‘Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train’ review: history-making anime that newbies can get on board with

Japan's highest-grossing film of all time mixes magic, murder and super-scary monsters

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    Koyoharu Gotōge’s best-selling manga Demon Slayer has a second life now that it’s been revamped into a popular anime series by megabucks studio Ufotable. But the gap between the first and second seasons has been a long one, so to tide fans over, Ufotable have created Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train – two hours of gripping Japanese-style combat with a bit of plot thrown in.

    As in the TV show, kindhearted teen (and the titular slayer of demons) Tanjiro Kamado, wielding his statement black sword, is the film’s focus. He and his two buds — Inosuke and Zenitsu — are sent by the ancient organisation Demon Slayer Corps to solve a new problem. Passengers on a train to Mugen (which is Japanese for “infinite”) have been mysteriously losing their lives to a ghostly demon called Enmu who uses dream magic to, basically, be a right nightmare.

    Like a Gen Z horror version of Murder On The Orient Express, Mugen Train pushes the boundaries of what makes a great anime fight scene while delving deep into the motivations of its three leads. There are lots of nerdy references to other cult favourites – the train’s fleshy skin evokes 2014 miniseries Tokyo Ghoul; while Enmu’s use of a human-like body is taken straight out of Parasyte: The Maxim. There’s even a nod to 19th century Japanese art when water flicked from Tanjiro’s sword mimics the infamous Hokusai painting ‘The Great Wave’. There’s a lot going on in Demon Slayer – and the level of detail is impressive.

    Demon Slayer The Movie
    CREDIT: Alamy

    As soon as the three heroes board the train, they are to report to powerful ‘hashira’ (the top-ranking demon slayers) Kyojuro Rengoku, who’s a completely new character. With a long, untamed mane and burning red eyes, he tags along with our aspiring trio, showcasing the true power of the Demon Slayer Corps — and essentially stealing the show. Haruo Sotozaki’s carefully built backstory for an unknown character that we soon trust and eventually cry over is the highlight of the film.

    Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train made headlines recently when it became the highest grossing movie of all time in Japan – surging past 30 billion yen (£220m) at the box office. Cleverly put together and a great watch even for anime newbies, it’s easy to see why.

    Details

    • Director: Haruo Sotozaki
    • Starring: Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kitô, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka
    • Release date: May 26 (in UK cinemas)
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