Chainsaw Man has ramped up it’s damage the last two episodes. Between killing off Himeno and building up mystery around Makima (while also showing how brutal her devil contract is), there is a lot of uncertainty for Public Safety Devil Extermination Division 4. Denji was left split in two, Kobeni is traumatized but still working, Aki is knocked out, and others are dead. The uncertainty of the characters’ future has easily made the series one of the most exciting to watch, and with plot armor virtually non-existent, the tension has skyrocketed. Now in Chainsaw Man Episode 10, “BRUISED & BATTERED,” the team has to deal with the fallout of it all.
Chainsaw Man Episode 10 deals with what remains after Samurai Sword’s vicious attack. This means the grief from losing Himeno and needing to construct a plan that takes into account the fact that the enemy desperately wants Denji. The episode begins with Aki unable to accept the reality of losing Himeno and Denji and Power just waiting for him to wake up. From there, we see Aki’s grief on full display before Makima makes it clear that Denji is who their enemy is after. With that revelation, Makima brings Power and Denji to get more training from the drunk but extremely powerful Captain Kishibe while Aki gets a visit from Kurose and Tendo, letting him know that they are now in charge of coaching him.
I’ve said it before, but it has to be said again, Chainsaw Man may be a great shonen because of the action animation, but it’s a stellar anime because of how well relationships are built and showcased in the small moments. Aki grieves the loss of his partner, there is stillness in his hospital room while the world moves around on the outside. But his grief for Himeno is only half of what he feels. Having unsheathed his sword, Aki has also lost years of his life. It’s the most emotional the series has gotten yet, thanks to using the small moments. A cigarette falling. A lighter refusing to light. And then, Aki collapses in tears, stuck in a bed and alone. The series is larger than its action, and we see that here.
This is expanded when we see Denji process death for the first time. He questions why he isn’t crying, trying to find an answer as to why tears aren’t falling. He tries to see who he would cry for and in that, learns to understand his own stunted emotional range. It’s a moment of introspection like we saw when he finally got to touch a boob. It’s a lack of understanding his emotions and a lack of knowing what to do after a “first” has happened.
Denji is a child. Sure he’s a teen, but he is a child in the larger sense that happiness is something he’s just now experiencing – but so is grief. He hasn’t had a connection to anyone in the past that would warrant tears. Outside of Pochita, connections to others have been absent from his life. So what does he do now?
But it isn’t all emotionally weighty. The series’ humor also shines with Power and Denji showcasing that they absolutely only have one brain cell between them as they try to fight their trainer Captain Kishibe. From their desperate fighting style to thinking that adding glasses to their uniform will make their attacks cerebral, it’s all delightful. Their dynamic adds levity while also managing to bring some action into this episode.
Outside of any narrative weight, praise should be given to the series’ direction. In Chainsaw Man Episode 10 specifically, MAPPA decides to showcase the smallness of each character against large, sweeping visuals of their surroundings. Power and Denji look small in the desert and in the graveyard. But more importantly, MAPPA is able to take Aki and make him seem minuscule in his hospital bed, the windows looming over him, adding the atmosphere of helplessness as he thinks of Himeno. Writing, score, and visual beauty, Chainsaw Man has it all.
Chainsaw Man Episode 10 is another fantastic episode that manages to expand the series’s world while still focusing on the intimate connections between our main characters. Studio MAPPA has managed to nail the assignment of bringing bombastic action time after time, body horror in spades, and still landing emotional landings across events. There was a high bar made by Tatsuki Fujimoto, and the studio accepted that task and executed it in a way I truly didn’t think was possible.
Chainsaw Man Episode 10 — "BRUISE & BATTERED"
Chainsaw Man Episode 10 is another fantastic episode that manages to expand the series’s world while still focusing on the intimate connections between our main characters.