The Demon Slayer franchise has consistently dominated the Japanese box office since Demon Slayer: Mugen Train made its premiere in October 2020. But now it looks like the film’s reign has finally been challenged by an old veteran. Gintama The Final, the appropriately named final film in the Gintama series, has taken the top spot for the latest weekend, giving the previous champion its first taste of 2nd place.
After an incredibly strong showing ever since it first premiered, Mugen Train conceded the number 1 rank as The Final just slightly pulled ahead in its first weekend. Based on the Gintama anime series that’s been running in various forms since 2006, the new film certainly has some clout behind it, which likely helped its numbers. It seems that, even though Demon Slayer is among the most popular franchises in Japan right now (to the point that Demon Slayer‘s theme song won the industry’s top musical honors) the old guard still has some fight in it.
However, this close victory may not have been entirely due to straight popularity. Showings of Gintama The Final gave audience members special Demon Slayer illustrations drawn by Gintama‘s original artist and creator Hideaki Sorachi. It was a smart move, considering how many collectors this may have brought in. Though whether or not this actually helped The Final reach its prestigious position is unclear. Demon Slayer fans have proven they’ll go great lengths for their favorite show, after all.
Gintama, based on the manga originally written in 2003, began its run as a series in 2006 with the anime of the same name. The series follows Gintoki Sakata, a freelance samurai in an alternate version of Japan’s Edo period. This timeline sees Earth attacked by aliens, resulting in a quick surrender by the shogun. Now, in a country where aliens have taken over and samurai have been banned from carrying swords, Sakata and his friends take odd jobs as freelancers to pay the rent.
This unexpectedly mundane look at a literal alien invasion is one of the many ways Gintama displays its sense of humor, and that style of comedy has kept viewers coming back as the series regularly received a surprising amount of continuations at a regular pace since its original debut, culminating in the new film Gintama The Final. While the Demon Slayer tie-in likely played some role in The Final‘s success, the audience that stayed with the franchise since the beginning and has only grown since then absolutely deserves the bulk of the credit.
Of course, there’s no telling how long The Final will stay King of this particular hill. Gintama fans may have surged out to see it after waiting since 2018 for new content from the series, but will their numbers stay strong in the coming weekends? Or will the demons of Demon Slayer come out to play once again?