I think that’s the best way to preface this review.
The lengthy Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train has taken on Japan and won. It’s predecessor? Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away which has held the spot for almost 20 years. This standard Shonen tale simply walks in during unprecedented times and takes the spot by almost $6 billion yen. Is it because of unprecedented times that Demon Slayer could do this? Or is it because of its sheer appeal to both casual and hardcore fans alike? Maybe a little bit of column A, and a little of column B.
For those who don’t know, Demon Slayer is about people who slay demons. Taking place in a fantasy version of the Taisho period in Japan, we follow protagonists Tanjiro and Nezuko Kamado. Losing their family to demons, and Nezuko being turned into one herself, our heroes work toward freeing Nezuko and the world from the Demon King Muzan. Tanjiro joins the Demon Slayer Corps, and learns new skills which make him a gifted swordsman through different breathing styles, while they make new friends and enemies alike as they get closer and closer to Muzan.
There you go. Demon Slayer.
And now, the Mugen Train movie comes along to join the fray. But, much like its story, is the movie your standard “non-canon but kind of canon story”, similar to other franchise features in the past? That’s the interesting thing about Mugen Train. It’s actually the next arc of the overall narrative. The Mugen Train arc joins our heroes Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke as the train they jumped onto in episode 26 is the aforementioned Mugen Train. Tasked with finding the Flame Pillar, Kyojuro Rengoku, and investigating the 40 victims lost to the train, the team soon stumble upon their enemy; Lower Moon One of Muzan’s 12 Moons. The 12 Moons are the strongest demons under direct command of the Demon King. From here, the film quickly ramps up into a surreal state of dreams fulfilled, as our Demon Slayers try to defeat their foe.
After watching Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, it made me think of one feeling right away. This felt like the first time I’d really seen an anime feature live. I haven’t been lucky enough to see a Miyazaiki feature on release, but the sensation certainly felt like that. I’m not saying thematically they’re the same, but the sheer scale of what this was, and how it felt in cinema, was incredible. The stellar voice cast from the series returns, and Satoshi Hino gets to really show off his chops as the film is practically Rengoku’s to lead. ufotable take the craft they produced with the anime, and give it full feature flourish. Their 2.5D production resounding well within the locomotive locale, with the action just as feature-filled too. If you thought the ‘Hanokami Kagura‘ sequence couldn’t be topped, then this film has tonnes which do so with ease.
From opening to close, the film is a delectable treat for hardcore fans and casual fans alike.
From the voice acting and animation, to the beautiful music, which sees LiSA return with a new piece in ‘Homura‘, I see how Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train flew to the top. While it may be for the fans, the story and its presentation will be as thrilling for the non-fan. With the incredibly emotional ending, which lends itself to the start of Season 2 of Demon Slayer, it’ll be up to us to take a breath until then.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train was the anime treat I'd been waiting to see in cinema. While I've been lucky enough to see features such as My Hero Academia, Dragon Ball and Pokémon in cinema, they never matched the assumed majesty I'd expect from a Studio Ghibli film (and maybe now a Shinkai film) in cinema.
But Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train was all of this and more, as I relived the highs I felt watching the series, blasted onto a giant cinematic screen.
If you love anime, or even if you're a fan on the outlier, then please see Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train. It is a fantastic ride, as long as you have your ticket.