Not even a pandemic has been able to prevent an animated film set a century ago from becoming the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, outselling Hollywood blockbusters, the Harry Potter series and even the works of the revered. Japanese entertainer Hayao Miyazaki.
Since its launch in mid-October, Demon Slayer has generated ticket sales of ¥ 32.47bn. [$313m], according to figures published this Monday by its distributors.
Based on the best-selling manga series of the same name, it took the film just 45 days to become the second-highest-grossing film ever in Japan, beating Titanic in late November before claiming the top spot on Spirited Away, the 2001 Studio Ghibli hit. anime directed by Hayao Miyazaki – Monday.
Part of the success of Demon Slayer lies in its compelling story: an old-fashioned tale of good versus evil that follows Tanjiro, a teenager who teams up with a gang of demon fighters to avenge the massacre of most of his family and rescue him. his sister, who herself becomes a demon.
Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train – to give it its full English title and somewhat unwieldy, it may have also benefited from a lack of competition as the spread of Covid-19 around the world forced the studios to stop filming and postpone new releases.
That said, the success of the Haruo Sotozaki-directed film is all the more remarkable precisely because it occurred during the worst period of the outbreak in Japan.
The country kept infections relatively low during the early part of the pandemic, thanks in part to an eight-week state of emergency in April and May.
But it has seen an increase in cases in recent weeks, just as Demon Slayer came close to surpassing the 31.68 billion yen raised by the Oscar-winning Spirited Away.
That, however, didn’t stop people from packaging multiplexes, some of which were showing Demon Slayer dozens of times a day, albeit with restrictions, including wearing masks.
In addition to an inspired merchandising and marketing campaign that featured everything from plastic sword replicas to themed canned coffee, Tanjiro’s resistance resonated with viewers facing off against his own nemesis in the form of viruses.
“In the past, the concept of ‘demon’ was used to embody invisible and terrifying threats, such as diseases and epidemics, including smallpox,” said Yuka Ijima, an assistant professor at Tokyo’s Daito Bunka University who focuses on manga. and psychology. “In general, the movie is about resilience, about overcoming terrible things and having the strength to do it.”
Its delayed launch in October coincided with the end of the first wave of infections. “At a time when there was a certain sense of security,” Ijima added.
Other commenters said audiences associate the protagonist with traditional values that many fear have been forgotten.
“People in high positions act accordingly: ‘nobility obliges’, samurai, etc. Those at the top become a shield for the weaker ones, and they use their strength to protect them, ”said movie commentator Yuichi Maeda. “That is absolutely non-existent in modern Japan.”
The film, set during the Taisho era (1912-26), appeared in 2016 as a manga series in the popular comic book magazine Shonen Jump, and saw its popularity rise when it was adapted for television.
The television series, which is available on Netflix and other streaming services, sparked interest in the film, which picks up the story where the 26-episode television version ended.
While the film failed to break the record at Christmas, as some had predicted, the Demon Slayer fever has continued during the recent surge in infections, even as the record number of daily cases prompted the government to urge people to avoid exits. unnecessary.
Fans lined up in long lines outside stores earlier this month for the 23rd and final volume of the manga series, which has sold more than 120 million copies and has been translated into 14 languages.
The Demon Slayer effect has also been a bright spot in an otherwise difficult year for Japan’s economy, generating an estimated economic impact of at least ¥ 270 billion ($ 2.6 billion), according to the Research Institute of Japan. Dai-Ichi life.
The film is in theaters in Thailand and Taiwan, with dubbed and subtitled versions set to open in the United States and Canada early next year.
Some fans, however, cautioned against making too strong a connection between an animated movie and a deadly virus. Kei, a 25-year-old who watched the film with his sister, attributed its success in part to more people having more free time during the pandemic, but added: “It is a great success because the animation is unique and beautiful. He’s very creative. “
The agencies contributed to the reports.
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