Denji gets a Day Job
Tuesday is Chainsaw Man Day on Crunchyroll, and this week brings episode 2 titled “Arrival in Tokyo”. This episode is thankfully a bit of a reprieve from the complete and utter nihilism of last episode, which had us witnessing our pitiful protagonist get butchered by the Yakuza and resurrected thanks to his puppy Pochita, who also happened to be the chainsaw devil. The two then combined after Denji’s death, making him Chainsaw Man and giving him the power to sprout chainsaws from his appendages. This allowed him to get vengeance on the yakuza and the Zombie Devil who killed him, while also landing him in the path of the Devil Hunters of Public Safety and the pink haired 20 something Makima. Who the 16 year-old Denji instantly falls head over heels in love with.
Here the world building begins as Denji is brought to the Public Safety building and is tasked with shadowing the katana-wielding Aki Hayakawa who leads the Experimental Division 4, which appears composed of both humans and demons. After the two square off in a pretty big nod to They Live, that has Denji decimating Hayakawa’s nether regions, Denji kills his first demon on the job, a Fiend, which here is what happens when a devil possesses a corpse disfiguring and taking over the body. We discover this is a much different arrangement than Denji and Pochita’s, which is such a rare occurrence they don’t even have a name for it. This being the case, Denji’s employment in Division 4 is conditional with Makima decrying if he tries to leave or becomes subordinate he will be disposed of as a devil.
The episode ends with Denji meeting yet another fiend, this time his partner — Power. A “rational” blood fiend in division 4, who has possessed the body of a young woman around Denji’s age with two giant red horns sprouting from her head. This episode really highlights the comedy and characters that make Chainsaw Man such a great property. While Denji’s Achilles’ Heel for anything with breasts is comedic gold, it also has him dispatching the fiend as efficiently as possible as not to get blood on the dead man’s porn stash. This paired with the development of his relationships with Makima and Hayakawa adds an interesting dynamic to the show that could easily just be fight/rinse/repeat, week after week. Instead, we don’t get a full transformation into Chainsaw Man this go round, but we get plenty of great little moments and quippy one liners that help to humanize and breathe some life into these characters.
Speaking of people standing around talking — this episode was a bit more restrained animation wise compared to the madness of the previous episode, but it worked in its favor to spotlight the characters, allowing us to get to know Denji’s new world and its rogues gallery of inhabitants. The humor here was spot on and I laughed out loud more than once at some of the situations dealt out by Denji’s new station in life. The best thing this anime is able to do is replicate the manga where you want to root for Denji as this all transpires, even though at times he can be a basic horny teenage boy. This is amid a precarious balancing act that takes place in this supernatural crossroads, where children are on the front lines fighting demons. I’m definitely digging the direction so far and how precious series director Ryu Nakayama is at dealing out the story here, really relishing in every chapter of the manga at his disposal.
That’s one positive of the manga being the hit it is and them starting the show well into its run with 12 volumes currently in print. I doubt we will hit a filler arc with these short seasons combined with the already available material.