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Film: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba- to the Hashira Training (Japanese with English sub-titles)
(Original title: Kimetsu no Yaiba Kizuna no Kiseki, Soshite Hashira Geiko e)
Cast (voice): Natsuki Hanae, Kengo Kawanishi, Akari Kito
Director: Haruo Sotozaki
Rating: 2/5
Runtime: 104 min

A confounding comic strip-happy storyline, with fascinating manga-styled visuals expanded to Imax screen size presented in episodic fashion, this Japanese animation film feels more like a TV series than a feature film.

Telling this story in words wouldn’t make any sense other than to the fans. The training part comes towards the end and is only a small part of this cobbled together movie. A large portion of this film is a recap of what transpired in the series – basically reused footage from the end of the last season which everyone would have already seen and the newer portion is just exposition. So you get a repetition of the full last 2 episodes of the Sword Smith arc with the remaining portion filled with fillers. There are no new fights or events of importance to lure you here.

There’s little or no plot to speak of. Tanjiro has to face a difficult dilemma in the opening minutes. Should he save Nezuko or protect an entire village? Duty and loyalty clash and who will come out stronger is the question? We see Tanjiro Kamado (Natsuki Hanae)’s younger sister Nezuko (Akari Kitô) kick him off her while she is burning in the sun. In another section, Tanjiro undergoes rigorous training with the Stone Hashira, Himejima, in his quest to become a Hashira. Meanwhile, Muzan continues to search for Nezuko and Ubuyashiki and encounters debilitating hardships along the way.

From the moment the opening credits rolled, it became evident that there was nothing new here. The fans were subjected to a tedious rehash of events and plot points which took up most of the runtime. This much-anticipated Demon Slayer movie, the Hashira Training Arc, is the best example of lazy, unproductive and redundant film making. There’s no innovation in representation or presentation nor is there any originality in this offering. The promise of an immersive journey into uncharted territory within the captivating universe of the anime was a deceptive money making hoax. Old material disguised as new content and marketed as a new film without offering fresh narratives or advancing the plot in meaningful ways, makes for a disgusting cash grab. This film fails to justify the investment of time and money required to experience it in Imax screens. Just big sized visuals expanded indiscriminately to fit the screen doesn’t make for an exciting anime adventure. The colors may look distinctive and the characterizations, unusual but there’s no excitement to be had here. The Demon Slayer anime cinematic universe stands stunted by the regurgitation of familiar tropes and visual motifs. It’s a superficial makeover at best and doesn’t have either depth or complexity to make this engagement more meaningful or entertaining.

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