At The Movies: No love ‘Train’
“Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” is an anime feature film that has set numerous box office records.
“Mugen Train” has grossed $428 million worldwide, as of the deadline for this movie review, to become the highest-grossing anime film of all-time.
It’s the third highest-grossing anime film in the United States, behind “Pokemon: The First Movie” and “Pokemon: The Movie 2000.”
Do not expect cute little animals and cuddly scenes like those in the “Pokemon” movies.
Expect horrific violence in “Mugen Train.”
Yes, it’s animated movie violence. Still, there is blood and guts and gore, including beheadings, and blood splatter in extremely violent fight scenes. I found the scenes disturbing.
The full title of the movie is “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.” Kimetsu no Yaiba translates as “demon-killing blade.” Mugen is the Japanese word for “infinite.”
There are some gentle scenes between family members that establish a rapport between the characters. The overwhelmingly number of scenes are action-oriented.
The martial-arts style scenes, which are rendered in Computer Generated Animation, are stunning in their spectacular visuals, colors and movement.
Most of the scenes in “Mugen Train” look like old-fashioned 2D animation. The scenes are even more rudimentary that that.
Characters are static. There is little if no eye movement or facial expression. The only thing moving are the characters’ mouths when they speak. If one character is moving, other characters in the scene are not. There are very few scenes of the characters walking.
The anime style of animation may take some getting used to for movie-goers accustomed to the detail-rich (down to “fur-rendering” end credits), energetic-style and expressive characters in the feature animation style of Disney and Pixar.
The characters’ eyes are huge, in the anime style. The characters’ faces often fill the screen in close-ups. This is a one of the more artistically beautiful aspects of “Mugen Train” and anime.
By definition, the word, anime, is derived from the word, animation. Anime refers to Japanese production animation.
Anime typically has less movement. There are whooshing, or flash-style, anime backgrounds, to give the effect of fast movement.
Cinematography techniques, including panning, zooming and angle shots, predominate. The effect is that of seeing comic-book page panels on the big screen.
The large eyes of characters is typical for anime. Crying, the animation of huge and prodigious tears, is also utilized, often to ridiculous and sometimes comedic effect.
“Mugen Train” was seen in the standard format. It can be seen in two versions: dub and sub, as in dubbed in English and in Japanese with subtitles. I saw the film version with subtitles, which I found helpful. The subtitles are huge and sometimes appear at the top of the movie frame.
Many of the scenes have extensive dialogue, often of a philosophical nature, which I found interesting, especially near the film’s conclusion.
Seeing the film while hearing the dialogue in Japanese retains the impact of the actors’ emphasis, exclamations and emotions.
The storyline in “Mugen Train” is as minimalist as the animation. A young man’s family was murdered by a demon. He and his team board the Mugen Train on a journey to fight demons. They are able to enter the dreams of their families and their enemies.
The main characters are the young man, Tanjiro Kamado (voiced by Natsuki Hanae); a boy who wears a boar’s head, Inosuke Hashibira (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka); another young boy, Zenitsu Agatsuma (Hiro Shimono), and the Flame Pillar, Kyojuro Rengoku (Satoshi Hino), a superhero character.
“Mugen Train” director Haruo Sotozaki (feature film theatrical directorial debut) tries to balance scenes of action with scenes of character development. The action scenes win out.
The “Mugen Train” screenplay is by Koyoharu Gotouge, who wrote the screenplays for the 26-episode Japanese TV series (2019) on which the movie is based.
The soundtrack includes heavy-metal style wailing guitar and bombastic drums for the action scenes and high-register single-note piano melodies for the dialogue scenes.
While there were some youngsters who looked as though they were under age 10 at the evening screening that I attended, I would not recommend “Mugen Train” for children. I think “Mugen Train” could be upsetting for them during the film and afterward.
“Demon Slayer: Mugen Train,”
MPAA rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for violence and bloody images; Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure; Run time: 1 hr., 57 min. Distributed by FUNimation.
Credit Readers Anonymous:
“Mugen Train” end credits include “Homura,” a pop hit in Japan, co-written and sung in Japanese by LiSa, with subtitles.
At The Movies:
“Mugen Train” was seen at AMC Center Valley 16, Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley, Upper Saucon Township, with COVID-19 protocol in effect. The screening I attended had the most number of attendees, perhaps two dozen, in a multiplex theater that I have seen since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Movie Box Office,
May 7 - 9: “Wrath of Man,” the revenge film starring Jason Statham and directed by Guy Ritchie, opened at No. 1, with $8.1 million, on 2,875 screens, as “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train” derailed from No. 1, dropping one place to No. 2 with $3 million on 2,088 screens; $37.1 million, three weeks.
3. “Mortal Kombat” dropped one place, with $2.3 million, on 2,973 screens, $37.8 million, three weeks. 4. “Godzilla vs. Kong” dropped one place, $1.9 million, on 2,705 screens; $92.9 million, six weeks. 5. “Raya and the Last Dragon” stayed in place, $1.8 million, on 2,315 screens, $43.8 million, 10 weeks. 6. “Separation” dropped two places, $1 million, on 1,911 screens, $3.3 million, two weeks. 7. “Here Today” opened with $900,000, on 1,200 screens, one week. 8. “Nobody” dropped two places, $760,000, on 1,931 screens, $24.5 million, seven weeks. 9. “The Unholy” dropped two places, $730,000, on 1,390 screens, $14.1 million, six weeks. 10. “Tom and Jerry” dropped one place, $426,000, on 1,831 screens, $44.7 million, 11 weeks.
26. “The War with Grandpa,” co-starring Allentown’s Oakes Fegley, dropped one place, $26,987, on 108 screens, $21.2 million, 31 weeks, the longest-running movie in the Top 30.
Box office figures from Box Office Mojo as of May 9 are subject to change.
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Movie opening dates from Internet Movie Database are subject to change.
Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes