Blockbuster shonen anime series Demon Slayer will be returning for a second season this year – building on the runaway popularity of its debut 2019 season and the 2020 feature film Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.
Based on the highly popular manga of the same name by Koyoharu Gotouge, Demon Slayer was adapted into anime and its 26-episode first season released in 2019. Its story, dealing with a young boy’s quest to save his sister amid a brutal war between humans and demons, continued as a feature film in 2020’s Mugen Train.
To say the film was a success is an understatement: it became Japan’s highest-grossing film ever, beating the likes of Spirited Away and Titanic. It also became the second ever anime film to hit No. 1 at the US box office, and according to box office data site The Numbers, was the No. 1 movie from 2020 worldwide – the first non-Hollywood movie to ever reign over the global box office in cinematic history. It was even named Japan’s submission for Best Animated Feature Film to the 93rd Academy Awards.
There’s no doubt fans are hotly anticipating the second season, which is set to return sometime this year. Here’s what we know about the upcoming season of Demon Slayer.
- Aniplex to give updates on Demon Slayer at Aniplex Online Fest 2021 on July 4
- Season two of Demon Slayer to premiere later this year
- A trailer for the second season of Demon Slayer was broadcasted on Japanese streaming service Abema TV
- Animation studio Ufotable to return to work on second season of Demon Slayer
Spoilers for the first season of Demon Slayer and the Mugen Train movie follow.
What is Demon Slayer about?
Set in Taisho-era Japan, Demon Slayer’s plot follows the epic saga of Tanjirou Kamado, a kind-hearted teen who, upon returning home one day, finds his entire family slaughtered by invading demons. Worst of all, he finds that his sister, Nezuko, has been turned into a bloodthirsty demon herself. Swearing to avenge her, he vows to become a top-class demon slayer and find a way to restore her to human form.
After bone-breaking training by retired elite demon slayer Sakonji Urokodaki, Tanjirou qualifies to join the Demon Slayer Corps and meets fellow demon slayers that become his companions: the cowardly yet secretly skilful Zenitsu Agatsuma, and the fiery Inosuke Hashibira, a short-tempered boy raised by a family of boars. Soon, Tanjirou discovers the true identity of his nemesis, the mastermind behind his parents’ gruesome murder: Muzan Kibutsuji, the first Demon King and the progenitor of all demons in existence.
As Tanjirou eases into the world of the Demon Slayer Corps, he learns about the Hashira, the Corps’ most elite demon slayers, as well as the existence of the Twelve Kizuki (blood moons), an organisation of the strongest demons under Muzan’s command.
Throughout his journey, Tanjirou is accompanied by Nezuko – who appears to be able to curb her demonic cravings for human flesh and blood, and is even fiercely protective of her brother and other human beings. Tanjirou’s devotion to his sister puts him at odds with some members of the Hashira, who refuse to believe a demon ally like Nezuko could exist.
Demon Slayer season 1 was first premiered from April to September 2019. Watch the first season’s trailer here:
What is the Demon Slayer: Mugen Train movie about?
Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train is notable as an anime movie that is not a spin-off from the main narrative, but a continuation of the existing storyline. Be warned – there are spoilers in this section.
Mugen Train picks up where season 1 left off, and opens on Tanjirou, Nezuko and their comrades Zenitsu and Inosuke embarking on a mission onboard the titular passenger train. Accompanied by Flame Hashira Kyojurou Rengoku, a fiery yet compassionate elite demon slayer, they investigate the demon that has caused over 40 people to mysteriously vanish from the Mugen Train.
The demon wreaking havoc on the Mugen Train turns out to be Enmu, a lower-ranked demon of the Twelve Kizuki who manipulates sleep and dreams. The demon slayers fall under his spell, and Enmu blackmails passengers into breaking into the slayers’ dreams and attempting to permanently sever their connections to the waking world.
Eventually, the slayers manage to break free, and Tanjirou begins a battle with Enmu, who as it turns out has fused his entire body with the Mugen Train itself. Though the slayers manage to defeat Enmu, a more senior demon from the Twelve Kizuki appears and mortally wounds Kyojurou in a titanic clash. The Flame Hashira encourages Tanjirou and his comrades before he dies.
Watch the trailer for Mugen Train here:
What will the Demon Slayer season 2 be about?
Titled Yuukaku-hen (literally, Red-Light District Arc), the anime’s second season is expected to pick up where Mugen Train left off and adapt the corresponding storylines of the Demon Slayer manga. Tengen Uzui, the Hashira with special abilities to command sound and the character prominently featured in a key visual shared by the show, will be a driving character in Yuukaku-hen’s plot.
In the season’s plotline, the core protagonists travel with the senior demon slayer to Yoshiwara, Japan’s famed red-light district, to track down a demon that has been terrorising the area. Along the way, the second season promises to delve further into the complicated world of the Hashira – with significant developments for Tanjirou and Nezuko along the way.
What is the release date for Demon Slayer season 2?
The second season of Demon Slayer will be released in 2021, though no specific date has been confirmed. We may find out more very soon, as Aniplex confirmed on May 28 that it will share updates about Demon Slayer during its Aniplex Online Fest on July 4 (Japan time).
The first round of #AOF2021 programming is here!
👹 Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
⚔️ Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night
✨ Fate/Grand Order ANIME PROJECT
🎀 Madoka Magica x Magia Record
Stay up to date by visiting https://t.co/gJRUhg1WUv !
— Aniplex of America (@aniplexUSA) May 28, 2021
The release window first was unveiled in a post by the show’s official Twitter account in February, complete with a key visual that prominently features Uzui, foreshadowing his starring role in the second season’s narrative.
【『鬼滅の刃』遊郭編 2021年 テレビアニメ化決定！】
▼TVアニメ「鬼滅の刃」遊郭編 第1弾PV 2021年放送開始https://t.co/UlaumARxPq
— 鬼滅の刃公式 (@kimetsu_off) February 14, 2021
Is there a trailer for Demon Slayer season 2?
Yes, there is. The official trailer for Demon Slayer season 2 was revealed on February 14, alongside an official announcement in Kimetsu-Sai Online: Anime 2nd Anniversary Festival, a special online event that aired on Japanese streaming service Abema TV.
While the official trailer remains geo-blocked, fans have uploaded it on YouTube with English subtitles. Uzui narrates the shamisen-soundtracked trailer, which features cuts of Zenitsu and Tanjirou preparing for battle amid the iconic geishas of Yoshiwara. Watch the unofficial upload below:
Who is involved in Demon Slayer season 2?
The starring voice actors in the first season have been confirmed to reprise their roles in the sequel. This includes the series’ demon slayer protagonists: Natsuki Hanae as Tanjirou, Hiro Shimono as Zenitsu, and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as the fiery Inosuke. Tengen Uzui, the arc’s leading Hashira, will be voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi of Fairy Tail and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure fame. Haruo Sotozaki will also return as director.
Animation studio Ufotable will also work on the second season of Demon Slayer. The studio, which was previously known for the Fate series, was responsible for the show’s impeccably animated fight sequences that won acclaim and social media buzz: the climactic battle in its notable 19th episode, for instance, became a trending topic on social media during Demon Slayer’s initial run.
How can I watch Demon Slayer season two?
Demon Slayer season 1 was broadcasted weekly for Japanese viewers on a slew of over 20 local TV channels in late-night (11:30pm) slots, including Tokyo MX, GTV, GYT and BS11. It’s still unconfirmed if this will be the case for the new season.
It is also unconfirmed if season 2 will be available to the rest of the world at the same time it rolls out on Japanese TV. Aniplex of America licensed the first season in April 2019, and as such season 1 was simulcasted on Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Funimation. Several other streaming services also licensed the show for viewers in the rest of the world, and Netflix delivered the anime series to even larger global audiences when the series landed on the streamer in January 2020.
While you wait for Demon Slayer season 2, catch up on season 1 and Mugen Train. You can watch the first season on Netflix here. As for Mugen Train, the film will hit British theatres on May 26. The film has also been running in American theatres since April 23, and in Australian cinemas since February 25. Mugen Train is also earmarked for digital release on June 22, arriving on platforms including Apple TV, Google Play and Amazon.
Alternatively, you can also watch the recently released recompilation specials online to catch up, which recap the first season’s three-story arcs: the Sibling’s Bond Arc, Mt. Natagumo Arc and The Hashira Meeting Arc. For viewers in the United States, Canada, UK, Ireland, Brazil, and Mexico, the specials are streamable on Funimation. For Australian and New Zealand viewers, Animelab will carry the specials.
Just how popular were Demon Slayer season 1 and the Mugen Train movie?
Since the 2019 premiere of its anime adaptation, Demon Slayer has rocketed in popularity to become a cultural phenomenon – not only in Japan, but worldwide. The manga is published by Weekly Shonen Jump, and series from this publisher has always tended to be widely popular in Japan and abroad (for instance, beloved classics such as Naruto and Bleach). Demon Slayer’s success – and mainstream crossover appeal – has been nothing short of historic.
In December 2020, Mugen Train became Japan’s highest-grossing movie of all time, selling over 27million tickets for a cumulative total of 37.1billion yen (about US$351.6 million). In doing so, Mugen Train shattered the record set by historic blockbusters including Titanic, Spirited Away and Your Name. Its popularity wasn’t just limited to home turf as well – it was also the second anime film after Pokemon: The First Movie ever to hit No. 1 in the US box office, and as of May 13 has raked in over $40million.
Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train passes $40M at the North American box office! 🔥
— Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (English) (@DemonSlayerUSA) May 12, 2021
Mugen Train spent 12 weeks straight at No. 1 at the Japanese box office, success that was partly bolstered by its timing: its October 16, 2020 release date coincided with the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions on Japanese movie theatres. As Asahi Shinbun and Japan Times reported, while in cinemas, Mugen Train faced little competition from Hollywood movies due to delayed schedules stateside. All these factors contributed to Mugen Train’s runaway popularity in Japan – there were even claims of theatres screening the film more than 40 times on opening day.
As Demon Slayer gained popularity, the first season’s opening theme, LiSA’s ‘Gurenge,’ also managed to shoot into J-pop’s mainstream. It peaked at No. 3 on the Oricon Charts, and it became ubiquitous even among pre-schoolers. As testament to its mainstream appeal, the singer was even booked to perform the song at NHK’s Kouhaku Uta Gassen, an annual New Year’s Eve programme broadcast nationwide, its viewing long-considered a tradition in Japanese culture.
LiSA’s theme song for Mugen Train, ‘Homura’, also broke weekly streaming records on Billboard Japan’s streaming chart, shooting to No. 1 on the Japan Hot 100 and even charting on the Billboard Global 200. Details on the music for season 2 have yet to be revealed.
Perhaps the most revealing indicator of Demon Slayer’s widespread domestic appeal is this curious statistic: in a poll that surveyed 7,661 Japanese primary-schoolers on the people they admired most, Tanjirou took first place, beating out mums by 618 votes. In fact, seven of the top 10 choices were Demon Slayer characters – teachers and dads only managed fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Demon Slayer has also gotten multimedia spin-offs, with a stage play – the second such adaptation – due to run in Japan in August and a video game currently in development. In February, Aniplex shared gameplay footage from the game, which is titled Demon Slayer: Hinokami Kepputan.
What have critics and reviewers said about Demon Slayer?
Some have attributed Demon Slayer’s success to its relatable character dynamics, with the main cast of protagonists all holding inherently good natures despite struggling to survive in a cruel world. In particular, Seattle Screen Scene praised Mugen Train’s “unabashedly earnest emotional core”, while the Associated Press noted that “family love and… universal yearning for that simple normal lifestyle” were “perennial themes” that resonated with audiences who had their lives disrupted by COVID-19.
Meanwhile, anime critic Ryota Fujitsu specifically noted the appeal of Tanjirou’s character. “Tanjirou shoulders a heavy burden, but he accepts it for himself without complaint… seeing someone who has directly faced injustice in life and overcomes them with their effort and strength of will has been a source of support to people watching today,” commented Fujitsu.
Emerald King, lecturer in Japanese at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, has also noted the show’s “really great cast of secondary characters and supporting characters”. “There’s somebody for everybody,” she told Al-Jazeera. “None of the characters are wasted. They all serve a purpose.”
King also noted the show’s “really great women characters”. “They’re allowed to have as many flaws and strengths as the boys have.”
Demon Slayer also exploded in popularity after its anime adaptation, in large part due to production studio Ufotable’s spectacular animation sequences. Drawing special attention were the fight scenes, which were inspired by the genre of Japanese art known as ukiyo-e and tied together with expressive, manually-animated cut-scenes (sakuga).
The LA Times noted the series’ “fluid and detailed” animation, which exhibited “imagination… off the charts”. Anime News Network also called it a “breakout spectacle”, opining that “bombastic execution can elevate just about any material… as far as kickass Shonen Jump anime go, Demon Slayer has set the bar pretty damned high”.
What controversy has Demon Slayer faced?
Due to the series’ widespread success across demographics, Demon Slayer’s frequent inclusion of blood and gore has caused alarm for some parents. Mugen Train was rated R in the United States due to its depictions of violence, and received a looser PG12 rating in Japan. Some Japanese parents voiced their displeasure on social media over children being exposed to the movie, and Demon Slayer’s depictions of bloodshed and self-harm became a national topic of discussion.
Demon Slayer has also faced mild backlash in China and South Korea for Tanjirou’s character design, specifically. The design of his earrings, which take after modified hanafuda or traditional Japanese playing cards, bore resemblance to Imperial Japan’s rising sun emblem, which remains associated with imperialism and ultranationalism. As a response, alterations were made to his character designs for Chinese and South Korean platforms, as Kotaku Australia reported in 2019, with accompanying merchandise sold in those regions also modified.