• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

New Escapist Column! On What “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” Bodes for the Future of Anime…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which is both the highest grossing movie of 2020 at the global box office and the highest grossing film of all-time at the Japanese box office.

The success of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is striking, because it is a very different sort of anime movie than the kind that normally breaks out. The Japanese box office has traditionally been dominated by anime films like Your Name, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle and others. The anime films that have typically broken out global are movies like Akira or Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion. These are all films with a very strong artistic viewpoint and a very consciously artisanal approach to storytelling.

In contrast, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is a much more conventional sort of blockbuster in a much more modern style. It is a film written by a group credited under the corporate brand “Ufotable” and adapted from a manga written by an unknown author. It picks up directly from a television series, serving as a bridge between two seasons, with little attempt to orient casual viewers as to the character or plot. It is difficult to discern what exactly Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is saying about the world or even just about Japan, except for the broadest sorts of platitudes about duty and service.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train feels like a cultural shift, representing a transition within Japanese popular animation that arguably just reflects broader shifts within global culture over the past decade or so. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

241. Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Ressha-Hen (Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train) – This Just In (#238)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Graham Day and Bríd Martin, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Haruo Sotozaki’s Demon Slayer – The Movie: Mugen Train.

Following a series of mysterious disappearances on a train from Tokyo to Mugen, three young demon slayers are dispatched to investigate possible supernatural influences. The three quickly team up with a veteran soldier in the battle against evil, and discover just how quickly their mission can go off the rails.

At time of recording, it was ranked 238th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

235. Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) – Ani-May 2021 (#28)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Deirdre Molumby, Graham Day and Bríd Martin, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This year, we are proud to continue the tradition of Anime May, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. This year, we watched a double feature of the last two anime movies on the list, Hayao Miyazaki’s Mononoke-hime and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi.

This week, the second part of the double bill, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, perhaps Miyazaki’s breakthrough to western audiences.

Chihiro is moving to a new town and a new school. Her parents take a detour down a dirt road and stumble across a mysterious abandoned theme park. Chihiro quickly finds herself trapped in a weird world of spirits, witches and dragons. She needs to learn to navigate this mysterious setting and maybe find a way home.

At time of recording, it was ranked 28th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

234. Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke) – Ani-May 2021 (#69)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Deirdre Molumby, Graham Day and Bríd Martin, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This year, we are proud to continue the tradition of Anime May, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. This year, we watched a double feature of the last two anime movies on the list, Hayao Miyazaki’s Mononoke-hime and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi.

This week, the first part of the double bill, Mononoke-hime, the last film before Miyazaki’s first announced retirement.

A freak demon attack disturbs the peace of a remote village, and places a curse on a young prince. The hero must venture into the larger world in search of a cure, and quickly finds himself embroiled in a struggle between industrialisation and nature, between city and forest, between man and god.

At time of recording, it was ranked 69th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

182. Hauru no ugoku shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle) – Ani-May 2020 (#134)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Graham Day and Bríd Martin, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This year, we are proud to continue the tradition of Anime May, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. This year, we watched a double feature of Hayao Miyazaki’s Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta and Hauru no ugoku shiro. We’ll also be covering a bonus on a recent entry on the list next week, Naoko Yamada’s Koe no katachi.

This week, the second part of the double bill, Hauru no ugoku shiro, Miyazaki’s first film after the breakout success of Spirited Away.

Chance encounters with both a mysterious young wizard and spiteful old witch find Sophie Hatter cursed. The eighteen-year-old young woman finds herself trapped in the body of a ninety-year-old crone. Never one to be defeated or outwitted, Sophie embarks on an adventure to lift the curse that takes her into the wilderness and to the heart of a majestic ambulatory castle inhabited by a fascinating bunch of misfits. As war simmers on the horizon, Sophie finds herself drawn to the temperamental but sensitive young magician Howl, but can they ever find peace?

At time of recording, it was ranked 134th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

181. Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta (Laputa: Castle in the Sky) – Ani-May 2020 (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Graham Day and Bríd Martin, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This year, we are proud to continue the tradition of Anime May, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. This year, we watched a double feature of Hayao Miyazaki’s Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta and Hauru no ugoku shiro. We’ll also be covering a bonus on a recent entry on the list, Naoko Yamada’s Koe no katachi.

This week, the first part of the double bill, Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta, the first official Studio Ghibli film.

Perhaps overshadowed by the movies either side of it – Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind preceding it and My Neighbour Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies following it – Castle in the Sky is in some ways an archetypal Hayao Miyazaki film. What begins as a chance encounter between a lonely boy and a girl who falls to Earth evolves into a fable about the perils of militarism and the importance of environmentalism.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

126. Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind) – Anime April 2019 (#216)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Graham Day and Marianne Cassidy, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This year, we are proud to continue the tradition of Anime April, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. This year, we watched a double feature of Hayao Miyazaki’s Kaze no tani no Naushika and Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s Akira.

This week, the first part of the double bill, Kaze no tani no Naushika, celebrating its thirty-fifth anniversary.

Unofficially and retroactively folded into the Studio Ghibli canon, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was only Hayao Miyazaki’s second film. Nevertheless, it demonstrated remarkable confidence. It also signalled a lot of the director’s interests, with its tale of a strong young woman navigating the aftermath of a horrific environmental disaster and trying to prevent a new war from breaking out.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 216th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

73. Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) – Anime April 2018 (#57)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Graham Day and Marianne Cassidy, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This year, we are proud to announce Anime April, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. We hope to make this an annual event. This year, we watched a double feature of Isao Takahata’s Hotaru no haka and Hayao Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of their original release in April 1988. This week, the first part of the double bill, Hotaru no haka.

Regarded as one of the most affecting animated films ever made, Grave of the Fireflies tells the story of two children caught in the middle of the United States’ firebombing of Japan. Adapted from Akiyuki Nosaka’s semi-autobiographical novella of the same name, Grave of the Fireflies is a harrowing portrayal of the consequences of war, particularly upon those in need of society’s protection.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 57th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

54. Kimi no na wa (Your Name) – This Just In (#82)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Marianne Cassidy and Graham Day, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no na wa.

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Wind Rises

Best known in Europe and America for beautiful animated fantasies like Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle or Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki has opted for something a little bit different with his final – heavily publicised as “farewell” – film. The Wind Rises has touches of fantasy and looks absolutely beautiful, it represents a different sort of animated film. More of a historical drama and romance than an escapist fantasy, The Wind Rises is a thoughtful exploration of Japan in the lead-up to the Second World War.

Focusing on Mitsubishi aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi, the film is a lavish animated period drama about the construction of the infamous Japanese “Zero Fighter” – the A6M Zero. The fighter of choice during the Second World War, The Wind Rises notes that the pilots flying those planes never came back as the film reflects on the social context of Japan’s march towards war, and the characters caught in the middle like an umbrella trapped in a strong wind.

thewindrises3

Continue reading