I just finished watching the anime adaptation of the hugely popular Chainsaw Man manga, and here’s my quick review. I have never read the manga and so my take will not be in the shadow of the manga.
For those who don’t know, Chainsaw Man (チェンソーマン) was created by Tatsuki Fujimoto and serialized in Japanese entertainment company Shueisha Inc.’s Shōnen manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump from December 2018 to December 2020, and then in Shōnen Jump+ online magazine in July 2022.
The anime TV series adaptation was produced by MAPPA [JP] and broadcast from October to December 2022.
For folks who are unfamiliar, here’s the plot to bring you up to speed:
“The story is set in a world where Devils (悪魔, Akuma) are born from human fears. However, individuals called Devil Hunters (デビルハンター, Debiru Hantā) specialize in hunting and employing them. Humans can make contracts with Devils via a sacrifice, allowing them to use the Devil’s power. Devils can also become Fiends by possessing a human’s dead body. Chainsaw Man follows the story of Denji, an impoverished young man who makes a contract that fuses his body with that of a dog-like devil named Pochita, granting him the ability to transform parts of his body into chainsaws. Denji eventually joins the Public Safety Devil Hunters, a government agency focused on fighting against devils whenever they become a threat to Japan. The second arc of the story focuses on Asa Mitaka, a high school student who enters into a contract with Yoru the War Devil, who forces her to hunt down Chainsaw Man in order to reclaim the devils stolen from her.”
I have no intention to review TV shows or movies and when I do, it is usually the series or film is so bad or too brilliant that I have to say a few words. That said, I am not going burden you with too long a review. This is a quick review with the aim to help those who have not to watch it decide if they should or should not watch it.
The anime adaptation of Chainsaw Man contains 12 episodes. Judging from how it ended, there is probably going to have season 2. OK. Maybe that is obvious since the Gun Devil has yet to be destroyed which is the primary goal.
The 12-episode anime takes us through how the protagonist came to be the Chainsaw Man and shortly into the series, we learned that it is about hunting the notorious and murderous Gun Devil.
You know how things are going to play out from there. Information of the whereabouts of the Gun Devil started to trickle in but not before they have to kick some devils’ (and zombies’) asses.
Throughout the series, we are introduced to several key characters like Aki Hayakawa, Makima, and Power – just to name a few, and their backstory through flashbacks. However, unlike some series, the flashbacks of each character, which can sometimes spread across different points of the series, are quick and to the point. They are never too emotional.
Having said that, I have noted that there is one particular trade of many protagonists of modern Japanese anime, TV series, and movies. They cry a lot. Like seriously a lot. Remember Shinji from Evangelion? Or Kohtaro Minami of the rebooted Kamen Rider Black Sun and Arisu of Alice in Borderland? Though for the latter two, they’d kind of grown stronger emotionally. But I can’t say the same for whiny Shinji.
Come on man. Shinji was 14 and Denji is not much older at 16. Denji did not have it easy like Shinji. Denji was born into a rough world. Before he became a Chainsaw Man, he was forced to work as a devil hunter for a yakuza to pay off his father’s debt after his father died. So yeah, Denji is definitely not whiny.
In fact, he is the complete opposite. He is merciless. Whether he is Denji or the Chainsaw Man, he never hesitates to drop the axe or chainsaw(s) – if he was the Chainsaw Man – on his opponents.
He is oh-so-curious about the female body which results in several hilarious encounters. Feminists may not be amused by Denji going all out perv. Also, he can be super crude at times.
Unlike some series or movies, the protagonist would have, at some point, felt sorry for himself. Denji/Chainsaw Man never. He is perfectly happy to have a hot meal and a place to sleep. The kid is resolved. He is absolutely resilient, even after losing both arms in a showdown with Katana Man. He fights as a real hero should.
Chainman Saw does not portray the hero as invincible like One Punch Man. The hero falls too but never emotionally. Where most shows or movies would have the hero struggling physically and emotionally to get back on their feet, often with a lot of sobbing or crying, the hero in this show gets up and fight after some physical struggle. Emotionally, he never got held back by the past. It is a refreshing change.
All these are what make Chainsaw Man unique. It broke the convention of a protagonist needs to be weak emotionally. And because the main character does not have that (emotion) while the others do, it makes this a rather colorful and at times rather dark series.
I love it. This is true anime entertainment where I do not have to struggle to comprehend the characters’ emotional baggage.
So, is there anything not good about it? Well, it is an anime and it was made as such and so I am not sure what more to ask. The Chainsaw Man is currently streaming on Prime Video. It is also available to stream on Crunchyroll.
Images: Chainsaw Man [JP].