REVIEW: Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train puts the focus on Flame Pillar Rengoku Kyojuro

Kyujurou Rengoku (Satoshi Hino) attacks in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba The Movie: Mugen Train. (PHOTO: ODEX)
Rengoku Kyojuro (Satoshi Hino) attacks in Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train. (PHOTO: ODEX)

Rating: NC16
Length: 117 minutes
Director: Haruo Sotozaki
Writer: Koyoharu Gotouge
Voice Cast: Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kitou, Hiro Shimono, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Satoshi Hino , Daisuke Hirakawa, Akira Ishida.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you're a Demon Slayer (Kimetsu No Yaiba) fan, you're in luck — this film finally pays off the cliffhanger of the last episode of the first season, showing us just what exactly the Mugen (Infinity) Train is and the dangers that are on board it. Except that this time, the stakes are dialled up to eleven as we see a battle that hints at how powerful Tanjiro (Natsuki Hanae) will eventually be in the series, in struggles with ever more powerful demons. The film also sets up new plot threads for the second season.

Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train continues right from where the first season of the Japanese fantasy anime ended, with the protagonists boarding a train to investigate a series of demon attacks. They gain a new ally and find a new foe on board this mysterious train. But they soon learn that the demon is far more insidious than they realised — and that dangerous forces beyond their ken are at work as well.

The devious Enmu (Daisuke Hirakawa). (PHOTO: ODEX)
The devious Enmu (Daisuke Hirakawa) in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba The Movie: Mugen Train. (PHOTO: ODEX)

Nevertheless, it's fun to see the ensemble of characters battling Enmu, who turns out to be unlike any other demon they've ever encountered before (but then again, aren't all the demons like that?). The protagonists get their chance to shine as they work together to defeat this threat, with minimal help from the spotlighted character of the movie, Rengoku the Flame Hashira (Satoshi Hino), one of the highest ranked Demon Slayers. It's an impressive battle that shows us just how far they've come as characters... before the film springs an even bigger threat on the good guys.

First things first — the action is spectacular. You get to watch a full-fledged fight against two incredibly powerful characters in the film, with them trading blows so mighty that none of the protagonists can even hope to compare. In fact, that's exactly what Inosuke (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) says to emphasise just how epic the battle is, that his participation will only hinder the battle, rather than tilting it in anyone's favour. It's also a fairly gory and painful battle, with consequences that will linger in the series for sure. If the battles are the draw of the anime series, then you'll be satisfied for sure.

Young Tanjiro (Natsuki Hanae) in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba The Movie: Mugen Train. (PHOTO: ODEX)
Tanjiro (Natsuki Hanae) finds himself trapped in his dream. (PHOTO: ODEX)

However, the demon Enmu's (Daisuke Hirakawa) plot to trap the heroes in their own dreams seems like a wasted opportunity for some character development. We sort of see what each character's ideal world is, but it feels like a rather surface level exploration of their characters. They could have plunged deeper into the psyche of the heroes, rather than just retreading what we already know about them. It does give Tanjiro some sort of a struggle to break out of his own dream, but beyond that, the other characters don't seem to have any problems forsaking their heart's desire to wake up.

That's when it becomes obvious that the movie is really all about Rengoku. And for a character that we learn about mostly in the film, there's a surprising amount of emotional resonance from him. It is really more like a bigger, more epic episode that focuses on the guest star, but it's handled well because the character slowly builds a connection with you without you even realising it. The eventual (but slightly predictable) payoff is worth it though, because the climax of his character journey is a powerful one.

Inosuke (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba The Movie: Mugen Train. (PHOTO: ODEX)
Inosuke (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) is excited to be on a train. (PHOTO: ODEX)

In terms of story, the movie doesn't actually push it that much forward, but it does dangle some plot threads that will lead into the second season of the anime. It also gives some direction for the second season, although manga readers will know what the general arc is going to be.

Mugen Train may not advance the plot of Demon Slayer all that much, but it sure is a lot of fun to watch. If you're wondering how epic the battles are eventually going to be, and what Tanjiro's end point is likely to be in terms of his Demon Slayer path, then the film is going to show you that. It's not a standalone movie though, so you'd best be brushing up your Demon Slayer lore before going into cinemas to catch it.

Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train opens in cinemas:
- 12 November, 2020 (Singapore)
- 4 February, 2021 (Malaysia)

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Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter who writes for “Crimewatch”, as well as popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Code of Law”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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