Dog & Chainsaw
Chainsaw Man has been the manga series I’ve been hyped to see as an anime the most. Written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto, the first part of the series was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump from December 2018 to 2020. The second part of the series began this July. As of October 2022, Chainsaw Man has sold over 16 million copies.
Chainsaw Man Episode 1 Dog and Chainsaw, opens with Denji and his adorable pet chainsaw devil dog, heading to “work”. He calculates how much money he made from various “odd jobs”, 60,000 a month for cutting down trees, 1.2 million for one sold kidney, 300,000 for his right eye, less than 100,000 for one of his “nuts.” Despite this Denji still owes 38,040,000 yen. To pay off these debts Denji and Pochita hunt devils for profit.
Denji and Pochita kill the Tomato Devil off screen and are awarded 400,000 yen. However, after paying interests, a finders fee, admin fee, management costs, and bills Denji is only left with 1,800 yen. Denji is constantly in a precarious state of poverty due to his massive debt and despite risking his life receives very little money for his efforts. His boss sees him as a compliant worker he can use but it seems like he’s mistaken.
His driver offers Denji 100 yen to eat his cigarette. It’s a moment that appears to represented Denji’s desperation and his compliance but after they leave Denji spits the cigarette out. I think we’re meant to see this as proof Denji has a mind of his own and the old man is wrong. In a flashback, we see how they meet. At Denji’s father’s grave site, the old man tells him his father’s debt now belongs to him and he should do anything possible to pay it by the next day.
Denji and Pochita’s deal
Suddenly, Pochita appears behind Denji. Injured, Pochita collapses. Denji offers it his blood in exchange for Pochita’s help. The next job they pursue is in an abandoned factory. The old man acts strangely. Denji is stabbed from behind and it’s revealed that the Yakuza have sacrificed themselves for power to the Zombie Devil. In doing so they have become his slaves and he orders them to kill Denji.
Naturally Denji tries to flee but is caught and brutally stabbed, and then he and Pochita are chopped up. We get a flashback from Pochita’s perspective. We learn that devils can take over dead bodies and Denji asks Pochita to take his body and live a normal life and have a normal death. Pochita fuses with Denji becoming his heart. In a trance-like state, Pochita tells Denji that it will give him its heart in exchange for Denji showing it his dream.
The Zombie Devil is shocked to see Denji still alive and orders the zombie to “eat him.” As the pile on top of Denji he transforms into his Chainsaw form for the first time. He chops up some zombies then launches himself at the bewildered Zombie Devil. He gouges out one of its eyes. Afraid the Devil starts tossing zombie Yakuza at Denji hoping to keep the newly formed Devil away but Denji merely hacks through them. Once he reached the Zombie Devil he sawed him in half. He then turns to the yakuza zombie, after all if they’re all dead he can’t owe them anything.
Denji joins Public Safety
The morning after, a woman and two men arrive. The young woman approaches Denji and notices that he “smells” different. As Denji’s about to pass out he tells the young woman to “hug him.” She does and he returns to his human form. She offers him two options: death or a job with Public Safety. Denji may have escaped on debt but he seems to have accepted another.
I think the hype surrounding Chainsaw Man was accurate. At first I thought it was too similar to Jujutsu Kaisen but the series might stand apart from other Shonen. Each series has its own art style and Chainsaw Man has a more grotesque feel to it. I am talking specifically about the devils. The Zombie Devil is just a floating torso with an exposed brain and organs. There’s something wrong about it but it’s still cool.
While the use of hellspawn like devils isn’t particularly new for anime and the manner in which devils come to exist is similar to Jujutsu Kaisen’s cursed spirits I always love how different writers play with the lore and their design. At the end of the day, Chainsaw Man is a Shonen anime and action is important.
The power system and fighting styles are obviously not going to be revealed in the first episode but the impression I’ve gotten is that Chainsaw Man is going more for gore. Which means a lot of blood, decapitations, and eviscerations. Chainsaw Man’s combat feels like combat found in older anime, brutal and unforgiven. Denji doesn’t seem to know how to fight like most Shonen. He just swings wildly. I like it. It remains to be seen if this remains true, but I’m loving the bloody gore this series has presented so far.
So did Chainsaw Man live up to the hype for you? What do you think of the gore? Too violent? How cute is Pochita? I didn’t mention the animation but MAPPA does it once again. Are they officially the standard for the industry? Let me know what you think. Like and Comment.