‘Demon Slayer’ Review: The Anime Hit Arrives in American Theaters, but There’s a Major Catch

“Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train” is the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time, but newcomers need to do their homework first.

Arriving in America after unseating “ Spirited away ” as the highest-grossing japanese movie in history, the elaborately titled “ Demon Slayer : Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie : Mugen Train ” international relations and security network ’ t ultra-accessible multiplex fare. It ’ s more of a “ newcomers beware ” hard-core extravaganza, as the two sets of colons in its title might suggest .
not only is “ Mugen Train ” the outgrowth of an action-packed manga and anime series with a complex lore and an arcane set of rules, it ’ sulfur besides a direct sequel to the show ’ sulfur 26-episode first season ( now streaming on Netflix ). This movie is meant to serve as a bridge for the second temper — common exercise in the zanzibar copal global, lest anyone think that Marvel and Disney+ invented cross-media homework. Worldwide, “ Demon Slayer ” fans have been perfectly glad to generate $ 435 million in box office for the casual to check in on their front-runner characters, and it would seem as if most feel they got their money ’ mho deserving .

“ Kimetsu no Yaiba ” means “ Demon Killing Blade, ” but since I ’ m a franchise newcomer who doesn ’ triiodothyronine know his Nichirin Blades from his bane of Kibutsuji, I ’ meter qualified only to caution other newcomers who might expect something on equality with the Studio Ghibli masterpiece that “ Mugen Train ” dethroned. While the film ’ mho vivid animation and glib illusion violence are a review change of footstep from the credit card kiddie fare that american english moviegoers expect from big-screen cartoons, the first “ Demon Slayer ” feature of speech quickly becomes an eye-glazing survival trial for anyone who hasn ’ thymine run the marathon it took to get here .

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The film ’ randomness diagram couldn ’ t be simpler or harder to follow for the uninitiate : Four wide-eyed adolescent demon slayers board a gearing that ’ s been hijacked by Enmu, a veiny monster who manipulates his victims ’ dreams and has a pretty fashionable “ Boy George meets ‘ Kwaidan ’ ” thing going on. Our heroes team up with the more experience killer Flame Hasahira Kyōjurō Rengoku, and fight Enmu. They fight Enmu on top of the train ; they fight Enmu in the passenger cars ; they fight Enmu in presence of the train. And then — in a detestably imaginative twist — they learn the full moon extent of Enmu ’ second power and fight him in those like places all over again. The conclusion .

For a movie that ’ south on rails from start to finish, it ’ s about impressive how fast “ Mugen Train ” is able to completely disorient anyone who doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate already know where it ’ second going. figuratively and literally, the train has left the station by the time this thing starts ; for those who have patience with the unfold metaphor, no one driving it has any matter to in slowing down for new passengers to climb aboard. There ’ s something to be said for a blockbuster that isn ’ metric ton volition to dilute what its loyal audience already loves .
Directed by series veteran Sotozaki Haruo from a script credited to the integral staff of animation studio Ufotable, “ Mugen Train ” doesn ’ t bother to identify the disgusted old man who shuffles through a cemetery and mutters about “ the undimmed embers of the human liveliness ” in the open scene, nor why supporter Tanjiro carries his little sister in a wooden box on his back. There ’ randomness no context when person exclaims that they ’ ve “ received seven reports of devil catastrophes this calendar month ” ( is that a lot ? ), or why Tanjiro ’ s steroidal pal Inosuke never wears a shirt but constantly wears a hollowed-out have a bun in the oven ’ s mind. many of the people reading this will wince at a review that suggests “ Avengers : Endgame ” written by person who ’ five hundred never seen a Marvel movie and doesn ’ thymine understand why the “ dependable guys ” travel center across the universe to murder a pacify quad potato farmer, but here we are .

far more confusing ( and enervating ) are the nightmares that Enmu uses to trap characters in abstract labyrinths of their congress of racial equality trauma. These sequences constitute a bombastic percentage of the film ’ s two-hour runtime, and trying to sort through the slayers ’ inner demons is besides big an necessitate for those of us scantily concerned in watching them fight their knocked out ones. While Tanjiro ’ s eerie visions of an idyllic day with his class make it clear that some atrocious fortune befell them in waking life, the devil slayers ’ dreamscapes compound each other in a means that makes it unvoiced to distinguish between fantasy and reality. That may be Enmu ’ s modus operandi — he gets off on sadistically incepting people with courteous dreams, then waking them up merely long enough to realize they ’ re about to be killed — but it feels like we ’ re the ones who suffer the brunt of the consequences .
That being said, Enmu is an absolute ham and is one of the most amusing movie villains in recent memory. Introduced standing on exceed of a moving educate and monologuing to no matchless about his fetish for snuffing out people ’ s spirits, this dandy has teethy mouths on the rear of both hands and rambles on about “ whispers of ordained unconscious hypnotism ! ” like an androgynous Russell Brand. It ’ s hard to dismiss any movie where person exclaims, “ You ’ ra wondering why I ’ m still alive evening after you ’ ve decapitated me ! ” ( Enmu isn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate incorrectly about that. )
late, in a ( spoilery ) course of dialogue indeed beautiful that it will imprint your take care like a piece of beloved music, Enmu laments : “ My design to fuse with the coach and eat everyone was a singular failure. ” While the movie ’ s English-language knight is flat enough to recommend that people opt for the substitute version that ’ randomness being released alongside it, voice actor Landon McDonald is clearly having playfulness with his work and it ’ s contagious adequate to bring you back from the verge of boredom whenever Enmu starts whine .
The only character aboard “ Mugen Train ” with anything near to the same charisma is the Flame Hashira, an eccentrically cheerful, Zac Efron-looking role-model type who sports a fire-emblazoned jacket and a pair of branch eyebrows acute enough to seem forged. The Flame Hashira burns for life with an enthusiasm that galvanizes the film ’ s thematic focus on the inextinguishable homo spirit. He besides handles a fortune of the extravagantly animated fight, which often spills into eye-watering overkill but is always bursting with energizing energy and a fevered imagination. ( Enmu claims a draw of the coolest effects, but there ’ s no topping how Tanjiro can slash ocean waves out of thin air travel with his sword. )

For all of its demonic decapitations, it ’ south worth noting that this movie doesn ’ t quite deserve the “ R ” rate assigned by the MPAA. We ’ ra miles aside from the envelope pushing of “ Ninja Scroll ” and its gratuitous like, and implicated parents should keep in mind that Americans have a long and possibly xenophobic history of mislabeling anime as forbidden ( as anyone who remembers the content-warning stickers that Blockbuster Video used to put on “ My Neighbor Totoro ” can attest ) .
It ’ s only toward the conclusion of “ Mugen Train, ” when Tanjiro hits upon a rather alarming way of waking himself out of his nightmares, that anything here seems potentially inappropriate for a tween audience. still, any young folks who drag ma and dad to the theater will alone receive a felicitous Meal-sized helping of what they ’ ve seen at family. Anyone who ’ s hacked through adequate “ Demon Slayer ” to keep pace with “ Mugen Train ” can surely handle what this movie has to offer. It ’ s the rest of us who might want to think twice.

Grade: C

“ Demon Slayer : Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie : Mugen Train ” is now playing in choose theaters in dub and subtitled editions. It will be available on VOD starting Tuesday, June 22 .
As fresh movies open in theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will continue to review them whenever possible. We encourage readers to follow the condom precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. additionally, our coverage will provide alternative wake options whenever they are available .
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