top of page

First Look: Chainsaw Man

Article by Donya' Green II

            For the past few months, I've gone against my nature and haven't watched much anime. Besides rewatching Miyazaki flicks occasionally, I hadn't come across a show that piqued my interest. After finishing Dr. Stone and finally catching up with One Piece, it's hard to know if a will be just as promising when browsing through Crunchy Roll. There is plenty of series I have yet to see that I'm sure would be worth my time, but there are certain feelings I must have before even starting the first episode; a sense of excitement and curiosity. If those emotions aren't alive when I'm watching the trailer for a show, reading the description, or looking at its art, I probably won't even try to watch the first episode. While this may be a bad habit, I was in a drought. Then, I began to hear the hype about an anime adaptation coming out of a manga called Chainsaw Man.

            Chainsaw Man was written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto and ran in the Weekly Shonen Jump from 2018 to 2020. It's won the 66th Shogakukan Manga Award and two Harvey Awards for best manga. To the dismay of my manga-reading friends, I hadn't heard of this series until 2021. I haven't read much manga except Sun Ken Rock in the past few years. However, after watching the first two episodes of Chainsaw Man, I feel I may need to add to my library, as I was immediately hooked.

            The anime introduces us to Denji, and his pet devil Pochita, a puppylike creature who peculiarly has a chainsaw emerging from its face and a handle over its back. In this world, a version of earth where devilish monsters terrorize communities, there would only naturally be devil hunters valued by society. Denji owes 38,040,000 yen and has taken up devil hunting to help pay it off. Initially, he wields Pochita as a weapon, slaughtering a Tomato Devil. He's rewarded, but after fees are taken out, he is essentially left with nothing. Come to find out, the man who pays Denji is the man he owes a debt to; instead, he inherited his father's debt when he died.

            A moment telling of Denji's character is when he's offered 100 yen to eat a lit cigarette. He gladly accepts, baring his sharp teeth. He is a shameful protagonist in a desperate situation at this point. He doubts he'll pay his debt off before death as he has a heart disease that makes him cough up blood, but that seems okay. His biggest wish is for normalcy and love, which makes him relatable, seeing that it is something we all want to achieve in one way or another. He was alone at his father's grave when he ran into Pochita for the first time. Assuming the devil was there to kill him, Denji was ready to die. That is until he realized the devil was wounded and dying. Drinking blood heals devils, so Denji offers him his arm. At this moment, they make a deal to become a team to slay devils together.

            The duo is taken to what seems like an abandoned warehouse by the man he owes money to, but it's a setup. The man reveals himself to be the Zombie Devil, controlling dead bodies who attack and brutally kill Denji and Pochita. While their chopped-up bodies are in a dumpster, we see a flashback of Denji saying when he dies, he wants Pochita to take over his body and strive to live a normal life. It cuts back to the dumpster, where we see Pochita fusing his own body with Denji's! In a purgatory state, the two share dialogue where Pochita tells him he's essentially becoming his heart. When Denji awakens, a chainsaw chord comes out of his chest, and an army of zombies before him. He yanks the chord as he gets dogpiled, a mound of bodies eating him. Suddenly, out of the pile with force emerges the being that would be Chainsaw Man: Denji's body with a shark-like head, chainsaws emerging from his snout and arms. He slaughtered the horde of zombies and the Zombie Devil in a bloody fashion. After the battle, three agent-like people arrive to find Chainsaw Man alone amongst the bodies. The woman hugs him, turning Denji back to his usual self. They reveal they're devil hunters with "Public Safety." In a beautiful final frame, the woman promises Denji protection, care, and a sense of normalcy, in a warehouse full of dead people.

            This is a very promising first episode. Chainsaw Man is a lot of bloody fun in a world that feels original, with lovable characters already in our midst. It served as a setup, introducing us to this fantasy version of our planet and Denji. He comes off as a protagonist with nothing but the best intentions. Juxtaposed with the work he's been doing to stay alive, it creates quite an exciting dilemma. I wonder if he will ever have a spiritual struggle in his search for normalcy. Also, he is technically part devil now, so will this influence this kind-hearted kid? From here, he's now to do thy bidding for this Public Safety organization. While it's a better situation than his previous, I can only wonder if Denji will struggle to find his place as a devil-hunting devil.

            At the time of writing this, the anime is brand new. I recommend checking it out if you can handle blood and gore. Besides the Junji-Ito-esque style of monsters, there is a sprinkle of cuteness in the show (specifically from Pochita). The animation is spectacular, while the story and its characters hit all the emotional notes.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this show goes, and I now have a manga I could see myself binge-reading. Chainsaw Man is currently streaming on Hulu and Crunchy Roll.

bottom of page