It was around 2009 when I first recall getting into the medium of anime. It was Bleach, specifically Rukia that turned my curiosity into a hobby that would last over a decade. Anime in the US was in a weird spot during that time, it was still seen as a bit of a weird concept, mostly existing on Toonami on Saturday nights and fansubbed sites. This was a year after Crunchyroll started to try to become somewhat legal, for some context. Even with all of that 2020 was a mess, to say the least. But even with all of that, a record was broken that in a lot of ways legitimatized what anime is, and what it can do worldwide. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train became the first-ever non-Hollywood film to be the highest-grossing movie internationally. It broke box office records left and right, dethroned Spirited Away, and secured that the series is indeed the next powerhouse Shonen. After harassing my co-worker to watch the first season so we could go watch the film together, I was finally able to get a time and place to watch this record-breaking film in its entirety, and I am going to write about it here.
Following the first season, Mugen Train takes place on well, a train titled Mugen. It follows the 4 minted Demon Slayer Corp members, Tanjirou, his demon sister Nezuko, and their two very annoying friends, Zenistu and Inosuke as they are tasked with scoping out a train that has been the site of many demon attacks as of late. Even with this knowledge, the train for some reason is still very active, crammed full of people young and old as it is up to the group to team up with flame Hashira Rengoku, Kyoujurou to make sure the passengers remain safe. But as these things go, a freshly minted lower moon one, Enmu has already set the stage for the demon slayers, and his battlefield is no other than the world of dreams.
When I first sat down and this film started many emotions were swelling up inside. Excitement, anticipation, fear, all of them coming from the place that as an anime fan I was about to watch a movie that captivated the world. And though it didn’t disappoint, when I left that same theater I was overcome with the feeling of just, fine. Mugen Train is good, I want to make that clear, it is good, it’s a worthy sequel to the first season and it was worth every bit of money I paid for the ticket. But when something blows up worldwide as this movie did, it plants a certain feeling within me personally, a feeling of being awed, something that is not easily done. One of the first takeaways from the movie is without a doubt Rengoku’s massive personality, a powerful and strong-spirited slayer in his own right, it is the first time we really get to look into the Hashira ranks in general, and it did not disappoint. Full of his own quirks we are thrown into his dreams as he thinks of a past life, a life of attempting to live up to his father’s standards, a life sworn by honor and justice to his mother. Rengoku’s childhood was complicated, and it is painted beautifully so within the movie.
It’s in these dreams the bulk of the movies resides. Tanjirou is taking back to his family before the tragic events that transpire in the first episode. He once again was in the presence of those who loved him and was at peace with it. Zenistu daily frolicked hand in hand with Nezuko while Inosuke commanded his minions to slay an evil train monster. Honestly, Zenistu and Inosukes dreams were not only on point, but hilarious, but as the four of them found themselves adrift in these dreams, servants of Enmu work alongside them in these dreams, their goal simple, find the essences of each slayer, take it out, and kill them. This forces each slayer to find it within themselves to fight the dream, wake up and face Enmu head-on.
All and all Demon Slayer: Mugen Train was a finely told story about a demon manipulating those who sleep while holding a train of 200 people hostage. I found Enmu even compared to some other demons rather morbid as his pure desire to watch people suffer seems to triumph any of his other thirsts. I thought this was interesting because looking back into season one none of the demons really just had this type of black malice, meaning Enmu was the first one that didn’t really get the send-off the show was famous for. We as the viewer don’t really get a sense of his motives outside of the simple fact he is just messed up in the head. While I think this was a missed chance I’m not going to call the series on it, he fit well in context and his powers were interesting enough, a demon that can kill you in your dreams, wait why does that sound familiar?
The animation was fantastic which is nothing new since it was Studio ufotable. The sound and atmosphere matched really well and as Demon Slayer does well, there are actual consequences to actions. There is a nice sprinkle of humor along with it and the film wraps up nicely as a prelude to the coming season. The R rating in the US market was a bit odd though I must say, there isn’t really any times where the movie gets any more violent than the show, sure there is some blood here or there, and Enmu monologue about wanting to eat people was kinda whacked but overall, the film was pretty tame.
If you are a fan of season one, or just into general supernatural Shonen stuff I really can’t point you to a better series than Demon Slayer. I didn’t feel the same high as I did during the Rui arc of season one but the movie hit plenty of high notes along the way, easily getting an 8 from me. It is worth the watch and I am thrilled for the second season. As always, thanks for the read!