REPORTAGE – Released Wednesday, the film starts off with a bang and hits the mark with 15-25 year olds who have dedicated their first cultural outing for months.
Out of the question to consider anything else for their first cultural outing of the year. The overwhelming part of the young people gathered Thursday at the end of the afternoon, under the historic facade – but under construction – of the Grand Rex, in Paris, had only one film in mind. Almost all of them spoke only of Demon Slayer: Infinity Train, the new blockbuster of Japanese animation. A joyful murmur distinguished, at a single glance, these happy fans from the strolling cinephiles who came to smell the programming of the room, as well as curious passers-by, interested – certainly – at the idea of seeing a feature film again in this top. place of Parisian cinema, but put off by the prospect of a “Children’s film”. A reductive epithet for this cinematographic UFO that became, at the end of December, the most viewed film in the history of Japanese cinema. While it beats record after record in the United States, its release in France made Wednesday the second best start in the room, with 52,000 admissions out of the 300,000 of the day. A good performance, given the 35% yellow imposed on operators.
The Grand Rex did not fail to take full advantage of the reopening of places of culture. Besieged from 7 a.m. on Wednesday, the cinema unsurprisingly displays a full room – as much as one can be with a gauge of 35% – until Sunday. Among the holders of the coveted sesame, Adam, Maxime, Lucas and Mathilde wait patiently along the rue Poissonnière. These 20 and 21-year-old friends wear neither the colorful costumes that were out on Wednesday, nor the sanitary masks branded in the colors of Demon slayer proudly displayed by a few people in line. As convinced fans of the animated series, broadcast in France on Wakanim, their attempt to be the first session, the day before, came to an end. “We tried to look as soon as the site was open, but it crashed”, they say in unison, in a burst of laughter. To get good seats, the quartet set up their stakes an hour before their session, one of three scheduled around 6 p.m. for the Japanese film of all records.
“We’ve been waiting for a year and a half”
To hear the different juvenile clusters installed in front of the Rex, being present from the second day of the broadcast is ultimately almost as miraculous. In line, sheltered by the scaffolding that surrounds the Art Deco building undergoing renovation, three high school students discuss the series and their favorite characters with verve. As Brice and Alphonse point out, waiting a day longer or shorter was not important, especially after holding back from seeing the pirated version of the film for months. “We preferred to watch it here and support the creators; and then see all three of them together, too. “ Caught between his two gangly friends, Adrien nods: “We’ve been waiting for a year and a half, especially”, he philosopher, his arms loaded with a Casimir plush bag in flamboyant orange. Next to them, Benjamin, a red beard that struggles to contain a navy blue mask, regrets the atmosphere of the day before, lived by the only proxy of social networks. “It was quite impressive, it made you want”, evokes this survivor of the presales of Demon slayer 22 years old. “They are maniacs!”, we hear further on, about the most enthusiastic fans of the saga, ready to show up four hours before their session. “It’s crazy”, abounds the reception agent with gray and scattered hair, at the entrance on the boulevard side. After 35 years of work, he has seen others: “We don’t have the entire theaters, so obviously that doesn’t compare, if only with Star wars“, he tempers.
While waiting for the doors to open, the queues take on the air of serpentine cenacles where everyone enjoys rehashing the series or calculating the story of the film, while the surrounding terraces come alive with an adult clientele. exhausted. What is it that attracts Demon slayer ? Not so much the original manga in any case, overtaken – by far – by its animated adaptation. “It’s more immersive, more dynamic, Maxime advances. And then in general we just watch the animes, without reading the manga ”. Out of a sample of ten people questioned, nearly half have not read the manga by Koyoharu Gotouge, whose astronomical sales have almost alone revived the manga industry in Japan. In addition to the punchy quality of the animation produced by the Ufotable studio, the soundtrack of the series is also one of the most salient points of the series. “OST is important too”, says Adam. “Absolutely, yeah!”, strongly opines Mathilde, who listens diligently to the music of the series on Spotify or on Youtube. And if the gang can’t find the demon hunting story of the aptly named Demon slayer very fun, the characters are pleasant. The historical context that forms the backdrop to the story – the Taishō period (1912-1926) – is also intriguing. “It’s cool, it’s a time that we do not know and that we discover a little bit”, Lucas admits. Everyone is surprised, however, to learn of the film’s colossal performance in Japan. “It’s rather original but it’s not exceptional either”Lucas confesses. “It’s a very good anime but it’s not the best either”, adds Mathilde. “The story is random anyway”, she adds with a chuckle.
As the alleys of the Grand Rex open up to regurgitate the spectators of the 3 p.m. screening, the faces appear bright and radiant. And while the wind carries the smell of crepe, the exchanges betray the good atmosphere of the room. “For me it was good, it was… well I cried what”, slips Jade, 19, all smiles at the exit of the film, alongside her friend Iris who hastens to take out a cigarette. The young woman with jet black hair, all dressed in black, was able to dry her swollen eyes. “It was not fun, the end, but it was good!”. “It was super beautiful to see, especially on a big screen like that”, adds Iris, while scents of tobacco dance along her round glasses. “This is really the thing you want to see in the movies; emotion has nothing to do with looking in bed ”. As for those who are about to enter the great hall in turn, it is once again the series that encouraged them to go see the film. “Usually I’m more of a manga, but this was really the anime”, explains Iris. Yes, the two women are full of praise The Infinity Train, they do not think that it surpasses Hayao Miyazaki’s best films, which he nevertheless outclassed at the Japanese box office. Iris is almost indignant: “The film is incredible, but Miyazaki is still a reference!” she launches under the nods of Jade, who hastens to specify that, as in the series, “The script in itself is … nice what, there is really just the end which is crazy”.
The observation is quite widespread in front of the Grand Rex where, around 6 p.m., a brief ballet of leavers, entrants and passers-by quickly gives way to deserted surroundings around the cinema. A bunch of young manga fans, recognizable by their shimmering sweaters branded with characters from Dragon ball or from Naruto , hurry up, a little late, while a father ventures with his son in front of a closed door of the building where the sessions of the week are indicated. Lifting his little one to the height of the various posters, he seems to notice, perhaps to his dismay, that the child seems more fascinated by the graphic overload of Demon slayer than by the expressive face of the new Tom & jerry. Perhaps he too will yield to the whistle of the Infinity train.