** Warning: Spoilers all over the place here. **
Recently, the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba movie, Mugen Train, came to Crunchyroll. I hadn’t checked it out yet, so I decided to watch it for this Halloween season. I grabbed the premium trial for Crunchyroll (yeah, I hadn’t bought it yet) and fired it up.
The anime for Kimetsu no Yaiba was a good watch a few Halloweens ago. Heavy on the shounen tropes, but I liked the characters and the plot for the series. What made it really stand out was the art style. Heavy lines, great use of color, just absolutely beautiful. All in all, I expected more of the same from the movie. It did not disappoint.
The movie follows the plot of the Mugen Train Arc, where our cast pursues a demon that’s been catching its prey on a train. Alongside one of the hashira, Kyoujurou Rengoku, they do battle with the Lower One demon.
Let’s discuss how the plot held up first. Speaking generally, it seemed to do a good job. I thought the demon’s tactics of putting its enemies to sleep was creative. Their dreams also served to give us some insight into each of their personalities and backstories. I’m just going to add that Inosuke’s was so fucking weird. Fitting, really.
I did have a few questions with regards to what happened, though. First, when they did that initial combat with two demons, was that real at all? Was it just a collective dream? Like, obviously at the end of the battle sequence, there was some clear dreaming going on, but whose dream was it?
The children that were doing the bidding of the demon seemed a bit odd to me also. Clearly, they had a death wish, but had they done this before? One of them commented on the look of Kyoujurou’s spiritual core as if they’d seen more than one of them, so that seemed suspect.
Additionally, if that one boy had tuberculosis, couldn’t he have coughed on them and let them die that way? That’s a pretty serious disease, especially before the advent of antibiotics… Either way, was kind of entertaining to watch them struggle with the lunacy of each character’s subconscious.
Then, there were other parts that I found a bit questionable. I wasn’t surprised Nezuko was a factor in Tanjirou’s escape from the dream, but didn’t realize she suddenly had the ability to use non-burning magic fire. When did she master this? Also seemed strange for Kyoujurou to send two junior slayers to fight the demon, while he just played defense. Doesn’t strike me as the most tactical decision, but more of one to keep the focus on the main cast.
I did like Tanjirou’s fight with the demon. Initially, at least. My first thought when the demon fused with the the train was, “So, Inosuke was right, it IS a great beast.” After that, though, it just kind of went downhill.
The fight with a literal demon train was dull. It just felt like the train was on defense the whole time, and distracting them with defending the passengers. At no point in the fight did I worry about Tanjirou or Inosuke. It basically just kept putting them to sleep… The demon had one trick up its sleeve, but was helpless once that was figured out by the heroes. I feel a demonstration of its threat was in order, that it could kill with those tentacles. Maybe sacrifice the engineer for plot? Either way, the whole fight after that was kind of lackluster, and didn’t show off what you’d hope for from the series.
What DID deliver, however, was Kyoujurou’s battle with the Upper Three demon. It felt really random, having this demon seemingly show up out of nowhere with no apparent reason for being there, but I’m glad he did make an appearance. This fight was what we needed to conclude the movie with. Intense action, emotional moments, and, of course, beautiful artwork. Wasn’t surprised about Kyoujurou’s fate, though, after they built him up so much early on.
Overall, I’ll say the plot was passable. I’d be eager to read the manga, to see if this was rushed. Despite the movie having a good pace (I was surprised to be no where near the end of the movie when checking the timestamp on several occasions), the actual battle with the initial demon seemed off for some reason. Like, they were never really struggling with it. Maybe the suspense was centered around when they were dreaming? Either way, felt like something was missing, as if it was just a “railroad” to get you to Kyoujurou’s fight at the end.
Now, putting the plot aside, let’s look at the rest of the production. Art seems like a good starting point.
The anime has very beautiful art, doubly so in some select scenes. As you’d expect from a movie budget, they buffed and polished that even more. Like, there were some scenes in this movie I thought I was looking at real life footage, such as when Tanjirou was first walking in the snow in his dream.
The CGI was a bit disappointing, especially inside the train when it was demonified (I don’t think that’s a word, but roll with it). Not my favorite thing to see in an anime, but it was made up for by some of the other scenes. Tanjirou’s subconscious was spectacular. Can almost understand why the child-assassin had a change of heart.
The pièce de résistance, as I alluded to earlier, was Kyoujurou’s fight with Upper Three. That was jaw-dropping in the sheer brilliance of it. The spectacle put Tanjirou’s fire dance moment in the anime to shame. The whole battle was honestly incredible, and was exactly what I hoped for in this movie, especially given the series’ reputation for beautiful art.
Putting the art aside, the music was not as awesome. Actually, that’s not quite right. The music WAS good. It was just inconsistent.
Each fight would have the music build quickly, but then end abruptly. Most of the fights weren’t long enough to maintain the music, being interrupted by either a swift end to the fight or the characters stopping to strategize. Tanjirou’s and Inosuke’s fight with the actual “demon train” was a prime example, able to stop, talk about strategy, and then execute it without any threat, the music starting and stopping repeatedly throughout.
The obvious exception was, once again, Kyoujurou’s fight at the end of the movie. The music was unique and suitably intense for the battle taking place. Better yet, it played the whole sequence. Even when Kyoujurou and the demon talked, it kept playing. I wish this was the case for each fight scene in the movie.
My final thoughts on this movie are probably pretty evident if you’ve reached this point. Overall, it was decent. It delivered on the beautiful art the series is known for, and had some fun and exciting moments for the characters (I really enjoyed each subconscious, especially Inosuke’s…). The plot was just kind of okay, though, as was the music. It seemed everything was good, but too broken up into little pieces to call it a masterpiece. Like, flashes of brilliance, but not consistent. Should you check it out? If you liked the anime, I’d say so.
I’m glad I got a chance to watch this movie this holiday season. I’ll have to check out the more episodic version they’re putting out, see if it differs at all. Well, on to the next holiday series. Catch you in the next one.