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DEMON SLAYER: THE INFINITY TRAIN (CRITICAL)

Infinity Train is an animated film based on the anime Demon Slayer, itself adapted from the hit shonen manga Kimetsu no Yaiba. Drawn by manga artist Koyoharu Gotoge, the now completed plot has been published in Japan through 23 volumes from 2016 to 2020, and in France on Panini Manga since September 2019. The anime has been broadcast on Wakanim since 2019.

We might as well immediately address the obvious point: the particularity of the film Mugen Train 🚅 is that it has become, a few weeks after its release on October 16, 2020, the most viewed film in the history of Japanese cinema. With nearly 30 million spectators (1 in 4 Japanese!) And more than 40 billion Yen in revenue (~ 301.9 million euros), he dethroned the exceptional voyage of Chihiro which held the first place since his released in 2001 with its 32 now small billion. It also alone monopolized 22% of the total income of Japanese cinema in 2020, and became the most lucrative film in the world that same year!
Update – When it was released on Blu-Ray and DVD in mid-June, it then sold over 1 million copies in 3 days!

In other countries in Asia, it is also breaking the bank and even in the United States where it was released in April, its success is no less than $ 20 million in revenue on its first weekend of operation. In anticipation of its release in French theaters this Wednesday, May 19 for the reopening of post-containment cinemas, therefore without a preview, the web servers of the Grand Rex and CGR sites were saturated when the reservations of places. Update: the film recorded 330,000 admissions after 5 days of operation, the best start of the week and 2nd place at the box office in France, and 700,000 after 6 weeks.

How to explain these records?
So how does a “simple” animated film taken from a shonen, certainly successful, manage to dethrone an artistic work as accomplished as that of Hayao Miyazaki at the height of his career, or even heavyweights in history? movies like Your Name, Frozen, Titanic or Princess Mononoke? Let’s put aside the famous Japanese following, even if it has to have something to do with it as well.

First, there is the Covid 🦠 effect, which is counterintuitive in that the fall 🍁-winter 2020-2021 saw almost no closure of cinemas in Japan, under relatively low infection levels compared to many other countries of the world.

Even if Japanese cinemas have sometimes suffered reduced hours, competition has logically been particularly weak, especially from the big international cinema majors who have continued to postpone their releases since the start of the health crisis (Marvel in the lead in line). Big productions have been released directly on VOD platforms, such as the grotesque Wonder Woman 1984, Disney-Pixar Soul and Raya or the big muscles of Godzilla vs Kong.

Then, unlike many animated films drawn from successful licenses (One Piece, Naruto or Dragon Ball to name a few other resounding shonen), it is essential to note that the scenario of the Infinity Train does not is not a “closed” parallel story, with its unpublished opponent and its intrigue hooked up in a capillotracted way to the official timeline of the anime, but indeed a canonical arc of the manga and therefore of the anime. If you follow Demon Slayer on Japanese TV or streaming and don’t want to wait several months for the film to be released on Blu-ray, then it’s a must to hit theaters to find out what actually is Season 2 of series. A daring bet (the first of its kind to our knowledge) but ultimately paying off for the producer Aniplex and the distributor Toho (and therefore probably not the last).

Kanpai’s opinion on the film
We could divide this first Demon Slayer movie into two relatively distinct segments. Spoiler-free, the western poster and trailer mostly refer to the first 2-thirds of the feature film, with its uninspiring unfolding and Enmu, its forgettable antagonist, while the final stretch is much more interesting. The cast of demon hunters is limited to Tanjiro (who is also particularly oblivious throughout the film) and his sister Nezuko, accompanied by Zenitsu and Inosuke, but it is above all the character of Rengoku who shines on the whole scenario and easily crowds out everything else. Without it, the feature literally falls flat.

In view of its integration within the overall structure of the story of Kimetsu no Yaiba, The infinity train turns out to be very “dry” in its approach: it is indeed as if we had an entire arc of the animated (for example twenty episodes) synthesized in a little less than 2 hours of film. This offers a very appreciable aspect because all the characteristic stretch of Japanese animation is put aside to focus on the essential: the plot of the “season” and its opponents. One would even dream of dreaming that all animated people display this functioning to prune their interminable superfluity from our busy lives.

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