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Anime Movie

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train Review

Demon Slayer – The Mugen Train Arc

The Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga was first published in Weekly Shonen Jump from February 2016 until May 2020. The series was written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotoge. Demon Slayer tells the tragic story of Tanjiro Kamado and his sister Nezuko, who become orphans after their family is massacred by a demon. Nezuko herself is turned into a demon. Driven to return his sister to normal, Tanjiro embarks on a journey to find a cure. The series became a hit especially after the anime adaptation in 2019. As of December 2020, the manga had over 120 million copies circulation and surpassed One Piece as the highest-selling manga of 2019 and has gone on to sell over 82 million copies in 2020. 

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train is the first film from the series. A direct sequel from the anime series, the film retells the Mugen Train arc. In the anime, Enmu was given Muzan’s blood after the demon leader disbanded (and killed) the lower Twelve Kizuki. Meanwhile, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke are sent to join the Flame Hashira, Kyojuro Rengoku. The Hashira is investigating disappearances on the Infinity Train. Enmu is the cause of these disappearances. Enmu’s demon ability is dream manipulation. He can enter and control someone’s dream, it’s possible to kill them if he can destroy their “Spiritual Core.” Zenitsu, Tanjiro, Kyojuro, and Inosuke all get trapped in vivid dreams. Tanjiro dreams of his family, Zenitsu dreams of dating Nezuko, Inosuke dreams of being a “cave explorer” with Tanjiro, Nezuko, and Zenitsu as animal helpers, and finally, Kyojuro dreams of his family, particularly his father and brother. 

Kyojuro’s dream

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train has the task of humanizing Kyojuro. At this point in the series we only just meet him. It’s important to make us care about him, especially considering how this movie ends. His father, Shinjuro Rengoku, was the previous Flame Hashira. Shinjuro seems nihilistic, responding to Kyojuro’s announcement that he became a Hashira, with “it was pointless.” It unclear what made Shinjuro this way but it’s obvious that Kyojuro wants his approval. As the four children enter the dreams and locate the spiritual core’s they’re attacked by Kyojuro, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke. After everyone awakens, Tanjiro heads to the roof of the train to face Enmu. Tanjiro attempts to cut Enmu’s head off, but the demon keeps putting him to sleep. However, Tanjiro can wake up almost instantly each time. 

Eventually, Tanjiro decapitates Enmu using Water Breathing 10th Form: Constant Flux. However, Enmu is still alive because he’s merged with the train. The concept of a demon changing its form and therefore its anatomy is interesting. I wonder if the series will explore this further or if this is a one-off. However, the following fight between the demon slayers and Enmu wasn’t interesting. The use of CGI was distracting and I found the repetitive hacking of Enmu computer-generated flesh boring. Only when Inosuke and Tanjiro worked together to defeat Enmu did it become enjoyable. After the train crashes the most exciting fight begins. After Kyojuro teaches Tanjiro to stop his internal bleeding, something lands behind them creating a dust cloud.

Akaza, the Upper Rank 3 was revealed in the first Demon Slayer movie.
Akaza is the Upper Rank 3

Upper Rank 3 Akaza verses Kyojuro

It’s revealed that the Upper Rank 3, Akaza was the cause. He instantly tries to attack Tanjiro, however, Kyojuro uses Flame Breathing: Second Form – Rising Scorching Sun, splitting Akaza’s arm in half. The demon attempts to recruit Kyojuro, asking him to become a demon. Kyojuro refuses and Akaza attacks with his Blood Demon Art: Technique Development – Destructive Death – Compass Needle. Akaza and Kyojuro move so fast that Tanjiro can’t follow them. Throughout the battle, it becomes clear that demons have a natural advantage over humans in battle. No matter how much damage Kyojuro delivers to Akaza, the demon simply heals and does so quickly. It’s still possible to win but it must be done quickly. Until Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train, those of us that only watch the anime was told that Hashira’s and Upper-Level Demons are at another level. 

Akaza and Kyojuro’s fight is a good display of the difference between the lower demon’s like Enmu and lower slayer’s like Tanjiro. Furthermore, the Upper Six can fight recklessly since the loss of limbs isn’t a concern, whereas, Demon Slayers much pace themselves, be disciplined, skilled, and cautious. Akaza and Inosuke note that Kyojuro’s form is flawless. When the fight reaches its climax, Kyojuro uses his Flame Breathing: Ninth Form – Rengoku verses Akaza’s Destructive Death: Annihilation Type. Kyojuro wounded both externally and internally is at his limit. After the dust clears, it’s revealed that Akaza has stuck his arm through the chest of Kyojuro. Undaunted, Kyojuro swings his sword into Akaza’s neck, Akaza tries to punch him but Kyojuro grabs his forearm. Akaza can’t break free and the sun begins to rise. After the blade digs deeper into Akaza’s neck he finally pulls free tearing his limbs off. He flees into the forest, as Tanjiro calls him a coward. 

Demon Slayer is about heart

Anime movies are often non-canon, creating lore that doesn’t impact the main series. In a lot of ways, this allows for more creative freedom. However, because Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train is adapted from an arc in the main story it has an impact on the story. This movie feels more “real.” This movie’s central themes focus on the “beauty of being human,” and “the sorrow of death.” Kyojuro argues for humanity’s value. He says that “growing old and dying” is beautiful and humans are only “loveable and precious” because of this. He notes that the strength in humans isn’t based on the body. The film opens with Ubeyashiki and his wife, Amane walking through a graveyard for demon slayers. He laments all the death and hopes that it will end with the next generation.

It’s a foreshadowing of Kyojuro Rengoku’s death. I expect that Demon Slayer is going to kill off more of the “good” guys, Tanjiro and Nezuko might be safe but I’m not sure anyone else will be. What has set Demon Slayer apart from other shonen series has been the emotional maturity of Tanjiro Kamado. He is willing to sacrifice himself to protect others, however, unlike other shounen protagonists, he does pursue power for power’s sake. Tanjiro’s heartbreak at the end was probably the most impactful part of the film, he barely knew Kyojuro but was devasted as he knew him for years. Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train tells a story that emphasizes that it’s not strength that matters, it’s the heart. 

Anime Movie

Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl Review

Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl promotion artwork

Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl is an anime short from Studio Colorido Co. The story centers on Hinata, an artistic boy with a crush on his classmate Shigure. He’s eager to talk to her but inside imagines that they’re together. It’s his imagination and art is the source of the most impressive animated scenes. One day Shigure sees Hinata drawing and is amazed. Hinata is embarrassed. I was reminded of my experiences as an artist in school. I would love drawing projects, but initially hated the attention it got me from teachers and classmates. Hinata is more dramatic than I was. He runs out of the classroom. Shigure comes to find him talking to himself on the roof. 

It’s at this point Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl vers into juvenile fanservice. Hinata accidentally sees up Shigure’s dress. He then trips and falls, resulting in his head being up her skirt. The following morning Hinata arrives and greets Shigure, but his pants zipper is open. I have had similar experiences as a child, particularly the zipper thing. However, this scene made me roll my eyes. Regardless, the friendship between Shigure and Hinata continues to grow. Later, Hinata learns that Shigure will move.

Hinata surrounded by imaginary birds

Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl’s animated run

Hinata is understandably upset. Running out of time to she Shigure off, Hinata springs into action. He begins to run at near superpowered speeds. It’s not enough to reach Shigure in time. Hinata sees her as she’s on a train. At this point, Studio Colorido Co. animation takes flight (pun intended). Hinata envisions his artwork of him and Shigure riding on a swan. The swan comes to life, erupting from the page. It shoots off into the sky with such force that it destroys the birdcage, ripping through the sky. The cloudy sky turns bright, as Hinata mounts the swan.

It’s a beautifully rendered scene, even though it’s largely a figment of Hinata’s imagination. When Hinata finally catches Shigure he gives her another drawing and wishes her “Good Luck”. Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl is a sweet story, with magnificent animation. I could do without the accidental pervert moment, but it’s an imaginative short. 

If you want to learn more about Studio Colorido, check out Sagukabooru.

Anime Movie

Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul, Recap and Review

Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep

Made in Abyss Movie 3: Dawn of the Deep Soul is the third movie, following the two recap movies. Dawn of the Deep Soul focuses on the Ido Front Arc, which covers chapters 27 – 38 of the manga. Made in Abyss Movie 3: Dawn of the Deep Soul opens with Reg, Riko, and Nanachi exploring the “Garden of the Flowers of Fortitude”. Reg and Nanachi hear the screams of some Delvers. When Reg goes to investigate they encounter an Umbra Hand. The man explains that he caused the scream and returns the Blaze Reap to Reg. Made in Abyss quickly gets into the dark tone it’s known for when Riko notices an insect that resembles a leaf. The “Amaranthine Deceptors” disguise themselves as Flowers of Fortitude, they attack any organisms and lay their larvae inside.

Made in Abyss illustrates this with the semi-living corpses of delvers. The Deceptors feed themselves to these corpses so they may survive longer. These corpses reflexively scream and repeat the word “who”. It’s a gruesome scene that reminds you of how unforgiven nature can be. As the Umbra Hand begins to burn the deceptors and the delvers, Reg accepts that he can’t do anything to help and returns to Riko and Nanachi. The Umbra Hand tells him that the “Sovereign of Dawn” awaits. 

Bondrewd, welcoming Nanachi, Reg, and Riko in Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul.
Bondrewd, welcoming Nanachi, Reg, and Riko.

The Fifth Layer, the Crossing Sea

Nanachi explains the location of Ido Front, the “final point you can return from while remaining human”. Inside is the “Last Dive” where the Sixth Layer can be accessed. She anticipates conflict with Bondrewd. As they approach the Ido Front, they’re spied on by a mysterious young figure. She turns out to be the “daughter” of Bondrewd, Prushka. As they introduce themselves, Bondrewd arrives with several Umbra Hands. He is weirdly polite, telling Nanachi that her “hat suits her” and congratulates her for “releasing” Mitty. Sensing Reg is going to erupt with rage, Nanachi quickly asks Bondrewd to let them pass. He’s willing, but they need a white whistle to activate the Altar. Such a whistle can only be activated by the original owner, so Riko’s mother’s whistle won’t work. While in the room Bondrewd prepared for them, Nanachi and Reg realize that Reg has a limit on the number times he can use the incinerator. 

Nanachi and Bondrewd

Restless, Nanachi leaves the room in the middle of the night. She encounters Bondrewd on the way. He tells her that he’s glad she returned and they have much to talk about. When Riko wakes up she’s alone. Panicked, she rushes to find her friends only to discover that she been locked in. She attempts to climb the forbidden steps that climb through the curse and is overcome. Prushka saves her and with the help of her pet Meinya, she escorts Riko through. By inhaling Meinya’s scent, Riko is able to visualize the trail with her eyes closed. Meanwhile, Bondrewd asks Nanachi to work for him again. She agrees only if he doesn’t harm, Reg or Riko, and permits them to reach the Sixth Layer. Unfortunately, Bondrewd has already taken Reg. His men have Reg strapped to a chair naked. They sever his arm off resulting in blood gushing, have a tube attached to his penis to collect urine, and subject him to pain to test his receptors.

The Umbra Hands

Before they can cut open his stomach to see inside, Nanachi arrives to save him. The Umbra Hand’s surround her, but Prushka orders them to stop. With her help, they escape on a boat. However, Bondrewd follows their footsteps. He offers to repair Reg, but Nanachi, Reg, and Riko spring a trap. Using the ax, Riko begins setting off explosions. As Reg and Nanachi escape, a nest of violent insects called the Kasshou-Gashira (Stingerhead), eviscerate Bondrewd’s Umbra Hands. They don’t harm Bondrewd as he has his weapon the Sparagmos. Unphased, he applauds Nanachi’s efforts. Riko, Reg, and Nanachi spring into action. Reg attacks with a bomb. When that fails Riko shoots him in the side with an arrow that releases some Amaranthine Deceptor larvae into his body. Then Reg unleashes a barrage on him, knocking him into the water, and finally exposing him to the Sixth layer. Finally, he crushes him with a bolder. 

Bondrewd, Prushka, and the blessing

Despite all this, Bondrewd survives. He knocks out Reg with his tail and shoots Riko with “shaker needles” that only “slightly turns viscera”. Bondrewd reveals that each Umbra Hand is another version of himself. He tells Nanachi that she received what he calls the blessing. The key to this is “love”. He leaves Nanachi devastated. Later, he is shown experimenting with Prushka. Riko wakes up, recalling an artifact called Zoaholic that allows you to “plant yourself within another person”, but you may go insane. They plan on blowing up the Zoaholic. Reg heads to absorb the power plant’s energy reserves, causing a blackout. Elsewhere, Bondrewd discovers Nanachi and Riko again. During their discussion, he tells them that the substance necessary to create a white whistle is a human being. Riko actually deduces that Bondrewd used his original human body to create his white whistle. 

Riko fighting against Bondrewd

Reg attacks Bondrewd, who wishes to test his power. However, Nanachi interrupts the fight, and Reg returns to normal. During the second part of the fight, Bondrewd reveals that he turned Prushka into a cartridge, curse repellent created from humans remains. We get a flashback from Prushka’s early life. She was caught in an accident while traveling through the fifth layer. Subjected to tremendous pain, she is saved by Black Whistle Gueira. However, all attempts to help her failed, leaving Bondrewd to save her. He gave her the name Prushka, the creature Meinastoirim (Meinya), and her mind back. Bondrewd is defeat, for now, having many other bodies. Riko cries while holding the cartridge of Prushka’s remains. The cartilage turns into stone, becoming the Riko’s white whistle. 

A movie for the fans

Made in Abyss Movie 3: Dawn of the Deep Soul is everything that one would expect from the series. All the hallmarks are there. The stunning animation, lush environments, the horrifying creatures, and creative lore. Made in Abyss is still full of body horror, that can shock, but never seems overdone. This movie played with my emotions, much like the main series. I was always on edge afraid of what would happen. Made in Abyss still has it’s creep sexual aspects. Prushka is a child but her breast are large. The weird penis contraption Reg was in during his torture and Riko’s explanation of Reg’s penis and what an erection is. This results in Prushka creepily saying “you mean like Papa’s rod”. I don’t know what she actually referring to but it definitely sounds like she has seen Bondrewd naked. 

Speaking of Bondrewd, he’s a fascinating villain. Manga and anime are full of horrible villains, but Bondrewd feels different. No matter how much the heroes destroy his lab or harm him he never gets mad. The always calm and weirdly cheerful. This is in contrast with how violently he fights. Bondrewd is a character that you both look forward to seeing but regret it later. The main trio remains the same dynamic from the anime series. Nanachi is the stoic, highly intelligent, and cute victim of Bondrewd’s cruelty. Reg is still brave, tough, and really shows how he can handle himself in a fight. Riko can come across as the weak link, often having to be rescued and protected. However, she ultimately proves her worth. Riko has knowledge Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul requires you to have watched or read the manga to understand. Overall, if you love the series this movie has everything that makes Made in Abyss so great. 


Anime Movie Review: Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade

Anime Movie

Dragon Ball Z Movie: Lord Slug

Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug promotion images

Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug opens where most Dragon Ball movies do, with Piccolo meditating in front of some natural environment. This time its a waterfall. At this point it clear that Dragon Ball movies follow a template. Open with Piccolo, enter the villain set on finding the dragon ball’s, he gets his wish, then the Z fighters get defeated (especially Krillin), and Goku battles the main villain. That said, Lord Slug makes some alterations to the model. When Lord Slug gets his wish he doesn’t seek immortality, but eternal youth. Thus he returns to when he was the strongest. 

Dragon Ball movies always have continuity problems, Lord Slug is no different. During the battle between Goku and Lord Slug, he goes into a form of Super Saiyan. According to the timeline, Goku became Super Saiyan in chapter 317 of the manga, which came out ten days later. In the film, the Super Saiyan form doesn’t have the gold/yellow hair and green eyes. Fans considered this form to be a “False Super Saiyan”. Regardless, it’s clear that Goku wasn’t meant to be a Super Saiyan at least officially. One difference in this film is Goku isn’t the primary reason Lord Slug is defeated, Piccolo is the more responsible. 

Namekians take center stage

The Namekian physiology takes center stage in this movie. Generally, Dragon Ball only really cares about the Saiyans. What sets Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug apart is that it centers more on Namekians. Lord Slug is a “Super Namekian” that gained this power by “unlocking a higher consciousness within”. Having become intoxicated by their power they were banished by other Namekians with the dragon balls. Piccolo eventually becomes on as well, however, he does so by fusing with other Namekians. In Lord Slug, Piccolo exposes an auditory weakness that Nameks have. High-pitched sounds, particularly whistling, is extremely painful. Lord Slug becoming a giant making his ears even larger, he then becomes incapacitated by Gohan’s whistling. Goku delivers the final blow with a spirit bomb powered by the sun. 

Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug is in many ways predictable. However, the movie does add some new twists, even if they’re minimal. Despite the cliche elements of the movie, the film is enjoyable. The animation is fluid and consistent. Other than some Namekian lore, you won’t find If you enjoyed the previous movies, Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug is the film for you. 

Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might, Recap, and Review

Anime Movie

‘One Piece: Stampede’ Review: A new threat arrives

Luffy excited at all the Expo has to offer

One Piece: Stampede is the fourteenth movie from the One Piece series. The “Pirate Expo” is an event that occurs every few years. This expo, orchestrated by Douglas Bullet and Buena Festa, offered an Eternal Pose found by Gol D. Roger. 

Demon Heir’s Freedom

Douglas Bullet is the former member of the Roger Pirates. A former child soldier, Bullet values strength above all else. As a result, Douglas loves challenging everyone he encounters. The only person to defeat him was Gol D. Roger. Bullet aims to become the Pirate King by killing the strongest pirates, specifically the Worst Generation and the four Yonko. 

His distinctive laugh is: “Kahahaha.”

Like most members of the Roger Pirates, Bullet is powerful. Having a lot of experience on the battlefield from a young age, he gained tremendous fighting skills. As a 14-year-old, he destroyed an entire country. He ate the Gasha Gasha no Mi devil fruit. With it, he can “disassemble inanimate objects and assemble them into anything he wants with his mind.” Buggy suggests that his strength is comparable to Silvers Rayleigh. He survived a Buster Call commanded by Sengoku and Garp. While imprisoned in Impel Down, he trained, increasing his strength. 

One Piece: Stampede begins by telling the story of his escape. During the Blackbeard Pirates break-in, Bullet escaped. At some point, he teamed up with Buena Festa. Together they devised a plan to lure pirates into a trap. 

Image of Douglas Bullet using Haki while challenging the Worst Generation in One Piece: Stampede
Bullet using Haki while challenging the Worst Generation

The Expo and unlikely alliances

The Straw Hats, the Worst Generation, the Barto Club, the Beautiful Pirates, the Bliking Pirates, Buggy Pirates, the Kuja Pirates, and the Marines all arrive at Delta Island. Expecting to compete for treasure that belonged to Roger, Bullet arrives. He challenges the Worst Generation. Together, Luffy, Eustass Kid, Killer, Basil Hawkins, Scratchmen Apoo, Capone Bege, Jewelry Bonney, X Drake, and Urouge battle Bullet. 

He overwhelms them with superior strength and speed. The battle while onesided is a pleasure to watch. Bullet is a hulking figure. He’s able to withstand attacks from Luffy’s Gear Fourth: Snakeman despite being impressed by Luffy. Regardless, Bullet defeats the Supernovas. Meanwhile, a Buster Call fleet lead by Sentomaru arrives. Admiral Fugitora clashes with Zoro. The final part of the Bullet’s plan begins. Using his devil fruit he forms a massive colossus. 

With another Buster Call on the way and Bullet rampaging, the remaining island inhabitants are in danger. Together Smoker, Hancock, Sabo, Law, Buggy, Crocodile, and even Rob Lucci join forces to stop Bullet. Ultimately, its Luffy delivers a devasting blow. After the fight, Luffy obtains the Eternal Pose and destroys it. Saying “he’ll make it on his own.”

A fun sideshow

One Piece: Stampede is an enjoyable movie, especially because One Piece movies can be hit or miss. While not canon, the Pirates Expo is a fun idea. The Pirates Expo is mostly an excuse to bring many of the series pirates together. It works both as a reasonable plan for Bullet to get the strongest pirates in one place and a reason for the movie to bring our faves together. If your unfamiliar with this series then the sheer volume of characters might be distracting. Furthermore, the significance of the alliances would be lost on you. 

With so much going one and so many characters, many of the fights were cut short. I would have loved to see Zoro and Admiral Fujitora fight from start to finish. Regardless, watching Marines, Pirates, heroes, and villains fight alongside one another was delightful. Finally, the animation. One Piece: Stampede features top-quality animation. Every scene is fluid and consistent. The only issue is the CGI colossus that Bullet created. It was distracting and felt out of place. Overall, One Piece movies can feel like high-quality fillers. If that’s all One Piece: Stampede is, I still think it’s worth your time.

One Piece Chapter 975: The Alliance is 5400 Strong