There is no stopping the storm generated by "Demon Slayer," as the blockbuster manga and anime series about a demon-fighting boy continues to break box-office movie records in Japan despite the pandemic.
In another boost to the "Demon Slayer" boom, the final volume of its manga series in book form hit bookstores on Friday, prompting fans to form long queues to grab a copy of the much-awaited 23rd volume, which wraps up the story that first appeared in a manga magazine in 2016.
The story, set in Japan around 100 years ago, follows Tanjiro Kamado, an adolescent boy who returns home to find all his family but his younger sister Nezuko slaughtered in a demon attack. His sister now turned into a demon herself, he sets out to find a way to make her a human again and fights human-eating demons along with his comrades as part of a demon slayer corps.
At a bookstore in central Tokyo, around 30 people lined up before opening hours. A 46-year-old man, who got hold of a special edition which had miniature figures of the characters, said he went around 14 convenience stores just to look for a copy for his 5-year-old daughter.
"The volume tells the backstory of the enemies (of the hero) and depicts the love of family. What is fascinating is that it is not just a story about rewarding good and punishing evil," he said.
The popularity of "Demon Slayer" as a comic series was given a further boost by the anime series aired in Japan last year, and then propelled by the animated movie "Demon Slayer -- Kimetsu no Yaiba -- The Movie: Mugen Train," which takes off from where the anime series ended.
At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has affected the cinema industry, the movie has taken just 45 days to become the second-highest grossing film ever in the country.
According to its distributors Aniplex Inc. and Toho Co., the film has grossed 27.51 billion yen ($265 million) by drawing audiences totaling more than 20 million, overtaking the 1997 U.S. movie "Titanic."
The film centers on the hero's efforts to save the lives of passengers aboard the "Mugen Train," named after the Japanese word for infinity, on which countless people have gone missing.
The manga series by Koyoharu Gotoge appears to be a bright spot in the country's publishing industry, with its novel version also among the bestsellers on a yearly ranking.
Publisher Shueisha Inc. said 3.95 million copies were published as the first edition of the final volume, with the cumulative number for all volumes including in digital form topping 120 million copies.
Although the series, now a global hit, ended its run in Weekly Shonen Jump in May, the latest volume in book form has kept fans abuzz partly because it carries new illustrations. The series has been translated into 14 languages and is available in 33 countries and regions, according to Shueisha.
Timed with the release of the book, advertisements showing images of the series' characters and the author's message of gratitude to fans were carried in five major Japanese newspapers in their morning editions.
Companies have also cashed in on the popularity of "Demon Slayer" goods with tie-ups, while the series title was also picked as one of Japan's buzzwords for this year.