Denji’s life was awful. The only thing he cherished was his friendship with Pochita, the Chainsaw Devil. When they were both killed by the Zombie Devil, Pochita became Denji’s heart, granting him all the powers of the chainsaw!
Chainsaw Man (Season One)
What did you watch?
Every year there are a couple of shows that it’s impossible to ignore. You might not watch it, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard of them. In 2022, one of those shows was Chainsaw Man. How can you ignore a show about a man with chainsaws coming out of his body? As soon as it was announced that Chainsaw Man was getting an anime, I decided I would check out the manga first… well, part of it anyhow. I got through the first three volumes before jumping into the anime. It’s safe to assume that I enjoyed it, but let’s find out why and how much!
Denji’s father racked up a massive debt with the Yakuza and then committed suicide, leaving Denji to shoulder the load. The Yakuza were not about to let him off either and had no qualms with taking their payments any way they needed to. Denji was about to give up on life when he helped an injured Devil. Pochita, the Chainsaw Devil helped Denji to earn money. They lived together and hunted Devils to cover Denji’s bills. That caught the attention of the Zombie Devil who hated hunters and had them both killed.
However, Denji had made a contract with Pochita, allowing him to take over his body should he die. Rather than taking his friend’s body, Pochita became Denji’s heart and gave him his powers. All Denji had to do was show Pochita his dreams. Denji was reborn as the Chainsaw Man. He wasn’t a Devil, a Fiend, or a human. Not long after winning his freedom, he was picked up by Makima, a Devil Hunter from the Public Safety Bureau and put to work.
What did you think?
I loved this season and can’t wait for more. The funny thing is that I don’t think it’s the fights that actually make this such an interesting story. There’s much more to it than it appears. When Denji first met Makima, I couldn’t help but feel like he had just swapped one tyrannical boss for another and that certainly appears to be true. If anything, Makima is far more dangerous than the Yakuza boss. I never expected to be exploring the implications of Denji’s life and how he handled the loss of his friends and colleagues. I certainly didn’t expect to develop such a strong connection to Himeno, a character that is unlike any I’ve bonded with before.
What was your favourite moment?
There were a lot of great moments so I’m going to pick one that I think won’t be discussed as much as others. I think the scene at Himeno’s apartment was the most realistic and touching scene I’ve seen in a long time. The animation was superb, but it was the way Denji and Himeno interacted. I loved how cute and endearing Himeno was when she drunkenly called Makima a cow (something that I think may have sealed her fate, but I’ll get to that later). They felt like real people in a crazy world full of devils.
Other than that, I think anything that involved Power and Denji was incredible. Power had a wonderful knack for leaning into any scene and stealing it with a well-timed piece of dialogue or comment. Of course, this peaked when they put on glasses to make themselves smarter in an attempt to defeat Kishibe.
What was your least favourite moment?
I’m still gutted that they killed Himeno and whilst I will still hope that she might come back, I can’t see it happening, especially after I think the Ghost Devil fulfilled its contract with her by allowing Aki to defeat it.
However, the thing that really stuck with me was how crap Denji’s life had been. He was a child who was basically owned by the Yakuza. He sold body parts and would regularly degrade himself for money. It was heartbreaking seeing him fighting for every scrap and never getting anywhere. Thankfully, he had Pochita to ease that time, but it was so sad. I remembered reading the first volume of the manga and thinking that it was incredibly dark and the anime did a great job of portraying that too.
Who was your favourite character?
It has to be Himeno. She was a bizarre ray of light in this dark and depressing world. I loved how she managed to maintain a sense of humour and perspective when it came to things. She showed just how pragmatic she is when they were trapped by the Infinity Devil. Then, she was the life of the party and then there was that scene at her apartment after she carried Denji there. She was a wonderful character and the show will be weaker for her absence. I do hope she comes back at some point.
Who was your least favourite character?
I don’t know if I would say least favourite because I do love a good villain, but it has to be Makima. From the first moment I laid eyes on her, I knew there was something evil lurking beneath the surface. Of course, it became glaringly obvious when she told Denji what she expected of him. Everything she does feels like a form of brainwashing. She is using every trick in the books to get Denji to do what she wants. It makes my skin crawl just watching her work. There were a number of times when people asked if Makima knew about the attack that resulted in most of the team dying and I believe that not only did she know and let it happen, but she wanted it to happen. I mentioned that Himeno making the cow depiction of Makima was costly, but it was more likely the friendship she made with Denji. Makima doesn’t need anyone getting in her way. This was a convenient way for her to get rid of Himeno.
Would you like some more?
Thankfully, I just picked up the next eight volumes of the manga and will be diving into those shortly. This is a fascinating series with some really interesting ideas and very dark themes. I have no idea where it’s going to go, but I believe that Makima is the one steering the ship. I can’t wait until some of the mysteries are explored and we finally get some answers. Kishibe knows a lot more than he’s been prepared to say so I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on what he does.
What have you learnt?
One of my issues with a number of other darker shows has been the use of overly goofy cartoonish moments to break the tension. Often these have been so intrusive that they detract from the serious nature of the show. I think Chainsaw Man has shown how you can put lighthearted moments into a very dark and serious show without having to break the tone of the show. Power has been a fantastic source of that and not once did they make her look goofy or cartoonish.
It’s obviously a personal preference, but I still remember how frustrated I was with Demon Slayer when they had Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke running around like the Three Stooges. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we didn’t have any moments like that in this series. That is how I’d prefer to see it done.
Other posts in the series
- Season One
- Episode 1 – Dog & Chainsaw
- Episode 2 – Arrival in Tokyo
- Episode 3 – Meowy’s Whereabouts
- Episode 4 – Rescue
- Episode 5 – Gun Devil
- Episode 6 – Kill Denji
- Episode 7 – The Taste of a Kiss
- Episode 8 – Gunfire
- Episode 9 – From Kyoto
- Episode 10 – Bruised & Battered
- Episode 11 – Mission Start
- Episode 12 – Katana vs. Chainsaw
- Season One
- Tatsuki Fujimoto Before Chainsaw Man