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So, after it somehow managed to sneak out on Monday completely under the radar for digital purchase over here in the UK, I can now finally say that I have watched Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train. 



I knew going in that the film clocked on at a bit under two hours, but threw the remote and everything else to the side and just let it suck me in. And I'm so glad that I did. 

I'd leverage the same few criticisms at the film as I might the first season - a little too much comedy at times just given the serious subject matter, some weird pacing - but there's nothing new really there to complain about, except maybe one thing which I could see movie critics aiming at the film but I think is unfair, and that would be that it's not self-contained. I disagree with the criticism to a degree - though it's pacing from the outset pretty much picks up exactly from where the first season ends and doesn't even give much of a recap, which I was quite surprised by, but I'm glad it just means for once we're seeing a studio know their audience - but it did lead to a couple of clunky parts, and did contribute to the weird pacing at parts this time around. For example, the dream sequences felt so long that when they finally took out the dream-conjuring demon Enmu, I thought it was a bit underwhelming and we'd start winding down - without checking how long was left, I genuinely felt like it was pretty much over.

I would've been happy with it at that point to be honest. Music was solid - that great new rendition of Tanjiro's theme in the dream sequence was great, and we had a few renditions I really liked - Nezuko was adorable as ever, Inosuke is still good comic relief, and the visuals in the fights up to that point had been great, not to mention the clear blue sky in Tanjiro's dream sequence in particular being exceptionally beautiful. What a way to communicate how pure of heart your protagonist is without beating us over the head with exposition. 

Thankfully, though, there was more to come. 

Having that Upper Three turn up out of the blue suddenly put me on edge, and I wasn't sure which direction they wanted to go in with Rengoku. We had a *lot* of backstory thrown our way, but I had definitely grown to really like the character (I mean, big dude who is kind but strong, what's not to like about characters like this?), so it was a coin flip for me as to what would happen. Which was great, as I came in not expecting much in terms of stakes, even knowing this was a continuation of the first season, just because of how anime movies have programmed me to think that way and because Rengoku was only introduced in earnest here. 

That fight delivered and then some. I think it's quite a feat for me to say it's up there with the climax Tanjiro vs Rui from Episode 19, considering it only had 90 minutes or so to build up to it. Animation was unsurprisingly brilliant, but it just kept going, and going, and going, and the stakes just got higher and higher, and the music just got better and better throughout.

The electric guitar riffs, the synths, the auto-tuned vocals, and the steady but foreboding beat to introduce Akaza gave me chills, but I'd be lying if I said the highlight of the fight for me wasn't the triumphant and heroic blaring brass and the rest of the orchestra for Rengoku. So many times in the track, especially in Part 2, you get the electronic and modern music of Akaza clashing directly with and flowing in and out of the orchestrated music of Rengoku, it's an excellent composition. I thought it was annoying when Akaza kept asking him to join - it was obviously never going to happen - but you got a sense of fear from him, and it was the clash of ideals symbolised by the music here which really fleshed out the scene for me. 

Favourite track has to be the final wind Rengoku gets:

Brilliant stuff. Expected him to stay around for longer, but then the movie made a point of reminding you of the horrors that Tanjiro saw when he returned home at the start of all of this, so I don't think it was totally out of left field that he went down, even if I personally wanted to see some anime bs and for him to somehow survive. 

Outside of spoilers, I just loved how you could see on the screen how much effort, money, and time had been poured into this. Something I thought the first season did well was manage its animation budget and smartly make use of 3D, but it was still very obvious when it was doing so. Here I can barely remember seeing it used outside of backgrounds, for the train, and certain fight animations / assets, and most if not all of the "normal" scenes where you might expect to see 3D animation step in to just help manage the budget was taken up by 2D work instead, and I loved it for it. 

After seeing this, I'm happy that I made the decision to go anime-only and just be patient. As much as I want to see the rest of it play out - and obviously the biggest concern I have is not having it spoiled choosing to wait on the anime - for me the fight animation quality from ufotable and the score from Go Shiina is so integral to my enjoyment of Demon Slayer that I am more than happy to wait, even at the risk of being spoiled before it all comes to an end. 

I think it was a big decision, and maybe an even bigger risk, for this movie to continue the story of the first season rather than do what every pretty much other giant franchise in the industry seems to do, which is make a hype-focused but totally inconsequential film in the context of the franchise that is either not canon at all or is in some weird pseudo-canon limbo. This film was rightly rewarded for taking this risk by becoming the highest-grossing anime movie to date worldwide and the biggest film in Japanese cinema too, and so long as the quality is sustained, I struggle to see why the next Demon Slayer movie couldn't outperform this one.

I'm actually really curious now to see if the anime adaptation will end on a film. I'd have to imagine that's the plan, because unless there's a massive downturn in popularity before we reach that point, it would do bonkers numbers. 

Loved the film, it was well worth the wait! If for whatever reason you haven't checked out Demon Slayer, do yourself a favour and go watch Season 1 (it's available to stream as part of a subscription on Netflix, Funimation, and Crunchyroll) then check this film out. For me, I think it's head and shoulders above the other more typical modern shonen giant we have at the moment - sorry My Hero - and is well worth your time! 

Edited by Julius
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