WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Demon Slayer manga, available to read on Viz Media.
At first glance, Demon Slayer's Stone Pillar Hashira, Gyomei Himejima, gives the impression of a peculiar and offsetting character -- and he is. From his highly emotional nature causing him to cry constantly to the fact that he is the strongest Hashira among the Demon Slayer Corps, there is certainly more depth to Gyomei's character than meets the eye.
Though he hasn't appeared much in the anime, the Demon Slayer manga has given many details to explain his tragic past and how he has obtained such prowess, all while being blind. Let's discuss the past and powers of Gyomei Himejima.
Demon Slayer Hashira Gyomei Himejima Has a Sad Background
In his younger days, Gyomei raised nine children in a temple, all of whom were orphans he loved dearly and viewed as his family. Since the forest surrounding the temple was infested with demons, there were strict rules not to stay out until dark as Gyomei always burned wisteria incense to keep those in the temple safe. One night, however, one of the children disobeyed the temple's rules, staying after sunset and subsequently encountering a demon. Terrified, the child offered Gyomei and the other children as sacrifices to save his own life, even putting out the wisteria incense and leading the demon straight to the temple. Most ran in fear and got killed, but the youngest, a girl named Sayo, hid behind Gyomei.
Though blind from birth and fairly skinny, Gyomei was desperate to protect his family and beat the demon with his bare hands until sunrise, discovering his innate power for the first time. At sunrise the demon turned to dust but when help arrived, Sayo blamed everyone's deaths on Gyomei. He was charged for murder and imprisoned, only spared from execution by Kagaya Ubuyashiki, leader of the Demon Slayer Corps. From then on, Gyomei harbored doubts and suspicions about a person's true nature, though remained highly emotional and kind.
What Are Gyomei Himejima's Powers?
After just two months of training Gyomei was declared the Stone Pillar Hashira, proving his physicality and brute strength are a force to be reckoned with. But of course, his prowess in Demon Slayer goes even further. Gyomei wields one of the five original breathing styles derived from Sun Breathing, knowing as Stone Breathing. A technical and difficult style to master, Stone Breathing imitates the earth and stone to create persistent, unwavering abilities both offensively and defensively. Having been born blind, Gyomei learned to heighten his other senses, giving him a much stronger and more unique connection to the earth than most others.
Unlike the other Demon Slayers, Gyomei's Nichirin Blade is not a sword. Instead he wields an axe with a spiked flail attached to a long chain.
In addition to his already outstanding capabilities, Gyomei combines his Breathing Style with Repetitive Actions to stretch his limits. Repetitive Action is a technique that opens all five senses to reach Total Concentration Breathing. One can either repeat a series of familiar movements or remember a moment of extreme pain and anger to increase their concentration and draw out more power from within. Gyomei's Repetitive Actions involve praying constantly.
Does Being Pathetic Make Gyomei Strong in Demon Slayer?
In short, yes. As the Demon Slayer anime's most powerful Hashira, Gyomei's soft-spoken and sensitive nature only nourishes his strength. For starters, consistently offering prayers to people and situations that dishearten him is not only in tune to his high-running emotions, but it's also a practice of repetitive actions with the catalyst being his immense empathy. And though he is doubtful of others from the get-go, when he does accept someone, his loyalty and trust toward them is hugely admirable.
In fact, Gyomei's emotions are what sustain him, with his strength not solely deriving from being blessed with incredible brawn. Anger, grief and regret from his past and present directly feed into his desire to protect as he is terrified of experiencing that pain and loss again. The secret to Gyomei's powers is that they are governed, regulated and enhanced by his emotional capabilities. So in a sense, his crying is a sign of his strength rather than weakness. As a gentle giant, Gyomei's character can be seen as a deconstruction of what makes a person strong in Demon Slayer.