Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (MA15+, 117 minutes)
I had some of the same feeling watching this film as I did watching The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The story seemed to be ending. Then it kept going and it seemed to be ending. Then...you get the idea.
Maybe this anime's director, Haruo Sotozaki, like Peter Jackson, simply doesn't believe that less can be more, and that killing your darlings is too cruel. But at nearly two hours, Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, is long and feels it.
I'm not a manga or anime aficionado (I don't read the comics but I've seen some of the TV shows and movies) so if you are, you might wish there'd been even more. Many people obviously couldn't get enough: the film has been a huge hit both in Japan (it's the all-time box office champ there) and internationally. No doubt those who know the TV series that preceded this film will get more out of it. But I enjoyed it while reading the subtitles alongside what seemed to be a well satisfied audience at Dendy.
We start with a team of demon slayers embarking on a mission. They are siblings Tanjiro and Nezuko - who lost their family to demons - scaredy-cat Zenitsu and Inosuke, who wears a boar's head as a mask. They join a great warrior, the Flame Hashira Kyjur Rengoku, to help him hunt for a demon that is wreaking havoc on a train, killing many demon slayers.
There's a fair bit of violence here, not all of it expected - what Tanjuro has to do wake himself up is a little unsettling
That demon is Enmu, Lower Rank One of the 12 Kizuki, and he's not going to be a pushover.
Our heroes soon fall into a deep sleep. Enmu orders four of the other passengers to tie themselves with magic ropes to his enemies, enter their dreams and destroy their spiritual cores so they can never awaken.
Each of the character's dreams reveals something about them - pain, loss, desire - but, of course, they eventually revive and, his plan having been foiled, Enmu takes them on more directly.
There's a fair bit of violence here, not all of it expected - what Tanjuro has to do wake himself up is a little unsettling.
We discover just how powerful Enmu is as the heroes try to defeat him.
The visuals are often spectacular, especially the settings and scenery. There are plenty of anime tropes here - androgynous, childlike, big-eyed characters, freeze frames, speed lines - but although there's a moderate level of blood, there's nothing sexually graphic.
Zenitsu was a disappointing character - he's a coward who's absent for much of the action and doesn't even serve as comic relief - but the others all have distinctive traits and abilities that they put to good use. And the demon is a memorable, shape-shifting creation.
There are also moments of repose and deep feeling - and not everyone survives.
Despite being across all the characters and situations when I went in, I had a good time here - but this is definitely a movie where, for me, less would have been more.