The world of anime has seen a major uptake when it comes to the big screen. From iconic series like Dragon Ball to new players like My Hero Academia, several anime films have found surprising success in the world of movies. The latest series to take center stage is a newcomer to both anime and pop culture in general, and that title is none other than Kimetsu no Yaiba-otherwise known as Demon Slayer. The work of Koyoharu Gotouge found critical success with the anime’s first season as well as gaining an increasing fan base. This was more than enough for the series to receive its first feature film-Demon Slayer: Mugen Train. Directed by Hauro Sotozaki, Mugen Train is unique from typical anime films as, instead of featuring an original story, the movie adapts the story arc where the anime left off. The film has received some major accolades as it has broken an array of box office records and was even submitted for an academy award (though it was not nominated). Naturally this was enough to get this Film Adventurer interested to see this animated feature-though being a fan of the series certainly helped my enthusiasm. After setting off on this new adventure, the ride that Demon Slayer: Mugen Train takes was an unexpected one; and that was by no means a bad thing.
The plot of Mugen Train centers on Tanjiro and his fellow demon slayers on a mission to find a demon whose abducting citizens. However, the group soon discovers that the demon is on the train and has the ability to put its victims into a dream state. The plot was certainly unique by continuing the story of the anime, but this could be a double-edged sword for the movie. While this is a bold direction, it can be difficult for newcomers to grasp the larger story being told. That being said the plot was a thrilling adventure to say the least. The story takes no time in getting into its initial conflict and fortunately the pacing was efficient enough to keep the story from feeling rushed. Along with its appropriate structure was the plot’s tone which had a proper balance to it that captured the atmosphere of the series as a whole. Yet of all the plot’s feats perhaps its most notable attribute was its overall direction and how it broke away from familiar tropes; which certainly derailed my expectations (in good way mind you). It was a risk to adapt a cannon story, but thanks to its execution it was more than enough to make this adaptation one that stood out.
Demon Slayer has an enjoyable cast, and it continued to shine in this new film. Tanjiro was a solid protagonist whose development in this movie was fair to say least. Along with Tanjiro was his notable companions Zenitisu and Inosuke who, while not having the same progression as Tanjiro, provided the right amount of character to the cast. Meanwhile Nezuko, Tanjiro’s demon sister, was a delight despite her role being minimal in the overall film. The villains, on the other hand, were not the most engaging of antagonists; but at the very least they were imposing adversaries (not to mention in their designs). Last and certainly not least was Rengoku who was a noteworthy supporting character. From his personality to his demeanor, the fiery hashira was an engaging character that I could not help but enjoy. Along with some appearances from the show’s supporting characters, the cast of Mugen Train showcased one of the series stronger elements by emphasizing the importance in characterization; and that is notable feat for any animated movie to accomplish.
Demon Slayer is vibrant when it comes to its animation. The artistic style of the series is dynamic and is truly a highlight to see in every episode. So, it was pleasing to see the animation of Mugen Train follow suit. Along with the capturing the series’ vibrant colors, the movie’s use of cg animation was astounding. The blend of animated dimensions was crafted so well that it gave a realistic approach to aspects such as the movie’s various locations. Along with the animation was the movie’s sense of action which was as exciting was it was beautiful. Between the nuance in the choreography as well as the intense scenarios, the action was fitting to both the series and action movies in general. Rounding things out for the movie was the score by Yuki Kaijura and Go Shiina. Like the animation, the music is a major factor to the anime’s presentation, and the movie was just as prevalent in this area. The music captured the movie’s atmosphere perfectly and even featured a few innovated tracks. These elements formed a solid presentation for the movie that was indeed welcoming for the series’ first cinematic outing.
Demon Slayer: Mugen Train was an impressive debut to say the least. While it might be difficult for newcomers to grasp certain aspects, the movie does enough to comprehend the series’ concepts; while fans of the anime will likely feel at ease jumping into the movie. Along with its bold direction and spectacular presentation, the movie was an exhilarating experience from beginning to end and its keen delivery in elements like character highlighted the best aspects of the series. When it comes down to it, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train was a dynamic chapter for the ongoing series and it was a another anime film that brought a grandiose style fitting to the silver screen.