Is it Worth the Hype? 'Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train' Film Review
The highly anticipated sequel to Demon Slayer is finally here, but the question is: how does it compare to the original?
After much eager anticipation from fans, Japanese action film Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train finally hit theaters across America on April 23, 2021 as a continuation of the 2019 anime series Demon Slayer. Both of these cinematic productions are directly based off of the 23-volume shonen manga series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba created by Koyoharu Gotouge in 2016.
Demon Slayer, which became available for streaming on Netflix in early 2021, takes place in a world that is ravaged by demons, creatures with supernatural abilities who kill and feast on humans. Demon Slayer’s plot revolves around the journey of a young boy named Tanjiro Kamado to undo the demon curse placed upon his younger sister Nezuko and avenge his family, who is tragically slain by a demon.
As part of his journey, Tanjiro undergoes immense physical and mental training to join the Demon Slayer Corps, a formidable group of warriors with superhuman strength and combat skills whose sole purpose is to kill demons and protect humans. He eventually teams up with two other Demon Slayers: Zenitsu Agatsuma, a highly anxious and cowardly young boy distinguished by his bright yellowish-orange attire and hair to match, and Inosuke Hashibira, a cavalier and violent young man who famously wears a hollowed out boar’s head over his own and opts to fight with unfinished twin blades rather than a professionally crafted sword.
Zenitsu and Inosuke again accompany Tanjiro—and Nezuko, tucked away neatly into Tanjiro's backpack—in Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which continues the arc of this hit anime series. This time, the four embark on their next mission to help destroy a demon who has been killing dozens of people aboard the Mugen Train, where the entirety of the movie takes place. They are led by Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku, who is one of the nine most skilled and highest-ranking Demon Slayers.
Thankfully, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train does not disappoint with its beautiful animation, action-packed and thrilling fight scenes and poignant themes and messaging. The film wholly engrosses viewers from beginning to end with its fast-paced nature and well-balanced blend of comedic relief and graphic battle scenes. As with the anime series, watching the valiant Demon Slayers utilize their differing skillsets to slice and mutilate grotesque, evil demons is nothing short of satisfying.
Additionally, like the anime series, the unique personalities and often over-the-top antics of the main ensemble infuse heart and hilarious banter into the movie. My personal favorite Tanjiro inspires with his pure-hearted ability to see the best in others and impressive strength of willpower. Inosuke entertains with his less-than-subtle braggadociousness and eagerness to not only mercilessly slaughter demons, but also to outshine everyone else while doing so (even though we all know he's really just a big softie at heart). Nezuko steals the hearts of viewers with her innocent, adorable affect and big pink eyes—that is, until she ferociously unleashes her demon abilities to protect the ones she loves. Zenitsu irritates and frustrates with his cowardice and continual shrieks of terror but always manages to pull it together and help the team out just in the nick of time. Newcomer Rengoku simultaneously amuses with his zealous enthusiasm and imparts important lessons with his noble spirit and natural leadership abilities.
Such lessons, wrapped up in the emotional storytelling of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, are what elevated the film from a mindless action movie to a meaningful, well-rounded cinematic masterpiece. Integrity and selflessness are crucial themes of the film as Tanjiro’s pure heart and the Demon Slayers’ unceasing determination to protect others at the risk of their own lives are continuously highlighted. The film also teaches viewers that the greatest source of pride and honor derives from proving yourself to yourself and carving your own legacy rather than fulfilling the wishes of others, yet you should never fear asking for help from others and working together in trying to reach your goals as there is always strength in numbers. The film ultimately emphasizes the importance of releasing mental blocks to success and persevering through hardship—even if it seems impossible to overcome—because you are always capable of more than you think is possible just as long as you believe in yourself.
Overall, the film was well-executed, and it remained faithful to the manga arc, clearly exhibiting the producers' crucial level of care to do justice to the storyline rather than capitalizing off of fan demand for a sequel to the beloved anime series to make a quick cash grab.
If you haven’t yet, I’d strongly recommend checking out Demon Slayer on Netflix, or if you’ve already seen the show and not the movie, run to your nearest theatre and grab a ticket before it phases out of theatres. I promise it’s worth the 2 hour runtime.
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