One of the biggest surprises through this global pandemic has been the runaway success of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train (or the long version: Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- the Movie: Mugen Train. Not only having the highest box office opening weekend in Japan, but it has gone on to be the highest-grossing film in Japan of all time. This success has spread worldwide, as it even became the first foreign-language film to be number 1 in the US film charts. Now the film finally sees a release in the UK and the rest of Europe, should you jump on the Demon Slayer train?
Before the review starts, some people may be wondering if the film can be watched without seeing the TV series first. Where someone could possibly follow the movie if they haven’t seen the series, I do not recommend it. Mainly as it carries on from the end but also because some of the key moments are developed from previous story events. You wouldn’t get the full experience so if you haven’t seen the series, do that first then go see the film.
Continuing straight after the events of the TV series, Tanjiro, Nezuko, Inosuke and Zenitsu have joined the Flame Hashira Rengoku for their latest mission which involves investigating the Mugen Train. As over 40 people have gone missing on the train, the demon slayers are investigating whilst riding on the very same train.
It is an unusual move to continue the plot in a movie format but it works to create a strong storyline. The story arc has been masterfully crafted to fit as a movie, with a great pace that in a good way feels like episodes put together. As to be expected, there is great action, character development, and comedic moments as the film delivers a rollercoaster of emotions. Particularly after this last year, it was quite surreal to be in a cinema again where the whole crowd laughed together.
Where the tv series has high-quality animation, it has truly taken another step to be cinematic quality. Blending a traditional 2D style with 3D elements allows for dynamic and smooth movement. The only criticism of the film is that a few bits of the 3D don’t blend in as well, which is strange as other times it is hard to even notice. It is also used to create dynamic camera movement, such as spinning around the scene to add to the cinematic feel.
The highlight of the animation is truly the combat. As the main squad’s abilities have heightened, seeing their new strength at the cinema was thrilling. Although where it really steps up is seeing Rengoku showcase his skills, at this point in the series the viewer is yet to see Hashira’s true power. Choosing to showcase the power escalation in a film was a great choice as it truly added to the epic scale. It is a true cinematic moment and some of the best animation in history, worth seeing for that alone in the cinema.
Mugen Train has the same voice cast as the tv series who gives another smash performance. The great acting brings both the characters and the emotions of the scenes to life. Again, it is some of the finest acting in any film which is truly award-worthy. This is only enhanced by the soundtrack that is filled with interesting pieces that really fit the mood. Noticeably, it is the first anime film I’ve seen in a cinema that makes full use of the surround sound as different sections of instruments play in different places. Giving off orchestra vibes that are yet another factor that builds the epic scale of the film.
Overall it is clear why Demon Slayer: Mugen Train has been successful. Despite needing to watch a series before it, all the elements come together to bring a true cinematic experience. With only a minor downfall on some of the 3D animation not looking right, on the flip side, it contains some of the best animation sequences on the cinematic screen. Do not miss your chance to see it in a cinema, you will be bound to regret it!