Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train Review

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Plot: After his family was brutally murdered and his sister turned into a demon, Tanjiro Kamado's journey as a demon slayer began. Tanjiro and his comrades embark on a new mission aboard the Mugen Train, on track to despair.

Review: We don't review a lot of anime on this site but when a film is close to $500 million box office and poised to beat Mortal Kombat on its opening weekend, we sit up and take notice. Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train opens domestically today after a meteoric run overseas that led to it unseating Spirited Away as the all-time top-grossing film in Japan. If you are not familiar with the manga or TV series Demon Slayer, you may be wondering what the fuss is all about. I decided to watch the film and found that if you are not well versed with the world of Demon Slayer, you are going to get lost in the complex narrative that doesn't set things up well for the average viewer.

Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train is not a standalone narrative but almost an extended episode set between the first and upcoming second season of the anime series. Being in a global pandemic where small-screen productions have thrived as movie theaters have been shuttered, Demon Slayer fans have been awaiting the continuation of their story. By making it a feature film, a built-in profit base came with the movie and this record-breaking release was born. For fans, this works out great. For everyone else, some homework is needed. Luckily, my son was familiar with the show/manga and brought me up to speed.

Set in the early 1900s, Demon Slayer follows Tanjiro. Wanting to find a cure for his possessed sister, Tanjiro joins the Demon Slayer Corps. As he journeys from adventure to adventure, the larger mythology of this world develops. Demon Slayer is rated R and you may immediately think it is due to profanity or nudity, but this is a relatively teen-friendly story. The restricted rating comes from the brutal and copious bloodshed that is consistently on-screen. This violence is the most extreme element of the entire story which does have some inventive monster designs and horror elements. But, the most glaring elements of this anime are just how similar it is to other YA series you may be more familiar with.

From scene to scene, the characters talk to each other in exaggerated ways, often with ridiculous expressions and fourth-wall-breaking references. If Japanese humor flies over your head, you may find many of these moments bizarrely unfunny and somewhat childish. If you have watched your fair share of anime, it will come as no surprise. What caught me off guard was how Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train can feature violence on par with classics like Ninja Scroll and Fist of the North Star while also feeling like an episode of Dragon Ball or Pokemon thanks to the silly dialogue and character expressions. It was somewhat offputting to me.

While I was initially disappointed with the animation of Demon Slayer, it began to grow on me. There is not much of a visual difference between the series and the movie as we sometimes see with the jump from small to the big screen. The animation of the train itself uses CGI and sets the technology of a locomotive apart from the early-20th century world of Japan. The background visuals are sometimes more impressive than the character designs, but I still enjoyed the monsters themselves. In many ways, this series reminded me of Train to Busan by having the train itself serve as a character in the story that both isolates the characters and gives them an additional challenge on their quest. There are elements of this story that will remind you of any number of genre properties but it also eclipses many anime series thanks to characters with emotional depth who are not content just to hack and slash their way to victory.

Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train is not likely the best entry-level point for a rookie anime fan to start with. I wouldn't even say it is a good place to start if you wanted to get into Demon Slayer. This is a weird story and one that is not nearly as easy to get into as a Studio Ghibli production, but it will appeal to fans of action-oriented animation. At times epic, Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train has some solid moments peppered throughout and clearly pleased the franchise fan in my household. For the average viewer, you will likely be scratching your head as to what is going on half the time. If you were like me, it succeeded in making me want to go back and start watching the series from the first episode.

Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train Review




About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.