The popular and most recently successful Japanese anime and manga series Kimetsu no Yaiba, commonly known as “Demon Slayer,” has had an incredible impact on the hearts of the show’s fanatics. It follows the story of a teenage boy Tanjiro Kamado who attempts to become a demon slayer as a result of the witnessed murder of his family and the transformation of his younger sister Nezuko into a demon.
Loyal followers and fanatics of the manga notice distinctive features of the main protagonist Tanjiro like the scar on his forehead that changes in shape and the Hanafuda Rising Sun earrings, which hold an exciting significance and story behind this memorable piece of jewelry.
Why is this accessory relevant and vital for the storyline? Are they considered offensive in the real world due to the negative connotations of the Rising Sun flag? This article will touch on the significance and story behind the Hanafuda Rising Sun and its connection to the popular anime “Demon Slayer.” In addition, we will also see a brief explanation of the controversy these earrings hold in the media.
Hanafuda roots back to Japanese history and culture. They translate to “flower cards,” which were card games brought to Japan in 1549 by a missionary called Francis Xavier, but after they closed contact with the Western world, they were banned in 1633.
However, in Demon Slayer, they are referred to as earrings or jewelry that hold a robust significant value to Tanjiro since it is a family heirloom.
We can see this in Episode nineteen, titled “Hinokami,” where the flashback of Tanjiro’s father named, Tanjuro, wearing the same earrings also used by Yoriichi Tsugikuni, the first user of the Breath of the Sun. Later, they dance to the fire god “Hinokami Kagura.” This is a breathing style that the Kamado family only teaches.
The connection between Tanjiro and Tsugikuni’s family deepens the meaning of the Hanafuda earrings even more since it shows how only Breath of Sun users can wear them. They’ve been passed from generation to generation through the Kamado family members once they taught their descendants the Kagura Breathing Style. Because Yoriichi didn’t have successors, it is believed that he passed it down to Tanjiro to keep the symbol alive.
These earrings were associated as a powerful symbol of Sun Breathing Style fighters and are easily recognized within the anime. They have an incredibly distinctive design; some refer to them as paper talismans. They contain red circles with various lines extending in different directions to resemble a flower.
In addition, the father of Rengoku, named Kyojuro Shinjuro, almost instantly notices the hanafuda earrings on Tanjiro and calls him “practitioner of Sun Breathing,” which sustains the belief it is a symbol of people who practice this breathing style and possess this incredible power. Also, Muzan immediately identifies it in Episode 7, and it is believed that it serves almost as a reminder of the time he was defeated.
The main reason why Muzan Kibutsuji hates Tanjiro’s earrings is that it brings him back to the moment he almost died back in the Sengoku era when he came across a read-haired swordswoman wearing those same hanafuda earrings. It represents a sign of threat to him to the point he immediately summons his demons to kill Tanjiro.
He associates this piece of jewelry as life-threatening. He, therefore, is the reason why he slaughtered various people that knew about the incredible power it holds to keep it under wraps, just like the breath of the sun.
As we saw earlier in this article, the hanafuda rising sun earrings make it more thrilling to watch and see how the main character Tanjiro, unlocks his full potential.
Here is a summarized list of why this accessory is essential to the storyline:
- Family Emblem: since these earrings are passed down generations within the Kamado family, it is believed to be handed down to the oldest son. This is why Tanjiro felt the urge to protect his family from the beginning of the manga series. Since he was the eldest sibling, he assumed a bold protective role throughout the story, and his main preoccupation was fighting for his sister.
- Mark of Demon Slayer: it served as a symbol to identify the best demon slayers. Back in the day, those who owned the earrings were considered masters of the Sun breathing style.
- Defeat reminder to Muzan: Kibutsuji fears those who wore hanafuda earrings because it reminds him of the time he was close to being killed by a red-haired demon slayer.
- Symbol of strength: since only incredibly skilled demon slayers wear hanafuda rising sun earrings, it becomes a symbol of power and incredible strength as well as expertise in the Sun breathing technique.
Now that we dove into the hanafuda earing’s significance and importance to Tanjiro’s storyline, it is undeniable the considerable controversy it has gained on social media.
It all roots back to the design of the earrings, which have a red circle accompanied by various rays or lines that extend to the arc. This is believed to resemble the Rising Sun Flag utilized by the Japanese military in times of colonization of the Asian countries during World War 2 and is the main reason it is controversial in Asian countries.
Kyokujitsu-ki, commonly referred to as the “Rising Sun Flag,” is a Japanese flag with a red circle and sixteen red rays around it. It was first introduced in 1870 to Japanese culture and remained a symbol of national pride often used by nationalists.
It was used during the nineteenth century as a military flag and exemplified Japan’s imperialist expansion once occupying Korea and an area of China. It gained controversy in World War II since it was adopted as a naval ensign of the Japanese Navy and its association with military aggression during this global conflict, making it extremely sensitive to countries that faced this colonization.
This is why the resemblance and design of these hanafuda earrings sparked some conversation after the anime was aired, which is why some people consider it highly offensive and insensitive.
After facing this dispute in the media, the showrunners decided to change the earring design for those Asian countries like Korea and China where the anime was being aired. It was changed into a red circle surrounded by mountains and horizontal lines.
Initially, the whole purpose of the earrings was to show an homage to Japanese culture by implementing Hanafuda or “flower cards” inspired accessories. They made these changes to eliminate the previously associated image of Japanese military crimes towards these Asian countries, which was not the show’s primary objective.
This new version is considered more socially and politically sensitive and a great alternative. Still, it continues to be associated with a flag linked to Japanese imperialism during World War II. Once the design was changed, official merchandise sold in these countries was obsolete.
Despite the various controversial discussions on social media surrounding this topic, hanafuda rising sun earrings are used in Demon Slayer as a representation and homage to Japanese culture utilizing Hanafuda flower cards inspired design. Aside from this, it is vital to the storyline since it shows the demon slayers who master the Sun breathing style and that this technique is a family heirloom of the Kamado family.
It plays a lot in how the story will evolve and serves as a symbol of power and strength that Muzan is scared of due to his near-death experience with a demon slayer who wore them.