During the opening scene of ‘Guardians of the Night: Infinity Train’, two characters walk through a cemetery designed to confuse the eye and to interpret its vegetation as real. The strenuous walk of one of the characters, the dying Oyakata-sama, is accompanied by his words, names of already deceased friends who follow each other in static planes that allow close observation of excellent backgrounds, in striking contrast to the traces of the characters.
It is then curious that a movie apparently devoted to action divided into three variegated and baroque acts -or, at least, that is the previous idea around anime films of popular sagas- start with a haven of peace before an apparent jolt that, in reality, does not arrive as we might expect. Even more so considering that the story of ‘Kimetsu no Yaiba’ responds religiously to the strictest codes of manganime for young boys, exacerbated almost to parody.
This peculiar proposal, which could be even paradoxical as it reveals in its springs a new set of expectations that cannot be fulfilled, subverts the usual cinematographic rhythms in this type of productions, much more focused on the pleasure of the fandom of the moment and the consequent box office success than on possible extensions of their universes or proposals of a certain depth or depth about their own implications -in the case of the film, sleep and lethargy in front of a stoic overcoming.
The film’s striking narrative treatment actually responds to a simpler question: the story of ‘Night Watch: Infinity Train’ is not an original invention and not canonical with respect to the work of Koyoharu Gotoge, but continues with the adaptation of the manga after the outcome of its first season. In other words: the film covers the Infinity Train arc in its two hours of footage (chapters 14 to 19 of the manga), becoming a sort of sum of what would correspond, by time, to between five and six television episodes .
Something that, although it falls like May water for anime fans, makes ‘Guardians of the Night: Infinity Train’ an enjoyable film but lacking in information for neophytes. Paradoxically, This factor also explains the historical success of the film at the Japanese box office., in which it has surpassed ‘Your Name’ and ‘Spirited Away’: the fans of the series, waiting to know more about the history of Tanjiro, Nezuko and company in their fights against demons since the end of During the show’s first season, they eagerly read the manga to find out what would happen, and flocked to movie theaters to finally see its characters on the big screen.
Narrative and aesthetic continuity of a good-natured and motley story
Fly over the film that unnatural feeling of a structure that doesn’t look like what we might expect, and that raises a certain illusion for the breaking of the mold of a saga so forceful in its approaches and plot skeletons as lacking in originality in them.
Thus, the film allows interesting re-readings on ‘Kimetsu no Yaiba’, which could be interpreted as a study of the narrative of the Japanese magazine manga, the story that aspires to bring together a young male audience through a fantastic universe in which its protagonist is goodness personified and unshakable to exacerbated levels.
Perhaps this naive and good-natured character, the indisputable mark of history, marks the taste for it according to the capacity of the viewer to connect with those values. And, as happened in other highly popular shonen such as ‘One Piece’, ‘Naruto’ or ‘Dragon Ball’, in ‘Kimetsu no Yaiba’ the stereotypes are reproduced in a faithful and variegated way, elevated in their motivations to levels in which multidimensionality disappears even when present due to the difficulty of suspending disbelief in the face of the grays raised with little elegance.
This, of course, does not detract from the values of the film, something predictable if the viewer is seasoned in the structures of anime but with brushstrokes of great aesthetic value in the design of some of its animations. The work of ufotable, a studio that was in charge of the first season and is already working on the second, maintains the standards in those already presented in the first installment, with inspired animations with tune ukiyo-e in battles in what are probably the most interesting sections of the film.
Thus, ‘Guardians of the Night: Infinite Train’ bets on the total continuity: Beyond the narrative, the film walks along an aesthetic path in tune with what is proposed in the series, which, a priori, can be disconcerting. And it is that, although in many films born for the exploitation of universes of popular anime sagas the production values are considerably higher, the case of ‘Infinite Train’ has nothing to do with it: film and series are almost indistinguishable in terms of animation, which speaks very well of the work done in the first season and reiterates the commitment to maintain that line on the tape.
There is also some frustration with the late appearance of Rengoku, a minor who has barely had screen time until the film, which is also a carbon copy of the mentor role in classic anime. His role, yes, it seems wasted when compressing the entire arc that accommodates the film, and it seems that he could have given more of himself with interesting disquisitions that would expand the good character of the series due to its resistance and perseverance, values that would well explain the popularity of the story in a year as dark as 2020.
‘Watchmen of the Night: Infinity Train’: the anime that broke all records in pandemic
The dizzying figures of ‘Night’s Watch: Infinity Train’, which It already adds up to almost 40 billion yen raised just in Japanese theaters (in exchange, just over 300 million euros), they still have room to increase with their premiere in Europe and the United States after their meteoric career in the Asian Pacific region. And it is that already in its first weekend, the film managed to beat all the premiere records in Japan, reaching more than 37 million euros at the box office in just three days and surpassing the third most successful film in less than a week in Japanese theaters during 2020.
It is true that the film was exceptional in every way before the expectation already fulfilled that it would be a success, as reflected by the policy of the popular Japanese distribution chain Toho Cinemas and quite a few theaters with the removal of seating restrictions for the opening weekend. Thus, more than four hundred Japanese cinemas screened the film, some of them showing up to 42 sessions a day and, even so, there were long queues to get tickets due to the difficulty of buying them online.
The conversion of ‘Kimetsu no Yaiba’ into one of the most popular IPs of Shueshia, the publisher that published the manga through its Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, also explains the success not only of the film but of the shared media universe of the entire saga. Hence the film’s overwhelming leadership at the box office is directly related to the dominance of manga in the Japanese publishing market, where the saga has sold in 2020 more than 80 million copies according to Oricon ranking, an amount that exceeds the sum of the rest of the top 20 on the list, and that without adding the digital copies.
This peculiar phenomenon therefore has roots in its wide local popularity, and we will have to wait for results from the European and American box office to see if it is capable of internationally endorsing the success it has already achieved in theaters in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, where it has collected, to date, more than 435 million dollars. A success that, yes, is already a milestone after having surpassed ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Your name’, and that has elevated the naive goodness and spirit of resistance of ‘Night’s Watch: Infinity Train’ to history medium.