Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train

Sequel Movie to first season of Demon Slayer

Genre(s): Shonen, Action, Supernatural

Age-Appropriateness: 15+ (Violence, gore, mild profanity)

Platforms: Funimation

Episodes: One 2 hour movie

TheAwersome Rating: 8.8 / 10 (Takes you for a fun ride)

Premise: After a string of mysterious disappearances begin to plague a train, the Demon Slayer Corps’ multiple attempts to remedy the problem prove fruitless. To prevent further casualties, the flame pillar, Kyoujuro Rengoku, takes it upon himself to eliminate the threat. Accompanying him are Tanjirou Kamado, Zenitsu Agatsuma, and Inosuke Hashibira, who all hope to witness the fiery feats of this model demon slayer firsthand. However, demonic forces responsible for the disappearances have already put their sinister plan in motion. Under this demonic presence, the group must muster every ounce of their willpower and draw their swords to save all two hundred passengers onboard.

TheAwersome’s Thoughts: Hot dang this was a fantastic ride that managed to both elevate to the level of a movie without committing the “movie of a series” sins. Animation, action sequences, and overall story were amped up to the point that it didn’t just feel like an arc that lasted a few episodes. We get more of what Demon Slayer does very well which is the balancing act of comedy, action, and drama. Usually my biggest beef with shonen is that the tonal whiplash is jarring and moments tend to detract and distract from each other. But Demon Slayer manages to be horrifying, emotional, and hilarious simultaneously without ever feeling like it’s ruining a moment.

If I have to critique, I’d say a few characters really get put by the wayside, and we don’t get as much of our usual Demon backstory that we got in the series.

TLDR: A fantastic canon movie that sets up the next season.

Season 2 has been confirmed (no surprise here) and you will need to watch this before starting it.

Interestingly enough, this was rated R for the U.S. screenings, while getting a 12+ rating nearly everywhere else in the world. No doubt it’s still part of the U.S. fixation that “animated = for children” and there would be some very upset parents that there was a lot of blood and heavy themes “iN a cArToOOn!” if it was rated anything under R. Heck, not even the R rating stopped parents from taking their little kids to Deadpool movies, so I guess they have to at least try.

On the subject of worldwide reception, this movie is not only the highest grossing and most popular film to ever hit Japanese theaters (more than Titanic, Endgame, etc.) but also the most successful animated foreign film in the U.S. Box Office, surpassing Spirited Away. Agreed, this was during 2020/2021, so Covid had naturally upset a lot of things. It could be said that DESPITE Covid, it still managed to break all these records, though I also suspect you could say DUE TO Covid. A lot of movies that would have otherwise been airing cancelled screenings, so it’s possible that it was the only movie you COULD see if you wanted to.  I don’t feel it necessarily lives up to the hype of “Best anime film to ever exist” but definitely acts as a pinnacle for how anime movies should be going forward.

Do you know what’s hard to do? Something that’s difficult to sell, have be interesting, or even believable? An honest-to-goodness Good, Kind, protagonist. I feel the norm of late, particularly with Marvel movies, has been the “Nobody else has my ability, so I am the only one who can save things, and therefore will,” flavor of hero, or generally Neutral people who have been wronged, or some other flavor of Anti-Hero. The reasoning has always been (and rightfully so) that “Superman just isn’t interesting,” or “Nobody wants to see Mr. Rogers in a fight.”

But we manage to see a very good example of pure kindness (no, not just anime harem protag “basic human decency”) and gentleness in our main hero Tanjiro and have him be a compelling character. Rather than be the sweet gentle boy who was hardened and turned into a Demon killing machine because of the tragedies they brought upon him, we see someone motivated by love and concern for others, frequently even concern for those he fights. This doesn’t mean he pulls a Naruto and we let a mass-murderer/serial kidnapper off the hook because “then I’d be just like you” (while having no qualms killing his 80+ bodyguards to get to him, mind you), but rather an empathetic soul with tremendous discipline, determination, and respect. An all-around Good Boy™.

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