Chainsaw Man tears through his enemies with his chainsaw limbs. PHOTO COURTESY CREATIVE COMMONS
The manga sensation finally arrives on streaming services.
On Oct. 12, 2022, “Chainsaw Man,” animated by Mappa Studios, released its first episode on anime streaming service CrunchyRoll. The “Chainsaw Man” manga became wildly popular due to its characters, high action and unique art. Mappa Studio’s adaptation seems to uphold the manga’s spirit, along with fully taking advantage of the animation medium through its action.
Denji lives in high poverty with his pet demon Pochita after being held to his dead father’s debts from the Japanese mafia. Despite being loyal to the mafia overlords, Denji is betrayed by them. In his attempt to gain revenge on the overlords, Denji finds he has the ability to become the titular Chainsaw Man, able to tear into any opposition with his head and arm blades.
I purposefully left out select details in my synopsis, as the first episode is already packed with unexpected plot turns and character development. These details are best to be experienced in the moment rather than if you know they are coming.
In the best way possible, the show is ridiculous: it is violent, comedic and outright bizarre. The Chainsaw Man’s wacky design of excess chainsaw limbs makes him feel like a B-movie horror movie villain, and other odd plot moments make the unexpected protagonist feel right at home.
Despite this, episode one makes it clear the story has a lot of heart behind it. Within 25 minutes, I found myself getting invested in Denji and his goals and struggles. I found myself smiling a lot throughout the episode due to factors such as Denji and Pochita’s relationship and their ability to triumph in such a twisted world of monsters and mobsters.
Denji is a solid protagonist audiences will get behind, mostly due to his clear goals and relatability. There is an element of bildungsroman (coming of age story) behind all the madness, with Denji’s balancing his desire to live a normal life and get a girlfriend with his demon hunting lifestyle. Pochita’s puppy-like design also adds innocence to a dark, yet energetic story.
In mentioning energy, the animation is top-notch, especially during the action scenes. Similar to other Shonen Jump anime, “Chainsaw Man” is a story that needs animation to be properly told. Characters move fluently, with the aforementioned ridiculousness of the Chainsaw Man’s design working perfectly during fight scenes. Even when standing still, each character clearly had plenty of thought put into their creation.
The show balances 2D and 3D animation well, making for an interesting presentation rather than creating a distracting contrast. Some scenes use the two animation styles to add depth to the scale of the location, making the world around the characters feel expansive. The balance also led to fantastic perspectives and shots.
The rock/heavy metal score was solid during the action scenes. The more subdued electronic music during more somber scenes were just enough to be noted, yet little enough to not distract from more emotional scenes.
“Chainsaw Man” starts on a fantastic episode that will leave audiences tuning in on a weekly basis. The second episode released on Oct. 18, meaning fans tuning in to the story for the first time already have 40 minutes of content to enjoy. If you are a fan of action and character development with a tolerance for zaniness, you may have found a goldmine within “Chainsaw Man.”
“Chainsaw Man” episode 1 gets a 9/10.