This exposition heavy foray loses some bite due to some weird translation choices for the show
This week’s cold open starts off in a hospital sometime after Special Division 4’s “battle” with “Katana Man” and the young girl, who basically wiped the floor with our favorite agents. This exposition-heavy episode starts off with Aki, waking up to Denji and Power keeping watch over him, while also eating through his gift baskets in a quiet, yet familial moment for the trio. After the pair depart for a meeting with Makima, Aki picks up the “Curse Devil” sword only to discover he has two years of life remaining for its use. The two agents from Kyoto, Tendo and Kurose then show up and inform him that he needs contracts with more powerful devils, or he should quit his job and enjoy what’s left of his life in the private sector.
Now we cut to my favorite part of this episode and also my biggest problem with the show so far in its adaptation. This has Makima entrusting Power and Denji to Special Division 1’s Kishbe, a grizzled alcoholic human devil hunter who reminded me a bit of Tadanobu Asano from Ichi the Killer, he is going to hunt them and in turn train them to use their power and turn them into badasses. His logic being that since he’s the strongest of the human devil hunters, if they could best him, they actually stand a chance against their previous foes. Here we get the shonen trope of the protagonists “training up” to beat their opponent who bested them. I love that this manga bit is even mentioned here by Denji with Tatsuki Fujimoto adding a meta awareness. But this is Chainsaw Man, so Kishbe essentially spends the day killing Denji and Power over and over again, then reviving them with blood, to hopefully teach them a thing or two.
It’s only after their day’s lesson that they realize that the only way to defeat Kishbe, since physically he’s unbeatable is to use their minds, which gives me my issue with this episode. Firstly Power is normally very formal, but in this episode in particular her phrasing just seems off and loses some of the humor in the translation choices. She says Kishbe’s mind is “addled by spirits”, which by going formal, loses the bite alcohol has if used here. In the manga, the next day Power and Denji, now committed to unleashing their mental prowess, commence “operation super smart!” complete with a hero pose of the two now wearing glasses to prove their intelligence. Given the stark last few chapters this gag was a fun respite. IN THE ANIME, there’s no hero pose and Power’s dialog is translated to “Let the highly cerebral warfare begin”. Just what the hell? Sorry Crunchyroll the joke is DOA here.
After this we catch back up with Aki who is on his way to make a contract with a devil in a basement, where the government keeps the devils who are caught alive. Of course the episode cuts off before we discover who’s in the cell he’s guided to, but with only two episodes left it’s pretty safe to say “Katana Man’s” days are numbered.
So yeah, this episode I think they didn’t quite nail it, while they’ve been really good at replicating the tone of the manga for some reason this episode just didn’t get that mix right and it’s primarily due to some of the issues with the localization of the translation. Maybe it’s a time thing, but it feels like it was translated by an AI losing the jokes and the character dynamic of the speakers. I know they’re probably under a tight deadline, but please do better. I do have to admit however, the Kishbe battle in the cemetery was leaps and bounds animation-wise more impressive than the battle between “Katana” and Chainsaw a few episodes ago.
Chainsaw Man is released on Crunchyroll on Tuesdays.