Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has officially become one of the biggest hits in manga and anime. This week marks 5 years since Demon Slayer first launched in the pages of Shonen Jump, and in that time the series has set records for global manga sales (150 million copies sold as of 2021; scored high accolades for its anime adaptation (Grand Prize in TV at the 2020 Tokyo Anime Awards Festival); and its creator, Koyoharu Gotouge, has even been recognized by the TIME 100 Next List for 2021. It seems clear that Demon Slayer is carrying the banner for mainstream anime breakthrough - and Hollywood has no doubt taken notice.
So: Will Demon Slayer be Hollywood's next big live-action pursuit? More importantly: should it be?
First, it needs to be established that Demon Slayer is already a box office hit. The new Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train was released last fall, and has crushed all kinds of box office records in Japan. Mugen Train crossed the $100 million mark faster than any film before it and has since become the high-grossing film of all time in Japan - as well as the country's high-grossing IMAX release; it has also been nominated for Japan's Academy Awards. Had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic crushing the American film industry in 2020, we'd likely also be discussing how Demon Slayer's first feature film also crushed stateside.
If Demon Slayer can be so successful in movie theaters as an animated feature - logic would follow that there's massive potential $uccess in a live-action Demon Slayer Hollywood feature-film.
At its core, Demon Slayer has the necessary components for box office success. It's one part horror film and one part samurai martial arts action. Both are proven successes with viewers, yet it's been long enough that samurai martial arts action in Hollywood blockbuster form would still feel like something fans haven't seen onscreen in a long time (arguably since Zack Snyder's divisive dabbling in the genre for his 2011 film Sucker Punch. And Demon Slayer's Samurai/Ninja vs. demon action is definitely not a version of swordplay that's ever been featured in movies.
On that same point: one big thing that's helped distinguish Demon Slayer in both manga and anime forms is the series unique system of combat. The heroic Demon Slayer Corps battle with special "Breathing Styles" that transform their swordplay into powerful (and gorgeously animated) elemental attacks; conversely, high-level demons use "Blood Demon Art" techniques, which are spells that unleash horrific and/or gory damage. The visuals surrounding Demon Slayer's duels and battles between the Breathing Styles and Blood Demon Arts are so unique, distinct, and exciting that it would be a monumental challenge for a Hollywood film to adapt - but the visual payoff could lead to global box office glory.2comments
At the moment, Hollywood seems ready to let go of the mistakes of the past (whitewashed casting, not honoring the source material) and give manga/anime (and international story forms as a whole) a more authentic approach to how they're adapted. With Attack on Titan getting a Hollywood film, it seems that it's all but inevitable for Demon Slayer to be tapped for movie adaptation all too soon. After all, Hollywood does love to strike while a property is hot...
Demon Slayer's Season 2 anime is slated to premiere this year.