"Ultraviolent, Uneven Battles with Cannibalistic Human Demons"
What You Need To Know:
The demons in DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN are actually humans who’ve been transformed into supernatural cannibalistic monsters by the man who was first transformed 1,000 years ago. The movie tells a weird, uneven, ultraviolent story. The first part is slow, because it contains flashbacks to the origin stories of the four heroes. Some of the fighting consists of boring animated poses rather than exciting animated movement. DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE has a strong, mixed, abhorrent pagan worldview. It features disturbing moments, a false demonology, occult magic, foul language, and martial arts breathing techniques that defy physics.
DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN is a violent animated fantasy from Japan about three young men from the Demon Slayer Corps sent to help a top-level demon slayer kill a demon who has taken over a train and threatened the lives of all the people on board. Based on a popular Japanese comic book and TV series, DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN is a weird, uneven, ultraviolent story about overcoming evil, with a strong, slightly mixed pagan worldview, some disturbing moments, a false and absurd demonology, occult magic, foul language, and martial arts breathing techniques that defy physics.
DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE is a sequel to the first season of the Japanese TV series, which takes place during a minor but important era in modern Japanese history, 1912 to 1926. The movie begins with Tanjiro, a young fighter from the Demon Slayer Corps, and his two buddies, Zenitsu and Inosuke, boarding the Mugen train. Their assignment is to find and help a high-level demon slayer named Rengoku, who’s investigating a bunch of disappearances on the train. The Demon Corps has sent some other agents to investigate, but they’ve never returned. So, the Corps suspects a powerful demon is behind the disappearances.
In the DEMON SLAYER universe, a demon is like a combination between a zombie and a vampire. They are a human who’s been transformed into a supernatural cannibalistic monster by the first demon, an evil, selfish, narcissistic aristocrat named Muzan. Muzan became a demon when a doctor used a rare, mystical lily to cure him of a disease. The lily did indeed cure the disease, but it turned Muzan into a man-eating demon with supernatural powers. When he’s not killing and eating humans for sustenance, Muzan uses his blood to create more cannibalistic demons to do his bidding. Like vampires, however, Muzan and the demons who serve him are unable to walk in the sun, but they have the power to use magic and regenerate their bodies. The more humans they consume, the more powerful they become.
Tanjiro and his friends find Rengoku quickly, but shortly after they find him, the demon controlling the train, named Enmu, magically puts them all into a deep sleep. Enmu orders four passengers to enter the dreams of the heroes and destroy their “spiritual core” so they won’t wake up. Tanjiro’s dream takes him back to the time when he came home one day, only to find that Muzan had slaughtered his mother and four of his five siblings and turned his sister, Nezuko, into a demon. Tanjiro realizes he’s trapped in a dream and tries to get out of it by running away. His late father’s ghost suggests to him that he commit suicide to get out of the dream, and it works, but only until Enmu uses magic again to force Tanjiro back into the dream.
Nezuko, who has rejected cannibalism and joined the side of the Demon Slayers, suddenly appears and uses her powers to wake up Tanjiro’s friends and Rengoku. Meanwhile, Tanjiro fights Enmu, who’s riding on the top of the train. After a long battle, Tanjiro manages to behead Enmu, but Enmu still lives because he’s fused his body with the whole train itself.
Rengoku orders Tanjiro and Inosuke to sever Enmu’s spinal cord in the engine room while he and Zenitsu protect the passengers from Enmu’s occult powers and thirst for human flesh in the rest of the train. Can the good guys defeat this powerful, malevolent demon?
DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN is a weird, uneven, ultraviolent story. The first part is rather slow, because the movie not only enters Tanjiro’s dream, but also enters the dreams of his friends and the dream of their leader, Rengoku. Essentially, the four dreams are all flashbacks to the origins of the four heroes before they became members of the Demon Slayer Corps.
Also, the encounters with the demon controlling the train are a bit weird. For example, one of the demon’s hands has a mouth with teeth. Also, while the demon fights Tanjiro and Inosuke, he covers the train with a grayish blob of flesh to somehow consume the passengers. This really doesn’t make much sense.
In addition, when the heroes use their powerful swords to fight the demon controlling the train, the fight scenes are shot in a clumsy way that doesn’t make such sense either. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] Eventually, Tanjiro and his friend have killed the demon controlling the train, Rengoku must fight an even more powerful demon who suddenly appears. The sword fight that occurs with this demon takes a long time and is fairly uninteresting and boring. For example, it mainly consists of Rengoku shouting out different breathing techniques to try to injure and kill the demon with his sword while the demon tries to kill Rengoku with his sword and fists. Too often, the fighting just consists of boring animated poses rather than exciting animated movement. Meanwhile, the demon fighting Rengoku keeps regenerating his injuries, which makes him extremely difficult to kill. Watching this alleged swordfight makes a discerning or experienced viewer wish for a normal Japanese samurai swordfight without all the magical mumbo jumbo and verbal references to special powers and breathing techniques.
DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN is excessively violent. It also has many obscenities. In addition, Tanjiro wears a ceremonial earring in both his ears, handed down to him by his father, who taught Tanjiro a breathing technique that helps him perform a special ritual dance and to wield his demon-killing sword better when he fights demons. MUGEN TRAIN also has a very strong Non-Christian, pagan worldview.
The movie’s pagan worldview is slightly mixed with some morally uplifting, redemptive elements. For example, in Rengoku’s flashback dream, his mother lovingly tells him he must use his “God-given” strength to help weaker people. Thus, his mother’s instruction is what gives Rengoku his strong concern for protecting other people from the cannibalistic demons. In another scene, Tanjiro asks for forgiveness from his dead family because he wasn’t there to defend them when they were slaughtered.
However, the movie’s pagan worldview features a false demonology that’s rather absurd. Despite the reference to Rengoku’s God-given strength, there’s no other explanation or origin for the special skills, including the martial arts techniques, the heroes use to fight the demons or for the various magical, supernatural powers that the demons use to attack humans or defend themselves. Generally, the Demon Slayers get stronger and better by practicing their martial arts skills, especially various breathing techniques, while the demons generally get stronger by consuming more innocent humans. The demon attacking the people on the train is an intensely ambitious character who wants to join the ranks of the more powerful demons who serve the main villain in the comic books and the TV series. At one point, the movie mentions reincarnation and imagines a place where several of Tanjiro’s future lives appear as amorphous white figures in a heavenly realm of blue sky and clouds and his “spiritual core” or soul appears as a colored ball. Finally, there are no angels in the DEMON SLAYER universe, and no one appeals to God for help in stopping or fighting the cannibalistic demons. So, ultimately, the movie’s one reference to God appears to be an impersonal one vaguely rooted in Hinduism or Japanese Shinto folklore rather than Buddhism per se.
All in all, therefore, although the demons in DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN are clearly bad, and their occult powers are bad, the movie’s violence, pagan worldview and false theology are abhorrent.