“Close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as Kyojuro Rengoku learned the hard way in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’s “Mugen Train” arc. The Flame Hashira very nearly succeeded in exposing Akaza — Upper-Rank Three of the Twelve Kizuki — to sunlight, but he wound up the same amount of dead as he would’ve been if he’d lost to Akaza instantly. Muzan’s most elite demons are nothing to scoff at, least of all Akaza, who is “only” Upper Three. And just as Akaza isn’t the most powerful Upper-Rank, Rengoku wasn’t the strongest Hashira. So, could a different Hashira have defeated Akaza?
Demon Slayer’s manga made it abundantly clear that even though each Hashira is insanely powerful, some are still far stronger than others. Mitsuri Kanroji and Muichiro Tokito survived fighting Upper-Ranks Four and Five with (relatively) minor injuries, whereas Tengen Uzui was mutilated and forced into retirement by Upper-Rank Six. Judging by the manga’s two final arcs, “Infinity Castle” and “Sunrise Countdown,” one could easily make the argument that the strongest Hashira are Gyomei Himejima, Sanemi Shinazugawa and Iguro Obanai. Let’s look at these Hashira and discuss which — if any — of them could have defeated Akaza had they been the ones dispatched to handle the Mugen Train fiasco.