It was a busy day in Japan on October 16, 2020. The new Demon Slayer movie had just been released, and waves of people were flying into the theatres. A few days after, the film had become the highest grossing anime film to ever exist, beating the first place, Spirited Away after it was on the top for 20 years
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train follows a team of demon slayers including the main character, Tanjiro Kamado, his demon sister Nezuko, the often frightened Zenitsu, a wolf-raised fighter Inosuke and fire pillar Rengoku, as they investigate attacks caused by demons who have recently infested a large train.
The first thing that catches the viewer’s eye when seeing Mugen Train is the smooth and beautiful animation. Especially during fight scenes, everything flows so cleanly. This is thanks to Ufotable, a well known and extremely skilled animation studio who also animated the original series, which was voted the best anime series of 2019. The different breath styles and demon arts used by the combatants are all beautifully designed, especially the water, which is based on old Japanese art.
The character designs are also quite unique. The outfits of the main characters fit the setting in the Taisho period of Japan (1912-1926), while also having a lot more depth and colorful design than most of the background characters. Designing anime is something Ufotable excels at, as they also produced many of the designs for the hit anime franchise Fate over their many seasons.
The character’s personality designs are also very well put together. Villains in Demon Slayer are always well constructed, and the main antagonist of the film, a sadistic demon named Enmu is no different. He takes pleasure from the suffering of others, including the members of his own clan. He believes in showing someone their greatest hopes and dreams, and then taking it all away. His other powers fit his gruesome nature well, as they are also gross and sinister, using powerful masses of flesh to attack and restrain his opponents.
The hero characters are also really well constructed, especially Rengoku, who goes from being just a little side character for a in the show, to an incredibly powerful and valiant fighter, complete with a backstory, in the film.
Mugen Train integrates serious moments and humorous moments in a way that enhances the impact of both. Demon Slayer has always been known for its comedic moments, whether it be Inosuke’s complete disregard for others, or Zenitsu’s obvious and hilarious jealousy. This balance of comedic and serious elements continues in the film. For example, the main characters enter a series of dreams due to Enmu’s powers. While Tanjiro’s dream has a more serious tone due to him revisiting his late family who were murdered in the first episode of the anime series, Inosuke’s and Zenitsu’s dreams contrast that and provide some relief with some silly and playful adventures in caves and fields.
While the movie is much longer than the usual twenty minute area of the show, there was never really a dull moment. The beginning may be slow to some, however it exists to revisit the characters and the mission from the end of the first season.
The film is a continuation, rather than a retelling, of the story told by the anime. The same art style is used in both the film and the first season, making it really feel connected to the anime. While this is great for people who have already watched the anime series, it might discourage newcomers. If you are interested, you should definitely hold off on watching the movie until you’ve seen the anime, which ends off on a cliffhanger that leads directly into the film. The second season will most likely pick up where the film left off.
The second season of the anime is due to come out around October 2021.
Image Credit: Ufotable