Nothing can stop this train.
Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, also known as Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train took the top spot at the domestic box office this weekend with $6.4 million, rising from the silver medal spot last week. Mortal Kombat, perhaps feeling the punch of a concurrent release on HBO Max, swapped places with $6.2 million.
The anime import surprised many last week with its $19.5 million in U.S. receipts. This was not just the biggest opening for Japanese animation, but for a foreign language film of any kind. What’s more, descriptions of the film made it evident that audiences came to it already steeped in its lore as a series. Coming to the movie it out of the blue, critics wrote, would ultimately be confusing.
Indeed, Haruo Sotozaki‘s film is essentially a bridge between the first and forthcoming second season, which is based on a manga series penned by Koyoharu Gotouge. (The first season can currently be found on Netflix and Hulu.) Mugen Train was felt to be too short to be its own series for broadcast, and the resulting feature film is now the biggest grossing movie ever within Japan, and the highest grossing Japanese film outside its native country with $423 million worldwide. Depending on how you count such things, its continued success makes it the top grossing 2020 film globally, overtaking the Chinese war epic The Eight Hundred.
The animated movie follows five demon slayers investigating the disappearance of 40 people on a mysterious train. (Mugen is the Japanese word for infinite.) As our heroes board the titular train, they each succumb to a spell-induced dream state.
While product from Hollywood and movie theaters are still ramping up following the pandemic year, it seems like a reasonable hunch that Demon Slayer would still have been a hit on these shores “in normal times.” As such, one can bet that anime will gain an even stronger foothold in North America as time moves on. A quick look on social media shows happy audience members hitting their local multiplex dressed as Demon Slayer characters.
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