The thing that kept this from really soaring was how token the story is. There isn't much more than Sakuya, an agent of flatlined nobility defeating am enemy that wants to take over the world. It made it hard to become truly invested." - Some Dude On Letterboxd
"A number of years back, I watched all of Daiei's Yokai films. They were good, and I talked about them with friends...who never mentioned Sakuya: Slayer of Demons during that discussion and they should all feel shame for not bringing it immediately to my attention and force-feeding it to my eyeballs. Also, everyone on Earth should feel ashamed that there's no way for me to purchase this movie. Shame all around.
Whenever Mt Fuji gets pissed off at humans for being dicks, it erupts, spewing forth a world of monsters, demons, and yokai to throw humanity into chaos and ultimately thin us out and right the ship so that we can stop being such dicks. This last happened in 1707, and along with the chaos wrought by the yokai and demons, a man was forced to pick up his family's samurai sword, The Vortex, and do battle with these demons. The Vortex is the only weapon humanity has in the fight against the queen of the demons, the spider queen, but as it is enchanted, it's also cursed. Every time one wields Vortex, their life is drained a little bit. The more powerful the foe, the bigger the drain, until the person has their life force sucked dry and they die.
While fighting a kappa, Sakuya's father dies, and she takes up the sword in order to continue the Sakaki family's fight against the demons. Sakuya also finds a little baby kappa, whom she raises as her own brother, Taro.
Six months later, Taro is ten, and Sakuya and he go on a quest to fight and slay the spider queen and bring peace to the land. Along the way they clash against other demons, join an innocent yokai dance party, and Taro is tempted to turn against his sister an join the demon world from which he was born. Sakuya is also battling against the sword itself, which is draining her lifeforce.
Sakuya Slayer of Demons has its fair share of issues. At times, the budget really shows through and characters are just fighting on black backdrops in blank studios. There's also a scene that's supposed to function as character work and exposition but just kind of drags and feels like it's repeating itself too often. It could have been clipped by a minute or two right there. I'd also like to know exactly what is happening in a couple of moments, particularly near the end, where I can kind of infer, from context, sort of, but at best I'm just sort of head-canoning the ending. There's also a song, for some reason.
That said, the movie is a WILDLY fun ride. The costuming and creature designs are all top-notch and the movie is generally really well-paced. There are a number of twists and turns where you think a certain moment or scene is going to be one thing and then it's another. Nothing revelatory, but it keeps you on your toes a little bit. Also, there's a moment where Sakuya is essentially forced to feed the sword a human sacrifice in order to satiate its bloodlust and keep her life force from dwindling that is awesome. It gives her a ton of character development and pathos and makes us empathize with her. It's this moment that truly grounds Sakuya as a hero and makes us really love her for more than just her general badassery and fighting demons.
Sakuya: Slayer of Demons feels like it belongs right alongside Takashi Miike's Great Yokai War and I wish I could get a blu ray to be able to enjoy forever." - Some Other Dude On Letterboxd