Demon Slayer movie proves animated movies can cover canon arcs
Following the success of the Demon Slayer movie, other franchises seem keen to release canon movies as well.
In October 2020, Demon Slayer: Infinity Train hit Japanese theaters and quickly took the entire Japanese film industry by storm. While the film is yet to be released in North America, the hype has spread to other international countries, generating record success. Demon Slayer: Infinity Train adapts the Mugen Train arc from the manga, making it a must-have for anyone following the series.
Following a story in the manga makes the movie canon, which was previously rare. Most of the movies attached to a franchise are just filler or just an epic side story. Although they existed before, as in the case of Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shambala, which concluded the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist series, they were still very much in the minority. Following Infinity trainmassive success of, other franchises like Jujutsu kaisen and Black clover have announced films that will follow arcs in their respective manga, making them canonical. Let’s discuss this increase in canonical movies connecting the seasons and what it might mean for the future of the anime.
A canonical movie adapts a story from the source material, turning it into a movie rather than part of a season. In the past, animated films were mostly side stories and were generally about longer and more popular series like Dragon ball and Naruto. These films feature original stories starring the same group of characters in a completely new situation for anime watchers and manga readers. Often times, they are created alongside the original author of the manga or light novel so that the narrative and tone is consistent with the main story. At the same time, they are a fun and optional watch to understand the bigger story.
Along with the idea of canon animated movies becoming more popular, that will of course create more hype around a movie that will then be called a must-have to keep watching a franchise. It will offer fans the opportunity to experience the story in a movie set with incredible sound, surrounded by other fans of the series. This creates more box office revenue for the studios because, generally, you wouldn’t need to see an animated movie to understand the rest of the franchise if it’s not canon.
With a theatrical release, the film will likely get a bigger budget, promising higher quality production. Additionally, if the suitable arc is short, it may be better formatted for an epic movie. For example, Demon slayerMugen’s Mugen Train arc is quite short in the manga and works well as a simple movie to bridge the show into the series next season.
In contrast, a movie takes months to get a North American release date. In addition, watching animated films in cinemas is not accessible to everyone due to their limited circulation and the fact that only certain cinemas show animated films. Plus, if you miss it in theaters, you’ll have to wait several more months for its release on a legal streaming platform like Crunchyroll or Funimation. Additionally, longer arcs would likely not work in a movie format and are more suited to traditional seasonal release.
Unlike anime seasons which are chronologically labeled, movies are not, which can confuse fans new to a particular series. For example, for someone who enters Demon slayer, it’s easy to think that the correct viewing order is season 1, then season 2. However, this is season 1, Infinity train, then Season 2. Unfortunately, that confusion will follow the franchises as they continue to release canon movies. However, there will be exceptions like the Jujutsu kaisen film, which will follow volume 0 – a prequel to the series. Here, the movie will likely be viewable no matter where you are in the series.
Although there have been a lot of recent canonical films like Konosuba: God’s blessing on this wonderful world! Legend of the Crimson and Rascal does not dream of Bunny Girl Senpai the movie play as a sequel to their respective series; It is Demon Slayer: Infinity Train which encouraged other franchises to popularize canonical animated film production due to its extraordinary success.
While the format that best suits a particular arc (a movie or an entire season) depends on the story being told, canonical animated films offer a unique opportunity and are quickly becoming a new trend. Fans can therefore expect more announcements to be made in the future.
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