Thousands of Demon Slayer fans lined up bright and early around the Los Angeles Orpheum Theatre for an early screening of the upcoming season. Special guests included Natsuki Hanae, producer Yūma Takahashi, and members of the English voice cast. Aleks Le, the English voice of Zenitsu, designed his suit for the red carpet: a gold laser-cut cuff detail inspired by the Thunderclap and Flash techniques and the Demon Slayer uniform’s back engraving. Prior to the film’s screening, each person stopped by Anime News Network to answer a couple of interview questions.
It’s been a couple of months since the panel at Anime Expo last year, and this time you have an entire theater of almost 2,000 people. What is your reaction to seeing all these fans?
Natsuki Hanae: This is my second time in LA, and I’ve been invigorated by the fan’s energy and excitement. I’m very excited to be here and see what happens today.
Natsuki Hanae: I’ve worked with Mamoru Miyano for a long time in various titles. This time for Doma, he’s a unique demon. I’m looking forward to seeing how we’re going to mesh together.
Thinking about the entire anime series so far, what do you think of yourself when you play Tanjiro after he inherited Rengoku’s will?
Natsuki Hanae: Rengoku had a big impact on Tanjiro, from his words to his will: “Set your heart ablaze.” Those words influenced Tanjiro greatly. When I act, I look at how Tanjiro will battle against all of these demons with Rengoku’s will in his heart.
What message do you want to send to your fans here?
Natsuki Hanae: It’s a new season. I’m sure everyone is very excited, and we have high expectations on our shoulders. We’re doing our best to surpass those expectations, and I hope everyone continues to support us.
Why did ufotable decide to launch the Swordsmith Village Arc as a theatrical screening rather than the normal TV campaign?
Producer Takahashi: Right now, we are working on the Swordsmith Village Arc as a TV series. For this particular world tour, we’re highlighting episodes 10 and 11 of the Entertainment District Arc and the first episode from the Swordsmith Village Arc as a special. We are working on the TV series. The purpose of this world tour is to thank all our fans personally.
Fans are always excited to learn who will voice new characters. How did ufotable choose Mamoru Miyano as the voice of Doma, as revealed by the Entertainment Arc’s finale?
Producer Takahashi: We look at each voice actor and who makes the best fit. We devised a good lineup that fits very well with the character. We’re delighted with the talent match.
Producer Takahashi: The overarching theme of this anime is Tanjiro and Nezuko’s story together. One of the themes in the Swordsmith Village Arc showcases the actions of male and female counterparts through Muichiro Tokito and Mitsuri Kanjiro. What we wanted to do is reflect that by having MAN WITH A MISSION and milet perform the theme music.
How would you sell someone on the Swordsmith Village Arc?
Abby Trott (Nezuko): Start by watching from the beginning! With every arc, the animation is so incredible and gets better. Keep watching, and start if you haven’t.
Brandon McInnis (Gyutaro): The animation is top tier and groundbreaking. It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen.
Aleks Le (Zenitsu): If you love Demon Slayer, you’re going to love this because it’s more of that. Of course, animation by ufotable and production by Aniplex is always incredible and amazing. More Demon Slayer, more of the characters you love, and some new ones too.
Bryce Papenbrook (Inosuke): Well, how good were the first two seasons and the movie? It’s only getting better and better. You just gotta watch.
Ray Chase (Inui): It’s more of what you love. If you love seasons one, two, and Mugen Train, you’re going to love this.
Zach Aguilar (Tanjiro): Do you like Demon Slayer? It’s Demon Slayer! You can’t go wrong. I am excited to see more growth for Tanjiro as a character.
Once the screening event began, a countdown was displayed on-screen to kick off the guest segment. Fans, eagerly sitting in their seats with gift bags in hand, cheered as Natsuki Hanae, Yūma Takahashi, and Zach Aguilar came on stage. Both voice actors gave a whopping line read for Tanjiro while producer Takahashi chuckled as he apologized for being unable to do a character impression. He thanked the crowd for supporting the series to the point where they were able to host a world tour.
As this was the second time Hanae had been in Los Angeles, he talked about his ability to go sightseeing at Malibu beach. Hilariously, he brought a half-empty giant suitcase but filled it to the brim with clothing for his daughters during a shopping spree. As a bit of fanservice, he imitated Rengoku’s repetition of ‘umai’ or ‘tasty’ when he ate a lobster roll by the beach.
Closing off the Q&A section, Hanae and Zach performed a live line reading of the Sun Breathing technique as Tanjiro in both English and Japanese. When asked how he would advise Zach on voice acting as Tanjiro, Hanae replied: “Just do Tanjiro how you feel it should be. Don’t worry about what I do.” Zach replied with a ‘ganbarimasu’ as a sign that he’ll do his best.
When the guests took their leave, Aimer opened with “Zankyosanka” as footage from the Entertainment District Arc played behind her. Fans broke into a booming, roaring cheer as she paused between the two songs. Aimer laughed and thanked the audience as she transitioned to an invigorating rendition of “Asa ga Kuru.” After she waved goodbye to the crowd, the three guests returned to the stage to share their impressions of her performance. Wrapping up the segment, a Tanjiro mascot appeared alongside them for a commemorative photo. Social media posts and comments exploded with glee as the ‘Tanjiroverse’ assembled onstage.
As a recap of the previous season played onstage, the curtains fell to stoke anticipation. As promised, the crowd was treated to a cinematic replay of the final two episodes of the Entertainment Arc. The third season’s premiere episode sets the table for the two Hashiras, Muichiro Tokito and Mitsuri Kanroji, to take the stage as Tanjiro recovers from the Entertainment Arc’s aftermath. Knowing ufotable‘s animation flair, even non-Demon Slayer fans will be in awe of the grandiose exhibit of the studio’s visual prowess. There’s never a dull moment in the tense atmosphere, and adding Mamoru Miyano to the cast only adds fuel to the fire.
ANN’s full review of the hour-long special of the Swordsmith Village Arc will be available at a later time. The Swordsmith Village Arc special opens in theaters in North America on March 3, and the season officially premieres in April.