Why the ‘Demon Slayer’ film is such a singular anime success story

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One in all 2020’s greatest field workplace hits has lastly hit U.S. theaters.

“Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — The Film: Mugen Prepare,” launched Friday, is extra than simply an anime movie about members of the Demon Slayer Corps attempting to guard the passengers of a practice from being eaten by a demon. It’s the film that saved the Japanese field workplace in the course of the pandemic.

The “Demon Slayer” film’s record-breaking run began when it opened in October. It took simply 10 days for it to gross over $100 million in Japan and have become the quickest movie to ever hit that milestone. It has since grow to be the highest-grossing anime and highest-grossing Japanese movie of all time. “Mugen Prepare” closed out 2020 with the yr’s fourth highest worldwide field workplace gross, edging out Christopher Nolan’s much-hyped “Tenet,” which got here in fifth.

These feats are spectacular for any film, however “Mugen Prepare” is just not even a conventional standalone characteristic. The “Demon Slayer” film is the speedy continuation of the “Demon Slayer” TV sequence’ 26-episode first season. In contrast to different anime movies with TV counterparts, “Mugen Prepare” is just not a derivative or a facet story with its personal canon designed to be extra accessible for an viewers that could be unfamiliar with the sequence.

What’s “Demon Slayer”?

“Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” is initially a manga sequence by Koyoharu Gotouge. Set in Taisho period Japan (1912-1926), the sequence follows teenager Tanjiro Kamado, the kindhearted oldest son of a household that makes and sells charcoal. Sooner or later he comes house to find his household has been slaughtered by an oni, or demon, who subsists on a food regimen of people. The one survivor is his youthful sister Nezuko, who has been changed into a demon however ultimately turns into protecting of her brother.

After an encounter with Giyu Tomioka, a high-ranking member of a secret group of warriors tasked with defeating demons often known as the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjiro is shipped to coach to grow to be a demon slayer. This units up Tanjiro’s quest to avenge his household and discover a option to flip Nezuko again right into a human.

A man smiling

Kyojuro Rengoku in “Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — the Film: Mugen Prepare.”

(Koyoharu Gotoge / Shueisha, Aniplex, ufotable)

Alongside the best way he befriends fellow Demon Slayer Corps members Zenitsu Agatsuma, a cowardly teen who’s a surprisingly expert sword fighter solely when unconscious, and Inosuke Hashibira, a rambunctious teen who was raised by wild boars.

The “Demon Slayer” manga was serialized within the weekly manga journal “Shonen Soar” from February 2016 to Might 2020. The complete sequence has been collected into 23 volumes.

How did “Demon Slayer” get so well-liked?

Though the “Demon Slayer” manga was typically positively acquired, what actually propelled its reputation is the TV adaptation. The primary season of the “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” anime sequence initially aired in Japan from April to September in 2019. (The sequence is at the moment out there for U.S. audiences on Netflix and Hulu.)

“Demon Slayer” has been praised for its attractive animation, notably its dynamic motion sequences the place each body looks like a chunk of artwork. The beautiful visuals are a credit score to ufotable, the animation studio behind the anime adaptation.

A swordfighter charging a demon on a train

A scene from “Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — the Film: Mugen Prepare.”

(Koyoharu Gotoge / Shueisha, Aniplex, ufotable)

However the sequence’ attraction is just not the artwork alone. Whereas “Demon Slayer” options acquainted manga tropes, its characters and story have additionally been a significant a part of its success.

Tanjiro’s empathy is unmatched and serves because the emotional core of the sequence. And regardless of his super loss and numerous hardships he faces, he is aware of he has to maintain on dwelling and is set to do what’s greatest. He’s a personality that’s notably resonant throughout a pandemic the place so many individuals have confronted a lot loss.

The anime’s reputation led to an elevated curiosity within the manga sequence, which was nonetheless ongoing when the primary season had completed airing in Japan. These inquisitive about how the story continues past the anime sequence turned to the supply materials. Books from the “Demon Slayer” manga sequence topped Japanese gross sales charts in 2020 and was attributed as one of many elements that helped enhance your complete comedian market.

What’s particular in regards to the film?

The “Demon Slayer” film had grossed over $417 million worldwide even earlier than hitting U.S. theaters (outdoors of a brief Oscar-qualifying run), making it the primary Japanese movie to cross the $400 million mark. In December, it turned Japan’s greatest field workplace hit ever, unseating Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved “Spirited Away” (2001).

A boy in the woods about to unsheathe his sword

Tanjiro in “Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — The Film: Mugen Prepare.”

(Aniplex America/FUNimation Leisure)

A part of “Mugen Prepare’s” field workplace success might be attributed to the timing of its launch. The movie hit theaters simply as COVID-19 theater restrictions have been being lifted in Japan. It additionally confronted little competitors from Hollywood, which postponed a lot of its slate as a result of U.S. theaters remained shuttered. There are experiences of a theater in Japan exhibiting “Mugen Prepare” greater than 40 occasions per day.

In contrast to the anime movies which might be primarily based on a TV adaptation, however exist outdoors of the sequence continuity, “Mugan Prepare” is exclusive in that it’s principally a chapter in the midst of an ongoing story, set between two seasons of a TV present.

What’s subsequent for the franchise?

A second season of the “Demon Slayer” anime sequence, which picks up the story after the occasions of “Mugen Prepare,” was introduced in February. The sequence is anticipated to air a while this yr and can cowl what is called the “Leisure District” arc.

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