Why is Demon Slayer’s Mugen Train arc in the TV anime?

The new season of anime is here and with it comes the much anticipated new season of Demon Slayer — the anime that broke into the mainstream in a way that no one could have predicted. As we all know by now, the first season of Demon Slayer was so popular that they decided to make the series’ next arc into a full-length movie. 

Considering they made a canon arc into a film, you would have thought that the next season of the anime would pick up from where that film leaves off — that’s certainly what I thought would happen, anyway. However, the Mugen Train arc will also be covered in the first seven episodes of the new season. 

Demon Slayer Hinokami Chronicles recently released on numerous platforms — check out our articles on the new game HERE and HERE!

Demon Slayer - Mugen Train Arc in the Anime?

The film

The first season of Demon Slayer took the world by storm and hit levels of popularity I had never seen before in my long years of being a part of the anime community. Shounen series are already quite popular in the West; even when anime was less popular with the general public, it was typically the popular Shounen Jump series that made it over here. 

The popularity of the series here in the west was nothing compared to how it was being received in Japan though — the series was breaking records. It felt as though everyone in Japan, regardless of age or familiarity with anime, was watching Demon Slayer. The manga sales were some of the craziest I have ever seen, with the series selling over 150 million copies as of February 2021. While One Piece still holds the crown for total number of copies sold, Demon Slayer’s numbers exploded within the span of 2 years.

This popularity didn’t die out after the series ended, either, and that is very evident when we look at the reception of the film. The movie was released in Japanese cinemas on October 16th, 2020, and was met with an endless supply of people wanting to watch it. Since its release, the Demon Slayer movie has become the highest-grossing film in Japanese cinemas, earning over 40 billion yen (350 million USD) in total. This means that Demon Slayer has comfortably beaten out classics like Ghibli’s Spirited Away, and modern hits like Shinkai’s Your Name.

Demon Slayer

So why include it in the new season?

I think it’s fair to say that anyone interested in Demon Slayer had seen this film — certainly when it came to the Japanese fanbase. With that in mind, why did they decide to include content that had already been covered in that movie as part of the new TV anime season?

Now I’m not saying that these Japanese anime studios don’t care about the overseas opinion and sales, but I most definitely am saying that the sales within Japan are the primary contributor to a show’s success as far as they’re concerned. We know that the Demon Slayer film is the best-selling film in Japan and more than likely every single Demon Slayer fan in Japan watched the film — so the most dedicated fans have definitely seen the Mugen Train arc already. 

This situation is certainly similar to that of Dragonball Super, in which the contents of the Battle of Gods and Resurrection F films were included as the first two major arcs in the new version of Dragonball’s TV anime. The situation with Demon Slayer is a bit different in that there was only a year or so between the release of the movie and the release of the new season. Was the film a cash grab? 

It did seem like the film was a decision that was made in response to the overwhelming popularity of the series, so maybe they wanted to capitalise on that. On the other hand, you could say the fact that Ufotable is adding some additional Rengoku content is fanservice, as the response to Rengoku Kyojiro was overwhelming in itself — I’ll be the first to admit that I adored Rengoku by the end of the film. 

The most bizarre thing about the Mugen Train content being a part of the new season is due to the way that the second season was marketed. There was a heavy focus on the fact that this new season was going to dive straight into the next arc of the series — the Red Light District arc. I remember seeing the first poster for the second season covered with that arc’s central characters, and there was no mention of the Mugen Tran arc.

It all comes down to exactly what we see when the episodes are airing. The additional content might be worth it if the CGI problems that plagued the movie are addresses and fixed — but will the final fight just make use of the same scenes from the movie?

To me, it still just comes across as odd. Why make a canonical film if you’re just going to have the same content take up seven episodes of the next season?

What do you think?

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Conor Evans
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