The debut of “Chainsaw Man” left me speechless in more than one way



Bree Lavine

Porchia, the demon dog, debuts with Denji the Chainsaw Man!

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the long-awaited new manga from the phenomenal Mappa Studios debuted.  Written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto, “Chainsaw Man” follows the story of Denji, an intelligent but depressed and poor young man. He spends the majority of his life being used in order to pay the debt his departed father left after committing suicide.

If you haven’t already gathered this, this anime is dark right off the bat; it punches you in the gut in the best way. It left a mark with its debut not just because of Mappa Studios’s trademark skillful and realistic animation. It was one of the best and most unpredictable anime pilots—no, not just anime pilots. It was unlike any pilot I’ve ever seen. 

We start the episode with something I’ve never seen before in an anime: we watch through the eyes of Denji as he stumbles through an unknown location. We then finally shift into being able to see our main character. The first words of dialogue set the tone as he goes through the money he’s made by completing jobs or selling body parts, including his left eye.

We also get introduced to the adorable sausage-like devil chainsaw dog Pochita, and we watch the duo on the way to work. That’s when we see a creature with a dozen eyes, long white legs and huge fang-like teeth on a giant tomato, called the Tomato Devil. Denji is a devil hunter, and chainsaw dog Porchita is his weapon. However, after seeing the demon, we cut straight to the opening, which immediately caught my attention.

My favorite part of the opening is the first audio cue. We hear the rev of a chainsaw that transitions us into the upbeat intro music, which has an almost intense, creepy undertone. Not only does the intro consist of amazing ear candy for audio but the visuals are interesting. We see a mix of brutal fights and creepy imagery of what looks to be a group of friends, including Denji, doing normal activities like bowling and going to the movies.

After the intro, we cut back to Denji after he defeats the devil. Ordinarily, I’d be upset that we didn’t see the fight. but we now get a look at a new character, and I’m a sucker for characters. We now see the man Denji is indebted to, whom I immediately didn’t trust, but he does provide context for who Denji is, leading us into a flashback.

Flashbacks can be very hit-or-miss, but this usage adds context to Denji’s origin, as this is where we learn about his father’s death. We also see how Pochita and Denji meet. The flashback was effective in providing not only additional context for story elements, but also giving a deeper understanding of Denji’s life.

After the job, the duo returns to their broken-down home and we get an inside look at Denji’s motivations. He wants a normal life: to hang out with friends, have a proper relationship and be able to provide good food for himself and Pochita. Unfortunately, the moment is interrupted by the debt collector and we get one of my favorite quotes of the episode: “Wish they’d a least let me dream.” This shows just how hopeless Denji truly is.

I want to stress now that this episode is brutal, gory and, at some points, hard to watch. The “job” the duo was heading to was a trap the debt collector set, a deal with the devil of zombies that resulted in them both being stabbed and then eaten alive. 

However, this isn’t where the stories end. We learned in the previous flashback that by consuming human blood, devils can heal themselves. This is where we get a second flashback, and see Denji and Pochita having a really powerful moment where Denji tells the devil to use his power to take his body so he wouldn’t be alone.

Pochita does just that, and the adorable chainsaw puppy turns the depressed yet lovable Denji into the Chainsaw Man. With chainsaws on both arms and his head, Denji slices through all of the zombies and the zombie devil. 

Once the smoke clears, we see an exhausted Chainsaw Man and mysterious woman also claiming to be a devil hunter. She offers the Chainsaw Man a choice; join her in hunting devils and she’ll give him the life he’s wanted, or die. Tough sell, I know, and that is how the episode ends.

I am really looking forward to the upcoming episodes of the series. This episode ended on a satisfying note, as we saw the Chainsaw Man defeat his killer, but the introduction of this new, mysterious yet sweet character leaves me so intrigued that I can help but count the days to the next episode.