AT FIRST CRITICS doubted that “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train”, which hit American cinemas in April, could replicate the success it achieved in its Japanese home market. The animated feature is set in early-20th-century Japan, an unrelatable era for non-Japanese viewers. Defying the odds, the film raked in $19.5m during its opening weekend, breaking America’s box-office record for a foreign-language debut.
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For most of its history “anime” was little-known outside Japan. “Astro Boy”, a TV series from 1963 that sparked the first anime boom, and subsequent hits like “Doraemon” and “Gundam”, were watched mostly by otaku (geeks).
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