Whether you're a fan of anime or not, it's likely you've seen pictures and videos from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
Ever since its first season in 2019, the Ufotable hit adaptation of Koyoharu's original manga has taken the internet by storm.
But did you know that Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train (also known internationally as simply Demon Slayer: Mugen Train) holds the record for the highest-grossing Japanese animated film at the global box office?
Establishing itself as a direct follow-up to the first season of the anime series, the movie was distributed by Aniplex and premiered in Japan on 16 October 2020.
Conquering the box office, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train easily surpassed every other anime movie ever released, establishing itself as the highest-grossing anime movie in history.
From the very beginning, backed by an acclaimed first season and a successful manga serialization, the 2020 fantasy was off to a strong start, managing to gross $475,761,339 (£336 m; ¥52 bn) at the global box office as of 28 May 2021, according to The Numbers.
However, the fame of the series continued to grow - and so did its fanbase.
The movie performed so well that it broke the record a second time a few months after the initial success: as of December 2022, it had grossed $506,523,013 (£411 m; ¥69 bn) at the global box office and smashed any previous sum achieved by anime movies ever.
The movie, set in a fictional Japan plagued by demons, follows the protagonist’s journey aboard the Mugen Train.
The train also lends its name to the homonymous arc of the anime.
The plot focuses on Tanjiro Kamado, a young Demon Slayer searching for a cure for his sister after she’s been turned into a demon by Muzan, the same demon who also murdered Tanjiro and Nezuko's mother and siblings.
At the end of the first season, as the movie kicks off, Tanjiro boards the Mugen Train with fellow Demon Slayers Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira.
With the help of his sister, Tanjiro and his friends will face a demon that has infected the train, causing over 40 passengers to go missing, fighting for their lives throughout a long night aboard the train.
The group will also be accompanied by Kyojuro Rengoku, one of the nine Hashira: the highest-ranking and most important fighters in the Demon Slayer Corps.
The movie is packed with action, flashy animations, gut-punching battles and emotional moments (we are looking at you, Rengoku fans).
No surprise, then, that Ufotable’s hit movie didn't only bag a record, but also marked the first time in the history of cinema that a non-Hollywood production topped the annual worldwide box office.
Its success greenlighted the continuation of the animated series, leading up to a second movie (Kimetsu no Yaiba – To the Swordsmith Village, 2023) as well as a third and fourth series (respectively the Entertainment District and Swordsmith Village arcs).
Such an incredible result shattered the previous record held by Shinkai’s Your Name (also known as the original title of Kimi no na wa, Japan, 2016).
The movie, a romantic fantasy anime that has shattered many a heart, was one of the first box office hits that kicked off Shinkai’s directing career.
The story follows two high school students, Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu.
Reaching the incredible sum of $361,024,012 at the global box office in 2018, and snatching a record that had not been broken since 2001, Your Name secured the title for a little over three years before being surpassed by Demon Slayer.
Makoto Shinkai’s latest work, titled internationally Suzume (also known with the original title of Suzume no Tojimari), debuted in 2023.
It quickly became the fourth highest-grossing Japanese film of all time (we are sure you have heard its viral theme song around in the last few months).
Therefore, we can confidently say that animated movies are on the rise - also thanks to social media, which is acting as a potent boost for the anime community across the globe.
Another name that is impossible to not mention whenever anime movies are brought up is Miyazaki’s masterpiece Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Spirited Away, 2001).
Widely known in the Western market as Spirited Away and often regarded as the anime movie that changed the perception of Japanese animation for the wider audience, the film made history by becoming the first anime film to win an Oscar.
The story follows Chihiro, a 10-year-old who accidentally ends up in a bathhouse-inspired supernatural world where humans are turned into pigs.
As she navigates this world of gods, ghosts and spirits, in a fascinating story enriched with beautiful animations and dream-like imaginery, Chihiro will have to find her parents and save herself.
Co-founding the Studio Ghibli in 1985 and producing major names such as My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle, Miyazaki has become one of the most important figures in contemporary in animation.
After the announcement of his retirement in 2014, Miyazaki was also awarded an Honorary Academy Award from the Academy Board of Governors.
"The soundtracks are breathtaking, the characters are charismatic and enduring and the themes are now more relevant than ever in our society," said Eloïse Von Velvet (France), the proud possessor of a record-breaking Studio Ghibli collection, explaining why she loved Miyazaki's creations.
"Princess Mononoke is 25 years old, for example, and it looks like it was directed nowadays."
In 2021, Eloïse broke the record for the largest collection of Studio Ghibli memorabilia.
Displayed in a Studio Ghibli-themed room in her apartment, her collection counts a whopping 1,304 items from across all the movies ever produced by the Japanese animation studio.
Her favourite item is a statue of the black cat Jiji from Kiki's Delivery Service, while the rarest items in her breathtaking collection are working Orgel music boxes from the movie Ponyo.
“Ponyo items are really, really hard to find, it's like the Holy Grail,” she commented.
Unsurprisingly, Studio Ghibli also made history as the most successful foreign-language animation studio.
As of November 2021, it grossed worldwide over $1,395,722,174 (£1,046,950,000) thanks to 19 feature films.
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