CRUNCHYROLL EXPO 2022: MAPPA’s Manabu Otsuka and Makoto Kimura on ‘Chainsaw Man’

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Chainsaw Man Anime

Chainsaw Man has been a smash hit on the manga scene. It’s bloody, it’s emotional, and with Part 2 of the manga just starting, fans are clamoring for the anime adaptation of Fujimoto’s work from the iconic studio MAPPA. At Crunchyroll Expo 2022, MAAPA CEO Manabu Otsuka and Executive Director & Rights Management Director on Chainsaw Man, Makoto Kimura sat down with us to talk about the upcoming series.

With over 15 million volumes sold, to say that Chainsaw Man is a beloved shonen series is, well an understatement. Before our interview at the Chainsaw Man Panel on the Crunchyroll main stage, Otsuka and Kimura explained their personal love of the series, with Otsuka explicitly saying that when he read the series, he knew he wanted MAPPA to adapt it.

In our conversation, Otsuka opened up about the responsibility of getting Chainsaw Man right. Otsuka said, “At events online, both domestically and abroad we really feel the enthusiasm and the passion from the fans. We’re really putting all of our effort so that our fans can enjoy the production that’s coming up.”

Kimura added, “We definitely feel pressure because of the excitement around it, to bring something that people around the world will appreciate. That being said we’re working really hard and we are trusting in our employees who are putting all of themselves into it. We believe int their abilities and we’re really confident that we’ll be able to bring a great product to the world.”

©Tatsuki Fujimoto/SHUEISHA, MAPPA

With series like Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan The FINAL Season, MAPPA is known its animators’ ability to craft jawdropping action sequences. On brining those action sequences to life, Otsuka explained, “Sometimes it depends on the project but generally speaking we look at a scene that fans love and we want our fans to be able to feel that we really care about the scene. So we put a lot of effort into bringing them into life. And to that end, we make sure that we select an action animator who we can entrust with that.”

And that eye for developing movement, beauty, and action is followed by the way that MAPPA has captured the organic illustrative style of the manga in the animation we’ve seen so far. Otsuka explained, “Whether it’s the action scenes or interactions with the characters, the goal is to make you believe that these characters can actually exist in real life.”

By pushing for the ambitious task of realism, certain fantastical elements of the series may be hard to adapt, but MAPPA is up to the task. On animating characters Otsuka explained the challenge that these beloved and unique characters present, and how MAPPA is tackling it head-on. “Denji is an atypical here. We’re bringing to life a character to life in animation that nobody has really seen before in manga and is a very unique character. So how do you bring something like that to the screen? Our staff struggled a lit bit in that area.” Otsuka said. On Makima, Otsuka added, “Makima is obviously a really important character, and drawing her beautifully is something we need to make sure we do that well.”

As for the most fun character to animate, Otsuka added, “And Power obviously has so many varied expressions, especially facial expressions, so she’s a character that the staff seems to really enjoy animating.”

Chainsaw Man
©Tatsuki Fujimoto/SHUEISHA, MAPPA

For MAPPA, faithfulness is the name of the game. Chainsaw Man, based on the source material, stands to be one of the most bloody projects that studio MAPPA has produced, and they’re not shying away from it. Kimura explained, “We want to stay true to the original product. Our focus is, as best as we can, really to meet the expectations of the fans of the original work. As you saw before in the panel discussion, Fujimoto said it was great to see all the blood and he loved it. So in the process, we’re working and changing things as we go along but really we want to bring something true to the original.”

To close out our interview, we asked what the two were most excited for the fans of Chainsaw Man to see when the series airs on Crunchyroll in October. For Otsuka, the answer was, well, all of it.

“It’s impossible to decide on just one thing. From the art to the action to the music to the voice actors, on all fronts we just really hope that [fans] can really focus in and enjoy all different,” Otsuka said. Kimura added, ” “We put together a staff of top creators and producers and for that reason also, we’re hoping people are excited when it comes on air, and looking forward to it as we are as well.”

Between the excitement from this interview and the Chainsaw Man panel, October can’t come soon enough. Though the next round of updates will come at the world premiere of the series held in Japan at an event this September. While international fans may miss the world premiere of the series itself, with some elements streamed virtually on MAPPA’s YouTube channel. While the world premiere hasn’t been entirely outlined as of yet, Otsuka and Kimura shared that the September 19th event will feature both the opening and closing themes for the series.

Chainsaw Man airs on Crunchyroll this October.

This interview was conducted via translator and edited for clarity. 

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