REVIEW: “Demon Slayer: Infinity Train” is a wild ride



Demon Slayer: Infinity Train became the highest grossing anime film in the world.

Dueling it out with “Mortal Kombat” at the box office this weekend was a record-breaking movie: “Demon Slayer: Infinity Train,” the highest-grossing anime movie in the world, adapted from a manga written by a creator featured in Time100 Next.

While Japanese audiences were able to see “Demon Slayer: Infinity Train” in theaters last October, American audiences had to wait until April 23. With gorgeous fight scenes and a loveable cast, “Infinity Train” was definitely worth the wait.

“Demon Slayer: Infinity Train” is a direct continuation of the first season of the critically acclaimed anime “Demon Slayer.” The series follows Tanjiro (voiced by Natsuki Hanae in Japanese and Zach Aguilar in English), a young, kind-hearted boy who becomes a demon slayer after his family is killed by demons, with only his little sister-turned-demon Nezuko (Akari Kito/Abby Trott) by his side. While on his quest to find a way to turn Nezuko back into a human, Tanjiro meets the cowardly-yet-powerful Zenitsu (Hirono Shimono/Aleks Le) and the literal wild child Inosuke (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook).

“Infinity Train” adapts volumes seven and eight of the “Demon Slayer” manga. The main characters have been sent to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances on a train, where they meet Rengoku (Satoshi Hino/Mark Whitten), one of the strongest members of the Demon Slayer Corps. The culprit behind the disappearances is a sadistic demon named Enmu (Daisuke Hirakawa/Landon McDonald), who causes passengers on the train to fall asleep and kills them after turning their good dreams into nightmares. 

As the main character of the series, Tanjiro receives plenty of screen time throughout the film. The first act, which serves as buildup for the action-packed second and third acts, gives viewers a glimpse of Tanjiro’s dream: an idyllic reality where his family was never killed by demons. The second act, a whirlwind of action onboard the titular train, features Tanjiro and Inosuke at the forefront.

Rengoku, who made a short appearance in the first season of the anime, is properly introduced in action. The movie features his powerful, fiery swordplay from the very first fight scene to the very last. Outside of fight scenes, his boisterous personality and more serious and heartfelt brotherly side makes him a fun addition to a cast already filled with big personalities, and a good mentor figure for the main characters, particularly Tanjiro.

Inosuke, Zenitsu and Nezuko play a more supporting role compared to Tanjiro and Rengoku. While each character gets a moment in the spotlight (and Inosuke in particular spends a lot of time fighting in the second act), more screen time is given to Tanjiro and Rengoku: The audience sees the most of their dreams, which are serious and give more insight into the characters, unlike Zenitsu and Inosuke’s dreams, which are fun but ultimately serve as comic relief. 

Animation studio Ufotable returns to deliver eye-catching visuals. Ufotable’s animation, particularly the dramatic sword fights and special effects blending CGI with 2D animation, garnered “Demon Slayer” plenty of social media buzz and critical acclaim during its first season. 

Like the first season, “Infinity Train” boasts plenty of gorgeous animation. While the fight scenes still feel like the main event, bursting to the brim with beautifully rendered flames and ocean waves, the non-action portions of the film shine as well. From Tanjiro’s snowy mountain home in his dreams to the titular train itself (an impressive blend of CGI and 2D animation), there are plenty of remarkable visuals to take in.

That being said, there are places where the integration of CGI and 2D animation feels a bit out of place, particularly when 2D characters interact with certain CGI effects. These awkward segments are ultimately overshadowed by the climactic fights between the demons and demon slayers, but can feel rather jarring in the moment. 

While the gist of the plot is easy enough to understand, newcomers may find themselves at a loss. As a direct continuation of the first season, “Infinity Train” jumps directly into the action, providing little in terms of exposition to provide context for some of the characters. The film operates under the assumption that viewers already know the story up to that point, keeping character introductions to a minimum and jumping straight into the action. Those who read the manga or watched the anime will already know who the characters are, but those unfamiliar with the premise may feel lost at the beginning of the movie.

Before watching the movie, I would recommend getting caught up, either by watching the 26-episode first season available on Netflix or reading the first 53 chapters of the manga. For a faster recap of events leading up to “Infinity Train,” sites like IGN have put out quick summaries of the series in order to get audiences completely up to speed. 

Despite occasional awkward animations and the steep hill newcomers have to climb to get the entire picture before watching, “Infinity Train”’s colorful cast of characters and beautiful action sequences make it a thrilling ride from start to finish.