Chainsaw Man Starts Off Strong

by Genevieve Mayle ‘23

After its opening episodes, Chainsaw Man has set the stage to become one of the most watchable dark fantasy anime of the season. MAPPA, a renowned Japanese animation studio famous for animating Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan: The Final Season, has decided to take on recreating this famed manga, which had won the Harvey Award (one of the oldest and most prestigious awards for comics) two years straight.

The author of the manga Chainsaw Man, Tatsuki Fujimoto, is known by his fans to be a cinephile who loves including movie references throughout his work. In fact, there are many movie references incorporated into the anime intro of Chainsaw Man. Here are a few some viewers might have missed: Pulp Fiction, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Don’t Look Up, and Fight Club.

Based on the first three episodes, it seems that MAPPA is mostly staying true to Fujimoto’s original work. However, the sequence of events in the anime does slightly differ from the manga. The first episode’s opening scene depicts an ominous-looking door at the end of an alley with no context, which appears in the manga’s 38th chapter. The purpose of the scene in the manga is meant to set up a plot twist. It’s evident that MAPPA chose to include the scene to develop a suspenseful and foreboding tone.

Unfortunately for anime-only watchers, the relevance of the door will most likely not be revealed in the near future. In addition, the anime glosses over a scene in chapter two of the manga where Denji encounters the Muscle Devil. The devil takes control of a little girl’s body to manipulate Denji into letting his guard down and ends up breaking Denji’s arm in the process. MAPPA’s exclusion of this scene from the anime is likely meant to improve the fluency of events in the anime, though many manga readers might believe that the exclusion of this scene downplays Denji’s struggle to not trust devils. A valid concern is that the fast pace of the anime will end up in the exclusion of other—possibly important—scenes.

Despite some concerns of how the show differs from the original manga, the anime accurately depicts the characters and provides entertaining episodes regardless of whether viewers already know the narrative of Chainsaw Man.

Grade: A-