The folks at MAPPA deal out a satisfying conclusion to their magnum opus for this season
This has been a wild run for Chainsaw Man, a show that had a nearly impossible level of hype to live up to, and after its finale I have to say it managed to do just that. This episode had our favorite public servants squaring off against a rogue Yakuza faction led by the mysterious young girl and “Kitana Man” who bested them only a few episodes before. It’s the kind of end of season battle you hope for in a shonen showdown, where you’re not exactly sure our newly trained heroes are going to come out on top, but against the odds they do. This episode does a great job at keeping you guessing till the very end as it does double duty while also setting up next season with a ton of exposition and more stingers than a Marvel movie.
After a moving cold open involving Aki’s battle with the “Ghost Devil” and the young woman now controlling her, we cut to the dynamic duo after the intro as Power once again leaves Denji high and dry to square off one on one against “Kitana”. There’s an odd exchange where “Katana” even offers to surrender himself, but Denji needs some retribution first, and I think to prove to himself that he can in fact do this. Cribbing a bit from Spiderman 2 we’re then treated to a frantic and wonderfully animated subway battle that didn’t go quite as expected for either party. It’s here we also discover Denji’s dream has grown from the beginning of the season, where he just wanted to “touch boobs”, to wanting to maintain his life and protect his new found friends. It’s a fair bit of character development that was 12 episodes coming, and only makes the aftermath of the battle even more satisfying.
This episode is also heavy on the exposition as it is the action.
It’s revealed the young girl — Akane Sawatari was once a private sector devil hunter who had a contract with the “Gun Devil”. It was that contract that’s blamed for her death, since once she’s captured, before they could question her, she is killed by her own “Snake Devil”. “Katana Man” was a “hybrid” human/devil Akane created combining the “Kitana Devil” with a human, like Denji, to create a tool to achieve her goal. It’s a meaty morsel we’re given while the credits roll that let us in on just how important Denji is, since this was all to ensnare him and Pochita. Its pure shonen storytelling, which is very reminiscent of Naruto, since like the 9 Tails trapped in that young ninja, you have multiple evil entities after that power to wield it for themselves. Even with this said the I will forgive Fujimoto for that trope, since he is no stranger to the formula and uses his choices to apply a meta commentary to it at times.
I have to say it’s one of the more satisfying seasons of anime I’ve seen in a long time, which was wonderfully animated in a near seamless mix of traditional hand drawn animation and 3D CGI. It had a decent character arc for its protagonist that gave us just enough development and enough story to keep us hooked and invested while waiting for the next season. I also really dug the world building and the mythology in Chainsaw Man, as it started to open up in the latter half of the season and we got more of a look at this world’s day to day. It’s something that I hope continues since its new experiences where the trio of Denji, Power and Aki truly shine.
While Makima is no doubt going to turn heel sooner or later, we at least know we will be plenty entertained until that happens, and hopefully Denji will be wise up. The only thing that really threw me off is the break neck pacing of the show, which is just me being old school. Back in my day if a character took eight episodes to go super Sayan, we just dealt with it. The show is as faithful as anyone could want to the source while imbuing the show with more moments to let the characters other than Denji shine filling out the story and characters around him.
I mean except for some of the translation issues, it was a near perfect season that made me a fan of not only the show but the platform. I also loved how Crunchyroll kept us counting down the minutes until the final episode with a livestream that consisted solely of clips of Pochita barking. He really is the best boy. After I completed the episode figuring my work was done, I even got an email with a wallpaper that were adoption papers for the chainsaw dog, saying I was now worthy. It’s the kind of thing they didn’t have to do, but it was very fun and appreciated. So there’s definitely an experience to be had that the platform fosters(along with its rogue’s gallery of comments) that you don’t get from watching the show through more nefarious means and that was a fun surprise.
So what can I say other than I thought this show was worth the hype and then some. Its been a while since I’ve been this vested in any anime and I will be very impatiently waiting for the hopefully coming announcement for season two.
Thanks for reading and see you next season!