After nearly two decades, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away may have a worthy challenger in the battle for the highest-grossing film in Japan. At least, that’s what some people in Japan think.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train has held the number one spot in the Japanese box office for four weeks. Since it’s premiere in October, it has become the third highest-earning anime film in Japan, the fifth highest-earning film in Japan of any medium, and the seventh highest-earning film of 2020 worldwide.
While these numbers are impressive, it’s important to consider the implications that COVID-19 has had on box office numbers. After all, Sonic the Hedgehog beat Marvel Entertainment’s decade-long record this year when it became the highest-grossing superhero film of 2020.
The fight for the top spot isn’t over quite yet. In order to beat Miyazaki’s ¥30.8 billion record, Mugen Train needs over ¥10 billion more in sales. If it manages to do this, it would put the film over Your Name, Frozen, and Titanic, as well.
Miyazaki was minding his own business, taking out the trash in his neighborhood when asked to comment on Mugen Train’s success.
“Well, that has nothing to do with me. Movie makers would be much better off if they stopped paying attention to box office sales.”
The legendary anime director doubled down on his stance when asked what he would say to fans of Spirited Awaywho are worried about it being dethroned in the box office.
“Who cares? There’s inflation all around us. Ok, gotta get back to picking up garbage.”
It’s rare for an anime film to break into the top ten. Miyazaki has done it three times. The only other director on the list is Makoto Shinkai. Mugen Train being a sequel makes this even stranger. Whether it achieved this success on its own merits or because so few films are being released in 2020 that people will go see anything, we may never know.
The anime for Demon Slayer is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, VRV, and Funimation.