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Kimetsu No Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train Becomes Highest-Grossing Film in Japanese History
Japanese cinema history was made in late December when Kimetsu No Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train became the highest-grossing film in the country’s history，surprising experts and succeeding at a time when most movie theaters around the world are closed.
The full-length feature，which is a continuation of the popular Kimetsu No Yaiba anime series，arrived in cinemas across the country in the middle of October and by the end of the year had earned over ¥32.47 billion， helping the film move into the top spot in the history book.
Kimetsu No Yaiba — known as Demon Slayer in English — passed Studio Ghibli’s 2001 Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) to claim the number one position. It also passed famous films such as Titanic, Frozen and more.
The series, which revolves around a young man in Japan’s Taisho Era seeking revenge against demons for the death of his family， debuted in 2016 as a manga in the popular Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. While Kimetsu No Yaiba enjoyed popularity in comic form， it wasn’t until an animated series started running in 2019 that it enjoyed wider popularity.
Many film experts have speculated that part of Kimetsu No Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train’s box office success is owed partially to the COVID-19 pandemic. As people in Japan were encouraged to stay home in the spring of 2020，many turned to streaming services，such as Netflix and Hulu for entertainment. Many of them binged on the anime series，which was available on these platforms，and went to theaters in the fall when COVID-19 case numbers were low and people could watch films in person. They were excited to see what happened next.
Kimetsu No Yaiba isn’t just a hit anime series，but a cultural phenomenon that Nikkei Trendy magazine named the biggest hit product of 2020. Clothing retailer Uniqlo released a popular line of clothes featuring characters from the series， while the convenience store chain Lawson teamed up with the film to release limited-edition snacks and items in their outlets.
Singer-songwriter LiSA，who wrote the theme song to the anime series，also contributed a number to the movie titled “Homura.” That work has enjoyed major success on all major charts in Japan，becoming one of 2020’s biggest hits. Her work for the TV series， meanwhile， captured the top award at The Japan Record Awards at the end of the year.
The film is also starting to take off internationally. It became the highest-grossing 2020 film in Taiwan. Thanks to its earnings in Hong Kong and Vietnam as well, it has become the second-highest grossing Japanese film globally in history.
One region where the film hasn’t arrived yet is China, where the country postponed its release in order to review it for censorship matters.
Key Words and Expressions
- highest-grossing — a term used to describe a product that earns the most money
- arrive in cinemas — to release a film in theaters
- debut (verb) — to present to the public for the first time
- streaming services — an online service that delivers video, music, etc. on the Internet
- binge on — to do something in an extreme way
- cultural phenomenon — a situation where something or someone being enormously popular
- team up with — to collaborate with someone or a group to gain a good outcome
- theme song — a song from a television program, film, etc.
- take off — to start succeeding
- censorship — an action of examining something in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable
Reading Comprehension Test
- How did Kimetsu No Yaiba start?
a. It was a manga in Weekly Shonen Jump.
b. It was an anime series.
c. It was a live-action drama.
d. It was a movie.
- What is LiSA’s relationship to the Kimetsu No Yaiba movie?
a. She is one of the voice actors in the movie.
b. She helped write the script for the movie.
c. She wrote the theme song to the movie.
d. She won an award for her illustrations for the series.
- Which of the following is true?
a. The movie has been a huge hit in China.
b. Few people have subscribed to streaming services during the pandemic.
c. The movie is the highest grossing film of the year in Taiwan.
d. Nikkei Trendy named Kimetsu No Yaiba the third biggest hit product of 2020.
- Why has Kimetsu No Yaiba done so well in theaters last fall?
- Which chains has Kimetsu No Yaiba teamed up with?