Due to various circumstances, we don’t get to know about all the Demon Slayer characters. Sometimes it is because of how the story goes. Other times, it is because people like the Kamado siblings and their closest allies, like Inosuke and Zenitsu, are the primary focus. Demon Slayer: Stories of Water and Flame is a manga that seeks to offer more for people who want to get acquainted with the Hashira, specifically showcasing Giyu Tomioka and Kyojuro Rengoku, and their motivations and relationships they have with other members of the cast.
Things kick off in Demon Slayer: Stories of Water and Flame with Giyu heading out on a new mission. But he isn’t the only one of the Demon Slayer characters at the destination. Shinobu Kocho happens to be there by coincidence. Which honestly works out for the best. This is because the opening is used to show exactly how bad Giyu is at getting along with people. He’s trying to explain who he is and who he works for. But because of his nature, people don’t understand. It isn’t until Shinobu shows up that things are properly explained. That both are there also means when the two do head off to deal with the demon the townsfolk thing is just an anamotazu (man-eating bear), we get to see how observant they are. We get to watch as both catch on to what’s going on.
But what’s also important here is seeing how Giyu and Shinobu interact with each other. Due to the structure of Demon Slayer’s main story, we don’t always get to see Hashira interact. Here, we get to see Giyu and Shinobu interact casually and professionally. We see her poke him, and him take it in stride. We watch him confide in her while they share a meal. There’s also art suggesting a deeper relationship between these two Demon Slayer characters than perhaps we’d see normally. It also means there’s more context for when we do see how the two react to each other during the story proper.
The second half of the book is dedicated to the Flame Hashira Kyojuro. Likewise, it’s dedicated to establishing him beyond the person we see in the Mugen Train arc and movie. Which means things kick off before he even became the Flame Hashira. We see what his family and personal life was like. Readers witness interactions with his father and brother. They get to be flies on the wall during the Hashira meeting that sets his fate in motion.
But while he interacts with quite a few Hashira at that meeting—like Gyomei Himejima and Sanemi Shinazugawa—they aren’t the Demon Slayer characters with the most meaningful interactions with Kyojuro. Rather, it’s Mitsuri Kanroji who also matters most. She’s Kyojuro’s disciple as the story begins. We watch him train with her. During the climax of this story’s conflict, we see him constantly encourage her. He exhibits a believe not only in himself, but in his student. And because of that, we see how she’s essentially a part of the Rengoku family and how his influence allows her to accept and blossom into who she is meant to be.
The result is that Demon Slayer: Stories of Water and Flame really helps you get to know these characters. We better understand who they are and how they interact with other Hashira. It fleshes out relationships hinted at or mentioned in the original series. In each case, people will come away feeling like they know Giyu and Kyojuro better.