Demon Slayer Mugen Train Arc Episode 1 Review: He Brought Us Bento!

Quick Summary of Demon Slayer Mugen Train Arc Episode 1

In Demon Slayer Mugen Train Arc Episode 1, “Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku”, Kyoujurou Rengoku arrived at the train station to investigate the disappearance of 40 people onboard the Mugen Train. Not only that, but someone, or something, has been slashing people to death in the surrounding town. With the train being scheduled to go back into service, the Demon Slayer has little time to act. Can Rengoku find and dispatch the demon in time? Or will more people die on the train?

My Turn to Host!

Back in April 2019, Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime and I began reviewing the first season of Demon Slayer. I could not be happier that Irina and I will be reviewing the new season! Frankly, I’m happiest that Irina will bring a voice of reason to my often irrational exuberance about this show. And after my disappointment over last season’s The Detective is Already Dead, I’m ready for some some exuberance!

How has your week been, Irina? Looking forward to this season of Demon Slayer?

I was looking forward to this season. I enjoyed the show for what it was and absolutely adored the production. I think it’s not a controversial opinion to say that Ufotable is potentially the best studio at integrating 3d and CG into anime at the moment.

If  you remember, during the first season, a lot of our fellow bloggers were less than positive about Demon Slayer. Do you think it will be the same this time around? Has it affected your viewing at all?

I thought about what they said, but I still ended up loving the series to death. Figuratively, of course! Glad to hear you’re looking forward to this season!

Demon Slayer Mugen Train Arc Episode 1 Review

Opening Thoughts about Demon Slayer 2 Episode 1

This episode had three high points for me. First, we got to see regular folks doing regular things in the shadow of the demon. That really set the mood! Second, we got to see a daring rescue in the train maintenance shed, where we got to see honest folk doing honest work and who took pride in their trains. And finally, we got to see what Rengoku considers real speed — and I gotta say, it’s a pretty good definition!

Irina, before we dive in, do you have any opening thoughts on the episode?

Considering all that you’ve written here, I’m sure we’ll get into any thoughts I may have had. 

I did a quick scan and I don’t think you talk about the music. I thought the score was really great. I mean it was a little overbearing but I thought that actually made it better. I enjoyed the cinematic effect it created. I’m sorry if this comes up again later.

I’m glad you brought it up! You (and our readers!) might not believe this, but I was trying to be concise, and I didn’t write about everything I loved in this episode. “Cinematic” is the adjective I used for the music in my notes. 

More Than Just a Re-Spliced Movie!

Demon Slayer 2 Episode 1: I could not be happier that the television version is more than a repackaging of the movie.

Hey! This wasn’t in the movie! Cool! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Above and beyond the high points we’re going to talk about, one thing that struck me was how this episode was not simply a re-edit of the movie. When I heard “Mugen Train Arc,” the cynic in me figured we’d be treated to the movie cut into several episode-length sections. This episode actually sets up the movie. It gave us background that for me at least, made the movie even more enjoyable. Plus, it gave me something other than what I’ve seen before, which I thought was cool.

From the official description put out by the studio this is indeed the TV cut of the movie. Or the movie sectioned up into several pieces. I personally haven’t seen the movie but I do know roughly what happens.

Unlike the movie (which started while passengers were boarding the Mugen train), this episode started with a scene at a ramen restaurant. I’ll say this: I really wanted to sample some of the food Rengoku and his sidekick got to eat. The scene primed us with important information: business was down because something had killed a lot of people on the Mugen train. 

Business is Bad Because of Demons in Demon Slayer Mugen Train Arc Episode 1!

That lack of business carried into the train station itself, where Rengoku found a grandma and her granddaughter manning the ticket booth and trying to sell bentos. Just seeing those two got me worried. This is Demon Slayer, and it’s often unkind to its side characters! Plus, these two characters seemed super sympathetic, since they both wanted to support the mom at home who was with child. Plus, they already had the automatic Old Lady Bonus and the Little Child Bonus, so they had that going for them.

Rengoku, a master of subtlety, walked up and asked (05:05), “I’m searching for a demon. You haven’t seen one, have you?”

Of course, the little girl freaked out, and he had to talk her down. What I liked about this scene is that it showed the difference between how a Demon Slayer (and also us in the audience, who are familiar with the series) sees the situation compared to regular folk. It was a good reminder that not everyone knew how cool the demons looked.

Partly as an apology, Good Guy Rengoku bought the little girl’s entire stock of bento. What did you think of this scene, Irina?

It was cute.

Demon Slayer 2 Episode 1: Rengoku bought their entire stock of bento

Good Guy Rengoku bought the girl’s entire stock of bento! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I really enjoyed the light in the opening arc. The sunset streaming through the restaurant bathing everything in subdued warm tones. The bright light of the train station shining off into the dark night. I think they really stepped up their game in this regard. I’m not sure if this is because it is actual footage meant for cinema or not. In any case it looked great. 

They also are going out of their way to really establish Rengokou as a boy scout and all around good guy. That’s what the bento scene is about and for any of us that have some clue of what the future holds, it’s an obvious narrative trick. It worked though. Rengokou is ridiculously likeable.

Rengokou, Friendly Bento Vendor

Rengoku’s information said that the Mugen train was in one shed, so he boarded a train headed in that direction. When confronted by one of the conductors, he pointed to his huge stock of bentos and said he was a vendor. He also protected that he was therefore not suspicious at all.

The dude’s subtlety is nothing short of amazing.

Anyway, the conductor said that no, the train was over there — and he pointed to another facility. So, Rengoku announced he was getting off there, and promptly leapt from the train. Bentos and all.

The bentos served him well, because when he arrived at the maintenance shed, a worker confronted him with suspicion. After all, there’re demons about, right? Again pointing to the bentos, Rengoku said that he had been sent to bring them food. After a moment’s consideration, the man turned and announced to the team (09:38), “Hey! He says he brought us bento!”

The good mood vanished when one worker tried to deliver a meal to the office. A demon had taken one of the workers hostage. The demon hated the smell of human food, too, and he ground the bento into the ground. 

“That bento was made with love by people I know. I can’t just ignore that,” Rengoku said. While I admire the man’s willingness to defend grandma’s and the little girl’s bento, I had to wonder about his priorities in that moment. The demon, though, took it as an opportunity and said that as soon as he killed his current hostage he would get back to the station and kill the bento makers. 

Demon Slayer 2 Episode 1: The demon disparaged the bento

The demon not only took a human hostage. He disparaged the bento! Dude’s got two strikes against him already! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The Demon was Fast in Demon Slayer Mugen Train Arc Episode 1

The demon was fast. It’s blue flames looked cool, too, and it streaked around the room. Rengoku, though, isn’t exactly slow. He managed to duck under the demon’s attack and slash off both its forearms. The motion saved the hostage, who had still been injured.

The demon, though, streaked towards the station while Rengoku gave the poor man first aid.

Irina, I remember you commenting several times on how beautiful the demon designs could be in this show. What’d you think of this demon?

I don’t know about beautiful but I do like that each design is unique and very unusual. Demons in Demon Slayer often have bright colour palettes and features that are associated with more innocent characters and yet they still manage to look distinctively menacing and occasionally downright gruesome. I’m a big fan of the villain character designs in this show. 

This particular demon was kind of boring looking by Demon Slayer standards in my opinion. Which makes sense. He was just a little appetizer after all. I think I saw some Dragon Ball influence in there though. And that’s awesome. I certainly hope I’m right. 

Peril at the Station: Grandma and Granddaughter in Danger!

The last scene I want to talk about is the rescue back at the station. The little girl and her grandma were getting ready for the morning rush. It was still dark — demons dying in the sunlight and all — when the demon arrived. It immediately went to attack the little girl. Grandma wasn’t going to take that lying down. She threw a bento at its head. All she accomplished was making it mad, because apparently it really does hate the smell of human food. Grandma told the little girl to make a run for it, which she did. The demon, though, instead of attacking grandma, went after the girl. Which turned out to be a tactical mistake.

Rengoku isn’t just kind of fast. He’s seriously fast. He used one of his breathing techniques to arrive in time to snatch the girl out of the demon’s hands. When it tried to get to grandma, Rengoku came up behind it.

The demon tried to say something demon-cool like “Let’s see if I can get to grandma before you can stop me.” But Rengoku had an even greater coolness factor. “No need to put it to the test,” he said (17:32). “You’re… ( SLASH ) slow!”

And the demon’s head rolled away.

Demon Slayer 2 Episode 1: Rengoku is very, very fast

The artwork is suitable for framing! Man, that’s pretty! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

What did you think of the rescue, Irina?

Rengokou’s Cool Effects

Let me start off by talking about the flames a bit. You know how all the slayers have particular powers. Tanjirou and Tomioka have water for instance and obviously, as the flame pillar, Rengokou has fire. And the art style is always very specific when those powers are illustrated. I thought that anytime we saw Tanjirou conjure up those waves in season 1 was a true visual treat but I don’t think I have ever seen the flame version before. 

I loved it. It was used very sparingly and I wish we would have seen more but even just those little flickers flying out behind Rengokou as he was dead set on chasing Slasher were just lovely.

As for the big standoff and rescue scene. You know, once again cinematic is the word that comes to mind. The actual confrontation was nothing, right. It was a one punch man sort of fight. The meat of the scene was in the superimposition of Rengokou sheathing his sword and what turned out to be images of his father doing it before him. It was lovingly animated and given so much more emotional weight and attention than the actual deadly fight with a demon. 

I saw that sequence and thought to myself, ok I like this show. Yeah it’s not subtle, it’s obviously for kids but I still really like it and I think it’s a great production. So I guess that’s what I thought about that scene. It was obvious and heavy handed and I think that’s exactly what it needed to be.

Demon Slayer 2 Episode 1: The episode loving animated grandma's memories

“Lovingly animated” is the perfect description for the scene of grandma’s memory superimposed on the present.Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I really enjoyed how we’re not just getting a retread of the movie. The series is filling in background details and is prepping us to an even more emotional ride than the movie had been. It was also nice seeing Inosuke Hashibira and Zenitsu Agatsuma show up at the end, just where we last saw them in episode 26 of season 1.

Closing Thoughts about Demon Slayer Mugen Train Arc Episode 1

Irina, any closing thoughts on the episode?

Like I said I didn’t watch the movie but I do have a general idea of what happens. Which changes the way I’m taking this in. In one of the Garden of Sinner movies, a character had the ability to see the future and it was a great burden to them. There was a monologue in that movie that I always remember. When you know what is going to happen you never get to actually experience anything, you’re just waiting all the time. I’m paraphrasing but that was the idea.

Well I’m sort of going through that with this season. I’m waiting for what I know is going to happen, to happen. It’s making me take in the events that are actually going on onscreen in a different way than I would otherwise.

Since you have seen the movie Crow, how is it for you?

“Waiting all the time…” That’s what I would have been if the show had just been the movie re-spliced. That’s why I’m so glad there’s new material! It makes it much more immersive! I’m really interested in seeing how they re-portray the events that are coming. 

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8 thoughts on “Demon Slayer Mugen Train Arc Episode 1 Review: He Brought Us Bento!

  1. Is it bad that I want to watch this AGAIN? I’ve already seen the movie and read the entire manga. I guess I just love Demon Slayer that much haha

    I can’t wait to see how the whole series pans out. No spoilers, but the later arcs can get pretty brutal and sad at times. I know people tend to write Demon Slayer off as “just another Shonen anime”, but IMO it’s much closer to Hunter x Hunter than My Hero Academia, if that makes any sense.

    1. Bad? I think it’s great!

      There’s something about this series that I really, really enjoy. The movie was a little let down, but if this season fills in the gaps and actually fleshes out the movie, then that could be cool!

      Closer to Hunter x Hunter? Interesting! I’ll keep that in mind as I watch. Thought MHA is getting pretty dark, especially in the latter few episodes of season 5!

      I’ve seen a lot of anime aficionados disparage this series, and I think you saw that Irina brought up that point in our review. I don’t understand it. But that’s okay — I’ll just enjoy it and see where it leads.

  2. I watched the movie a few months ago. It was…….I’d be lying if I said anything but “AMAZING to look at- fine to watch.” My opinion on “Demon Slayer” has always been “Looks great, but ultimately what you’d expect from a series called ‘Demon Slayer.'”
    I say this because I am not happy that they’re doing a movie retelling. I was not overly fond of the movie retellings “Dragon Ball Super” did- the “Battle Of God” remake was……a THING. And I can honestly say that I HATE the Resurrection F arc. So I’m already warry of Movie rehashes.
    But then I KNOW why they’re doing it(to make the anime last longer so the series can make more money even though it ended 2 YEARS ago in March), and it just makes me upset. I just……..don’t know, man. I mean; I might still watch. But only after we get to the Red Light District.

    1. As a fan of the original Star Wars back in 1977, and having endured 2 revisions, I completely get where you’re coming from when you say “I am not happy that they’re doing a movie retelling.” When I first heard this was a possibility, I cringed. The movie was fine, but I didn’t see how they could easily carve it it until reasonable anime episode-sized chunks.

      After seeing the first episode, I’m feeling better about it. There were a few things that bothered me about the movie, like not having enough exposure to Rengokou to really feel much during his conflict. Now, though, the entire first episode let me get to know him a little better.

      In other words, instead of just redoing the special effects and screwing up Han Solo (I maintain Solo fired first) like in the Star Wars revisions, the series is filling in the gaps in the movie.

      I’m more hopeful now than I was before watching the first episode.

      All that said — we both have bad experiences with this kind of thing in the past. We’ll have to see how this plays out!

      1. I’ll take your word for it because I trust your taste. But I will let you know in case you don’t: This season will be 18 episodes. This episode was an “Anime Original.” The retelling will be 6. Making the “actual” season 11 episodes.
        It makes me a little more upset because I know why they’re doing it, and it honestly feels scummy. Then again; the former president of Ufortable committed tax fraud, so now the company is……..kind of in financial trouble. Don’t want to see them go down- they MADE this series what it is today. But I also wish they wouldn’t stretch the series out the way they are. At this rate; the series that ended 2 years ago in March won’t animate it’s conclusion until 2024!
        Like I said; I’ll stick with it. But it’s kind of upset that a good series like this is going to be dragged out like this.

        1. It’s all guesswork on my part — or maybe hope? I’ll keep my fingers crossed, though, because wow! is this series pretty to look at!

Please let me know what you think!

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