The True Strength Within: Unveiling Gyomei Himejima’s Journey

The True Strength Within: Unveiling Gyomei Himejima's Journey

The True Strength Within: Unveiling Gyomei Himejima’s Journey

The True Strength Within: Unveiling Gyomei Himejima's Journey

In a world riddled with terror and uncertainty, the fear of the moonlit sky and relief of the rising sun, a world of demons and humans, there are those valiant and brave enough to stand in the face of the night and fight against demons who prey on the weak and innocent. The Hashidah, known as the Demon Sire’s most elite, gladly accept this responsibility without question and put their lives on the line each and every night.

Amongst the nine members, however, there’s one who stands head and shoulders above all others: a humble, blind religious man deemed by those around him to be the elite of the elite, as a beacon of light, a hero, an inspiration, a mentor, and as a friend. One particular question came to mind when I looked at Gyomei Himejima: what does it mean to be strong?

In the portrayal of the Hashira that we see throughout the story, I came to the quick realization that all are powerful and capable Demon Slayers, but the subtle nuances between each of them are the reasons that I particularly fell in love with them. With the way they mentor, act, and carry themselves, they all couldn’t be less similar.

From Rengoku’s enthusiasm, tang, and showy nature, Mitsuri’s loving and affection to everyone, to even Gyome’s harsh and strict demeanor, each Hashida embodies what it means to be strong in their own ways. And the strength of the Hashira is clearly put on display countless times throughout the series.

For example, during the Mugen Train Arc, Tanjito and his friends are constantly in bewilderment of what Rengoku is able to do, especially during his fight with Akaza. It’s completely obvious he’s on a whole different plane when it comes to power, but there’s clearly more to it than physical strength alone.

Pillars are meant to be the shining light during all dark times, a symbol for those to look up to. To answer what it means to be strong required me looking past physical strength and to dive further into the nature of someone’s character. To me, being strong is having the ability to resist or endure, to believe and push through impossible situations when no one else believes in you, to have faith when the situation gets dire. And so, we begin with Gyome Himejima.

The True Strength Within: Unveiling Gyomei Himejima's Journey

The genius of the Stone Pillar is how he clashes against all the stereotypes we would use to characterize someone. He’s a man of tall and imposing stature, yet gentle. A man who seems to be crying at almost all times but hides an unfathomable amount of power behind those seemingly fragile emotions. Gyome is the perfect representation of what it means to be strong in the Demon Slayer story because while on the outside he looks strong, his personality traits tell a different story. And I think this juxtaposition works so incredibly well.

Beneath this seemingly calm demeanor of Gyomei, there’s an unfathomable amount of pain, suffering, resilience, and most importantly, strength. You see, the earliest we know of Gyomei is that he lived with nine children orphaned in a temple.

The area around them was well-known for demon attacks, so to prevent this, they burned Wisteria around them to keep demons from entering the temple. On one fateful night, one of the nine children snuck out of the temple and encountered a demon. But in exchange for his life, the child told the demon the whereabouts of the temple, Gyomei, and the eight other children.

When the demon attacked, instead of listening to Gyome’s words, the children ran off in fear and were killed, except for one. Upon confronting the demon, Gyomei summoned an unknown yet monstrous strength within him and beat the demon until the sun came up. Instead of thanking Gyomei, the child accused him of murdering the children, and he was immediately thrown in prison. It wasn’t until Kaguya Obey Shiki came by and rescued him from his execution, recruiting him into the Demon Slayer Corps.

It’s a really sad irony when you look at where Gyomei came from and how others treated him and looked at his unsettling levels of strength. The strength to protect and defend actually backfired and caused others to label him as a monster instead of the peace-loving and calm man that he is on the surface. I think this was intentionally done by Gotouge to demonstrate that Gyomei is strong not only physically but also spiritually. And I’ll explain exactly why.

My running theory on why Gyomei seems to pray so much is similar to the outlook of the strongest hunter in Hunter x Hunter, Isaac Netero. This is the concept of gratitude. Like we learned in his backstory, Gyomei’s past is one of tragedy, deceit, and betrayal. Imagine the very kids you foster, nurture, and love like your own turn on you by not only allowing a demon into your home but then turning on you when offering them protection and safety.

Simply, I believe that due to these experiences, Gyomei is just fortunate to be in the position he’s in, happy to be accepted by someone who sees his strength as a benefit instead of something to be scared of, and happy to be around other pillars who accept and acknowledge him.

However, what if I told you this wasn’t the real story? You see, while subtle, Gyomei’s backstory, and any of the Hashira backstories rather, are narrated in first person. The fact that Gyomei is blind actually makes this narration less plausible than how we believe them to be. While Gyomei has played up to be the most mature and wise of the Hashira, I believe his backstory paints him as someone who truly misrepresented a situation.

The True Strength Within: Unveiling Gyomei Himejima's Journey

Sio, the youngest of the nine children, was clearly shaken up by the demon attack, and it’s very likely that she was describing the demon as being the one who had killed all of the children and not Gyome. Gyomei, failing to understand those around him, is an incredibly central part of his character and something that I believe lies hand in hand with his strength.

Take, for example, when Tanjito and the others are training with the Hashira. After the Swordsmith Village Arc, Kanao herself describes that Gyomei will just throw people into waterfalls or threaten to light them on fire, despite there being actual benefits to this ridiculous training style. If Gyome were to take the time to understand and explain to his students the reason for this training, I believe that it’s likely his strength could be shared with others in some capacity.

Of course, it’s explained that an unfathomable amount of strength is required to learn Stone Breathing, but I believe this is also a justification as to why Gyomei doesn’t have a Suguko like Shinobu. Just like the lack of communication with him and Sio in the past, I believe he failed to learn from that event, and his tendency in the present storyline absolutely reflects this.

This very nature is Gyomei’s complex notion of strength. His past was so incredibly jarring that he essentially forgot everything memorable and important about his past life, which was to protect the ones he cares about. You see, despite how strong Gyomei already is, he wants to continue to pursue strength and be the strongest he can. Which is all well and good, but I believe this has no real meaning unless that strength is used to protect those you care about.

In a way, this is reflected throughout Gyomei’s fight with Kokushibu. In essence, they’re essentially foils, being the strongest Demon Slayer and Demon, respectively, but both share the same ideological outlook in that strength is all that really matters. But despite this outlook on strength, he ultimately couldn’t protect the children close to him. He couldn’t protect Genyo or Muichiro and is left feeling like a tool to be used solely for the purpose of destroying Muzan.

It’s not until Gyome ultimately passes that he realizes that the kids were actually looking for weapons to fight the demon in with and tried to call for help. If only they had come to see tomorrow, they would have explained everything to him. All in all, the story of Gyomei and his strength is one that teaches us an important lesson and one that I think Demon Slayer hammers home a lot.

The True Strength Within: Unveiling Gyomei Himejima's Journey

There’s much more than physical strength that defines you. You don’t have to be the best at something to pursue it or achieve great things. It wasn’t until his very last moments that those blind eyes finally saw reality clearer than they ever have as he heads into the afterlife vowing to protect the nine children for all eternity. That is the beautiful and remarkable character journey of the one and only Stone Pillar.

If you enjoyed this blog, consider liking, subscribing, commenting your thoughts, or supporting the channel in any way you see fit. Also, I recommend you check out my last blog analyzing the Mist Pillar Muichiro Tokito. Until next time, stay curious, anime fam. Peace.

 

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