Chainsaw Man’s First Episode Certainly Validates All The Hype
Heart? Crushed. Soul? Burning.
In July 2022, I headed to the Chainsaw Man panel at Anime Expo 2022 mostly out of curiosity. I had simply osmosis’d that people were excited for the series. I knew nothing else about the series at the time, except that MAPPA was involved and I tend to love MAPPA’s work (Jujutsu Kaisen, Attack on Titan season 4). I was in no way prepared for the level of excitement exuded by the attendees of the panel, which made Chainsaw Man the most energetic panel at Anime Expo, no contest. I left that panel with the gut feeling that the Chainsaw Man anime was about to become huge. Like, Attack on Titan in 2015-level huge.
This is a very long way of saying that there is a lot of hype around this anime. Indeed, Chainsaw Man is set to be the highlight of a historically packed Fall 2022 anime season. Typically, when the hype bar is this high, there is a very narrow margin for sailing into actual success. But judging by the first episode, MAPPA—studio of wonder, granter of dreams—performed a miracle: they resoundingly cleared the hype bar.
The present version of me opining this is the one which spent the last week and a half reading all of Chainsaw Man after its overwhelming victory in a Twitter poll I conducted. I grew obsessed. Quickly. By the end of the first, double-length chapter of Chainsaw Man—which episode one, “Dog and Chainsaw,” adapts—I quickly understood why it has drawn in so many readers and entranced them.
What really hooked me is that the tone of Chainsaw Man is unlike anything else I’ve come across. I’ve struggled to describe it in a way that feels satisfactory. Maybe it’s kind of like Jujutsu Kaisen, if Jujutsu Kaisen were simultaneously gorier, morally grayer, and more absurd? Absurd in both its humor and its approach to world-building? And also hornier, in a way that feels pure despite general impurity encroaching upon you from all asides in all aspects?
Put it this way: there is a chapter of Chainsaw Man titled “Sharknado.” I shit you not.
Anyway, “Dog and Chainsaw” pulled me into the world of Chainsaw Man in exactly the same way as chapter one did. Though the episode a faithful adaptation through and through, its pace feels a bit slower and more ambient, which works to its credit. Denji wins you over and enters your sympathies quickly. Pochita steals your heart entirely, running away with it and gnawing on it so that it spurts a little blood out when he sinks his little teeth in it. This can regenerate his cute little demon body. I don’t mind, Pochita. I am the president of the Pochita fan club.
Because it’s MAPPA, the entire episode looks stunningly gorgeous. The light hits just how you want it, setting the mood of each shot perfectly. The score is great. The voice acting choices are spot-on (though I admit I imagined Makima’s voice to be lower). Side note here: in the same way that I was not prepared for the Spy x Family dog’s low and wonderful borfs, I was not prepared for Pochita’s high and exquisite yips. Pochita, you are perfect. I want our time together to be forever.
The one compliant about the Chainsaw Man anime I have seen is that, once Denji transforms, he’s clearly computer-animated. I sympathize with this point in theory, because I tend to be a snobby purist and the change is noticeable. But also: these poor fucking animators. Who knows what kind of hours they’re pulling at what kind of pay to make these beautiful anime for us. You want them to hand draw not one, but three consistently revolving chainsaws?! I do not blame them for a second for taking the shortcut.
I won’t spoil the contents of the episode, as I mean this article to be a strong gust of wind to knock over people who are on the fence of whether or not to watch Chainsaw Man. I find the oft-used phrase “peak fiction” to set an impossible standard, and I therefore have a distaste for it. But let this be a testament Chainsaw Man really is living up to its impossible hype. As long as you can handle a little (okay, a lot of) gore, I deeply recommend giving it a try.
Image credit: MAPPA
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