SAND LAND: A Riveting Anime Adaptation That’s More Relevant Than Ever



When Akira Toriyama’s “SAND LAND” manga was serialized in Shonen Jump back in 2000, it was a breath of fresh air. Now, 23 years later, this one-volume classic has been adapted into an anime film, and it’s time to dive into this cinematic experience to see how it holds up.

The Premise

Set in a post-apocalyptic world turned into a desert due to human greed, “SAND LAND” follows the journey of Beelzebub, a demon prince, Rao, a mysterious old man, and Thief, a creature. Together, they embark on a quest to find water, a scarce resource controlled by a tyrannical ruler.

Breaking Stereotypes

One of the first things that struck me about the film adaptation was how it retained the original’s audacity. In a genre dominated by young heroes, having an old man like Rao as one of the protagonists is a bold move that pays off. This choice adds a layer of complexity and wisdom to the narrative that’s often missing in shonen stories.

Visuals and Artwork

The animation quality is top-notch, capturing the essence of Toriyama’s original artwork while adding the fluidity and dynamism that only the animated medium can offer. The desert landscapes are beautifully rendered, and the character designs stay true to the original while benefiting from modern animation techniques.

Adaptation Choices

The film makes several smart choices in adapting the source material for a feature-length runtime. For instance, the opening scene shifts perspective to add a horror-like element, setting the tone for the world’s view on demons and creatures. These changes not only serve to enrich the story but also make it more accessible to those unfamiliar with the manga.

The Weight of Themes

What makes “SAND LAND” so compelling is its thematic depth. The film adaptation does an excellent job of highlighting the story’s relevance in today’s context. Whether it’s the fight against a tyrant who monopolizes essential resources or the regret and redemption arc of Rao, the film touches on issues that resonate in our current global climate—both literally and metaphorically.

Emotional Depth

One of the most impactful additions to the movie is the focus on Rao’s past mistake and his subsequent journey of redemption. This subplot adds emotional gravitas to the film, making it more than just a quest narrative. It serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating consequences of prejudice and the abuse of power.

Social Relevance

The film doesn’t shy away from making social commentaries. In a world where prejudice and discrimination are often weaponized for political gains, “SAND LAND” serves as a cautionary tale. It’s a stark reminder of the importance of questioning authority and the narratives they propagate.


The “SAND LAND” anime film is a triumph in storytelling, animation, and thematic depth. It not only does justice to the original manga but also elevates it, making the story more relevant than ever. Whether you’re a long-time fan of Akira Toriyama or new to his work, this film is a must-watch. It’s a compelling narrative that tackles complex issues, making it not just an excellent anime film but also an important one.