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Image via Ufotable

What is Sun Breathing in ‘Demon Slayer’ and who uses it?

The Demon Slayers must master specific breathing styles and Sun Breathing is the most revered. Who uses it in 'Demon Slayer?'

Warning: This article contains Spoilers for Demon Slayer up until Season 3, Swordsmith Village Arc

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Breathing is the basis of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’s larger-than-life battles. In fact, the act of breathing has probably never looked as cool as it is when animated by Ufotable. Every member of the Demon Slayer Corps — with a few exceptions — wields not just a Nichirin Sword, but trains to master a specific breathing style. Otherwise, slaying demons would not be as feasible, especially if we’re talking about the most powerful of Muzan Kibutsuji’s lackeys, the 6 Upper Moons.

Of all the many different breathing styles, Sun Breathing holds a unique, feared, and revered position among demons and slayers alike.

What are breathing styles?

Screengrab via Ufotable/Crunchyroll

Demon slayers are taught how to use different breathing styles while in training. In the first few episodes of Season 1, our inexhaustibly kindhearted protagonist, Tanjiro Kamado, learns Water Breathing from the former Hashira Sakonji Urokodaki. Tanjiro’s friend and colleague, Zenitsu Agatsuma, was also taught by a former Hashira, Jigoro Kuwajima, from whom he learned Thunder Breathing — or rather, its First Form: Thunderclap and Flash. Each style has several forms, or moves, that practitioners can wield in battle.

There are 5 fundamental breathing styles from which all others are derived: Water, Flame, Thunder, Stone, and Wind (There may or may not actually be a sixth, but that’s an upcoming surprise for those who are not up to date with Koyoharu Gotouge’s manga). Other breathing styles, like Inosuke Hashibira’s self-taught Beast Breathing, Shinobu Kocho’s Insect Breathing, Tengen Uzui’s Sound Breathing, Mitsuri Kanroji’s Love Breathing, and Muichiro Tokito’s Mist Breathing are all derived from the 5 main ones. All of these different Breathing Styles have already been animated — to different extents — by Ufotable, while a few others, like Gyomei Himejima’s Stone Breathing, remain to be seen in future arcs.

It’s worth noting that there are more practicalities to breathing techniques than just spectacularly vibrant attacks. In the last few episodes of Season 1, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke learn Total Concentration Breathing, which allows them to keep up their special breathing to enhance their physical abilities at all times. This form of breathing can also be used to stop wounds from bleeding and delay the effects of poison, among other perks, and provides boosts which allow slayers to go toe to toe with demons.

Why is Sun Breathing unique?

Screengrab via Ufotable/Crunchyroll

While there are many elemental forms, there is one esoteric art that even the current Hashira are unfamiliar with. As, for instance, Beast Breathing is a derivative of Wind Breathing, the primary elemental breathing techniques are themselves derivatives of Sun Breathing. 

As first revealed in the series by Kyojuru Rengoku’s father, Shinjuro, Sun breathing is “the first breathing technique ever created. The most powerful of them all!” This breathing technique was first created hundreds of years ago by Yoriichi Tsugikuni, the man who occasionally features in Tanjiro’s dreams and gives Muzan — and by extension all demons who share his blood — strong PTSD flashbacks. Yoriichi’s Sun Breathing, as well as the iconic Hanafuda earrings, have been passed down from generation to generation.

When we first encounter it in the show, Sun Breathing is introduced as “Hinokami Kagura” — translating to The Dance of the Fire God in English. It is literally presented as a “dance” when first introduced to viewers in Episode 19 of Season 1. As seen in one of the most — if not the most — emotional flashback sequences of Season 1, “Hinokami Kagura” was a traditional dance performed by Tanjuro Kamado, Tanjiro and Nezuko’s late father. Thanks to Sun Breathing, Tanjuro, who otherwise had a weak constitution, was capable of tirelessly dancing from dusk to dawn without exhausting himself.

Who is a Sun Breathing user?

Screengrab via Ufotable/Crunchyroll

At present, there’s only one Sun Breathing user alive: our one and only Tanjiro Kamado. Tanjiro learned “Hinokami Kagura” from watching his late father, Tanjuro, as a young boy, and he later learns more Sun Breathing techniques by witnessing his ancestor’s memories. 

Despite also descending from Yoriichi — even more directly than Tanjiro — Muichiro Tokito does not know Sun Breathing, having mastered Mist Breathing instead. That being said, his ancestry may well be why the Mist Breathing user is so gifted, talented enough to defeat an Upper Moon on his own, in spite of being the youngest among the Hashira.

Although he’s long been deceased, we’ve gotten multiple glimpses of the original Sun Breathing swordsman, Yoriichi, throughout the anime. We’ve known as far back as Season 1 that the main villain Muzan, who otherwise fears nothing and no one, was scared to (near) death of Yoriichi for almost having beheaded him centuries prior to the show’s starting point. Hence his interest in the Kamado family: First Tanjiro as a potential threat to be eradicated, and now Nezuko for the newfound ability she has acquired in the latest season. Spoiler: It’s Sun-related.

The next chapter in the anime will be adapting one of the manga’s shortest arcs, which is a breath of fresh air (pun intended) after all the intense, high-stakes fights: the Hashira Training Arc. For now, Muzan might keep lurking in his Infinity Castle, awaiting the right time to make his move. However, as manga readers know and anime-only fans can certainly tell, the ultimate battle between demon slayers and demons is on the horizon. During the final showdown, we’ll undoubtedly get to watch different Breathing techniques in action, some we’ve only heard about and haven’t gotten to see animated, and we’ll also witness how far our only living Sun Breathing user can go in his mastery of his ancestor’s techniques.

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Margarida Bastos
Margarida has been a content writer for nearly 3 years. She is passionate about the intricacies of storytelling, including its ways of expression across different media: films, TV, books, plays, anime, visual novels, video games, podcasts, D&D campaigns... Margarida graduated from a professional theatre high school, holds a BA in English with Creative Writing, and is currently working on her MA thesis.
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Autumn Wright
Autumn Wright is an anime journalist, which is a real job. As a writer at We Got This Covered, they cover the biggest new seasonal releases, interview voice actors, and investigate labor practices in the global industry. Autumn can be found biking to queer punk through Brooklyn, and you can read more of their words in Polygon, WIRED, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.