The biggest Japanese box office hit of all time finally makes its way across the Pacific.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, the franchise’s first theatrical feature, was an astounding success at the Japanese box office. Considering the overall depressed state of the theater industry in 2020,being the country’s number-one movie of the year ordinarily would have been a diminished accomplishment, but Mugen Train managed to overcome those odds and become not just the highest-grossing film for 2020, but the highest-grossing movie of all time in Japan.

But on the flipside, tighter restrictions on movie theaters in North America during the pandemic mean that Mugen Train is yet to debut in the U.S., save for a brief February Oscar-qualifying run at one theater in Miami. But that’s all changing next month, as distributors Aniplex USA and Funimation have announced that Mugen Train will be coming to U.S. theaters on April 23, and releasing for digital streaming on June 22.

The U.S. theatrical release comes roughly six months after the film’s Japanese premiere, and American audiences will be able to watch it in both English-subtitled and English-dubbed formats, depending on specific screening time/location.

▼ The English-dubbed trailer

It’ll be interesting to see if Mugen Train can achieve the same cultural-phenomenon level of success in the U.S. as it has in Japan. An unusual aspect of the film is that unlike other landmark anime hits, such as Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away or Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, Mugen Train isn’t a stand-alone, self-contained story. As a direct follow-up to the first arc of the Demon Slayer TV series, and the direct lead-in to the upcoming second season, its greatest appeal is to pre-existing fans of the franchise, and even in Japan the primary reaction has been more that it’s an extremely entertaining action/adventure movie rather than an example of high art.

Also worth noting is that while Mugen Train is getting an R rating for its U.S. release, meaning that viewers under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, in Japan it carries the much softer PG12 rating, specifying only that parental guidance is recommended for viewers younger than 12. The different ratings are a reflection of differing societal norms, not any difference in content between the Japanese and U.S. versions of the film, but it also ties in to the fact that a sizable part of Demon Slayer’s in-Japan fanbase is made up of elementary school children, with a portion of the franchise’s marketing targeting them. So while teen and adult anime fans are the most likely audiences to repeat-watch Mugen Train in theaters, kids and accompanying parents were also contributing to Mugen Train’s box office success and resulting command of the pop culture spotlight in Japan, something that’s probably not as likely to happen in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Japanese-market Blu-ray release of Mugen Train is coming on June 16, and includes English subtitles.

Source, images: YouTube/Aniplex USA
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s kind of disappointed the official English title isn’t Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Gekijoban: Mugen Train: Infinite Ressha.