The third season of Demon Slayer has finally arrived, and the new episodes are providing us with more details about Tanjirō’s adventures in the Swordsmith Village. The season has also introduced us to some new characters and brought back some old ones connected to the Swordsmith Village. One of the latter is a well-known character named Hotaru Haganezuka, who has a history with Tanjirō and diligently works to restore Yoriichi’s blade for him. In this article, we will tell you whether we ever see Hotaru without his face on, which is relevant because the swordsmiths are known for always carrying a mask over their faces.
During the events of the Swordsmith Village Arc, Hotaru Haganezuka was attacked by Gyokko, the Upper-Rank Five, while he was working on restoring Yoriichi’s Nichirin Sword for Tanjirō. Hotaru managed to survive the attack, but he was severely injured and also lost an eye in the process. He had his mask broken by Gyokko, thus becoming the first and only swordsmith in the series whose face was fully shown without the mask on.
The rest of this article will focus on Hotaru Haganezuka and the story of his mask in the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba series. Hotaru Haganezuka was one of the most interesting additions to the Demon Slayer lore, and it only makes sense that the fans want to know what happened to this guy, so we have composed this article. This article will contain some spoilers from the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga, so be careful how you approach it.
Hotaru Haganezuka had a history with Tanjirō, but he risked everything to restore Yoriichi’s sword for him
Hotaru Haganezuka was introduced very early in the story as he was assigned to Tanjirō as his swordsmith. When Tanjirō passed the Final Selection and became a Demon Slayer, Hotaru Haganezuka was sent to him – who was, at the time, living with Sakonji Urokodaki – to deliver his katana to him. Things soon escalated between them, though. Haganezuka was first disappointed when Tanjirō’s first blade turned black.
Tanjirō would then go on to break three of his blades, and on two of these occasions, Haganezuka tried to kill him because of that; the final time, he simply sent him a threatening message in which he told him that he would not be crafting a new blade for him. Tanjirō then made his way to the Swordsmith Village in order to talk to him, but was surprised to find out that Hotaru had disappeared and that the villagers were looking for him; until then, Tanjirō was welcome to rest in the village.
As the young Demon Slayer decided to explore the village and its surroundings, he found the Yoriichi Type Zero doll, a special training doll constructed and maintained by Kotetsu’s family for centuries. After training with the doll, Tanjirō managed to break it and discover the prize hidden inside it, a centuries-old rusted katana that was, in that state, sadly useless, which is why the young Kotetsu, who had been guarding the training doll kept apologizing to Tanjirō. And then, a strange thing happened.
From out of the woods, a muscular and almost unrecognizable Hotaru Haganezuka appeared and took the blade from Tanjirō by force, not explaining his motives, simply stating that he would take care of it. Kozo Kanamori then appeared and tickled Hotaru, who went limp and unconscious for a short time, revealing that it was a secret weapon against Haganezuka that could immediately bring him down.
Kozo then explained that Hotaru had been training in isolation so he could make an unbreakable blade for Tanjirō (which Tanjirō deemed very considerate of him) and that he was happy that Tanjirō kept asking Hotaru for more blades, as Hotaru drove away a lot of his client due to his personality.
Hotaru would soon wake up, and he tried to take the blade again by force, but he was once again tickled into oblivion. The third time did the trick, and Haganezuka finally explained normally what he wanted to do with the blade and why he was waking it from Tanjirō’s hands. This is when Tanjirō happily agreed to give Haganezuka the blade, who immediately went to work on it, being as diligent as one would expect from him.
And while Tanjirō has a history of breaking his katana, there is a specific reason why this blade never broke, despite being roughly 300 years old. Namely, as Hotaru noticed during the restoration process, the blade was indeed special. It was a black Nichirin Blade that was both powerful and beautiful, seemingly reflecting the skills and abilities of its former owner, who was none other than Yoriichi Tsugikuni.
After taking it, Hotaru put a lot of effort into restoring the blade while praising its brilliance. He was so focused, in fact, that he nearly totally disregarded Gyokko and Hantengu’s onslaught on the settlement. He was, in particular, targeted by Gyokko, and both Kotetsu and Kozo Kanamori, after Muichirō Tokitō saved them from Gyokko’s fish demons, directed the Mist Hashira towards Haganezuka’s workshop, where he had been working hard on the blade.
After Gyokko imprisoned Muichirō in his Water Prison, the powerful Demon focused on Haganezuka; Kozo tried to shield him, but Gyokko simply sliced him and continued towards Hanagezuka, who was so focused on the work that he simply ignored Gyokko. Gyokko bothered him constantly and even assaulted him, seriously injuring him. Still, Hotaru persisted in his work on the sword until he could give it to Tanjirō despite having his mask destroyed, his body hurt, and losing one of his eyes.
Given that this blade did not break, it was both his masterpiece and Tanjirō’s final blade. Gyokko tried every method here, he even broke Haganezuka’s mask and cost him his eye, but the swordsmith did not move until he finished his work; Gyokko was so furious and jealous that he wanted to destroy Haganezuka, but he soon had to face Muichirō once again, as the Mist Hashira managed to escape his prison with Kotetsu’s help.
Ultimately, as we’ve said, Haganezuka managed to deliver Yoriichi’s blade to young Tanjirō, and the latter did not break this blade like he did the others, which made both of them quite proud; he recovered from the injuries sustained by Gyokko (save for the eye), but also became the only swordsmith whose face we’ve actually seen in the series. We know that he died sometime later of old age, but he survived the main plot of Demon Slayer and remained one of the series’ best-written side characters with a great development arc throughout.
As far as it is known, Haganezuka is the only swordsmith whose face was fully seen without the mask
It is a known fact that the swordsmiths wear masks to hide their identities, which is necessary for survival in a demon-infested world; as they keep helping the Corps, it is only natural that Muzan would want to see them dead. This is why their identities are secret, and the village itself is so hidden, i.e., why no one person knows how to reach it directly. This is a deep-rooted reason behind their wearing the masks and why they never take them off.
In the series, Kotetsu’s face was almost fully shown. We also saw a large portion of Tetsuido’s face (the old swordsmith who crafted Muichirō’s blades until he died from a heart attack), but as far as it is known, Hotaru Haganezuka is the only swordsmith in the series whose face was fully shown.
Gyokko broke his mask while attacking him, and his face was revealed to all, but at that moment, as we have explained, all that mattered to Hotaru was the blade. Hence, he risked everything to do his job, and that ultimately paid off but also secured him a place in the lore’s history.