Yoriichi Tsugikuni is a major secondary character in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. He was a legendary demon slayer of the Demon Slayer Army during the Sengoku Era.
Yoriichi is the younger twin brother of Michikatsu Tsugikuni, who later became a demon and joined the Twelve Demon Moons, holding the position of First Upper Moon.
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Like his twin brother, Yoriichi is a tall, muscular man with long, spiky hair with red tips that he kept in a ponytail. However, unlike him, he was slightly thinner and had shorter bangs and wavier hair than his brother. His demon slayer mark was in the same place at the top of his forehead as Tanjiro, though lighter in color. Yoriichi is always seen with a solemn and calm look on his face, rarely showing emotion.
Yoriichi wore a red haori over a very pale orange nagagi kimono with a black umanori style hakama and a sun sword worn on the left side of his waist, which is conventional for most demon slayers. He wore hanafuda earrings created by his mother as charms when he was thought to be deaf; he then gave them to his friend Sumiyoshi, who then passed the earrings on to his descendants and eventually to Tanjiro.
Yoriichi was a calm and respectful person, wearing a solemn and reserved expression at all times, rarely showing explosions of emotion. In general, Yoriichi had a corresponding low and serene disposition, evident when he was killing demons without changing his expression or when Muzan was caught off guard by his immense skill because he seemed modest. He was also extremely humble, seeing himself as any other man and person special despite his divine attributes; an example being the time he performed the Sun Breath forms for Suyako at her request and almost seemed embarrassed afterwards. Yoriichi was also noted by his brother for always having faith in the future and was convinced that despite the immense power of the Demon Slayers after they began using the breath styles, a generation would emerge that would surpass theirs.
Although he was rather nonchalant, he had strong emotions; he mourned the loss of Uta and their unborn child for ten consecutive days and was driven to tears when he saw the joy shown by Sumire at the simple act of being lifted. He also smiled warmly and expressed his gratitude to Sumiyoshi after his friend told him that his life was not worthless and promised to preserve his solar breathing forms through his descendants. Yoriichi is also very kind, shown while on his way to seek a midwife in preparation for the birth of his child, he accompanied an old man he met on his way to see his fallen son.
As a child, it was shown that Yoriichi adored and idolized his older brother, Michikatsu, even declaring that he would support his brother's dream of becoming the strongest samurai in the land, and Yoriichi himself would become the second strongest. Even in his childhood, he was also extremely reserved and quiet, even considered deaf by his family for seven years because he never spoke.
It is shown that Yoriichi loved his family very much, especially his older twin brother, evident when he kept the flute that reminded Yoriichi of his brother before he ran away from home, and kept it until his death. When he met him after sixty years, the latter having embraced his new life as a demon. Yoriichi was deeply devastated and saddened by what his brother had become, expressing how heartbreaking the sight of his brother was and even in tears. Yet, he tried to kill Michikatsu himself in order to stop him as a traitor to the demon slayer army..
Yoriichi and his twin brother, Michikatsu, were born into the Tsugikuni clan in the middle of the Sengoku period, a time when twins were considered a very bad omen. Yoriichi in particular was born with a strange birthmark on his forehead, which caused his father to declare that he would kill him; however, their mother Akeno became angry and stopped him. It was finally agreed that Yoriichi would be sent to a temple to become a monk at the age of ten. Despite their father's belief that the mark was unlucky, it actually granted Yoriichi incredible physical prowess and the ability to see the bodies of living beings in transparency. Yoriichi grew up very differently than Michikatsu, receiving much poorer food and education than his brother and confined to a small room with three tatami mats away from the rest of the house. He never spoke and was thought to be deaf. Akeno later made him Hanafuda charm earrings in the hope that the gods would bless him with the ability to speak. He was also frequently seen clutching his mother's side; because of this, Michikatsu found him pitiful. Yet his brother would often sneak behind their father's back to see Yoriichi, even giving him a homemade flute as a gift to comfort him.
One day, when he was seven years old, Yoriichi smiled and spoke for the first time, declaring his intention to become a samurai like his brother after seeing Michikatsu practicing swordplay, surprising him. However, Michikatsu disdained this sentiment as it was well known that Yoriichi would be sent to the temple at the age of ten. However, one of their father's men in charge of training Michikatsu decided to please Yoriichi, showing him a simple stance. Unexpectedly, the young boy sprang into action after taking the stance, landing four blows against the man and shocking his brother, who despite his training had never touched one. However, Yoriichi could not bear the feeling of hitting someone and gave up his goal of becoming a samurai. Michikatsu often asked him how he managed to hit the man and he described what was probably an early form of a breathing style. Rather than talking about the sword and continuing to train, he cheerfully told Michikatsu that he would rather play sugoroku and fly kites with him instead.
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When their mother passed away from her illness, Yoriichi went to Michikatsu's room at night to break the news to his brother and say goodbye, planning to leave for the temple that night. He expressed his gratitude to his brother, stating that he would always keep him in mind and lovingly put away the flute that Michikatsu had made for him earlier. It was later revealed to Michikatsu through their mother's diary that Yoriichi knew all about their mother's illness, how it weakened her left side and Yoriichi's frequent attempts to support her and help her move. It was also revealed that Yoriichi knew that his father would make him his heir and send Michikatsu to the temple, ran away to spare his brother. Despite this kind act, Michikatsu developed intense hatred and envy towards Yoriichi to continue to outdo him in everything and continually show gratitude for apparently gaining nothing.
Yoriichi ran away from home and did not stop. After running straight for a day and a night without any sign of exhaustion in the mountains, Yoriichi met a girl about the same age as him named Uta, whose whole family had passed away. Yoriichi chose to live with her and after 10 years, Uta and Yoriichi got married: the first one got pregnant later. Just before the expected arrival, Yoriichi left the house to call a midwife, promising his wife to return before sunset. On the way, Yoriichi had helped an old man and lost so much time that he decided to go home and call a midwife the next day. By then, the sun had already set: when he finally arrived home, he found that Uta and the unborn child had been killed by a demon. The tragedy shocked Yoriichi so much that he held her corpse in his arms for ten days straight and only buried them after a Demon Slayer encouraged him to do so. This led Yoriichi to pick up his blade and train as a Demon Slayer.
Aided by his Demon Slayer brand and his innate talent for the sword, Yoriichi proved to be an incredibly powerful demon slayer. He reunited with Michikatsu after the latter's samurai camp was slaughtered by a demon and he was left as the only survivor; Yoriichi effortlessly killed the creature and apologized for the deaths of his brother's comrades. Aided by his breath technique, later named Breath of the Sun, and wanting to help others, Yoriichi tried to teach it to other Demon Slayers. However, no one could match his form exactly. Fearless, he modified the breath techniques to suit their strengths, allowing them to gain a similar increase in power and abilities to help them hunt demons. The variations he created formed the first breath techniques of water, wind, flame, stone, and lightning, and the best of these demon slayers became known as the Pillar. Michikatsu himself tried unsuccessfully to learn the Breath of the Sun, creating instead his own style which he named the Breath of the Moon.
Soon, Yoriichi meets Muzan Kibutsuji, the demon ancestor and mortal enemy of the Slayers, accompanied by Tamayo. Upon meeting him, Yoriichi sensed his rampant malevolent intent, likening him to the boiling magma of a volcano ready to consume everything. It was then that he thought he was born with the skills and talent to defeat Muzan once and for all. Muzan said that he had lost interest in swordsmen who used breathing techniques and made long sweeps of his arms to kill Yoriichi outright. He dodged them, but instantly realized that any of these attacks would be fatal and felt fear for the first time. Seeing into the transparent world, Yoriichi discerned that Muzan had seven hearts and five brains that changed position in his body. Seeing his chance, he combined all his forms into one attack, cutting them all off and completely overpowering Muzan.
Muzan remained incredulous at his inability to regenerate while struggling to keep his head attached. Yoriichi asked him what he thought the value of life was but received no answer. Instead, he turned to Tamayo, but was surprised to see her looking at her master's dismembered body with a glint of hope in her eyes. Moving to kill him once and for all, Yoriichi instead heard the sound of teeth cracking as Muzan's body shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. Caught off guard, he was only able to destroy 1,500 of the 1,800 pieces, leaving the rest to escape for Muzan to regenerate again. Despite Yoriichi's failure to kill him, Muzan never forgot the encounter and remained fearful of Yoriichi for the rest of his life.
Tamayo was left on the verge of tears when she realized that Muzan had learned to avoid death by decapitation, cursing the survival of the man who ruined her life. Upon realizing that Kibutsuji's curse failed due to Muzan's weakening, Tamayo was surprised. Yoriichi approached her and she told him everything he needed to know about Muzan and he was unlikely to meet him again. As a thank you for her help, he let her go. Soon after, several demon slayers came to report to Yoriichi that his brother had betrayed the organization and become a demon. Yoriichi took responsibility for Michikatsu's betrayal, his failure to kill Muzan and letting Tamayo escape. The other demon killers demanded that he commit suicide as penance, but the new Oyakata prevented him from doing so, allowing him to go into banishment.
After his banishment, Yoriichi decided that he had a lot on his mind and wanted someone to talk to. He could only imagine his friends Sumiyoshi and Suyako and decided to visit them. He met Sumiyoshi, sat down with him and told him his whole story, from his beginnings to his banishment from the Demon Slayer. Remembering his tragedies and talking about his regret of leaving Muzan alive and the countless deaths that would follow, Yoriichi became despondent. Sumire arrives at this time to ask for a hug. At Sumiyoshi's request, he lifts her up, making her laugh and scream with joy, bringing him to tears and kissing her. Suyako arrives shortly after to comfort him, offer Yoriichi a meal and cheer him up.
While he was with the Kamados, Suyako would ask Yoriichi to perform the solar breathing forms. He did so nicely, performing all the movements with such grace that he was more compared to a spirit than a human. Sumiyoshi would watch these demonstrations carefully and keep them in his memories. On his last visit, although he said he was welcome to come over anytime, Yoriichi gave Sumiyoshi his own Hanafuda earrings. Sumiyoshi and Suyako then realized that this would be the last time he would see them. Overcome with emotion, Sumiyoshi called out to Yoriichi as he walked away, appealing to him to stop saying he was a worthless man. He recalled that he had saved them and expressed his promise to preserve the forms of the Sun's Breath through his descendants. Upon hearing this, Yoriichi turned and smiled brightly, thanking the Kamados and waving goodbye.
Despite the seemingly limited lifespan of 25 years suffered by those who bore the mark of the demon killer, Yoriichi lived to be 80 years old but eventually went blind as he continued to kill demons. On the last day of his life, he would personally confront Michikatsu, now known as Kokushibo and Muzan's strongest lieutenant as a top rank one. Devastated by what his brother had become, he cried, and Kokushibo could only show disgust that his younger brother was old but still alive despite the mark. Despite his love for him, Yoriichi knew he had to kill him and prepared to strike.
Kokushibo's disgust turned to fear as he saw that Yoriichi was still the same capable and powerful warrior as before. He told his brother when to attack and quickly struck, slicing his neck without Kokushibo even being able to draw his blade. Irritated at being outmatched again, Kokushibo waited for the next attack. Unfortunately, it never came; Yoriichi passes from old age unscathed. Irritated that his only chance to fight a fair battle is gone and that the man who almost killed him and Muzan is now dead and undefeated forever, Kokushibo would strike his brother's corpse with contempt, only to realize that Yoriichi was carrying the flute he gave him when they were both still children. Unable to break his connection with Yoriichi, Kokushibo took the split flute and carried it with him.
Skills & Competencies
Breath of the Sun
Created by Yoriichi himself as the Original Breath has so far shown thirteen moves in total in his battle against Muzan Kibutsuji. Even in his old age, he showed that he was able to use the Breath of the Sun against Kokushibo 400 years before the current history.
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- Yoriichi's last name is composed of the kanji for "inherit, succeed" (継 tsugi) and "country" (国 kuni), while his first name means "fate" (縁 yori) and the old kanji variant for "one" (壱 ichi).
- The bag in which Yoriichi carried his brother's flute appeared to have been made of the fabric of Uta, his late wife's kimono, because of the similar patterns.
- The relationship between Yoriichi and Michikatsu parallels the mythology of the Shinto deities Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi, respectively. Amaterasu is the most sacred of the Shinto deities, the goddess of the sun. Tsukuyomi, the moon god, is her former husband and brother. After Tsukuyomi killed Uke Mochi, another Shinto deity, Amaterasu refused to look at him again, moving to another part of the sky and beginning the cycle of day and night. Like the deities, the siblings also quarreled and chose different paths (that of the demon slayer and the demon), developing their respective Sun and Moon Breaths.
- Yoriichi's first words to his family were "I can hear you" as they thought he was deaf, until this point.
- It is implied that he and his wife were reincarnated in the future as a very happy couple with children.
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