Film: Demon Slayer – Kimetsu No Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train (Released in India by PVR Pictures; Playing in Theatres)
Duration: 117 minutes
Director: Haruo Sotozaki
Voices By: Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kito, Yoshitsugu Matsu, Hiro Shimono and Satoshi Hino
By Troy Ribeiro
With its stylised animation and dark fantasy plot about dreams and family, ‘Demon Slayer’ is a fairly entertaining film that involves magic, murder and scary monsters.
Directed by Haruo Sotozaki, the film based on the manga series is written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotouge. It is the highest-grossing Japanese film of all times and is creating waves among animation films. For the uninitiated, manga are comics or graphic novels originating from Japan. Most manga conform to a style developed in the late 19th century.
This film begins with an old master walking through a graveyard reading the names on the tombstones. He says to his attendant, “I’d like to settle scores for all these children who lost their lives while I was in charge…I’ve already received seven cases caused by demons this month.” He informs us that his students are a part of the Demon Slayers Corps who are fighting on the frontlines.
The master continues, “No matter how many lives the demons take, the one thing they can never crush is a human’s will. No matter how battered we are, we will always rise up again to fight.” This heavy-laden, settling-of-scores prologue lays the foundation for the narrative to follow.
The plot unravels on a speeding train moving towards an unknown destination. It follows four teenaged demon slayers – Tanjiro, Inosuke, Zenitsu and one of the pillars of the demon hunters, Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku (Hashira is a high-ranking demon slayer).
The quartet board an express train to Mugen (which in Japanese means ‘infinite’ or ‘infinity’) to investigate the mysterious death of the passengers on the ill-fated, high-speed train.
The demon slayers soon learn that the train has been hijacked by Enmu, who manipulates his victims’ dreams. Enmu is an amusing villain with mouths on the back of his palms. He is introduced standing on top of the moving train talking to himself about his fetish for snuffing out people’s spirits. How the foursome fight Enmu is at the centre of the tale.
The humour and simplicity of the narrative never loses emotional force, especially when Tanjiro is with his friends. There are unexpected twists which over a period get a little predictable.
The nightmares that Enmu uses to trap the characters are confusing. This happens because the demon slayers’ dreamscapes compound each other in a way that it makes it hard to distinguish between fantasy and reality. The final act drags a bit, beyond what is necessary.
Visually, the film is presented in a dreamlike tone and atmosphere with colourful designs and movements of the characters. The fabulous setting where the characters traverse adds to the mystique and each frame is mesmerising.
The action-packed drama in vivid 2D and 3D animation is skillfully executed by the Japanese animation studio Ufotable Inc.
The voices of the ace voiceover cast hit the right pitch and match their characters to perfection. The digitally remastered audio that accompanies the visuals elevates the film to its blockbuster format.
The film is releasing in India in two versions: the original Japanese with English sub-titles and an English dubbed version. This review is based on the original Japanese version with English sub-titles.
Overall, this film with loads of intriguing elements may seem perfect for the younger audience, but older viewers would also find the film engaging.
(Troy Ribeiro can be contact at [email protected])