I absolutely loved the Mugen Train film. In fact, I watched it roughly six times. Five of which I was completely inebriated, but that’s beside the point. Had I realized that the film would be re-edited to fit into a televised arc, I probably would have kept myself from watching it so many times. That way, I could have saved some of the magic for the TV version.
I would have skipped it and waited for season two to start properly, but they promised extra music and some new shots. Question is: were those enough to make it worth a rewatch? Or should you just pick one version and stick with that?
The plot of the arc is extremely simple. Tanjiro and friends are sent on a mission to the Mugen Train, where people are going missing on masse. Here, they meet the greatest character in the series, Kyojuro Rengoku, the Flame Hashira. Soon enough, all four are caught in the demon’s trap and sucked into a world of pleasant dreams. Can Tanjiro and the others escape in time to stop the demon?
All of the strengths that made the movie so good are present here, since it’s just the same thing but re-edited. Rengoku’s characterization is absolutely incredible; it still blows my mind how the author managed to make us all love so fiercely this character in such a short amount of time. Tanjiro also gets some great development, as we finally get to see more of his family and see him struggle in letting them go. Inosuke and Zenitsu are mostly played for laughs, and Nezuko’s limited screen time is mostly focused on how cute she is, but all three of them also get to have some badass moments to shine.
Unfortunately, the movie’s flaws are still here, too. Mostly with the villains. Enmu is a forgettable villain and Akaza gets little development, given how he abruptly shows up at the end. They’re both suitably menacing, especially Akaza. But neither has much depth to make them as interesting as previous villains. At least not yet, in the ladder’s case.
Also, I love how characters will constantly jump on top of the train and they’ll land exactly where they jumped off from. As if the train wouldn’t just zoom past beneath them and they’d either land on the back cars or just fall off completely. Anime doesn’t understand physics and it’s hilarious.
Now, let’s talk about the new shots. These add very little to the story. Most of them are so brief that the only add a few seconds to the runtime. They mostly just expand slightly on a scene or give a character one extra shot to strike an action pose and look cool. All of them are completely inconsequential.
I do love the post-credit scenes, though. Those are still great. Even if we don’t get much extra lore this time around.
The same points could be made for the music. The movie already had a jaw-dropping score, and that music is still used here. Only now, there are a few new tracks sprinkled in there every now and again. Those few new tracks are good, but there are so few of them and they’re used so sparingly that you’ll forget they even added music at all. You’d only really notice if you’ve listened to the film’s OST multiple times over.
Like I have.
This isn’t to say that every change has been minor. In fact, this arc opens up with an entire episode that was in neither the film or even the original manga! It’s a short little adventure focusing on Rengoku as he investigates the train and fights a demon. The story is nothing special and the dialogue is kinda wonky at times. But as a massive Rengoku fanboy, it was an absolute delight!
Overall, this version of the Mugen Train arc is fine. It’s just the film, recycled and slightly touched up upon. Which is fine. If you’ve seen the movie, you can skip it. If you haven’t, you can watch this version instead. It’s a perfect bridge for those who never got the chance to experience the film and a fine recap for those who have but haven’t seen it in a while.
For both parties, it is a perfect appetizer for the true beginning of season two.