Demon Slayer – Kimetsu No Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train

Demon Slayer – Kimetsu No Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train

2021, R, 117 min. Directed by Haruo Sotozaki. Starring Natsuki Hanae, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Satoshi Hino, Hiro Shimono, Akari Kitō, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Daisuke Hirakawa.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., April 30, 2021

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train begins, suitably, in a visit to a graveyard: Kagaya Ubuyashiki (Morikawa in the Japanese version/Mathrew Mercer in the English-langauge dub), his face marked by a curse that will slowly consume him, walking through endless tombstones. Each represents a member of the Demon Slayer Corps who fell in the endless battle against hellish invasion.

Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Ressha-Hen, to give it the original Japanese title, is the first original movie spin-off from the hugely successful Demon Slayer anime, an unexpected blockbuster franchise that has become one of the biggest-selling manga of all time since its debut in 2016. After the huge success of season one, and before the arrival of season two later this year, this feature-length anime adapts the manga's "Mugen Train" arc, a bleak addition to the story that will initially throw the audience off. Three of the young members of the corps are sent into battle: the boisterous and hair-trigger Inosuke Hashibira (Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook) under his trademark; eternally-anxious and self-doubting Zenitsu Agatsuma (Shimono/Aleks Le); and Tanjiro Kamado (Hanae/Zach Aguilar) the troubled hero who joined the war against evil after his family were butchered – all except his sister Nezuko (Kitō/Abby Trott), who has been transmogrified into a monster, and now he seeks to restore her humanity. They're assigned to clear a train of demons, and do so in quick order with the assistance of the more seasoned Kyōjurō Rengoku (Hino/Mark Whitten). Movie over.

Well, obviously not, and the wild melding of anime styles that feel at odds with the more realistic look of the show should be a clue that something is awry. A demon, Enmu (Hirakawa/Landon McDonald), has pulled everyone on the train inside their dreams. So far, so Inception, but with an added, vile twist: Enmu has gathered chronic insomniacs to his cause, promising them the sweet release of sleep if they will only help murder the slayers.

Mugen Train plunges straight into the continuity that its huge fanbase wants, and that opening walk among the tombstones sets up that there will be no release from the historical horror aspects that have made the show such a massive success. Plus, unlike so many of the recent big anime movie spin-offs to arrive on U.S. screens, like the fan-service Dragon Ball Super: Broly or the series-wrapping Violet Evergarden, there's not so much convoluted continuity that it's impossible to become immersed in this dark world. Like the train itself, it's self-contained within a larger world, and a surprisingly strong intro to the story.

It helps that Demon Slayer fits into the classic anime mold of wannabe warriors within a strange martial arts setting, and that characters regularly drop exposition through inner monologues. However, so much of the story (and especially the dream/nightmare sequences) revolves around Kamado that everyone else feels a little underserved. Hashibara is one of the best comedy sidekicks in animated history, but the decision to keep Mugen Train weighty puts him in the caboose. Meanwhile Agatsuma gets a great character beat that will undoubtedly pay off down the line, and with its massive success the franchise is definitely on-track for that: but he feels a little lost here.

Where Mugen Train truly excels is in summing up what the series is really about: beyond the spectacular magical conflicts against impossible evil, beyond capturing the seductive horror that the demons offer in return for corruption, it's a series about self-sacrifice (try to spot a veteran slayer without a patchwork of scars). Amid the monster-slaying, there's a pointed celebration of how human weaknesses are really our strengths.

Showtimes

Fri., May 21

3:00, 6:25, 9:40

Sat., May 22

12:45, 4:00, 10:40

Sun., May 23

11:45am, 3:00, 6:25

Mon., May 24

3:05, 6:20

AMC Dine-In Tech Ridge 10

12625 N. I-35, 512/640-1533, www.amctheatres.com

Wed., May 19

7:40

Fri., May 21

3:40, 6:50

Sat., May 22

3:40, 6:50

Sun., May 23

3:40, 6:50

Mon., May 24

6:20

Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills

9828 Great Hills Trail, 512/231-9742

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Tue., May 18

sub-titled, sub-titles 6:50
sub-titles 6:50

Wed., May 19

sub-titled, sub-titles 6:50
sub-titles 6:50

Thu., May 20

sub-titled, sub-titles 6:50
sub-titles 6:50

Fri., May 21

sub-titles 4:00, 6:50

Sat., May 22

sub-titles 4:00, 6:50

Sun., May 23

sub-titles 4:00, 6:50

Mon., May 24

sub-titles 6:50

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 Capital of Texas Hwy. S., 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Tue., May 18

3:00, 6:05

Wed., May 19

3:00, 6:05

Fri., May 21

5:05

Sat., May 22

4:05, 6:40, 9:10

Sun., May 23

4:40, 7:50, 9:25

Mon., May 24

4:10, 7:10

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Tue., May 18

digital 1:05, 4:10, 7:15
digital, dubbed 1:25, 4:35, 7:40

Wed., May 19

digital 1:00, 3:55
digital, dubbed 1:25, 4:35, 7:40

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Tue., May 18

digital 7:40

Wed., May 19

digital 7:40

Thu., May 20

digital 7:40

Tue., May 18

digital 7:55
digital, dubbed 6:55

Wed., May 19

digital 7:55
digital, dubbed 6:55

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Tue., May 18

digital 7:50
digital, dubbed 6:55

Wed., May 19

digital 7:50
digital, dubbed 6:55

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Tue., May 18

digital 6:05
digital, dubbed 9:10

Wed., May 19

digital 6:05
digital, dubbed 9:10

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Tue., May 18

digital 6:15

Wed., May 19

digital 6:15

Thu., May 20

digital 6:15

Evo Cinemas Belterra

166 Hargraves Ste. A-100, 512/457-0700, www.evocinemas.com/drippingsprings

Tue., May 18

4:45

Wed., May 19

4:45

Thu., May 20

4:45

Fri., May 21

12:45, 9:15

Sat., May 22

9:15

Sun., May 23

2:15, 5:00, 7:45

Mon., May 24

3:45

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Tue., May 18

1:45, 4:30, 7:30

Wed., May 19

1:45, 4:30, 7:30

Thu., May 20

1:45, 4:30, 7:30

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Fri., May 21

6:15
dubbed 9:20

Sat., May 22

10:25
dubbed 4:20, 7:30

Sun., May 23

6:00, 10:00
dubbed 2:50, 9:00

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Tue., May 18

dubbed 4:20, 7:55
sub-titled, sub-titles 4:50, 7:25
sub-titles 7:25

Wed., May 19

dubbed 4:20, 7:55
sub-titled, sub-titles 4:50, 7:25
sub-titles 7:25

Thu., May 20

dubbed 4:20
sub-titled, sub-titles 4:05, 7:25
sub-titles 7:25

Southwest Theaters at Lake Creek 7

13729 Research #1500, 512/291-3158, www.southwesttheaters.com

$6.50 children and senior tickets (all-day), $5 Tuesdays (all tickets), Bargain Matinees before 5pm daily.

Tue., May 18

4:00
dubbed 6:50

Wed., May 19

4:00
dubbed 6:50

Thu., May 20

4:00
dubbed 6:50

Fri., May 21

dubbed 1:10, 4:00, 7:30

Sat., May 22

dubbed 1:10, 4:00

Sun., May 23

dubbed 1:10, 7:30

Tue., May 18

1:15, 4:00, 7:15, 10:00

Wed., May 19

1:15, 4:00, 7:15, 10:00

Thu., May 20

1:15, 4:00, 7:15, 10:00

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