"Gintama: The Final" "Gintama: The Final"

For the Demon Slayer movie, it’s a case of unlucky number 13. After a record-wrecking 12-week reign at the top of the Japanese box office, it was knocked into second place this weekend by another anime title, Gintama: The Final. (A caveat: Japan measures box office by admissions, which puts Gintama in the top spot, but judging by the U.S. standard of earnings, Demon Slayer may have earned more money even with less admissions. Final numbers still haven’t been released.)

The film, which opened on Friday, is based on Hideaki Sorachi’s manga Gin Tama, a comic sci-fi period drama about a freelance samurai in search of work. The manga, which ran 2003–19, was a hit — there are over 55 million copies in circulation — and has spawned multiple anime series.

Gintama: The Final was animated by Bandai Namco Pictures, the entertainment titan’s animation production arm, and released by Warner Bros. Japan. The director is Chizuru Miyawaki, who was involved with the series from the first season in 2006, working her way up to animation director, then director. As a woman director, she is a relatively rarity in the anime industry.

Gintama sits atop an animation-heavy box-office chart: four of the top five films this weekend, and six of the top ten, were animated. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train was at #2, with Poupelle of Chimney Town from Studio Studio 4°C (Tekkonkinkreet, Children of the Sea) at #4. Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle came in at #5, Stand By Me Doraemon 2 at #7, and the first film in the two-part Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon Eternal at #9.

With the supply of new Hollywood releases still disrupted, local titles have dominated the charts in recent months. Japan has seen relatively low levels of coronavirus, and its theaters have been operating with few or no restrictions for months. But the situation is changing: as cases rise, the government has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding regions, which it is expected to extend imminently to other major cities.

Theaters in affected areas can remain open, but are asked to comply with an 8 p.m. curfew and limit seating capacity to 50% for the next month. This has impacted the release of Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time, the new film in the blockbuster anime franchise: the midnight screenings planned for January 23, its release date, have been cancelled.

"Gintama: The Final"
Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Deputy Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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