After being struck by lightning, Sobriquet now writes articles about manga in his sleep.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is the series that’s taking animanga by storm. It tells the story of Tanjiro Kamado and other young warriors overcoming their weaknesses and fighting powerful monsters. Most prominently among those warriors are Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira, Tanjiro’s best friends.
These two not only serve as comic relief but also as important, compelling characters. Zenitsu hates demon slaying, but he does it for his teacher and caretaker. He’s a coward, but he has a strong knack for Thunder Breathing’s first and most powerful form. Inosuke, on the other hand, is athletic but a moron. Growing up in the wilderness, he is untamed and aggressive when he first meets his bros. Luckily, he warms up to them.
Though they would never admit it, these two function as the Robin and Batgirl to Tanjiro’s Batman. This has made many curious Demon Slayer fans wonder which sidekick could beat the other. They were intentionally written as being on pretty much the exact same level, which makes it a hard question to answer. I will do my best to uncover this mystery. Manga spoilers ahead!
First, I will compare the quickness and agility of Zenitsu and Inosuke. At first glance, almost anyone would pick the former as advantageous in this category, but Inosuke is underrated when it comes to speed. His fighting style is best described as quick and aggressive, where his opponent receives a flurry of nonstop attacks that are hard to keep up with. He definitely wins the agility aspect thanks to his freaky gymnastic capabilities.
Inosuke even manages to keep up with Zenitsu’s God Speed ability when he helps him behead Daki, although Zenitsu’s speed was waning a bit at that point and they were coming in from different angles.
But there’s no getting around it, Zenitsu is faster. That’s kind of his whole shtick. The premise of Thunder Breathing is that it makes it’s user as fast as the speed of light. Inosuke may be speedy, but Zenitsu is one of the fastest characters in Demon Slayer and maybe one of the fastest throughout all manga.
When it comes to categories that aren’t quickness, Zenitsu is a bit wimpy. At the beginning of the series in particular, he’s only really useful when he passes out and gets his speed boost. Towards the end he begins to man up, becoming more athletic and staying awake for his fights. The death of Jigoro Kuwajima inspires him to bulk up and move a boulder during Hashira Training, a testament to his growth. Still, being strong is not his strong suit.
Inosuke, on the other hand, is obsessed with strength and never backs down. The first six fangs of Beast Breathing are all strength-focused close-combat abilities. This means that Inosuke does not rely heavily on stealth and evasion tactics, but instead gets in his opponent’s face and wears him or her down. A battle plan like that requires some impressive brawn and stamina, which the King of the Mountains has shown time and time again.
Moving on to offensive and defensive capabilities. Inosuke’s offense, as described before, involves an unyielding torrent of attacks. This battle strategy can break down most defenses, as enemies cannot protect themselves from repeated strikes at every imaginable angle.
This can be seen in Inosuke’s fight against Tanjiro, where the protagonist is caught off guard by this unique fighting style. Tanjiro barely wins this match by exploiting Inosuke’s weakness of fighting offense with offense and overwhelming him with a lethal head-butt.
Zenitsu has some of the best offensive abilities in the entire series. His basic attack, Thunderclap and Flash, is an overpowered charge that is extremely hard to dodge. For those that can dodge it, he has God Speed. For those that can dodge that, he has his own form, Honoikazuchi no Kami.
This last attack has never failed, even overwhelming an Upper Kizuki, although it’s extremely draining and cannot be used more than once. All in all, Thunder Breathing has provided Zenitsu with an arsenal of attacks that are very difficult for anyone to overcome.
While his offense may be OP, the lightning boy’s defense is sorely lacking. He can use his speed to dodge, but that’s about it for Thunder Breathing’s defensive abilities. He does have an acute sense of hearing, which may help. At full power, he gets nearly torn apart by Kaigaku, completely unable to block his attacks.
This is bad for Zenitsu in this article’s matchup, as Kaigaku is similar to Inosuke as he is an opponent that is nearly as fast as Zenitsu and couldn’t be dodged as easily as other adversaries.
Naturally, Inosuke the brawler has a few defensive tricks to keep him from getting killed whenever he does something stupid. (His stupidity, in fact, is his main weakness defensively.)
Similar to Zenitsu’s sense of sound and Tanjiro’s sense of smell, Inosuke has a sense of touch that alerts him whenever anything comes anywhere near him. Unlike Zenitsu, he also has Beast Breathing Seventh Form: Spatial Awareness, which basically gives him a radar of his surroundings. Finally, Inosuke has the plot-armor ability to rearrange his guts, preventing fatal wounds.
He may get into a lot of trouble, but he has enough survival skills to get him through the entire series, which can’t be said for many powerful characters.
So Who Wins?
Inosuke Hashibira is far more well-rounded than Zenitsu Agatsuma. That theme has stood out to me since I first thought up this fight. While Inosuke was inferior in speed and offense, he was far less inferior than Zenitsu was in strength and defense. If you add up all of their stats, you could very easily make the argument that Inosuke is a superior, more reliable fighter.
That being said, could Inosuke really survive a one-on-one against Zenitsu? Few humans could. As I said before, Thunderclap and Flash is a fatal move that would be extremely difficult for Inosuke to dodge, but not impossible. Thunderclap and Flash God Speed would be even more difficult for Inosuke to survive. Honoikazuchi no Kami would be game over.
Earlier, I said that Zenitsu’s helplessness to Kaigaku’s attack was a bad sign, as Inosuke is at a similar level and could do the same amount of damage. That being said, Zenitsu beat Kaigaku. Kaigaku, though maybe a more versatile fighter, could not overcome one of Zenitsu’s unbeatable blitzes. Inosuke would be the exact same.