I must admit that I put off watching Demon Slayer: Mugen Train for as long as I could because idiot that I was, I already spoiled myself after I watched the first season of the show. Apologies in advance as there might be some spoilers in this review. It’s the only way I could give respect to this film and its characters as they deserve.
Synopsis: At the end of Demon Slayer Season 1, we were introduced Lower Moon One Enmu. The demon is the remaining Lower Moon left after Muzen Kibutsuji annhilated the rest because of their weakness. Enmu was set out to be the upcoming villain to go up against Tanjiro, Zenitsu, Inosuke and Nezuko. At the end of the season, the four were sent out to follow the Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku, who was charged with investigating the demon attacks on the Infinity Train.
From the get go, I liked Kyojuro Rengoku. He was a bit weird (well, honestly speaking, very weird). He had a wide eyed look that was always directed at a distance and he always had a huge smile pasted on his face. Yet, his conviction and his confidence reminded me of another flame wielder, Captain Leopold Vermillion of Black Clover. I was right. They had the same sense of justice and love for duty and family which made them superb human beings.
While the Lower Moon Demon already proved to be a handful, the first half of the movie seemed only like an appetizer for what happens next. Enmu, who was powerful compared to other demons that Tanjiro and his gang faced in the first season, was the younger slayers’ challenge as Rengoku ordered them to behead the demon while he protected the passengers. But as we know about OP characters, there’s always a catch.
After Tanjiro and Insouke teamed up to defeat the powerful Lower Moon, Akaza, who ranks as Upper Moon Three unexpectedly arrives to face off with the Flame Hashira. From the beginning, he acknowledges Rengoku’s strength and sees him as a worthy opponent. He tries to sway him to join their ranks so that they could fight forever, but of course, Rengoku, with his strong sense of righteousness and justice, never caved.
I liked how Demon Slayer: Mugen Train explained the difference between the Hashira and the Upper Moons. While the Hashira are the strongest wielders of the elements and masters of their own techniques, they still had the disadvantage over the demons who have been in power for a century. Enmu bewailed how he and his fellow Lower Moons were constantly replaced after being defeated by the Hashira but the Upper Moons have remained constant with the passing of time, killing off (and eating) generations of Hashira, something that Ubuyashiki Kagaya lamented at the beginning of the film.
It was a glorious battle, as Rengoku pushed his limits and did his best to protect his juniors and the passengers on the train. Unfortunately, he was outclassed by the demon who had hundreds of years to train and grow stronger. His demon powers also allowed him to stave off his injuries through regeneration. To close the gap, Rengoku matched the demon with his strength of conviction and his willingness to lay his life on the line for others.
During the fight, I was struck by how it emphasized the helplessness of Tanjiro and his friends to fight against a powerful demon. Even Inosuke acknowledged this. Of course, I was brokenhearted by how the battle ended but I commend the writers for making Rengoku’s final scenes beautiful and memorable.
I was blown away by Demon Slayer: Mugen Train because of the beautiful and consistent animation all throughout. There was no bad panel, not even one. The use 3D in combination with 2D animation was seamlessly crafted. The fight scenes never missed a beat. The use of perfect background music to accompany each scene made me ugly cry 25 percent of the movie and kept me suspended in suspense the remainder of the time. It just provided the necessary push to make audiences feel even more connected to the demon slayers, as if they weren’t fully invested by the first five minutes of the movie.
I felt sorry about the potential relationship between Rengoku and Tanjiro but it was a necessary sacrifice to move the story along. I felt though that he would have been a good mentor for the young demon slayer, if they had a little bit more time. Alas, it was not meant to be. I dread it but I have a feeling that there will still be more heartbreaks along the way. Still, I am thankful that this beautifully crafted film gave Rengoku the respect and the sendoff he deserved. What a high stakes way to kick off the second season.