SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE “CHAINSAW MAN” MANGA AND FIRST EPISODE OF “CHAINSAW MAN”
The long-awaited premiere of the hit manga “Chainsaw Man”, written by Tatsuki Fujimoto, tore its way to the top of fall releases with an exceptional premiere on Oct. 11. Despite the fact only one 25-minute episode was released, there is a lot to talk about in just the first episode.
RECAP OF EPISODE ONE
The story follows Denji — an impoverished young man burdened by his late father’s debt to the yakuza — and his journey in a world populated by supernatural entities born from human fears. These entities are known as “devils”, but not all devils are evil! Denji finds a companion in Pochita, an unfathomably cute devil dog with a chainsaw protruding from his head, after offering his blood to save the little devil’s life.
Yakuza members lured Denji to an isolated location. The yakuza attempted to kill Denji with the aid of the Zombie Devil. However, the Zombie Devil deceived the yakuza, used mind control to make them do its bidding and dismembered Denji. Pochita, who was being held by Denji during the attack, was nearly killed.
The Zombie Devil disposed of Denji and Pochita’s remains in a nearby dumpster. A rivulet of Denji’s blood gives Pochita enough strength to forge a contract with Denji. In exchange for saving Denji’s life, Pochita simply asks to see Denji fulfill his dreams. After fusing with Pochita, Denji rises from the dead as the Chainsaw Man and slays the gang members who extorted him.
Makima, a Public Safety Devil Hunter, arrives on the scene and delivers an ultimatum to Denji: to be killed as a devil or join her at the Public Safety division. Denji agrees to join her for something as simple as breakfast, a luxury he has not experienced before.
The opening gave audiences a small taste of what was to come. As expected from Mappa Studios, the opening itself was gorgeously animated, referenced cinematic masterpieces and replaced characters from iconic scenes with the main cast of characters.
The attention to detail is astounding — every scene in the opening was a shot-for-shot remake of the referenced movies. Mappa chose The song, “KICK BACK” by Kenshi Yonezu, set the tone for the series and will definitely fit into a playlist of shounen anime openings.
One of the manga’s greatest flaws is its breakneck pacing. While some readers enjoyed the lack of filler in the series, some found it difficult to keep track of the plot. The panels are beautifully illustrated with a painstaking attention to detail, but the jumps between each scene could give someone serious whiplash during fights. My immersion during my reading experience was frequently broken by the need to constantly look back at previous panels to understand where I was at.
The animated format slows down the pacing and allows watchers to fully immerse themselves in the fights. “Chainsaw Man” fans were delighted to hear that Mappa — the animation studio responsible for the similarly gorgeous fight scenes in “Jujutsu Kaisen” — would animate the series.
The animators masterfully used computer graphics animation, and the transition between CG and traditional animation was hard to notice. One of the series’ key features is the gratuitous amounts of violence and gore.
The fight choreography and cinematography emphasizes the sheer brutality in the world of “Chainsaw Man”. Manga readers will be proud of how faithful the adaptation is, but new viewers may feel a bit squeamish if they are not used to the genre.
The voice acting also helps remedy the pacing issues. The first part of “Chainsaw Man” is only 97 chapters long, and its short length tempts people to read it in only a few days. As a result, readers may try to speed-read the dialogue or text. The voice acting forces people to wait and listen to the dialogue for a certain amount of time. It also adds dramatic tension between the characters.
The improvements made by the voice acting would exist without the actors’ phenomenal performances. Kikunosuke Toya, a relatively new voice actor, does an excellent job of capturing Denji’s rough yet young 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 heart-wrenching in all the right ways.
The Internet was split on Makima’s casting. Tomori Kusunoki’s performance for Makima is soft and whispery, and it seems that many fans expected a drastically different voice for the character. The director’s choices for Makima fit her character perfectly. Makima is emotionally manipulative. It makes sense that Denji — a boy who longs for a normal life — would seek out someone who sounds kind and soft.
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 will not disappoint viewers.
“Chainsaw Man” is definitely on its way to be one of the top anime for the fall 2022 season. The positive reception was well-earned, and fans are excited 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.