For weeks now, social media has been anticipating the release of MAPPA’s Chainsaw Man anime adaptation. But, is Chainsaw Man worth the hype it’s been receiving?
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen the Denji “He’s just like me, fr fr” meme circulating in every corner of the internet. Now, I can’t wait to see it animated.
Chainsaw Man Episode 1 Review
If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ll know that I’m not a huge fan of shonen anime. Yes, I am borderline obsessive when it comes to Attack on Titan, but I believe that series transcended one genre category long ago.
I was a Cinema Studies major in college, and what captures my heart is the telling of a good story over anything else. I want to feel something while watching the characters on screen –whether that be live action, animation, or otherwise on any other creative medium out there yet discovered.
Maybe that’s why I gravitate towards stories that seem a little scary, or psychological thrillers that make me wonder what will happen to the characters after each episode. I’m not tooting my own horn and saying I’m better than the average watcher because I focus more on character-driven stories rather than frivolous tales, but rather studying cinema and tv/film production takes away a lot of the magic once you learn there’s only a mere wizard ‘behind the curtain’.
The formulaic plots you once loved quickly turn into contrived and boring narratives that you never give a second thought. So if a story comes around – like let’s say Ousama Ranking – that can successfully take the tropes of a traditional narrative story arc and successfully turn them on their head while paying homage in a satisfying way – then I am all in for the experience.
I’ve heard that the Chainsaw Man manga offers the experience I seek.
The Friendship Between Denji and Pochita
No more than five minutes into episode one I already felt for Denji. Orphaned at a young age and crippled into debt by a bunch of shady yakuza men perpetually keeping him poor, seeing him resort to selling body parts was especially painful.
What sold me on the episode though was a simple action Denji did when confronted by the manipulative yakuza.
In the car, the two gangsters discuss Denji’s usefulness before pulling up to him walking on a nearby sidewalk. The driver – believing Denji is a complete idiot – asks him to eat a burning cigarette for some extra cash. Without hesitation, Denji downs the cigarette only to make a face when they are out of sight that he’s not that stupid to do anything for cash.
Meaning, there is a method to his madness: happiness.
At his core, Denji wants a human connection. He wants to live a normal life surrounded by family, friends, or even a lover – not alone in a shack on a mountain eating a slice of plain bread for the rest of his life.
I can totally respect his dream.
All Denji wants is literally the bare minimum – and it’s okay for him to desire these things.
Denji’s Unfair Death
Denji’s shady employers show up one night and lead him into a desolate factory to kill him. Apparently, the yakuza went to a devil for power – just to be turned into a zombie during the deal. Denji does not make it out of the fight alive, but Pochita agrees to give Denji his heart in exchange for seeing his dreams come true.
With a new lease on life, Denji proceeds to completely slaughter the yakuza zombies who made his life a living hell – which I thoroughly enjoyed watching.
Is Chainsaw Man Worth the Hype?
Denji wanted two things: affection, and jam for his toast.
After taking out the undead goons, he is greeted by Public Safety Devil Hunter Makima and given two choices:
Die at her hands and have his body rot with the rest of the zombies
Work for them and get a hot meal every day
Obviously despite it still being a raw deal for the newly-freed debtor Denji, he chose the option with buttered and jellied toast.
The special moment in this exchange however is when Makima first confronts Denji, he asks for a hug. Makima indulges, and the powerful ‘chainsaw’ monster facade washes away – and Denji is able to experience human affection for the first time in a while.
I’d say Chainsaw Man is worth the hype for the Makima and Denji hug scene alone, and its underlying narrative of emotional growth and healing in a beyond-damaged teenage boy.
But, tell me your thoughts.
Are you familiar with the CM series?
Did you initially feel bad for Denji?
Is Pochita gone forever?
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☆ In Asian Spaces