SPOILERS AHEAD FOR “CHAINSAW MAN” MANGA AND “CHAINSAW MAN” FIRST EPISODE
The long-awaited premiere of the hit manga “Chainsaw Man,” written by Tatsuki Fujimoto, smashed its way to the top of fall releases with a stellar premiere on October 11. Despite the fact that only one 25-minute episode was released, there’s a lot to talk about in the first episode alone.
EPISODE ONE RECAP
The story follows Denji – a poor young man burdened by his late father’s debt to the yakuza – and his journey through a world populated by supernatural entities born of human fears. These entities are known as “demons”, but not all demons are evil! Denji finds a mate in Pochita, an incredibly cute devil dog with a chainsaw protruding from his head, after offering his blood to save the little devil’s life.
The Yakuza members lured Denji to a secluded location. The yakuza attempted to kill Denji with the help of the zombie devil. However, the zombie devil tricked the yakuza, used mind control to make them do his bidding, and dismembered Denji. Pochita, who was held by Denji during the attack, was nearly killed.
The Zombie Devil threw Denji and Pochita’s remains into a nearby dumpster. A stream of Denji’s blood gives Pochita enough strength to make a contract with Denji. In exchange for saving Denji’s life, Pochita simply asks to see Denji achieve his dreams. After merging with Pochita, Denji rises from the dead as Chainsaw Man and kills the gang members who extorted him.
Makima, a Public Security Devil Hunter, arrives on the scene and gives Denji an ultimatum: either be killed like hell or join her at the Public Security Division. Denji agrees to join her for something as simple as breakfast, a luxury he has never experienced before.
The opening gave the audience a little taste of what was to come. As expected from Mappa Studios, the opening itself was beautifully animated, referenced cinematic masterpieces, and replaced iconic stage characters with the main cast of characters.
The attention to detail is staggering – every scene in the opening was a shot-for-shot remake of the referenced films. Mappa chose The song, “KICK BACK” by Kenshi Yonezu, set the tone for the series and is sure to fit into a playlist of shounen anime openings.
One of the manga’s biggest flaws is its frenetic pace. While some readers appreciated the lack of filler in the series, some found it hard to follow the plot. The panels are beautifully illustrated with meticulous attention to detail, but the jumps between each scene could give someone a serious boost during combat. My immersion during my reading experience was frequently interrupted by the need to constantly go back to previous panels to understand where I was.
The animated format slows the pace and allows viewers to fully immerse themselves in the fights. “Chainsaw Man” fans were thrilled to learn that Mappa – the animation studio responsible for the equally gorgeous fight scenes in “Jujutsu Kaisen” – would be animating the series.
The animators used computer graphics animation masterfully, and the transition between CG and traditional animation was hard to notice. One of the main features of the series is the gratuitous amount of violence and gore.
The fight choreography and cinematography emphasize sheer brutality in the world of “Chainsaw Man”. Manga readers will be proud of the adaptation’s fidelity, but new viewers may feel a little disgusted if they’re unaccustomed to the genre.
Dubbing also helps with pacing issues. The first part of “Chainsaw Man” is only 97 chapters long and its short duration makes people read it in just a few days. As a result, readers may try to read the dialogue or text quickly. Dubbing forces people to wait and listen to the dialogue for a while. It also adds dramatic tension between the characters.
The improvements brought about by the voice acting would exist without the phenomenal performances of the actors. Kikunosuke Toya, a relatively new voice actor, does a great job of capturing Denji’s tough yet youthful nature. Shiori Izawa voices Pochita and sounds exactly how most people expected the little creature to sound. Her delivery during the contract scene with Denji was heartbreaking in all the right ways.
The internet was split over Makima’s casting. Tomori Kusunoki’s performance for Makima is smooth and whispery, and it seems like many fans were expecting a drastically different voice for the character. The director’s choices for Makima fit his character perfectly. Makima is emotionally manipulative. It makes sense that Denji – a boy who longs for a normal life – is looking for someone who seems nice and sweet.
Fans are excited for future episodes featuring the rest of the stacked cast. Well-established voice actors like Fairouz Ai, Kenjiro Tsuda, and Mariya Ise have yet to make an appearance. Based on the promotional material, they certainly won’t disappoint viewers.
“Chainsaw Man” is definitely on its way to being one of the best anime of the fall 2022 season. The positive reception has been well-deserved, and fans can’t wait to see more.
WHERE TO WATCH OR READ “CHAINSAW MAN”
The anime is available on Hulu and Crunchyroll. New episodes are released every Tuesday. For people who can’t wait for the next episode, the manga is available online on the official Shonen Jump app and VIZ website.
Jessica Cabrera is a student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying journalism. They can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.