When one decides to talk about Demon Slayer, one usually talks about the demon slayers themselves or the demons. And while the series has offered us a variety of other intriguing characters, we will talk about one specific Demon Slayer – Gen’ya Shinazugawa, Sanemi’s brother – in this particular article. Gen’ya is a very interesting character because of his unlikable personality and how it reflects his relationship with the Demon Slayer Corps. He also has a very specific set of powers and abilities. The recent episodes of Demon Slayer showed us that Gen’ya could use a very specific chant that seemingly saved his life, and in this article, we are going to explain that ability of his.
Gen’ya Shinazugawa is known as the only fighting member of the present-day Demon Slayer Corps that does not have his own Breathing Style, which is why he has mastered the Repetitive Action technique. As part of that technique, which is similar to Total Concentration Breathing, Gen’ya is able to give himself a significant power boost if he recites the Amida Sūtra and remembers a painful experience he had.
Having said this, many questions related to Gen’ya Shinazugawa and his powers and abilities in the Demon Slayer franchise still have to be answered and explained. The rest of this article will further explain all of those details as we will dig deeper into the essence of his powers and abilities in the Demon Slayer manga and anime. This article might contain some spoilers, so we just wanted to give you a heads-up before you start reading.
Gen’ya almost died while fighting Hantengu, but a chant… saved him?
After being introduced in the first season, Gen’ya Shinazugawa finally got his big break in Season 3 of Demon Slayer, where he was one of the most important characters. He engaged in the fight against Hantengu, the Upper-Rank Four, fighting Aizetsu. Gen’ya initially shoots off Aizetsu’s head, but the Demon takes his spear and slashes Gen’ya with it, wounding him mortally. Aizetsu then comments on how he will die because of the injuries sustained. But then, something strange happens.
Namely, Gen’ya ignores Aizetsu and starts reciting a chant, which is revealed as the Amida Sūtra. What is the Amida Sūtra anyway? The Amida Sūtra is the colloquial name of the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra. This Mahāyāna Buddhist text is one of the main sutras recited in the schools of Pure Land Buddhism, where it is held in high esteem. It is actually a discourse that Gautama Buddha addresses to his disciple Śāriputra in Jetavana Park in Śrāvastī. The exposition focuses on both the beings who live there, including the Buddha Amitabha, as well as the magnificent adornments that the virtuous can expect in the Western Pure Land, Sukhvat. The book also outlines the requirements for there to be a rebirth.
The sutra is frequently chanted in Chán and Pure Land Buddhism, and its recitation (like those of other sutras, for that matter) is much more than simple chanting, as has been noted by masters of various traditions, such as Genshin. In the Jōdoshū and Jōdo Shinshū schools, its recitation is done. It is frequently recited in these schools during exceptional liturgies like those for the consecration of brand-new places of worship. However, given its subject matter (rebirth in the Pure Land), the sutra is especially revered during funeral rites, especially before domestic altars. It is often referred to as the “Pillow Sutra” since it is typically read at the bedside of the deceased shortly after they pass away.
As you can see, the Amida Sūtra doesn’t seem to be anything special regarding powers and abilities, it is simply a regular Buddhist chant, but it seemingly helped Gen’ya survive. Aizetsu recognizes the chant and, after Sekido’s orders, proceeds to kill Gen’ya, but he manages to dodge it and attacks Aizetsu with his sword from behind. Gen’ya aims for Aizetsu’s head but fails to hit him as he is blasted by Sekido’s thunder and incapacitated for a while; still, he manages to hit Sekido with a bullet.
Aizetsu then hits him with the shaft of his spear and knocks him into a wall. Gen’ya would continue using his chant and would soon get up, stating that he was going to kill Sekido with a fanged, demonic smile visible on his face.
Gen’ya’s Repetitive Action is very powerful
Now, after we’ve explained what happened to you, we can explain Gen’ya’s powers, as the Buddhist chant is tied to that aspect of his personality. Gen’ya is a very specific character in this aspect, and to properly understand what he’s done and how he was able to do it, we have to explain these powers and abilities here.
After becoming one of the members of the Demon Slayer Corps, Gen’ya Shinazugawa possessed quite a high level of strength and surpassed an average person. His strength was greatly increased after using his Demonic Transformation ability, and he could take on members of the Twelve Demon Moons, such as Hantengu and Kokushibo. His level of physical stamina surpassed that of most Slayers, allowing him to endure severe pain and survive fatal injuries, as demonstrated when he lost one of his teeth in the middle of training or when one of the Hantengu clones speared him.
Every time he recited a portion of the Amida Sūtra, his speed rose to new heights, giving him more control over his powers and making him practically undetectable to both humans and demons. He was a member of the Demon Slayer Corps, but what made him so special was that he could not perfect any Breathing Technique.
In order to compensate for his lack of talents, he trained under Gyōmei Himejima, mastering the Repetitive Action technique that allowed him to focus intently and fully open his five senses, as well as enhancing all of his physical prowess and proficiency with Nichirin weaponry. He didn’t use any Breathing Styles, yet he was nonetheless an expert swordsman who could move with Nichirin swords with amazing agility. Additionally, he was skilled at moving around while brandishing a sword and using pistols. He could quickly remove a demon’s head thanks to his accurate shooting.
By consuming the living flesh of a Demon, Gen’ya can momentarily assume demonic characteristics. Depending on his strength, he might gain regenerative abilities and physical powers similar to one. In this form, Gen’ya can momentarily overcome Aizetsu. Gen’ya was powerful and quick enough to throw three trees at once after eating the wood that Zohakuten had generated. Since Gen’ya could only be murdered by being beheaded, his battle with Kokushibo displayed his demonization to the fullest extent. By eating Kokushibo’s hair, Gen’ya’s demonic abilities were enhanced, as shown by the fact that he was able to immediately rejoin his severed body and even hear Muzan Kibutsuji’s telepathic conversation.
Gen’ya’s full range of enhanced demonic abilities is later made known, demonstrating that even after having his head split in two and being bifurcated, he was still conscious, alive, and capable of using his Demon Blood Art. Gen’ya has also shown that he can divide his cells and fuse them with his weaponry. To compensate for his incapacity to use Breathing Techniques, Gyōmei Himejima taught him the Repetitive Action method. Gen’ya repeats several statements or phrases to efficiently concentrate on his task, retain mental clarity, and shut off suffering. To aid in his concentration, he repeatedly says the Amida Sūtra prayers for Gen’ya.
At least two higher ranks (Hantengu and, later, Kokushibo) had their flesh and cells consumed by Gen’ya, who reportedly created his personal Blood Demon Art. Gen’ya’s Blood Power was intended to combat and harm other demons, the same as Nezuko’s. Gen’ya’s special technique combines his demon-turned cells with his solar steel balls and weapon, allowing him to easily control the direction and speed of the bullets as they are fired.
This was demonstrated when his bullets easily navigated around Kokushibo’s sword and sank right into his body. While inside the designated target, the bullets can instantly develop into a massive tree that resembles the higher rank four Zohakuten form tree animals before entangling and wrapping around the target to render it paralyzed. Gen’ya could modify his inserted flesh balls even further by making them penetrate his target’s body and absorb demon blood, stopping them from using their own Blood Demon Art.
As you can see, the unique structure of Gen’ya’s powers and abilities is something that makes him quite special and difficult to defeat. Although Kokushibo eventually killed him, the fact that he was also able to contribute to his defeat speaks for itself. Gen’ya’s chanting was, thus, connected to his Repetitive Action technique, which significantly increased all of his stats, including his durability. That was how he survived Aizetsu’s fatal attack on him and how he could come back and continue fighting.