REVIEW: ‘Chainsaw Man,’ Episode 1 – “Dog and Chainsaw”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Chainsaw Man Episode 1 - But Why Tho

When I first read the Chainsaw Man manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto two years ago, I wanted to see it animated by MAPPA. And now, it’s being realized as MAPPA brings the series to life with Ryū Nakayama serving as director, Hiroshi Seko as the series writer, character design by Kazutaka Sugiyama, Devil Design by Kiyotaka Oshiyama art direction by Yusuke Takeda, and Kensuke Ushio scoring the animation. And with Chainsaw Man Episode 1, which screened at NYCC 2022, everything is off to an emotional bang.

Chainsaw Man is all about Denji (Kikunosuke Toya), a teenage boy living at the rock bottom of life. He just wants to get a girlfriend and touch a boob, sleep in a bed, and have a meal that isn’t old bread. These are his dreams, and in a life where he’s selling his organs to get out of his father’s debilitating debt, living in a shed, and eating out of a garbage can, those dreams are just as unreachable as becoming an astronaut with no education.

But while he holds onto his dreams, he holds onto his pet Chainsaw Devil Pochita (Shiori Izawa) even more. In order to try to climb out of the hole his father threw him in, Denji works with Yakuza, killing devils and delivering them to his benefactor, harvesting the devil corpses with Pochita’s skill. But one day, Denji is betrayed and killed. As his consciousness fades, Pochita revives him with a devil’s heart, giving birth to Chainsaw Man.

MAPPA discussed having a focus on realism in the production of Chainsaw Man and I wondered how exactly that would translate for such a bloody and fantastical series with devils and body horror throughout. And I have to say, the blending of the grotesque and the extreme with beautifully rendered elements like food and backgrounds that are captured with a detailed realism is perfection. We all know that the studio has become the standard for action sequence animation, and somehow, they’ve upped their own bar.

While I was skeptical of working hyper-realism in certain elements, it actually allows the devils and more horrific and fantastic elements of the series to pop. For an introduction, the big action sequence in Chainsaw Man Episode 1 captures the chaos and intensity that we see in the manga counterpart.

There is a desperation in Denji’s slashes, a fear but anger too. Watching our boy move through the Zombie devil’s corpse shield showcases in one fight that MAPPA is going to hit all of the gore and violence we got in the manga, and I can’t wait. Powered by blood, devils wreak brutal havoc, and it’s clear that the studio is going all in on that fact.

Chainsaw Man Episode 1 - But Why Tho

But beyond the animation, it’s the sound design in Chainsaw Man Episode 1 that has captured elements of the manga I couldn’t have been dreamed of. It may seem incredibly small but the small coos and expressions that Pochita makes adds a level of emotion that dog owners understand and adds a life to the character beyond his adorable good looks.

It’s something that brings to life Denji’s relationship with the Devil pup and also connected the audience to him too. It’s a small choice with large ripples that makes the final five minutes of this episode have deep emotional resonance. The moment is even more impactful than when I read it in the manga.

Chainsaw Man Episode 1 expertly captures what made the manga perfect. The humor, the blood, and deeply painful emotions that live in Denji, even with his golden retriever attitude. I absolutely can’t wait to see where the series go next.

Chainsaw Man is streaming exclusively on Crunchyroll October 11, at 9:00 am PT, with new episodes every Tuesday.


Chainsaw Man Episode 1
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Chainsaw Man Episode 1 expertly captures what made the manga perfect. The humor, the blood, and deeply painful emotions that live in Denji, even with his golden retriever attitude. I absolutely can’t wait to see where the series go next.

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