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Demon Slayer Stage Play Cast Descend on NYC

by MrAJCosplay,

Photography by MrAJCosplay

The Demon Slayer franchise continues to prove itself as an absolute powerhouse for fans worldwide. The hit manga by Koyoharu Gotouge has been adapted into multiple mediums, including anime, light novels, video games, and a stage play that has been running since 2020. Cast members of the stage play appeared in New York on May 11 as a part of Japan Parade NYC. Onlookers could see them riding the Demon Slayer-themed float. While the whole stage play cast could not attend, some members did a brief performance as part of the parade, with Shōgo Sakamoto as Tanjiro, Yūsuke Satō as Inosuke, Yoko Kadoyama as Shinobu, and Hiroshi Yazaki as Rengoku. Anime News Network spoke with the cast about what it was like to play iconic characters and work on the show.

Did you need prior martial arts or dance choreography training to be considered for the role?

Hiroshi Yazaki: Yes, but it was still very hard and challenging. Still, we were able to overcome it by practicing.

Photography by MrAJCosplay

What was the initial reaction of your peers when you were asked to play such an iconic character?

Yoko Kadoyama: They were so surprised and delighted to hear the news!

Hiroshi Yazaki: My character Rengoku is very, very popular, so fans of the manga were very encouraging and supportive. But many overseas fans were also rooting for me, which made me happy.

Yūsuke Satō: Since my face isn't exposed, everyone was skeptical about my excitement!

Shōgo Sakamoto: Tanjiro is a very popular character, so many of my actor friends were very happy and supportive of me.

Were there any specific physical hurdles you can share? Maybe just funny behind-the-scenes moments amongst the cast?

Yoko Kadoyama: Since it was my first time using the sword, all of the other actors were helping and teaching me. Those memories really made me feel like I was being supported!

Shōgo Sakamoto: To perform on stage last year, I needed to bulk up, but as soon as the show was over, I could feel my body shrink. I just think the way the body changes can be very funny.

Photography by MrAJCosplay

A lot of people who came to today's show are most likely fans of the original manga or anime adaptation, myself included. What do you hope will be our biggest takeaway from your performances?

Hiroshi Yazaki: This genre of 2.5 musicals is very popular in Japan but not as popular here, so we hope that performing here will help grow that genre's audience. Not only that, but I also want Demon Slayer to gain more exposure around the world as a musical.

What does Demon Slayer mean to you?

Shōgo Sakamoto: So I think Demon Slayer is something many people relate to, especially my character. Tanjiro's background is very unfortunate because he has to overcome horrors and struggles. That kind of message is powerful and, I think, will emphasize empathy towards other people.

Hiroshi Yazaki: The character of Rengoku is like a treasure for me, so I feel a powerful attachment to him, but I also want him to feel important to the audience.

Yoko Kadoyama: So playing the character of Shinobu is like a treasure as well. Even though she is not a strong lady, I find encouragement and a core strength in her. I think she's very inspiring, and her attitude of never giving up is very rewarding.

Yūsuke Satō: I could be here with everyone because of Demon Slayer, so I'm very thankful for that.

The first stage play adaptation ran in Tokyo in January 2020 and in Kobe in January and February 2020. The second stage play ran in Tokyo and Osaka in August 2021. The third stage play ran in Tokyo and Kyoto in October 2022. The manga also inspired a traditional Noh-Kyōgen stage play that ran in Tokyo and Osaka in 2022.

The latest stage play adaptation of Gotouge's manga covered the "Entertainment District Arc" and ran in Tokyo and Osaka from November to December.

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