• Bloomberg


A conveyor-belt sushi chain and a canned-coffee brand are becoming some of the biggest beneficiaries as the success of Japan’s biggest movie in years boosts a range of related stocks.

Shares in Kura Sushi Inc., which runs more than 460 restaurants across Japan, have surged 14% this month and are trading near levels last seen in 2018. The broader benchmark Topix index fell 0.4% over the period. The rally has been driven by rising sales boosted by a campaign with the animated movie “Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train,” which has broken multiple records since opening earlier this month and may be on course to become Japan’s biggest-ever box office.

Five plates of sushi at the restaurant lets customers play a game to win badges and other merchandise featuring “Demon Slayer” characters. “We think customers were very pleased with the merchandise, and we have high expectations for the October same-store sales,” Mayu Kuromi, a Kura Sushi spokesperson, said.

Beverage-maker Dydo Group Holdings Inc. also rebounded thanks to a collaboration with the movie. Its canned coffee sales surged almost 50% from a year earlier in October after selling over 50 million cans featuring the movie characters. Dydo shares rose as much as 4% on Tuesday, the most since May.

It’s been an unlikely rebound for sushi, coffee and cinemas alike, which were all heavily impacted during the coronavirus pandemic. Kura Sushi’s sales fell almost 50% in April during Japan’s state of emergency, while in the same month ticket sales at cinema chain Toho Co. plunged 97%. DyDo’s coffee sales had been dropping every month since year, with a decline in foot traffic hurting sales at vending machines.

But with new infections in Japan largely flat at a few hundred each day in the country of 126.5 million, things have been recovering. Kura Sushi same-store sales rose by almost 8% in September, the first increase in seven months.

The “Demon Slayer” movie has become Japan’s pop-culture phenomenon of the year, grossing more than ¥10 billion in the first 10 days since opening, the movie’s distributor said Monday. That’s the fastest pace on record, according to Kyodo, taking less than half the 25 days it took in 2001 for the Studio Ghibli classic “Spirited Away,” which remains Japan’s highest-grossing box office.

And it’s not just sushi and coffee that are benefiting. Shares of SK Japan Co., which designs and sells toys using the characters, have nearly doubled since the movie opened, rising by the daily limit of 17% on Monday. Kotobukiya Co., another maker of character toys, rose by its limit of 22%.

“Investors may be trying to parse out companies that are relevant to the comic book and film,” said Norikazu Shimizu, an analyst at IwaiCosmo Securities Co.

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