When analyzing differences in anime, what truly makes the villains much different from their protagonist counterparts? Well, in my opinion, the main antagonists that we get to know throughout a series are the product of one bad day, one bad experience, or one slightly altered life to those of our main protagonists.
Obito Uchiha was an idealist with his heart set on becoming Hokage only to realize the horrors and reality of the shinobi world around him, tainting him and leading him to become jaded as a result. Tomura Shigaraki had dreams of becoming the greatest hero in the world, but had ultimately ended up killing his family.
Alone,sad, and wandering the streets, he was adopted by All For One and seeks to take down the heroes he previously set his heart on becoming. And while these two examples are the product of singular negative events taking place, I’m here to talk about a different descent into darkness, This one stemming from a massive amount of jealousy felt from one individual towards the other.
The upper moons in demon slayer are some of the most enigmatic figures in anime, and none are more mysterious than the demon holding the title of Upper Moon 1, a fearsome and regal demon by the name of Kokushibo. However, behind the elegant persona, there lies a boy who is the product of endless jealousy and resentment on one hand, and a complex sense of brotherly love on the other.
In this blog, we’re going to be discussing Kokushibo’s backstory, ideologies, and how Kokushibo represents the never-ending struggle of trying to reach his brother, who for lack of better words is the literal embodiment of the sun. I hope you all enjoy it, so sit back and relax as we dive into the complex, fascinating, and beautiful character known to all as Kokushibo and discuss why this never-ending pursuit for power makes him one of the best villains not only in Demon Slayer, but in anime as a whole.
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Also, I will be getting into later parts of demon slayer, so this is a spoiler warning please proceed with caution! Back in the Sengoku Period, a boy by the name of Michikatsu Tsugikuni was born alongside his brother Yoriichi Tsugikuni, as identical twins. Twins back in this time period were considered bad omens due to succession disputes amongst their families.
Michikatsu’s father noticed a strange birthmark on the head of Yoriichi, deeming it to be a birth defect and declared Kokushibo would kill the marked brother until their mother, Akeno Tsugikuni stepped in, proposing that it would better to send him off to a temple for him to become a priest.
Throughout their childhood, their father favored Michikatsu, providing him with a comfortable bed to sleep in, top of the line education, and training in the art of swordsmanship. Michikatsu lived in luxury while Yoriichi was sequestered into a three-tatami room separated from the rest of the house. Evident that the two siblings shared vastly different lives, Michikatsu pitied his twin brother as Kokushibo believed him to deaf and constantly clinging to his mother’s side for support.
To make his brother feel better, Kokushibo created a homemade wooden flute as a gift which was so terrible, yet his brother treasured it like his prized possession. His world would soon be turned upside down one fateful day, as he was practicing his sword swings that his brother spoke for the first time. Michikatsu was utterly stunned as Yoriichi told him that his goal in life was to become a swordsman just like him.
Yoriichi would continue to watch his brother practice until one day Kokushibo was offered training from one of their father’s men, meant as a cruel joke. Only teaching the young Yoriichi a basic stance and how to hold a sword properly. To his brother’s absolute bewilderment, Yoriichi had landed 4 hits on the instructor; faster than the eye could see and with deadly precision when Michikatsu had never landed a single blow on him.
Revealing that he could see peoples muscles contract, their bones align in combat, and their blood flow throughout their bodies, Michikatsu was further resolved in his way of the sword. To his surprise,however, Yoriichi was disgusted by his actions and only expressed disgust for what he had just done, stating he no longer wanted to become a samurai.
Upset, jealous, and anxious, the young Michikatsu would begin harboring hatred towards his twin brother, worried that his father would acknowledge him as the rightful successor of the Tsugikuni family and send him to the temple instead. The night their mother had passed, Yoriichi came to the room of Michikatsu to bid him farewell, thanking him for all he’s done and that no matter how far he drifts from home, he will not lose heart because his brother’s flute will be with him at all times.
While you think this may have warmed his brother’s heart, it did the exact opposite and angered him even more and his jealousy and irritation grew. How could his brother treasure a flute that was poorly made and couldn’t play in tune. On top of this, he learned that Yoriichi was not clinging to his mother as he originally believed, but was supporting her on her left side due to her illness.
Michikatsu wanted nothing more than his brother’s death, wishing it would come true while he was away at the temple. As years would pass, he lived a quiet life and settled down with his wife and two children. But as fate would have it, the two brothers were destined to meet again. When a demon attacked Michikatsu’s camp, killing everyone except for himself, his prodigious brother came to the rescue and the two were again reunited.
With the hatred and resentment that he had felt all those years ago brought to the surface, Michikatsu was brought back into the life that he hated so deeply. He left his family in pursuit of surpassing his brother and becoming a demon slayer. However, as suspected he could not master his brother’s trademark sun breathing and could only master the derived breath style known as moon breathing.
With hatred, furstion, and fear of death from his new demon slayer mark coursing through him, the vengeful Michikatsu was met and persuaded by none other than Muzan Kibutsuji. And before our eyes, the demon known as Kokushibo was born. But before we get into how this all plays into his philosophy make sure to subscribe for further anime analysis content injected straight into your YouTube feed.
Kokushibo is the prime example of someone who becomes corrupted with jealousy, anger, and the negative things in life. It’s the vile nature of humanity that all of us experience at one point or another and sometimes we don’t understand how powerful it can truly be. Once something turns to obsession, it overtakes us and turns us into something that we never wished to become in the first place.
Blinded by his rage and jealousy towards his brother, Kokushibo forgot what it meant to love and cherish someone. When he and Yoriichi faced off for the last time as Yoriichi was at his oldest, it is here that he finally learns this lesson. After nearly being killed by his brother and watching him die on his feet like a true boss, Kokushibo slices him down in anger only to reveal that the crappy wooden flute he had given him years ago was still firmly by his side.
I believe that Kokushibo shed legitimate and real tears during this moment not only for the loss of his brother by his hands, but the self recognition of his own loss of humanity. The immense self obsession with chasing Yoriichi put Kokushibo on the path of strength and strength alone. As we saw throughout his battle with the hashiras, it’s apparent that he could easily outclass each of them in a 1 v 1 fight, but none of that really mattered to him.
All that mattered was chasing the one thing inescapable and seemingly a force of nature, the strength of his twin brother Yoriichi. Behind the deep feelings of misery, frustration, and hatred, he deep down just wanted to be like his brother. But as beautifully ironic as their breathing styles imply, the moon could never catch the sun no matter how hard it tries.
Beautifully crafted by Gotogue, this story is to make us, the reader, feel a large sense of pity for Kokushibo and that his potential was absolutely squandered. Despite obtaining immortality and immense power, so much so to become the 2nd strongest demon of all time, he still feels hollow inside because deep down all he wanted was to become an amazing swordsman.
And while Yoriichi’s strength was defined by his nurturing, kind, and giving nature, Kokoushibo’s was outlined with selfishness, hunger, and a need to fill a hole that could never be satiated . It is only during his demise that he reflects on how far he has fallen and how tainted he had become that he decides to leave this world, reflecting on how a being like him was even born in the first place.
While he was an incredibly sad character, Kokushibo teaches us that jealousy is a lost cause. We should be thankful for all that we have because each and every one of us is special in their own unique ways. Given his amazing design, amazing backstory, and ideologies, it’s easy to see how this character is one of the best constructed characters in fiction.
Stay curious anime fam, peace!
That’s me, Andreea Blaga, author of the blog anime-everything.com. I work as a content creator in the US. I am also passionate about Japanese Anime.