. Her strength is eight times that of the average man. Mitsuri Kanroji is the best one-on-one duelist of the Hashira, and this bracket’s champion.
Winner: Mitsuri Kanroji
And so Kanroji cuts down the nets. Truly, there is no power greater than love. Tells you something about life, I guess. Here’s the final bracket.
Was your bracket busted? Was there any picks you didn’t agree with? All of these games could have gone either way, as the Hashira have each individually proved their strength. Send me your bracket; I’d love to look at it. Thanks for reading!