‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training’ review: A film just for the fans

Though watching the stunning visuals of ‘Demon Slayer’ on the big screen with fellow anime fans is an exciting experience, ‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training’ lacks severely as a movie and is strictly just for the fans

February 25, 2024 04:00 pm | Updated 07:19 pm IST

A still from ‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training’

A still from ‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training’ | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

What a sight it is to see fans sporting anime t-shirts throng a hardly opened theatre hall for an early morning screening of the much-awaited Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training. The hall erupting in cheers and screams of “Nezuko chan” to welcome a fan-favourite character was enough to speak of the immense global popularity of the Demon Slayer franchise.

Similar to the 2023-released movie, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To the Swordsmith Village, To The Hashira Training serves more as a teaser for the upcoming season than an actual feature film. Directed by Sotozaki Haruo, the film opens with a short montage of scenes from previous Demon Slayer seasons, followed by the final episode of the last season, To The Swordsmith Village. Only after the first half of the movie do we get to see the first episode of the upcoming season.

The previous season ended with young Demon Slayer Kamado Tanjiro (Hanae Natsuki) defeating the Upper-Rank demon, Hantengu (Furukawa Toshio). His half-demon sister, Kamado Nezuko (Kito Akari), overcomes the dangers of a demon being under the sun and even begins talking. Nezuko’s feat catches the attention of the despicable demon king, Kibutsuji Muzan (Seki Toshihiko), who is now on the lookout for her to gain her newfound powers.

Following a recap of this episode, the movie jumps straight to the new episode, as we see the Hashiras on a mission to defeat Muzan, hoping to get a special mark on their bodies that would provide them an advantage in fighting demons. They begin rigorous training for the rest of the Demon Slayer corps. Meanwhile, Tanjiro recuperates from his previous battles and gets ready to join the training along with his friends, Agatsuma Zenitsu (Shimono Hiro) and Hashibira Inosuke (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu).

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training (Japanese)
Director: Haruo Sotozaki
Cast: Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kitō, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Hiro Shimono
Runtime: 113 minutes
Storyline: While the Hashiras go on a mission to defeat Muzan, Tanjiro recuperates from his previous battles and gets ready to join the training along with his friends, Agatsuma Zenitsu and Hashibira Inosuke

Ufotable, the producer of Demon Slayer, has one of the anime industry’s best art direction and compositing teams, and with Demon Slayer, they have perfected the combination of 2D hand-drawn art and 3D animation blending, making the action scenes look dynamic and fluid.

However, even with Ufotable’s stunning visuals, waiting for almost half the film’s runtime for the actual story to begin makes for a bizarre movie-watching experience. While Demon Slayer fans may consider it a treat, as a movie, Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training is severely lacking, being just a compilation of an existing episode and an upcoming episode.

On the plus side, the film does include an exciting anime-exclusive fight sequence, featuring the Wind Hashira, Shinazugawa Sanemi (Seki Tomokazu) and the Snake Hashira, Iguro Obanai (Suzumura Kenichi). We also get to see the rest of the Hashiras and other supporting characters after a long time. The occasional light-hearted and funny scenes are entertaining but the rest of the new episode, loaded with exposition and idle dialogue, does not do much to provide for a good movie-watching experience.

Following the success of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, released in 2020, the plot and the pacing of the anime show took a severe hit. Battle scenes have been unnecessarily dragged out and the protagonist is always finding himself with convenient power-ups. While this can be dismissed as typical shounen anime (anime targeted towards adolescent boys), it just feels lazy at this point.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train took up a short arc from the original manga series and translated it into a brilliant feature film that was not only a box-office success globally but also one that could hold its own as a standalone movie. Due to the absolute lack of context and introduction to the characters and plot, Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training would make no sense to a normal movie-watcher.

And for fans, though it would make more sense to wait for the new season to hit OTT platforms, watching Demon Slayer’s iconic stunning visuals on a big screen makes the experience slightly bearable. The collective experience of gathering with fellow anime fans to cheer and scream for our favourite demon slayers almost makes even the ticket price seem worth it.

The writer is a former journalist with a passion for cinema. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training is currently running in theatres.

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