A Boy and his Chainsaw Dog
Long before the premiere of its first episode, Chainsaw Man has been one of those works that have captured everyone’s attention. Chances are many of us were first introduced to the series because of the “Praying Astronauts” panel in Chapter 64. Others became fans thanks to its dedicated community which has been building momentum with fan art and cosplays.
Season 1 of Chainsaw Man perfectly sets up the world while also introducing us to everyone. At the same time, it does an excellent job setting everything up for something bigger without dragging it on or rushing it. Of course, one can’t also overlook the quality of the animation and attention to detail.
It should be noted that I’m anime only regarding the series. Hence this review will not be comparing Season 1 of Chainsaw Man with the manga. Instead, my critique will be based on the anime adaptations’ own merit.
Welcome to Public Safety
The world of Chainsaw Man is one in which devils are manifested from human fear. The greater the fear, the more powerful and deadly the Devil is (while posing a threat to public safety). To protect the public from this threat, devil hunters (private and government) are tasked with hunting them down. Hunters will also form a contract with a devil in an attempt to gain an advantage on the job. The story beings in an alternative 1990’s and it has been 13 years since the Gun Devil first appeared but its impact on humanity can still be felt.
Season 1 beings by introducing us to Denji, an orphaned teen forced to work as a devil hunter for the Yakuza. His only friend is a chainsaw devil named Pochita (who he shares all his dreams and aspirations with). Everything changes when his employer sells him out to the Zombie Devil. In an attempt to survive, Denji makes a contract with Pochita – it becomes his heart in exchange for living out his dreams.
With this contract, Denji becomes a human/devil hybrid known as the Chainsaw Man. This ability gets the attention of Makima, who recruits him into Special Division 4 of the Public Safety Devil Hunters. In no time he is partnered with Aki Hayakawa (a veteran devil hunter) and Power (a Blood Fiend).
Right away, the squad is assigned the mission of hunting down the Gun Devil. The task is already challenging but it’s made even more complicated by the fact there is a target on Denji. The Gun Devil is interested in acquiring his heart and has recruited mobsters and other devils to help it. At the same time; Makima may know more than she lets on and might have ulterior motives that involve Denji.
Contract With a Devil
From a narrative perspective, Season 1 of Chainsaw Man sets itself up to have a well-paced story with memorable characters. The story arcs are properly paced and every moment is properly used to tell a story to build up the setting. Plus there are numerous subtle hints dropped something bigger or sinister is coming. Each character (regardless of how long they last) is given a moment to shine or have an impact on you. Thus, when they are lost then it emotionally matters. This also demonstrates that very few are safe from their demise.
But, you can’t have a series called Chainsaw Man without some over-the-top action. Season 1 absolutely does have its fair share of carnage and mayhem. Yet, it’s not the defining aspect. The series overall has struck a perfect balance between the action and drama. The moments leading up to the fights are perfectly build up with some good tension. When the action hits, do expect a lot of over-the-top carnage. There is a good amount of action along with a quality story with well-crafted characters.
From the very start, the series grabs your attention with the quality of its animation. Its style is the perfect balance between using traditional animation and CGI animation. The result is an artistic style that gives a lot of attention to the smallest details. From the blue of Himeno’s eye to the background design of a major city, you will appreciate every amount of detail. One could even compare the attention to detail of an anime from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s. Overall; MAPPA has spared no expense when it comes to bringing Chainsaw Man to life.
Of course, you can’t have a good series with a solid opening and ending. Season 1 of Chainsaw Man has one of the best openings with a theme song that properly sets the series’ tone. To my surprise, the ending theme for each episode is completely different. However; it also works to its advantage by encapsulating the overall mood of the episode.
Taste of a Kiss
My only issue I had was the unnecessary censorship in “Ep. 7 Taste of a Kiss”. The moment has a drunk Himeno kissing Denji only to have her puke in his mouth and all over his face. A few minutes later, Denji is reflecting on his past and a pile of vomit is also censored. This makes me ask why was the vomit censored? This is a show with plenty of gore and violence, vomit is not that repulsive by comparison. We all have also yacked at some point in the year (be it due to illness, a medical condition, or having too much to drink). There is almost no reason for the vomit to be blurred out.
Despite this one minor shortcoming, Season 1 overall has been a solid introduction to Chainsaw Man.
Show Me Your Dreams
Overall; Chainsaw Man has been one of those works that has lived up to the hype and expectations. From the very start, it pulls you in and keeps you entertained. At the same time making you come back for more or re-watch the previous episode.
Season 1 of Chainsaw Man is a masterpiece that strikes the perfect balance between a solid story and over-the-top action. No expense was spared as seen with its animation quality to the opening and numerous endings. Making this one of the best shows of the Fall 2022 season.
Disclaimer: I watched the entire season on Crunchyroll, which I pay for myself.
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Chainsaw Man (Season 1)
- Well paced story with memorable characters.
- Over-the-top action that is balanced by the drama.
- Quality animation with attention to the smallest details.
- Best opening songs while the different endings sums up the episode's tone.
- Unnecessary censorship in “Ep. 7 Taste of a Kiss”.