Demon Slayer’s most unusual breathing style is Shinobu Kocho’s Insect Breath. This is everything we know about Hashira’s signature skill.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’s hallmark skills in fighting demons from Muzan Kibutsuji are breathing styles. Demon Slayer Corps swordsmen have evolved five basic breathing methods with several variations. The Hashira are known for customising the core five, though none are as detailed as Shinobu Kocho’s Insect Breathing. Shinobu’s Insect Breath is unusual in that it is a derivative of a derivative, as opposed to other Hashira whose Breathing Styles are evolved directly from the original five.
Water, Flame, Wind, Stone, and Thunder are the five main breathing methods in Demon Slayer. Despite the fact that they all evolved from sun breathing, the original breathing pattern has been lost through time. When a Demon Slayer practises one of the major five breathing methods, they adjust the forms and techniques to fit their body and abilities. All of the breathing methods may be linked back to the primary five, and ultimately to the sun breathing. Insect breathing, on the other hand, is the only known kind of breathing that is two-fold, as it stems from flower breathing, which is a subset of water breathing.
Shinobu Kocho devised Insect Breathing as a Tsuguko under the tutelage of her older sister Kanae, the late Flower Hashira. Shinobu has adopted her older sister’s breathing method as her own, utilising it to create the insect breathing. Shinobu‘s breathing style has four known forms: Butterfly Dance: Caprice, Bee Sting Dance: True Aerobatics, Dragonfly Dance: Compound-Eyed Hexagon, and Centipede Dance: Hundred-Legged Zigzag.
To optimise their skills, all Demon Slayers, including Hashira, build derivative styles to fit better, but Shinobu was compelled to design her own style in order to be a Demon Slayer. Shinobu Kocho’s small stature, which measures 4’11” and weighs 82 lbs, does not allow him to have the physical strength necessary to decapitate a demon. For this reason, each of the Insect-Breathing forms focuses on rapid, disorienting movements, as well as thrusting techniques, so that Shinobu can inject a deadly poison into a demon and get out of range of any physical attack. Any demon can be killed by a strong amount of wisteria poison, and Shinobu has become a poison expert, allowing her to kill demons even if she lacks the strength to decapitate them.
Shinobu was only seen in battle once during Season 2 of the anime, during the “Natagumo Mountain” arc, where she easily fought one of Rui’s siblings. Shinobu quickly injected the demon with a deadly dosage of poison using Insect-Breathing, Butterfly Dance: Caprice, before the demon even realised what had happened. Despite his small physique and unusual breathing style, Shinobu Kocho doesn’t give up. In the manga, when Shinobu faced Doma – Upper-Rank Two, Shinobu released each of his insect breathing forms. Doma even claimed that if she had only had the strength to decapitate Shinobu, he would have succumbed to the quickness of his ways.
Shinobu Kocho may not be as powerful as some of the other Hashira, but it doesn’t make her any less deserving of the title. Her idea for the Insect-Breathing sprang from her unrelenting commitment to exorcise demons so that no one else has to go through what she did when her parents were murdered in front of her. Shinobu lacked Gyomei Himejima’s size or Hashira’s bravery in saving her and Kanae during the attack that killed their parents, but she managed to become her equal.