So it happened. The chainsaws arrived and they roared. There was loads and loads of blood, and obviously an utter disregard for it. MAPPA seems to have pulled out all the stops for Chainsaw Man, as if they were born to do this.
I went into the show expecting nothing. I was aware of the extraordinary hype for Chainsaw Man I found plastered all over anime forums. I was also familiar with Makima — it's hard not to be if you've watched anime.
But I haven't read the manga and knew better than counting on mainstream appeal in a medium lately populated by the same damn regurgitated shounen tropes and devices that make it hard to view them as anything but shadows of the classics that came before.
Chainsaw Man ended up pleasantly surprising me.
Chainsaw Man is about a teenager called Denji who kills devils to earn money and pay off his father’s debt. He’s got a small pet he names Pochita – a chainsaw devil. Following Yakuza’s betrayal, Denji ends up dead and Pochita enters a contract with him, reviving Denji and giving him the power to transform his body parts into chainsaws.
As he’s a hazard to the society, the devil hunter Makima offers him a job at the Public Safety Bureau and tells him he will be allowed to live as long as he’s loyal to her. Thus follows Denji’s transition from poverty to luxury and a shot at having a real girlfriend, but all at the cost of incredible danger that his new profession brings.
The instant pleaser is the protagonist himself. Denji is the antithesis of shonen protagonists, Although he follows the same family-dead-now-revenge prototype, and he does give those Naruto-esque delinquent vibes, and can be equally annoying, but Denji's disregard for any dignified goals displaces him from the usual canon of action protagonists.
In a world filled with monsters and persistent danger, he's practically the opposite of someone like Tanjiro from Demon Slayer. Instead of saving the world from devils or whatever, he's only invested in small goals like having good food, getting kisses and touching boobs. I'd say Denji's apathetic character is as radical as a depressed Shinji was in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
I didn't find the other characters as charming. The distant and cool Aki Hayakawa felt like every other distant and cool anime character, though his devil pact was a treat to watch on screen! Power, too, reminded too much of other characters, and sometimes felt like the more idiotic version of Denji.