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Let’s Break Down the ‘Chainsaw Man’ Season One Ending

Kobeni is the MVP as always

Aki, Denji, and Power hanging out in Chainsaw Man's 12th ending

Chainsaw Man‘s first season was one of the brightest highlights of a stacked 2022. There are a lot of reasons the show is so strong: MAPPA’s gorgeous animation and incredible direction, the subtle ways the characters develop and grow, the thrilling action sequences, the ridiculous sense of humor, Power’s very existence. On top of all this, one of the aspects I love most about Chainsaw Man is that it doesn’t spoon-feed plot points and character motives to you. You have to read between the lines or develop your own interpretation.

The final episode of Chainsaw Man‘s first season, “Katana Vs. Chainsaw,” absolutely had some of these moments. I can tell you now that the manga doesn’t provide any more information than the anime. And, except for the teaser at the very end, it doesn’t provide any more information than what you’ve already seen. So let’s break down the more enigmatic points of the episode and form some theories, shall we?

Spoilers for Chainsaw Man season 1 ahead!

“Easy revenge”?

A cigarette that reads 'easy revenge'.

In my opinion, perhaps the most confusing moment in all of existing Chainsaw Man happens in episode 12: the “Easy revenge!” cigarette.

The background of this moment is crucial. Aki’s Devil Hunter partner, Himeno, had a contract with the Ghost Devil. During the first battle against Akane Sawata4i and “Katana Man,” a badly wounded Himeno made a new contract with the Ghost Devil: “I’ll give you everything I’ve got, so give me everything you’ve got.” Himeno’s body then brutally and slowly disappears, section by section, as the Ghost Devil attacks Katana Man. Himeno entirely disappears right around the time that Sawata4i’s Snake Devil devours the Ghost Devil.

At the Yakuza HQ, we learn that this devouring placed the Ghost Devil under Sawatari’s control. She summons it during her fight with Aki. Just as the Ghost Devil appears poised to defeat Aki, it suddenly stops. A cigarette rolls out from beneath its body with a hand-written message: “Easy revenge!” Aki takes the hint—Himeno had told him that the Ghost Devil only sees through fear. Remembering this, Aki confidently mounts the devil and slices off its head.

Now, the confusing part here isn’t necessarily the meaning of the phrase “easy revenge.” It’s why the hell is there a cigarette with a message from the departed Himeno?! The fact that the message comes via cigarette is an intimate enough clue from Himeno’s history with Aki to tell us that it did come from Himeno.

I have a theory. When Himeno made the “I’ll give you everything I’ve got, so give me everything you’ve got” contract, the Ghost Devil took her body. So doesn’t that mean that Himeno was able to take some of the Ghost Devil‘s body as well? Remember, a ghost hand revved Denji’s pull-chord during that first battle, after Himeno’s death.

The Ghost Devil did not fulfill the contract in that first battle—it wasn’t able to give everything it has because it abruptly lost. I think it’s likely that the “easy revenge!” cigarette comes from Himeno’s residual influence over the Ghost Devil, per the terms of their contract.

When and how did the Ghost Devil purchase a cigarette and write on it? Less clear. But, hey, it’s art. Plus, Aki gets another form of easy revenge later in the episode: kicking Katana Man ceaselessly in the nuts.

What triggered Sawatari’s demise?

Akane summoning the Snake Devil in Chainsaw Man

After the Ghost Devil’s defeat, my best girl Kobeni helps Aki corner Sawatari, the mastermind behind the slaughter of Special Devision 4 and Denji’s attempted assassination. However, as Kobeni is escorting her to the authorities, the Snake Devil that Sawatari had a contract with shows up out of nowhere and bites her head right off.

Makima has a theory about what happened here. As a general rule, I wouldn’t advise you to take Makima’s word for anything. But in this case, her explanation makes a lot of sense.

Sawatari had a contract with the Gun Devil. In this world, a contract with the Gun Devil is the only way to get guns. Someone had a deal with the Gun Devil, because the Yakuza all had guns. Unfortunately, it’s never explained exactly who Sawatari is and why she was in cahoots with the Yakuza. Feel free to make up your own story there. In exchange for the guns, the terms of Sawatari’s contract appear to be that she would give the Gun Devil Denji’s heart (remember, the Infinity Devil expressed a similar desire).

In other words, by getting caught by Public Safety Devil Hunters, Akane fails to deliver on the terms of her contract. Which triggered her death.

Who’s that girl at the end?

One ridiculously cute ending theme later, we’re treated to a little teaser about what lies ahead. We hear a girl talking, and see her shadow, hair, and feet as she walks to a cute little storefront. It’s the kind of tease which got manga readers all excited, but was mildly confusing to anime-only viewers. Allow me to explain in the least spoiler-y way I possibly can.

Mild spoilers for the Chainsaw Man manga!

Her name is Reze! Just Reze. That building at the end of the teaser is the café where she and Denji will meet for the first time. Reze is a fan-favorite character who will have a central role in the next arc. She’s even—get this—an age-appropriate love interest for Denji! And she’s not a co-worker! Goals … ?

The question about whether you’d want to be “the city mouse or the country mouse” is from one of her first interactions with Denji. It serves as a sort of sly nod to some of the themes and character dynamics of the next arc. You’ll hear this little parable a fair amount during the next arc. Which characters pick the quiet, peaceful life of the country mouse, or the flashier, exciting life of the country mouse? (Does Denji pick city mouse because of food? Yes.)

The final episode of Chainsaw Man‘s first season was incredible. It left us with a lot to chew on and a lot to look forward to. Especially to look forward to. I miss Power so much.

(featured image: MAPPA)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.