Last episode, Chainsaw Man ended with a proposition from Himeno to Denji, “Wanna do it?” It’s Denji’s wildest dream but that euphoria doesn’t last long as the series hurdles towards the deep emotional core in Chainsaw Man Episode 8, “GUNFIRE.” The stark shift from action powerhouse series to an emotional one is stark and so well done as the elimination of safety any character has to survive to the next episode is completely eroded.
In Episode 7, Denji experienced his first, yet devastating, kiss. Instead of picking up exactly where we left off we get to see more of Himeno instead. An intoxicated Denji is taken to Himeno’s house, where she starts seducing him, but the proposition doesn’t come until we have time to spend one-on-one with Himeno as she takes in the moment for what it is, and she investigates her position against Makima. But when things start getting spicy, Denji feels torn between Makima, whom he admires, and Himeno, who is standing in front of him. While he decides to fall into temptation initially, the memory of an indirect kiss brings him back to reality.
The opening of Chainsaw Man Episode 8 is unique to the anime and it does a lot of work to give viewers more time with Himeno and to see her as a person, not a Devil Hunter. There is intimacy in the small moments, a connection formed that comes from jealousy of Makima’s position as the one who is yearned for. The opening is simple but it makes Himeno into someone with her own desires and complications. At the same time, it presents Makima as a specter in the story, someone with ultimate power emotionally over the rest of the main cast and as such the narrative even though her parts have been few and far between.
Somehow even Himeno trying to initiate sex isn’t rendered as something filled with fanservice. Instead, it’s thoughtful, even in drunkenness. We see the lead-up to the moment from Himeno’s perspective and then we also see it through Denji’s eyes too, eyes that are clouded by Makima. In this way, the series manages to shape Denji as more than a horny teen. He is filled with an innocence that is learning to value memories and he is learning to stop grasping at every desire he has. Denji is growing and learning what he really wants.
As the two look to begin a friendship in helping each other succeed in their own respective romances, Denji with Makima and Himeno with Aki, the episode turns drastically. The gun devil shows his head and death comes for the teams across the nation. The rising tension is balanced against the quiet life we see on screen. As targets, the devil hunters in every division are targeted, eliminated, and as the death toll counts, Fujimoto’s exploration of gun violence begins.
Some of Fujimoto’s most interesting designs come to life in Chainsaw Man Episode 8. Its action is gorgeous and shows exactly why studio MAPPA has become the standard in action animation. But it’s the balance between intense action, blood, and the ability to raise the stakes. The Gun Devil isn’t just here to be some dynamic and terrifying showdown. The Gun Devil is here to kill everyone and grind your emotional attachments to characters into the ground.
Everything you expected, especially in an episode that so intimately builds out a character by showcasing their humanity is that you’ll get to love them longer, but in Chainsaw Man, that isn’t the case. Love for a character means nothing and sometimes death is more important to the narrative than watching them grow and thrive. Chainsaw Man Episode 8 captures love and intimacy, and it also shatters it. It doesn’t so by devaluing the emotions built between characters but by showing you that ever devil hunter exists on a razor’s edge, made slimmer by the power of the Gun Devil.
As a manga reader, I have been waiting to see how studio MAPPA adapted this series of moments. Chainsaw Man Episode 8 doesn’t disappoint. The devil hunters have their backs against a wall and their ability to sacrifice for each other is unmatched. MAPPA has a deft hand in cladding its action in emotional weight. As Himeno fights Katana Man, we see the eerie and terrifying full power of the ghost devil she is in contract with, but at the same time, we see her emotional bond with Aki on full display. Happiness sometimes is crying, and the connection you have to others is sometimes only realized through death.
Chainsaw Man Episode 8 is a beautiful exemplification of what makes the series so strong. Humor, emotion, and action all combine to create a special exploration of power, death, and intimacy through the eyes of those who have resigned themselves to during and those who are ever-optimistic about the future. There is nothing like Chainsaw Man. Its pacing and twists are only just starting to kick into high gear and like every other episode, I can’t wait for more. The bitterness of Chainsaw Episode 8’s ending is going to be felt for the rest of the season in the best way.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime.