Released: October 16, 2020
Watched: April 30, 2021
As of writing, Demon Slayer: Infinity Train is not only the highest-grossing anime film ever made (beating out Spirited Away and Your Name), it is also the highest-grossing film released in 2020, and #19 highest grossing R-rated film ever made (not adjusted for inflation).
While breaking those records can be attributed to the fact that the manga is immensely popular in Japan (and world-wide), it is also a fairly well-crafted movie in its own right.
It is absolutely gorgeously drawn. (If I find any pictures, I will add them here.) Every establishing shot shows a breathtaking landscape shot with deep vibrant greens, and the actions sequences are smooth, intense, and fluid. I almost wish I had watched this in the movie theater, just to marvel at the graphics on a giant screen.
Quality-wise, anime movie adaptation of TV shows is very hit or miss. They generally are the third retelling (after the manga and the TV anime versions), and so assumes viewers already have an familiarity with the source material. They will compress the entire story into 1 or 2 movies, sacrificing story quality and rushing characterizations in favor of flashy big-screen action sequences.
Fortunately, to it’s benefit, Demon Slayer takes a different approach. the film functions as an sequel to the first season of Demon Slayer / Kimetsu no Yaiba TV show (available for streaming on Netflix!), adapting a specific self-contained story arc from the manga. Despite an 117-minutes runtime, the movie is paced well, alternating between the intense action sequences, humor, and the quiet touching moments in a balanced way that doesn’t drag the overall pacing. Every character had a moment to shine (even if I did wish Zenitsu had more to do beyond being comic relief), and the plot is fairly straightforward.
However, what works for Demon Slayer’s benefit also works against it. Because it follows immediately after the events of the first season, the story starts in medias res, assuming viewers are already familiar with the preceding events, world-building and characters. Although newcomers will get a basic sense of who the main characters are, they won’t fully appreciate their different character moments or any other minor characters that appear.
Despite the overall good pacing, the last 40 minutes of the film did feel slightly disjointed. The main story conflict having already been resolved, the last third of the movie focuses on a brand new antagonist who appeared out of nowhere (setting up a hook for the second season). I wish this character had been woven into the overall movie a little bit better.
That being said — looking forward to watching the second season in a few weeks!