The bizarre do-it-all story of the year 2021 shows no sign of slowing down. Who would have thought that an anime feature film from a niche TV series would climb to the top of the box office charts. . . on its second weekend of release? And yet that is exactly what Demon Slayer: Mugen Train just did it, knock Mortal Kombat from the number one spot in the process.
(Insert your favorite fatality joke here.)
What is going on Demon Slayer: Mugen Train anyway? What is it about and how is it more appealing to moviegoers than the third film adaptation of a gory video game franchise? If you are a fan of the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu TV show, you probably roll your eyes to everyone’s disbelief about this development. But be patient! Let the rest of us catch up.
The story of Demons killer actually started as a japanese manga. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba was written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotouge, and ran a healthy course from February 2016 to May 2020. The whole has been collected into twenty-three separate volumes, in case you are looking for a new addition to your bibliography.
Demons killer follows the story of Tanjiro Kamado, a young boy determined to become a demon killer after his family is slaughtered and his younger sister Nezuko turned into a demon. Tanjiro’s best-selling adventures were adapted into a twenty-six episode anime series, which aired from April to September in 2019. The show received so much critical acclaim that a follow-up movie was planned.
Enter Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, a feature film sequel to the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu TV program. We’re just getting into it here in America, but the film opened in Japan in October 2020 and immediately became a box office and critical triumph. In fact, it has become the highest-grossing film of all time in Japan, and its success has even prompted the country to submit the film for Academy Awards.
Have conquered Japan, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train jumped over a few ponds to beat the US. The film opened on the same weekend as the new one Mortal Kombat adaptation, and finished second in the box office rankings. The following week, Tanjiro and his friends won the rematch against Raiden and his gang, taking first place at the box office. That’s what happens if you don’t put Johnny Cage in your MK movie.
It’s uncommon for a movie to climb the box office charts after its opening weekend, as returns tend to diminish every week thereafter, and new releases will come out every week as well with fresh new box office earnings. But the exhibition industry is in a weird twilight zone right now, so there weren’t any new movies to contend with Demon Slayer: Mugen Train in its second week. And Mortal Kombat split its audience by also being available on HBO Max.
Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, on the other hand, is only available in movie theaters and has a passionate following eager to support the film’s theatrical run. It’s hard to say how the movie would have fared in a “normal” year (will that ever be anything more?), But its 2021 release was certainly an example of a perfect storm of conditions.
Beware of demons
Tanjiro’s story does not end Demon Slayer: Mugen Train. A second season of the anime series is scheduled to premiere later this year. Titled Kimetsu no Yaiba – Yyoukaku-hen, the show continues where Mugen train leaves, and will feature the cast of the first season again.
Meanwhile, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is preparing to face a few newcomers this weekend: the comedy Here today, directed by Billy Crystal, and Guy Ritchie’s latest movie, Wrath of Man. Can Tanjiro triumph over the combined forces of Crystal & Ritchie? We don’t know yet, but we’re eager to see that fight take place. It will likely be gory, funny, and include a lot of slow-mo.
Have you seen Demon Slayer: Mugen Train yet? Let us know in the comments!
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