The story of a boy battling human-eating demons who murdered his family, Demon Slayer is set to become Japan’s highest-grossing film, thanks to an increase in fan numbers due to the pandemic of coronavirus and its message of resilience.
Based on a popular manga and animated television series, the film created a spin-off industry and won over fans with its nod to Japanese traditions that people fear they will miss today.
“People in high positions act on that – ‘Noblesse oblige’, samurai and so on. Those at the top become a shield for the weak, using their strength to protect them, ”said film commentator Yuichi Maeda.
“It is absolutely lacking in modern Japan. “
Demon Slayer is set to overtake Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Japan’s highest-grossing film in nearly two decades.
According to data on Monday, the film – whose full title is Kimetsu no Yaiba – Mugen no Resshahen and released on October 16 – grossed a total of 30.28 billion yen ($ 291 million), under $ 30. , 8 billion yen for Spirited Away, by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli.
It has already opened in a few Asian countries and will head to the United States and Canada early next year.
The Demon Slayer manga series, which ran from 2016 to 2020 in a magazine and published in a book series, has sold over 100 million copies of the first 22 books. Fans lined up for the 23rd volume when it went on sale earlier this month.
But the impact didn’t stop there, said Toshihiro Nagahama, senior economist at the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute, which estimated an economic impact of at least 270 billion yen as of Dec. 3.
Of that amount, some 130 billion yen was for related goods such as toys, with a sword launched by Bandai Namco Holdings – which also produced a Demon Slayer series of its longtime hit Tamagotchi – flying off store shelves. .
A less obvious winner is Dydo Group Holdings, whose Demon Slayer-themed canned coffee has proven so popular that it has revised its profit forecast for this fiscal year upward to 2.5 billion yen from 500. million yen.
Sony Corp, whose music unit is co-distributor, has also taken a boost.
Although the film’s opening was postponed due to the pandemic, the delay worked to its advantage as parents, stuck at home during Japan’s soft lockdown in the spring, heard about the franchise from their children. . With free time, they read and watched the series in bursts on streaming services.
“It interested the whole family, it was something they could talk about at home,” said Yuka Ijima, assistant professor at Daito Bunka University.
Ijima noted that demons first appeared in Japanese folklore as a symbol of disease, and said the story’s message resonated with audiences.
“Overall it’s about resilience, overcoming terrible things and the strength to do it,” she said.
This post is similar to Spirited Away, when a girl finds herself alone after her parents turn into pigs, said Kaoru Endo, a sociologist at Gakushuin University – but with one crucial difference.
“I think the meaning is less that we have to fight to get over things than just living is good,” she said. “You just have to go through tough situations – and that is helping everyone right now. “
Fans gathered at a downtown Tokyo cinema agreed.
“There are a lot of people suffering in the current situation,” said Yohei Suzuki, 38, and office worker. “I don’t think the story was intentionally made for these people, but it… might lift people’s spirits.”