Rengoku, the Flame that Ignited it All
Rengoku, the Flame that Ignited it All
Every anime has that one character that inspires the protagonist. For Naruto it was Nagato, for Luffy it was Shanks, and for Tanjiro from Demon Slayer, it’s Rengoku. The former flame hashira was charismatic enough to leave a lasting impression on the young and rising Demon Slayers of Tanjiro’s generation. His sacrifice, his behavior, his ideology, his cheerful nature, everything that he did had a certain charisma that even the viewers and readers couldn’t forget about him. And it was thanks to this that he had an impact during the final fight with Muzan despite being dead.
We are first introduced to this loving character in the Mugen Train arc. And at that int we all were like, yes finally a mentor type character who is not quirky like the mainstream ones. He was the Flame Hashira, one of the pillars of the society which helped maintain the peace of the society from shadows. Despite such a high position, he did not have a single shred of arrogance. He would help anyone who asks for it. But this is true as long as you are on the side of justice. The moment you change sides, there will be none who would be worse than him. And for this concrete sense of justice, he respected all other Demon Slayers regardless of their strength.
It was this sense that helped him forge his katana. A katana that protects the ones who deserve it and destroys the ones who don’t. He believed that all who are alive have the potential to be a hero. They can become the cornerstone of a society filled with prosperity and happiness only if they try. Such an ideology is common within the anime community but for Rengoku, it was a bit different. For he was even willing to forsake his own life if it meant that he could save another. He believed that all should be saved no matter how weak they may seem.
In his dying breath Rengoku conveyed the message that changed Tanjiro. He said “Go ahead and live with your head held high.no matter how devastated you may be by your weakness or uselessness, set your heart ablaze. Grit your teeth and look straight ahead. Even if you stop and crouch down, time won’t wait for you or snuggle you and grieve along with you. Don’t feel bad that I’m going to die here.
As a Hashira, of course I would shield my juniors.” and this is what changed Tanjiro for good.
Tanjiro realized he was worthless but also someone who was filled with the potential of becoming someone with infinite worth. Rengoku might have lost his life at the hand of a Upper Moon rank demon, but he is able to leave behind others who would end up killing not a Upper Moon demon but the Demon Lord himself. What had forged Rengoku's katana, ended up being used as the whetstone that sharpened the katana’s of all other demon slayers. If not for him, Tanjiro, Zenitsu and even the other Hashiras of the crop would have not been able to reach their true potential.
The always cheerful Rengoku did not have an easy life. His father was the former Flame Hashira. So you can get an idea about what amount of pressure he had to endure while growing up. But that was not all. His father, despite being the Flame Hashira, was extremely insecure. He felt inferior for he believed the Flame Breathing technique his family used was inferior as it was a replication of the Sun Breathing technique. And for this he always despised himself along with the ones who used the cheap imitation. Not even his own son was spared from this ridicule.
Despite all the criticism, Rengoku was not disheartened. He pushed on and showed that the style that his father thought to be an imitation was not for show. Even that imitation was able to save countless lives. Such a positive outlook to life helped him be happy even in a sorrow filled world filled with demons. So, during his final moments, when Tanjiro heard his final words, our boy knew what needed to be done. The ones who witnessed the final moments of this hero were able to come to the ultimate realization. It helped them believe the fact that even the smallest drop of water can erode a rock as long as it keeps on trying.
And the best thing is, even though only Tanjiro was asked to set his heart ablaze, the entirety of the Demon Corps was set on a flame that helped them forge and finalize the forms of their Heart Katanas. Even after death, he was directing the demon slayers towards a goal that most thought to be unattainable. Rengoku’s katana was not forged for himself but for others. He ignited a flame that brought upon the ending of Muzan and ushered an era filled with peace.