Why Chainsaw Man’s Boob-Touching Scene Is Actually Brilliant
If, at the beginning of this calendar year, you had told me that one of my favorite scenes of all media of the year would be a scene wherein a man gets to fondle boobs, I would not have believed you. The track record for “man writes scene in which man gets to fondle boobs” is essentially a cringe-fest—the kind of cringe that makes me and plenty of others grimace when we witness it. Prior to now, if you had told another human that your favorite scene of the year is one which involves breast-fondling, you would have raised many eyebrows.
But Chainsaw Man—the anime of both the season and the year—does nothing if not defy expectations of what “should” and “shouldn’t” work, to miraculous degrees. I wouldn’t say Chainsaw Man‘s boob-touching scene isn’t cringy. But it’s a very different kind of cringy. Let’s not forget the female character involved in this scene is based on Eric Cartman. As a result, it’s one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a long time. I love it.
When you think of a boob-fondling scene, you imagine it always from the (assumed) man’s point of view, because that’s usually what we get. The male gaze, in all its legendary cinematic forms, usually makes the woman feel like an object in these kinds of “sexy scenes,” merely something to be desired or ogled. The man is the hero, because he gets the woman to bend to his will. Ergo, the man is in full control. Typically speaking.
Absolutely none of this is true when Denji fondles Power’s chest—or, in her words (from the dub), when she “thrice blesses” him. We’ve been leading up to this moment for many episodes. Denji has long declared that his biggest goal in life is to “cop a feel.” And a huge reason this whole thing gets a pass is because, just a few days ago, this guy had one eye, no balls, and a seemingly unending servitude of debt to the yazuka. The kid never had toast with jam before. Denji’s character and history is key in this whole matter. I want him to finally experience life as it’s possible to live it. I want him to be happy. Honestly, I’d probably let him touch my boob. (Don’t get any ideas, internet. This pass is for my partner and Denji only.)
Beyond that, the Denji-Power scene completely flips the script on who’s in control. Yes, there’s a shot of Power sitting on the toilet and blushing in a very “playing to coy female anime stereotypes” way towards the end of episode four. But it’s a bait and switch. Let us not forget that the toilet she is sitting on was just scrubbed clean of her own literal shit by Denji. At length. Denji had just complained that her shit clung to the walls of the toilet. Her shit had turned Denji’s entire toilet brush brown. And now she transforms the toilet into a proper throne.
Indeed, it’s wildly obvious throughout the entire affair that Power is the one in control here. Power very clearly gives Denji exactly three fondles in recompense for saving her cat Meowy, not ratting her out to their boss, and killing the Bat Devil for her—all situations which worked wildly to her benefit. She shrieks in obviously feigned pleasure before a breast pad falls out—which she plays as a favor to Denji. After the pad falls, Power barely reacts to the remaining two squeezes. Then she suddenly jumps up and screams (in the words of the sub), “What did you think? Was it not fantastic? How lucky for you, to grasp such splendid things!” This line makes me cackle every time. Boobs are, indeed, splendid things. What luck for one to be allowed this honor!
Is there a figure? Yes. Do I find it completely hilarious that this exists? Yes.
Anyway. After congratulating Denji further on her company, she leaves. She never once gave Denji even a smidgeon of control. And in typical Power fashion, she expects it to have been an incredible experience. Touching her boobs, she believes, is a profound honor. Alas, Denji did not find it to be an incredible experience. Denji is shook from the experience of touching the boobs of a woman inspired by Eric Cartman. The next morning, he looks like this:
This gets us to the true genius of this scene. Because that look can only mean one thing: complete existential despair. Denji later confirms to Makima that he’s suffering from what I like to call The Bojack Horseman Syndrome: “There was something I was chasing after, and I finally managed to get it. But once I did, it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought. Now I’m wondering, if I go after something else, and get my hands on it, am I just going to think I was happier during the chase?”
This is an incredibly resonant, heavy thing to say—whether you’re disappointed by your first titty-fondle or not. Poor buddy. This is also one of my brands of existential crisis, as well.
This confession is followed by another boob-touching scene, this time with Makima. This scene could easily have its own analysis piece, so all I’ll say here is that Makima is very, very clearly in control here, too. But this one isn’t funny. It’s disturbing. Makima is manipulating the everliving shit out of Denji, and it’s working.
During the manipulation, Makima does make a legitimately good point, though—and that is, in order to fully enjoy boob-touching or any kind of sensual intimacy, intimate knowledge of your partner is key. It’s more than a physical relationship; it’s an emotional one, as well. Denji’s excitement to touch Power’s boobs made this mistake, as do many of the boob-touching scenes before it. In real life, an isolated fondle with a near-stranger isn’t the incredible apotheosis moment other media often portrays it as. The difference is that Chainsaw Man actually grapples with that chasm between one’s assumed and actual desires, how the latter is often never clear, and the feeling of emptiness that leaves you with.
All through a boob-touching scene.
(featured image: MAPPA)
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