Demon Slayer works because of its animation, fight choreography, violence, and wacky anime hijinks, sure, but it’s the vulnerability of the characters compared to other shonen anime that really lets it stand out in the canon for me. The emotional toll the traumatic past has taken on the main characters (and even the demons they slay) is always palpable in their actions and thoughts. Perhaps most critically, tears flow so freely throughout the story, normalizing strong emotions in stereotypically strong individuals.
The downright stellar animation in Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train bolsters heavy emotional character moments that move the characters forward in meaningful ways and pretty much destroy me and my tear ducts every time I think about them. While the film starts out feeling like just a batch of episodes strung together in a film format, the scale and weight of the overarching theme becomes clear about halfway through. This arc of the story needed to be a film, and I hope they use the feature length format again to at least cap off the series, if not earlier.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Season 4 finale ‘Restless’ continues to inspire dream narratives across the globe.”
Another impressive video game gauntlet that continuously asks the age-old question of how can John Wick get out of this one? in inventive, bloody ways. Now with battle dogs!
My VHS cover pull-quote: “The greatest bits in the first John Wick were the nods to a greater mythology and world of assassins behind a simple revenge plot. Now we are steeped in that grand mythos, which — while interesting — sometimes threatens to impede the kinetic pacing of these things. Either way, I’ll still watch JW Chapter 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…”
I remember–in the Before Times–when these movies that have somehow been a constant in my life were about street racing.
My VHS cover pull quote: “New career plan: get a PhD in film studies. Write dissertation focusing on the trajectory of Universal’s Fast and the Furious franchise. Chart its course from hollow street race flicks, to halfway clever heist movies that almost have a theme and care enough about character and reverence to pull bro tears from bro sockets, to a straight up comic book superhero picture that just does whatever the fuck it wants. Get tenure. Bring in guest lecturer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Bring in guest lecturer Vin Diesel on the same day by ‘accident’ so we can get to the bottom of this on-set beef. Bring in Vince McMahon. Oh shit, bring in Stone Cold Steve Austin. Here comes The Undertaker out of retirement!”