The dust settles to reveal a tattooed Demon, who Tanjiro quickly realizes is Upper Rank 3 of the Twelve Kizuki. The powerful foe swiftly attacks the prone Demon Slayer, but Kyojuro defends the youth and slices the offender's arm in twain. The Demon retreats a short distance, the damaged arm quickly regenerating, and compliments Kyojuro's blade.
Kyojuro states he cannot understand why the Demon would attack a wounded person, the answer to which is that they would simply get in the pair's way. Kyojuro dismisses this, stating that despite this being their first meeting, he already hates the Upper Rank, a sentiment the Demon shares with weak humans. Kyojuro notes their different moral values, to which the Upper Rank offers a proposal: become a Demon like him. The prominent Demon Hunter quickly declined this, but the Upper Rank complimented his strength nevertheless, deducing him to be a Hashira.
Kyojuro introduces himself as the Flame Hashira, while the Upper Rank reveals his name to be Akaza. He goes on to say that Kyojuro will never cross into "supreme territory" because he is human, destined to grow old and die, and again proposes he become a Demon. Tanjiro notes that Akaza smells similarly to Muzan Kibutsuji and desperately searches for his sword to help Kyojuro. The Hashira explains that growing old and dying is the fleeting beauty of humanity and that their strength doesn't lie in the body. He states that Tanjiro isn't weak and shouldn't be insulted, repeats his earlier observation of their different moral values, and firmly declares that he will never become a Demon.
Akaza readies an attack, declaring his intent to kill Kyojuro for his refusal, and the two clash. Tanjiro is unable to follow their fight with his eyes, while elsewhere Inosuke senses the conflict. Akaza informs Kyojuro that all of the Hashira he had killed previously had refused his proposal and that he cannot understand their reasons for doing so. He tells the Hashira to die while he is still young and strong, and the two exchange attacks. Kyojuro quickly deduces the nature of Akaza's fighting style, deciding to close the distance to the Upper Rank.
The Demon compliments Kyojuro's reaction speed, and the two exchange a flurry of blows. Akaza also compliments the Hashira's swordsmanship, stating that losing these skills would be sad, but Kyojuro denies this.
Tanjiro attempts to stand to assist his superior, but Kyojuro orders him not to move on account of his recent wounds. Akaza continues his assault on the Hashira, chiding him for paying attention to a weakling instead of focusing on the fight at hand. Inosuke arrives just in time to see the two exchange another clash of techniques.
Characters in Order of Appearance
- Upper Rank 3 arrives and engages in battle with Kyojuro.