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One of the biggest anime series to take the world by storm this past 2019 was Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Swordsmanship is an integral part of its massive success. In the series, Demon Slayers use a special weapon against the creatures of the night called the Nichirin Blade.

If anything, the title itself literally translates to Demon Slayer: Sword of Demon Destruction. Aside from the exposition provided by dialogues, the other primary character interaction you will find here is nothing but badass swordplay, made even more fantastic thanks to Ufotable’s animation.

The story unfolds in an alternate Taisho Era (1912 – 1926) Japan. It follows Kamado Tanjiro, whose family was killed by a demon except for his younger sister Nezuko. She, however, has been transformed into a demon herself. Nezuko still retains signs of human thought and emotion despite being a demon, creating hope of curing her condition. Tanjiro sets out on a quest to restore his sister back to being a human

To better shed light on one of the series’ vital components, here is everything you need to know about Kimetsu no Yaiba’s color-changing swords:

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not yet seen the anime or read the manga, consider this as your first and only spoiler warning.

Explaining Tanjiro’s Black Nichirin Blade

Tanjiro earns his first sword shortly after he passed the Final Selection exam. Haganezuka, wearing a Hyottoko mask, delivers the sword to Sakonji’s home. He notes Tanjiro’s red hair and eyes and calls him “The Child of Burning Crimson.” The swordsmith then expects a bright red sword to appear.

However, a few moments after Tanjiro drew the sword and examined it, the blade turned pitch black. This pitch-black sword first appears in Episode 05 of the anime and Chapter 9 of the manga.

Tanjiro’s newly-forged Nichirin blade turns black, much to Haganezuka’s dismay

Sakonji later explains that not much has been documented about wielders of pitch-black Nichirin swords. He adds that they generally do not live long.

Spoiler Alert. The anime and the manga have not yet explained the reason for Tanjiro’s black Nichirin Blade. Still, there have been a couple of theories as to why the lead character has a rare colored sword.  The best answer, however, is the one easily explained through the source materials. It is the implication that Kamado Tanjiro uses Breath of the Sun, and black is the color of the sword for users of this style.

In the original source material, Kiyoharu Gotouge’s manga, only one other character has been shown or mentioned to use a black sword - Yoriichi Tsugikuni. Yoriichi was a member of the Demon Slayer Corps back in the Sengoku Period and was the sole wielder of the Breath of the Sun from which all other Breathing Techniques were derived from. In Chapter 113 of the manga, Tanjiro inherits a part of the Yoriichi’s memories, whose normally black sword can also turn into crimson. As his sword turns red from Nezuko’s Blood Demon Art, he notes that the swordsman in his memories did it in a different way.

Yoriichi Tsugikuni, the original Breath of the Sun user, with a scar similar to Tanjiro's

During Tanjiro and Nezuko’s fight with the Lower Moon Five, Tanjiro recounted his father’s dance and request for him to inherit the dance and the earrings uninterrupted, as has been done in the Kamado family for generations. This led him to transform his technique from Water Breathing to the breathing style of the Dance of the Fire God.

Later on, Shinjuro Rengoku, Kyojuro Rengoku’s father and a former flame Hashira himself, would recognize Tanjiro as a Breath of the Sun user (Chapter 68). Moreover, the same observation will be made by Kokushibo, the Upper Moon One, remember his past with his twin brother Yoriichi and wonders why the Breath of the Sun still remains even after he and Muzan apparently killed every user of this technique. (Chapter 178)

A snapshot of a panel from Chapter 178, with the Upper Moon One wondering why is there a Breath of the Sun user in front of him

Therefore, it is implied that Tanjiro’s blade has turned black because he is also a Breath of the Sun user. Records are scarce because Muzan and Kokushibo have apparently erased this breathing style by eliminating all of its users after Yoriichi’s death.

If confirmed, this can also explained why Tanjiro was capable of using Water Breathing Techniques. Since Tanjiro is a Breath of the Sun User, and all other Breathing Styles are derived from it, it might allow him to practice other breathing styles. Either by fate or by coincidence, Tanjiro was first found and trained by Urokodaki Sakonji - who is the Demon Corps’ cultivator for the Water Breathing Style and a former Water Pillar. This is why he learned and used Water Breathing Techniques.

Sakonji and his student, Tanjiro, leaving for the Final Selection exams

On the other hand, it was hinted in the manga that not everyone can use the Breath of the Sun. This was the reason why Yoriichi taught sword and breathing techniques which suits each individual’s skills and abilities which would then lead to the discovery of the other breathing styles. Moreover, Kokushibo would admit that he could not use Breath of the Sun and would resort to his own breathing style, the Breath of the Moon.

Another case in point, Shinobu Kocho could not learn the Breath of the Flower, the breathing style used by her older sister and former Pillar Kanae Kocho and Shinobu’s tsuguko or heir, Tsuyuri Kanao. It was revealed that she learned the Breath of the Insect, itself derived from the Breath of the Flower but was modified to suit her physique which made her the only Hashira unable to decapitate demons.

Of course, fans of the anime just can’t leave these details alone. They have come up with their own theories for explaining the swords, especially Tanjiro’s. One theory making the rounds online states that Tanjiro has a black sword because of his previous life relating to charcoal. Before, Tanjiro sells charcoal to the nearby town to earn money for their family. This connection is also emphasized when Tanjiro’s sword burned brightly due to Nezuko’s Demon Blood Art. This fan theory from Reddit further explains the symbolism of the black Nichirin blade. The theory mentions that burning charcoals provide light and heat during the night.

The Nichirin Blades and its Different Colors

Colored cover from Chapter 152 of the manga

For new fans of the series, the Nichirin blades are special weapons used by the Demon Corps to defeat demons. The Scarlet Crimson Iron Sand and Scarlet Crimson Ore (also known as the Nichirin Blade Ore) make up these blades. These materials are exclusively found on Mount Yoko, where the sun shines all year round. These weapons are imbued with the energy of the sun. This is why decapitation through the use of a Nichirin blade is one of the few ways of totally killing a demon. The other methods include direct exposure to the sun and poisoning through the use of Wisteria flowers.

Nichirin blades are also known as Color-Changing Swords. These blades take on a distinct color after being drawn by their user. For still undisclosed reasons, some Demon Slayers can turn their swords red. This red blade prevents regeneration among demons. However, by the battle with Kokushibo, the Upper Moon One, he noted that the Pillars who have awakened demon slayer marks had turned their swords red.

So far, there have been twelve colors of Nichirin blades shown in the manga. However, the anime has only shown eight of them. Here are all the colors so far:

1. Blue Nichirin Blades

A blue Nichirin blade symbolizes water and is the first to appear in the series. The Water Pillar, Giyu Tomioka, was first shown with a blue blade. His blade rests on a brown hexagonal tsuba (sword guard). It also bears the kanji for “Destroy Demons” engraved on one side.

Giyu's Blue Nichirin Blades
Giyu Tomioka’s signature Nichirin blade

As befitting of a user of the Water Breathing Techniques, Tomioka executes his technique smoothly and fluidly. He used Water Breathing: Fourth Style – Striking Tide to eliminate Father Spider Demon. He also used his own technique, Water Breathing – Dead Calm, to nullify the attack of the Lower Moon Five and kill him in a single stroke.

Giyu using his own technique, the Eleventh Form of the Water Breathing style.

Also, Urokodaki Sakonji also uses the Water Breath style. While not directly shown, it’s most likely that he has a blue Nichirin blade. The sword he lent Tanjiro for the Final Selection was also a blue sword, with a silver guard shaped like a three-leaf clover.

2. Yellow Nichirin Blades

The only yellow-bladed Nichirin sword shown so far is the one Zenitsu Agatsuma uses. He was the apprentice of a former Pillar, Jigoro Kuwajima. As an added quirk to his sword, it has a bright yellow lightning pattern running up the blade compared to other solid-colored Nichirin blades. It is also housed in a four-leaf clover-type tsuba.

Zenitsu's Nichirin Blade
Zenitsu draws his katana out of jealousy at Tanjiro during their stay at the Wisteria House.

It is interesting to note that Zenitsu is only capable of performing one move under the Lightning Breath style. It is the First Style – Thunderclap Flash, which he has perfected to a level where he can repeatedly dash up to eight times in one use.

This pattern is also visible on the sword of Kaigaku, his former senior student under Jigoro, and is now the Upper Moon Six. However, Kaigaku’s sword appears silver, with black lightning patterns running through it. It also has the same tsuba as Zenitsu’s and apparently the same yellow handle. But while Zenitsu has white wrappings opening in small triangles, Kaigaku uses a black wrapping on his sword.

2.1 Amber Nichirin Blades

Another curious case is the weapon of the Sound Pillar, Tengen Uzui. Uzui wields a pair of large blades. Each blade sports a notch near the tip and a chain connects them together. A colored cover from Chapter 87 of the manga shows his blades to have a yellow-orange or amber hue. The color of his swords makes sense as Breath of the Sound is derived from Breath of the Thunder.

Chapter 87 Colored cover, Uzui's Nichirin Blade
The colored cover of Chapter 87 shows Tengen Uzui with amber blades.

3. Indigo-Gray Nichirin Blades

The Indigo-Gray Nichirin blades both look cool and dangerous in the hands of its only known wielder, the boar-head-wearing Demon Slayer Inosuke Hashibira. This color seems to represent the Breath of the Beast, a unique breathing technique derived from the Breath of Wind. Inosuke developed this technique by himself from his experience living in the mountains. It was a style complimenting his heightened sense of touch.

Inosuke's Nichirin Blades changing color
Inosuke’s newly-forged swords are taking on their unique Indigo-Gray color.

Inosuke sure lives up to being the Beast, more than his boar head helmet and his fur waistband, by being proud and temperamental. His pair of Indigo-Gray blades with jagged blades contrasts with the straight and elegant-looking katanas of his peers. Inosuke creates these notched blades by smashing them against something hard, like a rock.

4. Lavender-Blue Nichirin Blades

Another unique color for a unique breathing technique is Lavender-Blue. It apparently corresponds to the user of the Breath of the Insect. However, this sparks some discussion due to the shape of Shinobu Kocho’s sword. Her sword has the edge section only on the part near the guard. It then thins down the rest of its length. The sword then widens again as it nears the tip. The lavender-blue color appears on the edge part near the guard. It is the small section where kanji for ”Evil Demons” are engraved. The back of her sword, which makes up the majority of its length, is black.

Shinobu Kocho's Nichirin Blade
Shinobu Kocho, the Insect Pillar, unsheathes her unique Nichirin sword.

The Insect Pillar is the only known demon slayer not to decapitate her enemies using her Nichirin sword. She does, however, use attack styles that mimic insects. Her quick moves focus on fast stabbing attacks intent in injecting Wisteria poison to incapacitate her enemies.

5. Green Nichirin Blades

Another visually fascinating treat in the series is the green Nichirin Blade, which parallels the Breath of the Wind. The Wind Pillar, Sanemi Shinazugawa, wields this blade with monstrous power. This blade made its debut when Sanemi stabbed the box where Nezuko was staying. The Wind Pillar attempted to provoke her and prove that she is a demon like the others.

Sanemi's Green Nichirin Blade
Sanemi Shinazugawa, the Wind Pillar, picks a fight with Kamado Tanjiro

The Wind Pillar has definitely introduced himself as a whirlwind, unrelenting in his quest to destroy all demons. Even with his green blade sheathed, Sanemi is uncompromising and ruthless towards almost everybody else, except the leader of the Demon Corps.

6. Light Pink Nichirin Blades

Take note that there are Light Pink blades, and there is a Bright Pink blade in the series. First, the Light Pink Nichirin blades are for practitioners of the Breath of the Flower. So far, Kanae Kocho (Shinobu Kocho’s older sister and former Flower Pillar) Kanao Tsuyuri (Shinobu’s heir) have used these blades.

Tsuyuri Kanao's pink Nichirin Blade
Tsuyuri Kanao raises her pink blade to eliminate Nezuko.

Both users have standard Nichirin katanas with light-pink hue. Also, the techniques Kanao used so far are graceful. She uses moves that include curves and turns weaving in and out of itself.

Kanae Kocho's pink Nichirin Blade
Kanae Kocho, former Flower Pillar, polishes her light pink sword.

Spoilers alert. The following colors have not yet appeared in the anime so far.

The Flame Pillar Kyojuro Rengoku explains the five main breathing styles. He also mentions the colors that correspond to each breathing style. Lastly, he notes that there has always been a Flame and a Water Pillar in all periods. It is in Chapter 54 of the manga, and probably in the upcoming Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the Movie – Infinity Train Arc.

Explanation of major breathing styles and Nichirin Blade colors
Kyojuro Rengoku’s explanation of the main breathing styles

7. Red Nichirin Blades

The Flame Pillar, Kyojuro Rengoku, proudly wields this bright red Nichirin blade. Its color symbolizes his breathing technique. He is overly enthusiastic as a Pillar and a demon slayer. He also often appearing weirdly cheerful in all he does. However, he commands respect, even from the Upper Moon Three. Akaza recognizes him as a warrior for his strict code of morals. Kyojuro firmly believes that the strong should protect the weak.

Rengoku's Red Nichirin Blade
The burning flame-red sword wielded by Kyojuro Rengoku, as shown in the upcoming movie trailer.

Kyojuro’s blade is also different from the other solid-colored Nichirin blades. His sword has a flame pattern running up his blade – quite similar to Zenitsu’s lightning pattern.

8. White Nichirin Blades

The white Nichirin blade, which symbolizes mist, is the next to appear. The Mist Pillar, Tokito Muichiro, is the youngest of the current Pillars. Tengen Uzui notes that he is one of the strongest. The Sound Pillar further notes that Tokito became a Pillar just two months after his demon slayer training. Gyomei Himejima, the Stone Pilar and the strongest of them, is the only other person to do this feat.

Muichirou's white Nichirin Blade
This panel from Chapter 121 is the first confirmation of Tokito Muichirou’s white blade.

Tokito appears always lost in his thoughts and absent-minded in dealing with others. However, as a swordsman, he is definitely like the mist. He is skilled at throwing his enemies off and making it near impossible to guess his next move. His choice of wearing oversized uniforms further emphasizes this. Muichirou makes the slightest movements inside the large frame imposed by his outfit. This makes his moves difficult to follow.

9. Pink Nichirin Blades

A bright pink blade suits the colorful, compassionate nature of Mitsuri Kanroji. The pink Nichirin blade symbolizes love. The Breath of Flame branched off to create Kanroji’s Breath of Love.

Kanroji's Pink Nichirin Blades from the manga
The colored cover for Chapter 125 shows Kanroji’s pink whip-like Nichirin blade.

While Kanroji appears shy, bubbly, and soft towards people, she has muscles eight times denser than average. She is basically stronger than most people yet flexible and agile. Her whip-like pink Nichirin blade complements her abilities well. It is said that only she can use it due to her flexibility and suppleness.

A fun fact: according to the Kimetsu no Yaiba Databook, Kanroji’s mentor in the demon slayer corps was none other than Rengoku, the Flame Pillar. This databook information better explains how she created her Breath of Love from the Breath of Flame

10. Purple Nichirin Blades

It does look menacing, but Serpent Pillar Iguro Obanai wields a distinct Nichirin blade with a distinct purple color. Obanai’s sword looks like a Japanese katana from the handle to the guard. Its blade looks like a Kris though. A kris is a wavy sword common in Southeast Asian countries. His sword appears to be a purple slithering blade, perfect for his Breath of the Serpent techniques.

Obanai's Purple Nichirin Blade
Iguro Obanai draws his waving purple Nichirin blade to protect the one he cares about.

As the Serpent Pillar, Obanai also appears harsh and strict as compared to other Pillars. He seemed to lack sympathy when Tengen Uzui returned with substantial damage from Upper Moon Six. However, he has shown deep concern for the leader Kagaya Ubuyashiki and the Love Pillar Mitsuri Kanroji.

11. Gray Nichirin Blades

The color of the solid stone appears in the weapons of Stone Pillar Gyomei Himejima and his Breath of the Stone methods. Himejima uses a sizeable spiked ball chained together to the base of a hand axe. The flail, axe, and even the chain are all made up of the same materials used in forging the Nichirin blades. Though, a different and notably high level of craftsmanship made this unique weapon possible. The edge of his axe, the spikes of the flail, and the chain, has a silvery gray hue.

Himejima's Gray Nichirin Blades
The Stone Pillar, Gyomei Himejima, prepares for their fight with the Upper Moon One.

Gyomei Himejima is the epitome of strength among the corps. He has a large frame with his gentle yet overbearing presence. These characteristics further exemplify him as the fitting Stone Pillar. Even Kokushibo notes that he had honed his physical abilities to their absolute peak. The Upper Moon One adds that he has not encountered a warrior of this caliber in the last three hundred years.

12. Black Nichirin Blades

While the black Nichirin blade appears early in the series, it goes last in this list as much remains unknown. Though both the anime and the manga might have dropped hints, there is still no definitive explanation about these swords. From the words of the demon slayers themselves, owners of these black blades tend not to live long.

Tanjiro's Black nichirin blade
Tanjiro prepares to strike with his black Nichirin blade

As far as the manga goes, only Kamado Tanjiro and Yoriichi Tsugikuni are the known wielders of black swords. One of the theories suggests that black is the sword for users of the Breath of the Sun. This is because black is the result of combining all the other colors. Another theory relates the blackness of the sword to charcoal, and that Tanjiro used to work by selling charcoal to earn money.

Also, it might be interesting to note that Kyojuro Rengoku, during the Infinity Train arc, also shares with Tanjiro a rumor that he heard about the black swords. He said, “and I hear they don’t know which line to master!” Could this be an indication of their capability to try out more than one breathing style?

13. Red Nichirin Blades [Updated 03/2020]

This is different from Rengoku’s bright-red blade that seems to burn as he wields it.

Spoilers Alert: During the currently ongoing Final Battle Arc, the Pillars of Mist, Wind, and Stone, together with Shinazugawa Genya fought Kokushibo, the Upper Moon One. As Muichirou Tokito, the Pillar of Mist, desperately tries to execute one last skill before he dies. As he does, his blade started to turn red.

A panel from the English-translated chapter 175 of the manga, showing Kokushibo’s surprise at the Red Blade.

It is also worth noting at this point that Kokushibo recognized Tokito as his descendant. This establishes a link between the Pillar of Mist and Yoriichi Tsugikuni. Yoriichi is Tanjiro’s ancestor and original user of the fearsome red blade. It severely limited Kokushibo’s movement and regeneration, leading to his defeat.

Afterward, the remaining Pillars are now closing in on Muzan’s location. They have left the Dimensional Infinity Fortress and have taken the fight to the surface. The remaining Demon Slayer corps drag the battle until Muzan faces the sunlight.

Successive pages from the English-translated KNY manga at the end of Chapter 189

During the battle, Iguro noted what Tokito did. He also offered his own inference about this phenomenon. The Serpent Pillar also started to turn his blade red. The surviving pillars have soon started turning their own blades red by clashing it with each other.


There are now a lot of fan theories attempting to explain the colors. Perhaps all we can do is wait for how Kiyoharu Gotouge will reveal this long-awaited clarification. If you have your own opinions, proofs, or suggestions, drop your ideas into the comment section below!