Original Release Date: October 16, 2020 Directed By: Haruo Sotozaki Genre: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Koyoharu Gotouge
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Demon Slayer the Movie – Mugen Train. Reader discretion is advised.***
After many mysterious disappearances on a passenger train, the famed Demon Slayer Corps believes a powerful demon is to blame for the occurrences. However, all the slayers the Corps has sent have never returned. To put a stop to this, one of the Corps’ most elite warriors, the flame pillar Kyoujurou Rengoku (voiced by Satoshi Hino), begins to investigate.
Although Rengoku should be enough to handle whatever may come, the Corps sends four of its most promising recruits as backup – Tanjirou Kamado, Nezuko Kamado, Zenitsu Agatsuma, and Inosuke Hashibira (voiced respectively by Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kitou, Hiro Shimono, and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka).
Tanjirou and friends board the suspected train and join up with Rengoku. Almost at once, things take a dark turn. Now, all on board are at the mercy of a ruthless, bloodthirsty demon.
It is hard to quantify a phenomenon. However, having now become the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time, as well being the number one grossing movie of 2020 (the first non-Hollywood production ever to achieve such a distinction), it is hard to use any other word when describing Demon Slayer the Movie – Mugen Train (Mugen Train).
Being someone who contributed to this film’s 36.8 billion JPY (458.8 million USD) box-office haul, please allow me a moment to get something off my chest. Had Mugen Train come out in any other year, I doubt its record-breaking run would have reached the extent that it did. The thing is, 2020 was one hell of a year for going to the movies, and, frankly, there weren’t many other options.
I feel that some of Mugen Train’s success had to do with timing. For context, the film came out in October 2020 in Japan, and that couldn’t have been a better window. At that point, the country had just come out of a lockdown, businesses were open, and people were free to go about normal life for the first time in months. (As it happens, this review is coming out when the exact opposite is true.)
Therefore, I think people just wanted to see a movie, and this was what was available. Nevertheless, that desire to get away from quarantine only constituted a small percent to Mugen Train’s dominance. Having seen it in theatres and now watching it again, I would put that percentage at about 1. The other 99% was because this was really f@#$ing good film.
Where does one even start?
As mentioned in the Mugen Train Eigakan post, this was a sequel to Demon Slayer’s first season. So before you do anything, check out the original series before watching this film; otherwise, not many things will make sense.
But assuming you are up to date, if there is one thing that can be said about Mugen Train, it’s this:
This was a movie. It had a movie’s budget, a movie’s visuals, and a movie’s sound, power, and feel. You’re not getting an extended episode of the TV series. No, you are getting a film.
Following that, the thing which impressed me the most was how Mugen Train used its characters.
I am not going to say this movie established its anyone because, well, it didn’t; it didn’t need to. With the exception of one, and we’ll get to him, the main casts’ personality and likability started from a strong place. Once again, this is a sequel.
Of our leading group – Tanjirou Kamado, Nezuko Kamado, Zenitsu Agatsuma, and Inosuke Hashibira – they all had a moment that made you think, “Okay, that was pretty freaking awesome.” Admittedly, Zenitsu and Nezuko didn’t have the most prominent roles in this film. Still, thinking of potential future stories, shows, and movies, these two aren’t baggage. When push comes to shove (and I’m looking at Zenitsu when I’m saying this), they can hold their own.
As for two of our three main catalysts, Tanjirou and Inosuke, they carried a lot of this movie. To be fair, Tanjirou, being this franchise’s primary protagonist, was always going to do the most. Inosuke, on the other hand, is proof that the comic relief character doesn’t have to be a punching bag. Hell, Inosuke is easily the funniest badass I have ever come across in anime; he was absurdly entertaining.
Additionally, Tanjirou and Inosuke’s fight with this film’s primary antagonist, Enmu (voiced by Daisuke Hirakawa), was one, JUST ONE, of the many outstanding action scenes. Demon Slayer has a truly unique art style, and Mugen Train used that to phenomenal effect.
Every aspect of every fight in this movie was – there’s no other way to put it – perfect. If you find yourself bored during Mugen Train, then you simply do not like action films; fight me on this.
But while I could rave about the visuals, the soundtrack, the action, and the story, I think it would be better if you just sat down and watched this movie yourself. That said, I should warn you. Mugen Train isn’t all thrills and excitement. No, when this film wants to hit you with some emotion, it uses a goddamn sledgehammer.
I’m not saying this movie is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes. No, what I am saying is, this movie brought tears to mine.
Although I enjoyed the first season of Demon Slayer, I didn’t think it was medium-changing like so many other people suggested it was. And yet, wow, I didn’t know I cared about these characters as much as I did until they went through the ringing in this movie.
Finally, Kyoujurou Rengoku.
To be honest, for most of this movie, Rengoku only had really cool moments. But, then, at the end of this story, he stole everything. His climactic fight is something you are going to remember. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be a defining moment for the rest of this series.
Rengoku was part of the Demon Slayer Corps elite, and now, I know exactly what that means. I also now have an idea of how difficult future battles in this franchise will be. Rengoku’s shining hour was one of the best anime fight scenes I have ever come across. What a way to end a film.
To make a long story short, if you haven’t seen Mugen Train yet, you best do so sooner rather than latter.
I’ll make this section brief, but there is one critique I have about this movie.
The pacing near the middle of the film dragged; it was definitely the slowest part of the story.
To give you a better idea of when this happens without giving too much away, the section I’m talking about is when our characters have their respective dreams. That might not make sense out of context, but it is impossible to miss.
For the record, I am not referring to Tanjirou’s dream; his had a ton of meaning and was a highlight of Mugen Train. Instead, the problem had more to do with Zenitsu and Inosuke’s, and I’m not sure how this movie could have gone about fixing it.
Had the story excluded these moments, that wouldn’t have worked. Zenitsu and Inosuke had to be part of the story, so they had to fall under the dream spell. And since they needed to be under said spell, we had to see things from their perspective.
Unfortunately, had Mugen Train extended Zenitsu and Inosuke’s dreams, it would have dragged the movie out longer than it needed to be.
It was a no-win situation, and this film did the best that it could. And really, it found ways to make up for it.
Spoilers, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. To be hyperbolic for a moment, it was worth going to the theater during a global pandemic to see it.
Question: Did you like Demon Slayer? If the answer is yes, this film is better; it hit every note it had to hit.
Great characters, an exciting story, thrilling action, outstanding visuals, a killer soundtrack, fantastic voice acting, it was the whole package. This film was thoroughly, THOROUGHLY entertaining.
You better believe Demon Slayer the Movie – Mugen Train has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this film? How would you advise The Demon Slayer the Movie – Mugen Train? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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