Demon Slayer – To the Hashira Training Review: Setting The Scene For An Epic Endgame

Demon Slayer’s newest movie bridges the gap between the anime’s third and fourth seasons.

Demon Slayer To The Hashira Training Movie
Photo: Ufotable

“Demons thrive on hunting and devouring humans.”

Success is a tricky thing. Commercial and critical acclaim allows an anime like Demon Slayer the freedom to release a feature film installment, but it’s this same success that’s pushed the series down a curious path when it comes to its cinematic installments. Demon Slayer’s first movie, Mugen Train, remains the highest-grossing movie to come out of Japan, animated or otherwise, so subsequent feature films were inevitable. That being said, Demon Slayer’s approach moving forward with its movies has given audiences some pause and is more indicative of a franchise that’s milking its fanbase than one that has worthwhile, cinematic stories to tell. 

Demon Slayer’s second movie, To The Swordsmith Village, along with its latest feature, To The Hashira Training, feel more like glorified fan screenings than genuine movies. These films combine the previous season’s finale with the upcoming season’s premiere into a loosely structured package. It’s a fun way to get excited for what’s to come, but hardly essential viewing for anyone who’s already watching the series. Fortunately, To The Hashira Training works better and is a lot more cohesive than To The Swordsmith Village, albeit even a movie that ultimately doesn’t need to exist.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To The Hashira Training is still two separate episodes that are hastily crammed together. That being said, the story is meatier and the action is more exciting this time around. It also doesn’t hurt that season 3’s finale, which makes up the first chunk of this film, is some of the greatest material that Demon Slayer has ever produced. It truly benefits from this expanded, big screen presentation where it can be enjoyed in all of its triumphant glory. 

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The movie begins with a flashy sizzle reel of each previous Demon Slayer story arc. It’s a beautiful summation of three seasons of storytelling, but ultimately superfluous and a way in which To The Hashira Training extends its runtime so that it can qualify as a feature film. It’s yet another reminder that this movie is truly one for the fans and not curious, casual newcomers.

To The Hashira Training is full of demon annihilation and pensive plotting. At its core, this story is really about Tanjiro and Nezuko’s bond as siblings, which is the most successful and emotional aspect of this movie. This dynamic has always been crucial to the series, but it gets tested in newly stressful ways here as these two unique warriors get pushed out of their comfort zones. Nezuko talks now, too! In full sentences and everything.

To The Hashira Training initially chronicles the tag-team takedown of Upper Rank Demon, Hantengu. This means that the movie’s first-half is one huge, non-stop battle, while the second-half — which makes up the movie’s new material — has the heroes heal their wounds and prepare for their next, and biggest, challenge. In this sense, this material is quite similar to how The Swordsmith Village season begins and this structure has grown a little repetitive, even if it’s understandable (although this means that Tanjiro spends the second-half of the movie in bed, on the mend). It’s ultimately a necessary cool down period that takes a beat to celebrate the heroes’ accomplishments and properly balances the movie, yet still reaches the heights of the previous battles due to how it’s all fresh, unprecedented territory for Demon Slayer.

Demon Slayer has always pushed incredible visuals and ufotable has really got the animation down to a science. To The Hashira Training delivers “sakuga” overload with the action sequences and battles. This is nothing new for this series, but there is some truly gorgeous animation on display here. There’s an extremely satisfying demon massacre with a whole team of Demon Slayers on the defensive and decapitating evil en masse. 

The serpent and wind breathing styles that are teased are particularly creative and fun, as are the reality-distorting chaos that governs the demons’ Infinity Castle hideout. This Infinity Castle prologue sets the scene for a dangerous, devious season that’s likely to trump everything that’s come before it. Additionally, To The Hashira Training’s musical score is really incredible and helps elevate the animation and action to a whole other level. It’s really moving, epic stuff, especially during Muzan Kibutsuji’s scenes, which make him seem like the series’ equivalent to Dracula and other totemic horror figures.

Beyond the action theatrics, Demon Slayer: To The Hashira Training further expands upon Muzan’s backstory, plight, and how his goal intersects with Nezuko and Tanjiro during Demon Slayer’s endgame. This remains some of Demon Slayer’s most intriguing material and it’s a testament to its storytelling skills that the series can still be this compelling even when the main characters are wholly absent. If nothing else, it’s just satisfying to get a ton of accomplished, powerful Hashira together as they plot their next course of action to protect Nezuko and eliminate Muzan. Oh, and Zenitsu and Inosuke are back! Remember them?? Tengen and his three wives, too.

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There’s some really rewarding character dynamics between these Demon Slayers as all of these alpha personalities bristle and bounce off of each other while they try to formulate a plan. It’s akin to when the Jedi Council would congregate during a Star Wars movie and it makes it feel like this upcoming season is the beginning of the end and that major casualties are imminent. Demon Slayer also expands upon some curious lore regarding Hashira marks, their connection to demons, and why it’s so significant that Tanjiro is the first individual in years to receive this prestigious honor. These Demon Slayer marks and the Demon Slayer Corps’ ability to collectively activate them will be the key to the Hashira’s success.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To The Hashira Training never forgets its audience and that this movie is one for the fans who can’t wait a few months for season four’s start. It’s a disposable product that’s content to merely exist and fan the flames of fandom, but it’s at least a gorgeous movie that effectively balances action, emotion, and intrigue. Those who are deeply in love with Demon Slayer will no doubt cheer during this cinematic adventure. However, it’s an anime movie that casual fans and Demon Slayer outsiders can miss to little consequence.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To The Hashira Training releases in theaters on February 23rd, with Demon Slayer season 4 following in Spring 2024.


3 out of 5