To ride or not to ride is an easy choice if you already love or hate Demon Slayer, but what if your feelings are somewhere in the middle?

Even though Universal Studios Japan has the appeal of Hollywood movie magic in its name, many of most popular attractions at the Osaka theme park are salutes to domestic-grown hits. Over the past few years, USJ has been partnering with a constant stream of anime and video game franchises, and right now they’ve got a collaboration going with the most popular animated series in Japan, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

The recently opened Demon Slayer XR Ride is USJ’s latest VR motion ride/roller coaster-like attraction. Specifically, it’s based on Mugen Train, the anime’s first theatrical feature and the highest-grossing movie of all time in Japan. That synergy makes the Demon Slayer XR Ride the first thing Demon Slayer fans want to hop on once they get inside USJ, resulting in waits as long as six hours and 20 minutes!

But what if you’re not a huge, pre-existing Demon Slayer fan? That was the situation our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun found himself in on his recent visit to the park. Sure, he’s read the manga, and he thought it was fun, but honestly he’s not quite sure why Demon Slayer has become the huge pop cultural phenomenon that it has. In particular, he’s confused as to why so many people have latched onto Kyojuro Rengoku, who plays a major role in Mugen Train, as their favorite character, since P.K. preferred the manga’s scenes for Gyomei Himejima, Tengen Uzi, and even Genya Shinazugawa.

▼ Rengoku, despite his flame-based powers, didn’t set P.K.’s heart on fire in the manga.

So while he doesn’t dislike Demon Slayer, he wouldn’t call himself a fan either, so would he still be able to enjoy the ride? He wasn’t sure, but when he got off, he described the experience as:

“Soooo awesome!”

So what makes the ride so great? P.K. says there are three key factors. As mentioned above, Demon Slayer XR Ride is a VR attraction, where you slip on a headset and see animated visuals while the ride is in motion. The synch-up between what you’re seeing and how the ride is moving is practically flawless, creating a feeling of speed and weight that convinces your body you’re actually riding along with the Demon Slayer cast on the titular train.

Second, the designers have done an amazing job utilizing the 360-degree field of vision allowed with a VR headset. A less dedicated team might have been tempted to put all their focus on what’s happening straight ahead and leave the other angles detail-barren and dull, but no matter which way P.K. looked, up, down, left, or right, he was rewarded with an awesome view.

And finally…

he finally gets why so many people are Rengoku fans. “The timing of when he shows up,” P.K. says, “he’s like a batter coming up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and the bases loaded. It’s paralyzingly cool.”

▼ All of a sudden, fellow reporter Seiji Nakazawa’s Rengoku hairstyle makeover doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea.

So for a non-fan, is the Demon Slayer XR Ride worth a six-hour-plus wait? P.K. can’t say for sure, since, lucky press pass-holder that he was, he didn’t have to wait nearly that long. Theoretically speaking, he does think it’s worth at least a three-hour wait, and if you are a huge fan of the series, you can probably tack even more time onto that.

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[ Read in Japanese ]