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

The anime buzz is palpable in the air as legions of dedicated followers, adorning anime-themed attire, fill the theatre halls brimming with excitement for the release of “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training.” With doors barely open for the dawn screenings, the roar of applause and spirited cries of “Nezuko chan” echo through the cinema, signaling the unwavering global fandom of the Demon Slayer series.

Echoing its 2023 cinematic predecessor, “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To the Swordsmith Village,” “To The Hashira Training, ” under the direction of Haruo Sotozaki, is crafted more as an appetizer for the forthcoming television season rather than a traditional full-course feature. Audiences are initially greeted with a recap montage of poignant moments from past seasons and the climactic conclusion of “To The Swordsmith Village.” Only beyond the midway mark does the curtain rise on the premiere of the next season’s inaugural episode.

We rejoin our protagonist, Tanjiro Kamado, voiced by Natsuki Hanae, in the aftermath of his triumph over the formidable Upper-Rank demon, Hantengu, portrayed by Toshio Furukawa. Tanjiro’s half-demon sister, Nezuko, brought to life by Akari Kito, has miraculously survived sunlight exposure and regained her speech—a monumental feat that seizes the vile demon lord Kibutsuji Muzan’s (voiced by Toshihiko Seki) interest, as he covets her newly emerged powers.

The new footage cuts in with the Hashiras, the elite demon slayers, embarking on a crusade against Muzan with hopes of acquiring mystical marks augmenting their demon-fighting prowess. Intense preparation ensues for the Demon Slayer corps. Tanjiro, alongside comrades Zenitsu Agatsuma (Hiro Shimono) and Inosuke Hashibira (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka), convalesce from their prior ordeals, poised to participate in the grueling regimen.

Ufotable, the anchor of the Demon Slayer production, boasts some of the anime realm’s most exquisite artistry and compositing prowess. Their masterful fusion of traditional 2D animation with cutting-edge 3D techniques renders the action sequences breathtakingly dynamic and fluid.

Yet, despite the visual splendor Ufotable bestows, the unconventional delay before delving into the main narrative creates a befuddling cinema-going encounter. For fervent Demon Slayer aficionados, the film is a coveted indulgence; nevertheless, as a standalone cinematic piece, “To The Hashira Training” is glaringly undercooked—a mere assembly of an existing episode trailed by a glimpse of what lies ahead.

In fairness, the movie does serve up an exhilarating exclusive combat sequence, featuring the Wind Hashira, Sanemi Shinazugawa (Tomokazu Seki), and the Snake Hashira, Obanai Iguro (Kenichi Suzumura), as well as a reunion with the ensemble of Hashiras and other treasured characters. Comedic interludes offer brief respite, yet the remainder of the new episode, burdened with exposition-heavy and languid dialogue, contributes little to crafting a memorable movie affair.

Since the cinematic triumph of “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” in 2020, subsequent storylines and pacing appear to have languished. Protracted battle sequences and the protagonist’s fortuitous power acquisitions are now hallmarks—dismissable traits within the realm of shounen anime, yet these elements are starting to feel uninspired.

While the “Mugen Train” splendidly adapted a succinct manga arc into a cinematic powerhouse, resonating with audiences worldwide and standing its ground as an independent film, “To The Hashira Training” demands prior knowledge of the series to be comprehensible to the average viewer.

For the legions of fans, while patience for the streaming release of the new season may be prudent, witnessing Demon Slayer’s iconic visual artistry magnified on the silver screen offers some compensation. The camaraderie of conjoining with kindred spirits in celebrating the onscreen escapades of our beloved demon slayers seems to momentarily justify the admission fee.

Every gleeful cheer and shared moment embodies the true soul of the anime community, alloying even the most insufficient film to shine—albeit faintly—in the radiant light of collective enthusiasm. “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training” continues its theatrical journey, uniting fans in a spectacle of anticipation and devotion.

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