It’s hard to be an anime fan and not be aware of the hype around Chainsaw Man, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s hyperkinetic horror manga about a young man who after fusing with his adorable pooch — that just so happened to be the chainsaw devil, can then sprout chainsaws from his appendages. After being remotely aware of it I picked up the first issue of the manga and was immediately hooked on the story of Denji a poor sonuvabitch who after inheriting a massive debt from his father who killed himself, is forced to kill devils for the Yakuza to play his debt. This of course was after selling an eye, a kidney and even a testicle to try to pay the debt.
The first episode is origin story 101. Devils in the world of Chainsaw Man are an odd commodity, anything can really have a devil, and then that is essentially their power, oh and they are all about enslaving or killing humans. At Deji’s father’s funeral he comes across what he thinks is a wounded dog with a chainsaw coming out of his head, that just happened to be the surprisingly adorable chainsaw devil, Pochita. Denji makes a blood pact giving his blood to save its life in return for his help to kill devils to pay off his father’s debt. Throughout Denji’s friendship with the devil, who can do nothing but bark, he extols his dreams of living a normal life with a girlfriend free of debt, where he and his pooch can share the ultimate decadence — toast with jam on it.
Denji’s world of course comes crashing down when his boss sells him out to the zombie devil for power, who promptly kills the devil hunter and cuts him up into little pieces. This is definitely one helluva way to start a series. We then get a flash back to Denji making a promise to his pooch that if he ever died, he could have his body and possess him. Instead the devil gives Denji his little puppy chainsaw devil heart in exchange that he gets to live vicariously through Denji as he achieves his dreams. This dream starts out with Denji fusing his dismembered body back together in the dumpster, sprouting chainsaws from his arms and dispatching of the Zombie demon in a gloriously insane blood drenched spectacle. With a title like Chainsaw Man I would’ve expected nothing less.
That’s basically the first episode that just hit Crunchyroll this week and it ends with Denji being recruited by Public Safety, to hunt devils for the government by Makima, who embodies everything he wants in a girlfriend. It’s a very strong start that had me in on the story yet again. The opening credits here really sets the stage with its cinematic easter eggs pulling from films like Reservoir Dogs, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and even The Big Lebowski to the tune of Kenshi Yonezu’s “Kick Back”, it gives the first impression of a fun, but self aware take on the series that knows its roots while relishing in its ridiculousness. The first episode is gorgeously animated by studio MAPPA (Attack on Titan Final Season), which explains why this title took so long to make the jump from Manga to Anime and it was indeed worth the wait.
Not only did MAPPA really flesh out the world of Chainsaw Man, but they imbued it with a more contemporary style that I really didn’t expect that completes this world. The character design also simply felt like it refined Tatsuki Fujimoto’s rougher sketch-like style just enough, without reinventing the wheel or making the characters feel too polished. The dub here is hard to really address since there isn’t a whole lot of dialog, but I guess I will have to dig into that for episode 2. This was a rock solid start to the series and one that really impressed me given how long fans, including myself have been not so patiently waiting for. Chainsaw Man will run for 12 episodes, with the first currently streaming on Crunchyroll with a new episode every Tuesday. Catch you next week!