Home » ‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’ Review – Japan’s Highest-Grossing Film Ever Lives Up To The Hype

‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’ Review – Japan’s Highest-Grossing Film Ever Lives Up To The Hype

by Joe Aranda

The last couple of years have lead to a new trend rising in the anime community. Films are being produced as sequels to a season of an anime whereas before they would either be non-canon or be remade in an episodic format. This year, audiences saw Black Clover and Jujutsu Kaisen come to an end with announcements for films that will cover their upcoming arcs. If this trend is the new standard as films become a canonical bridge between seasons of anime then audiences will fall in love with the visually stunning, action-packed, and emotional Mugen Train.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, also known as Demon Slayer: Infinity Train, is a dark fantasy, period action film. Produced by Ufotable and based on the shōnen manga series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotouge, the film takes place immediately after the events of the first season. Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke board a train after being assigned a mission to assist in an investigation lead by the Flame Hishira’s Kyōjurō Rengoku. Over 40 people have disappeared in a very short period of time due to a demon and a battle is set to ensue aboard the Mugen Train.

The film was released only in Japan on October 16, 2020. Audiences have been patient for a North American release for Japan’s highest-grossing film of all time, having surpassed the ceiling of $300 million. It took about 6 months but the wait is over. Mugen Train produces absolutely stunning visuals, whether it’s the characters using their abilities or the landscapes that are woven into the dream sequences. The film takes place at night which is the optimal choice as it is able to display the beauty of Rengoku’s flame breathing technique.

Tanjirō Kamado in ‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’ courtesy of Ufotable

Watching the darkness of night be illuminated by flames during the action instantly becomes a memorable moment. Audiences will be mesmerized as Rengoku’s abilities are showcased thoroughly and a feeling of inspiration jumps off the screen. While visually, Tanjiro’s water breathing and Zenitsu’s thunder breathing don’t exhibit the same contrast at night as Rengoku’s flames, it is still an impressive show of animation. Even if the art style and visual composition of the film is not inherently different from the tv series, it will only be enhanced by the spectacle of the movie theater screen.

Important parts of the film are the sequences where the protagonists are put into a state of dreaming by the antagonist, Enmu. It is the emotional crux of the film as the audience is given a glimpse into the minds of Tanjiro, Rengoku, Inosuke, and Zenitsu. Their deepest desires are granted; the viewer sees Tanjiro’s guilt disappear as he is reunited with his family that was murdered, Rengoku’s passion being fueled by his father’s apathy and mother’s stoic ideals, Zenitsu’s pursuit of love starring Tanjiro’s sister Nezuko, and Inosuke’s aspiration of becoming a leader people can depend on.

The landscapes in the dream sequences are animated with life into them as each new setting matches the mood that the characters are expressing. Tanjiro’s empathetic pureness and Rengoku’s innate sense of justice are the scenes that display the most emotion in the story as Inosuke, Zenitsu, and Nezuko are more comedic relief. While the film is at its best when the emotion sets in, the light moments of clarity are the ones that anchor the audience.

Enmu in ‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’ courtesy of Ufotable

The character building that is highly touted in the series is perfectly adapted into the film, whether it’s Zenitsu fighting to keep Inosuke from racing the train or Nezuko’s face after a bruise appears on her head. The audience is shown how the buddying between characters leads to moments of maturation. Inosuke is the character that benefits heavily from this as his instincts are put to the test similarly to how Tanjiro’s sense of smell and Zenitsu’s hearing were tried in previous arcs of Demon Slayer.

The essence of the series is perfectly encapsulated in Mugen Train, leading to its current praise from critics worldwide. The score arranged by Yuki Kajiura is engaging and the record-breaking song “Homura” by Lisa continues to impress. This film does not fall into the problems of many before by trying to recap the series as much as possible, for some that will be a welcomed addition but for others, it will be a continued confusion as this film could be their first step into the world of Demon Slayer.

Mugen Train is a must-see for fans of Demon Slayer as it bridges the events of seasons 1 and 2. A film with beautiful visuals and an inspirational tale of self-sacrifice, the breathtaking action will have audiences on the edge of their seats as the emotional gravity tugs the heartstrings. While it isn’t recommended for newcomers to watch this film before the first season of the series, it is still a captivating adventure that will have anyone wanting to watch it again.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train premieres in theaters April 23!

Follow writer Joe Aranda on Twitter: @JoeySpielberg

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