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 coronavirus pandemic 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 it – ‘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 Monday’s data, the film – whose full title is “Kimetsu no Yaiba – Mugen no Densha” and was released on October 16 – grossed a total of 30.28 billion yen ($ 291 million), minus of the 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 related to 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 – which is flying high. store shelves.
A less obvious winner is Dydo Group Holdings, whose “Demon Slayer”-themed canned coffee proved so popular that it revised its profit forecast for this fiscal year upwards from 500 million yen to 2.5 billion yen.
Sony Corp., whose music unit is co-distributor, has also taken a boost.
Although the film’s opening was pushed back 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 illness 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 times – 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.”