Starting in 2019, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba, the ufotable animated series based on the manga by Koyoharu Gotouge has captured anime fans across the world. With two seasons and a feature film, the series is now ready to head into its third arc. To prepare audiences for Demon Slayer Season 3, the “Swordsmith Village Arc,” Aniplex has put together a theatrical experience for fans of the series to get them ready with Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To the Swordsmith Village.
Demon Slayer: To The Swordsmith Village is the theater event that a lot of fans are confusing for an OVA or feature film, but it isn’t either of those. Instead, this three-episode theatrical event actually offers Episodes 11 and 12 from Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc and Episode 1 of Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc, the series’ third season. Featuring an introduction chronicling when the anime’s release date is really the only theater-specific experience you can get.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, much like Mugen Train, this experience isn’t necessarily going to be the easiest to step into. Picking up at the end of a season and in the middle of a climactic fight, there is much context that you need to understand the importance of the choices made in the episodes that is missing if you haven’t been keeping up. However, given that the series is anything but subtle in its themes and metaphors, ufotable’s “subtext is for cowards” approach to storytelling may help newcomers find some solid ground.
Outside of that, I would be remiss to not point out how outstanding ufotable’s animation is on a big screen. Sure, we know how stunning their use of 3D CGI and traditional animation style came to life in Mugen Train, but there is something about watching episodes you once saw on a television at home blown up to a size that you can capture nuances in movement that you missed before that feels like magic. For Episode 11, the final fight hits hard, and the speed with which it’s animated is breathtaking, as is the balance and use of light as the attacks fly across the screen.
But for Episode 12, the episode’s sound design steals the show. Sure, there is beautiful animation, but the score and emotional atmosphere created by choices in breathing and dialogue that captures the parallel tragedy of Gyotaru and Daki to Tanjiro and Nezuko is something otherworldly to experience in a theater surround sound.
And of course, to fit the name of the event, audiences make it to the Swordsmith Village with the first episode of Demon Slayer Season 3, and it’s astounding. While I still question individual packaging episodes into a theatrical event with nothing new added, from the very beginning of this third episode it’s clear why this format was chosen to premiere Demon Slayer Season 3. Expertly bringing to life the Infinity Castle, the opening use of light and movement (while slightly vertigo-inducing) is absolutely stellar.
A clear example of why anime is as essential to telling a story as the manga itself. With the biwa turning the castle inside itself, flipping and moving the perspective, the audience meets each of the remaining Upper Six Demons. While some are humorous, there is a tension in the biwa’s cutting into the score that keeps the audience engaged, waiting for something big and bad. That’s all Demon Slayer Season 3 Episode 1 does, it keeps you engaged and slowly builds an encroaching danger. It’s foundational, but it’s gorgeous and I’m happy I got to see it on a 50-foot screen.
That said, I have a hard time deciding if Demon Slayer To The Swordsmith Village is worth the price of admission. It’s really just two episodes most fans have already seen that will confuse newcomers, and one episode from the unreleased Season 3. Half of me, the half that loves anime and all that it is, is in love with getting to see ufotable’s animation on the big screen, especially the stunning final fight of Demon Slayer Season 2.
That said, the frugal half of me can’t tell fans to rush to theaters for nothing additional. There are no secret scenes or additions that could make this a “must-see” for fans. It’s a toss-up that makes it hard to rate. But if I were to take Demon Slayer: To The Swordsmith Village in a vacuum, it’s a feat of animation that benefits from theater sound and size. Not to mention the first episode of Demon Slayer features an animation wonder to open.
Demon Slayer: To the Swordsmith Village is playing in select theaters on March 3, 2023.
Demon Slayer: To the Swordsmith Village
- Rating - 7.5/107.5/10
There are no secret scenes or additions that could make this a “must-see” for fans. It’s a toss-up that makes it hard to rate. But if I were to take Demon Slayer: To The Swordsmith Village in a vacuum, it’s a feat of animation that benefits from theater sound and size. Not to mention the first episode of Demon Slayer features an animation wonder to open.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.