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Review: Mugen Train is a must watch for Demon Slayer fans
The animated movie, released April 23, provides essential growth for the series' characters
May 13, 2021
Anyone’s who’s immersed in mainstream anime content knows about Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. The show originated as a manga that was released back in 2016 by Koyoharu Gotouge and has become a fan-favorite for American anime watchers. Immediately following the airing of the season one finale came the announcement of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, a film set to cover the events of the Mugen Train arc from the manga.
The movie takes place immediately after the season one finale and follows Tanjiro Kamado, his younger sister, Nezuko, and comrades Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira, on his new mission with the Flame Hashira Kyojoru Rengoku to defeat demons linked to a series of disappearances on the infinity train.
Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke are members of the Demon Slayer Corps, an organization existing since ancient times dedicated to protecting humans from demons. Nezuko had been turned into a demon when the rest of her and Tanjiro’s family were murdered.
The original staff and cast reprised their roles for the movie, but the theater I went to was only showing the English dub. This was a huge change for me since I was used to hearing the Japanese dub with English subtitles and it took me a while to link the English voice actors to the characters. It wasn’t too much of an issue, but I’ve always preferred the Japanese dub solely because I think the voice acting is better.
The animation of the film matched equally, if not excelled, that of the show. Since the original staff from season one had returned to make this, the quality of the shots and overall art style paralleled the show’s, even having more visually striking scenes now that they were working with a movie budget.
Mugen Train gives more depth to the Flame Hashira, who the series hadn’t yet explored prior to the movie. Rengoku plays a large role in Tanjiro’s character arc and his growth as a Demon Slayer. As a Hashira, Rengoku has had more experience with sword fighting and demon-slaying. Tanjiro’s time spent with the Flame Hashira gives him more perspective in the fight against demons and the motivations of others. His story was far deeper than the ones of the two other Hashiras season one had focused on, Giyu Tomioka and Shinobu Kocho. I can say with total confidence that I fell in love with him one hour into the movie and I wish we could’ve seen more of him without the limited two-hour run time of the movie.
The action-packed movie is exciting and had me at the edge of my seat for the majority of its run, but I ended up leaving the theater in tears. Demon Slayer has never had an issue with death and sad, depressing backstories, Mugen Train definitely not being an exception to that pattern. Loss plays an essential role in character development for the main characters and serves well in teaching good themes of growth and change to audiences.
I highly suggest watching the anime before seeing the movie. Not only is it basically one of the best current animes out there, but it gives you a way better understanding of the characters, their skills and the overall background of the series. Though visually appealing, it’s easy to get lost in the plot of the movie if you haven’t seen the anime/read the manga prior. It’d been a while since I’d watched the anime, so watching a recap on YouTube helped jog my memory a bit.
While not everything about the movie was the same as the original story, it was still enjoyable to watch as a fan of both the anime and the manga and the changes made seemed to be more of an artistic choice that didn’t alter the end goal. Don’t let complaints about the changes from the manga sway you before watching it. The movie hit every major event that occurred in the manga and left just enough room to get people excited for the upcoming second season.
Mugen Train is an essential watch for those who’ve only watched the anime in order to fully understand Tanjiro’s motivations and growth as the protagonist. The entire movie was an emotional rollercoaster ride and just when you think the problem’s solved and everything’s over, boom, more plot advancement.
If you are fully vaccinated and feel safe enough to go out, I highly recommend seeing this movie in theaters. The cinematic ambition of the animation cannot be fully appreciated until seen on the big screen. It’s been a while since I’d left a movie theater in tears and seeing it in-person was well worth the wait. Seeing it in the theater was truly an enthralling experience and I cannot wait until I’m able to stream it from my own device.