Original Run: October 12, 2022 - December 28, 2022 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Action, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Tatsuki Fujimoto
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Chainsaw Man. Reader discretion is advised.***
After his father’s death, Denji (voiced by Kikunosuke Toya) was forced to pay off his old man’s enormous debt. To do this, Denji began work as an amateur Devil Hunter. He and his trusted partner, the chainsaw demon Pochita, made a small name for themselves. However, that comes to a violent end when Denji’s handlers stab him in the back and allow him to die at the hands of a demon.
However, to save his friend, Pochita enters into a contract with Denji, and the latter is reborn as the infamous Chainsaw Devil. With his new power, Denji easily avenges his death but has nowhere to go.
As fate would have it, though, Denji comes across the path of Makima (voiced by Tomori Kusunoki), a high-ranking Devil Hunter at the Public Safety office. She offers Denji a place to belong so long as he gives her undying loyalty.
With nothing left to lose, Denji agrees, but soon, he realizes there is far more to the Chainsaw Devil than he first thought.
Let’s come straight out and say it. If all you see before watching Chainsaw Man is an image of Denji in his devil form, you cannot help but have one expectation. It’s a freaking guy wielding dual chainsaws as arms and a third chainsaw protruding from his razor-sharp teeth-laden head. If this show were anything less than off-the-wall insane, it would have been the biggest waste the anime medium has seen in a long time.
And boy howdy; good golly. Chainsaw Man did not disappoint.
This series was immensely fun that, in many ways, plays out precisely as you would expect it to. But we’ll get to those bits in a moment because, in many other ways, this show did much more.
Although Chainsaw Man fills itself with humorous qualities, we shouldn’t see it as a comedy anime. There are a number of dark moments and heavy moments throughout this series, and it did a resounding job of establishing that the characters’ lived in a dangerous world. Even amongst the silly antics of Denji and Power (voiced by Ai Fairouz), there were plenty of instances of palpable dread.
When Denji and his comrades found themselves trapped on the eighth floor of a demon-infested hotel, the desperation in the “more rational” hunters was unnerving. Never mind that Denji, Power, and Aki Hayakawa (voiced by Shougo Sakata) found the situation more inconvenient rather than life-or-death. In fact, that entire plotline was a perfect encapsulation of what Chainsaw Man was – a brilliant blend of comedy and drama.
It was clear that this series knew it had a solid base to work with.
Although Chainsaw Man could have survived on its action scenes alone, the characters and the story brought this show to another level. It is one thing to have a fight look cool. It’s an entirely separate, more elevated thing to know and care about why people are risking everything. Thus, there was this heightened sense of investment whenever things escalated as they did.
Let’s take Hayakawa, for example. His motivations her, frankly, pretty standard. He saw his family die at the hands of a demon. Therefore, he has dedicated his life to eliminating every such being. You could not get a more by-the-book tragic warrior than Hayakawa. Had he been our primary focus, Chainsaw Man might have still been worth watching, but just not as memorable.
Fortunately – for us – this show had Denji, who proved to be one of the most entertaining shounen protagonists in a long while. His success has nothing to do with his effectiveness as a tri-wielding chainsaw monster. No, he was great because his motivations were almost comically simplistic: getting three-squared meals a day, having access to a bath every night, maybe having the opportunity to touch a boob.
Despite their simplicity, for Denji, they were every bit as strong motivators as Hayakawa’s quest to avenge his family. Why? Because up until the events of this story, Denji never had the opportunity to have any of that. So, his “childish” goals happened to be incredibly important to him.
Also, from what we could glean from this season, Denji wasn’t particularly complicated. As a result, this allowed him to be flexible, especially concerning things like morality. Does this mean Denji was a walking psychopath? Not really. He didn’t go around causing needless destruction for no reason. But he also didn’t have much in the way of “honor.” Denji, on multiple occasions in this show, was not above kicking an opponent when they were down.
Incidentally, this pettiness led to one of the most satisfying enemy humiliations in anime.
Now, we are not going to gloss over something mentioned earlier. Saying one of Denji’s goals was to touch a girl’s boobs does make it sound like he was like plenty of other horn-dog shounen protagonists. And again, that wasn’t the case. Given how explicit it was in other areas, Chainsaw Man was surprisingly tame regarding fanservice.
Yes, this show had good-looking characters, and it did have sexier moments. Except the critical difference was that this series wasn’t shoving it into our faces. There weren’t female characters whose boobs were on the verge of bursting out of a shirt two sizes too small. In actuality, everyone’s clothes seemed like they were far too big.
So many anime rely on fanservice as a crutch because their stories and characters are not worth a damn. There are also plenty of shows with phenomenal stories and fantastic characters, but no nerve to trust in that strength. Chainsaw Man is a rare breed that knows it doesn’t need the extra help.
Granted, the gratuitous violence takes on some of that role; my god, this show is violent.
As of this review (January 2023), there is no news regarding Chainsaw Man Season 2. Given the popularity the series has managed to garner, it is almost inconceivable that a continuation would fail to materialize.
That said, it seems odd that Chainsaw Man was only twelve episodes long.
For the most part, this wasn’t a huge deal, and the show did a decent job of allocating its screen time. That was until the final two episodes when Denji and Power had their special training. Maybe it’s the result of every other shounen anime spending tons of resources in training arcs. Still, Chainsaw Man elected to rush through its.
To be fair, the catalyst that warranted Denji and Power to level up their abilities came from a surprise attack rather than a resounding defeat. When round two came, Denji’s skills weren’t all that different from his previous encounter.
Perhaps down the line, there will come an enemy that Denji will need to work hard at overcoming. But for this season, the last few episodes felt rushed compared to the rest of the show.
Lastly, MAPPA, the production studio behind Chainsaw Man, has been insistent with its use of CGI over the past few years. To give the studio some credit, Chainsaw Man’s CGI wasn’t awful, so it would appear the art is improving.
Be that as it may, the CGI remained noticeable and, by extension, cheap.
However, if that is all that was going against this show, then it would be safe to say Chainsaw Man knocked it out of the park and made it look easy.
Although pure entertainment is typically a good thing, that alone would not be enough to describe this show.
Sure, this series went hard on its action, violence, and overall insanity. And yet, a thoughtful story and great characters successfully stood out amongst the flash. As a result, we got an anime that is impossible to ignore.
Chainsaw Man has earned a recommendation.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Chainsaw Man? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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