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Chainsaw Man

Entry updated 18 September 2023. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2022). MAPPA. Based on the Manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto. Directed by Ryū Nakayama and Masato Nakazono. Written by Hiroshi Seko. Voice cast includes Fairouz Ai, Mariya Ise, Tomori Kusunoki, Shogo Sakata, Karin Takahashi and Kikunosuke Toya. Twelve 24-minute episodes. Colour.

In the late 1990s Earth is plagued by Devils, Monsters that embody humanity's fears (see Alternate History). Denji (Toya) inherited his father's debt to the Yakuza and attempts to repay it by becoming a Devil Hunter, killing them with his pet Pochita, a doglike devil embedded with a chainsaw. 16 years old and destitute, Denji dreams of a better life and breasts to fondle: however, the Yakuza ally themselves with the Zombie Devil, who is naturally averse to Devil Hunters. Denji is murdered and left in a dumpster by a warehouse. Pochita fuses themself into Denji's body, replacing his heart and resurrecting him: now, by pulling on a cord in his chest, his head and arms becomes chainsaws – he can also Regenerate from serious injuries, including decapitation. The Zombie Devil and his Yakuza Zombies are quickly disposed of.

The Japanese Government's bureau for Public Safety controls and kills Devils, with teams formed of humans who have either made a contract with devils to use their Superpowers (for which there is a price), or have been possessed by them (and are called Fiends). The head of Public Safety's Division 4, Makima (Kusunoki), now arrives at the warehouse, having intended to dispose of the Zombie Devil herself: finding Denji has already done so, she offers him employment in one of her teams. Won over by the opportunity to eat regularly, his lust for Makima, her seeming kindness and the suggestion that she will have to kill him if he refuses, he accepts. His four other team members include a trio of humans: the serious Aki Hayakawa (Sakata), the joky Himeno (Ise) and the scared Kobeni Higashiyama (Takahashi), coerced into the job by her parents to fund her brother's university education. The other member is Power (Ai), a Fiend and considered reasonably rational for one such – though this is very much relative. Denji and Power are emotionally detached from the rest of their team and behave like squabbling siblings – much to Aki's chagrin, as he has to house them.

The main plot threads become apparent: the Team are told to focus on finding the Gun Devil, who killed 1.5 million people 13 years ago, then vanished; it is clear the Devils are interested in Denji, or rather his heart; Makima herself is morally dubious and something of a mystery – even the Devil she's contracted with is kept secret. Matters come to a head with an all-out assault on the Public Safety's Tokyo Divisions by agents of the Gun Devil, decimating them, and is only halted by Makima using her powers. This requires human sacrifices – significantly, Makima elsewhere dismisses the self-justifications of the Yakusa with "It's not a true necessary evil unless the nation itself is holding the leash and maintaining control." (See Politics.) By the end of season one Public Safety have made progress in locating the Gun Devil.

Needless to say, the series has considerable amounts of gore (see Horror). However, much time is given over to character development, particularly of Aki, Himeno and Denji. Though Denji's boob fixation (see Sex) is a tad irritating, he is 16, has had no adult supervision nor social interaction since childhood, and his only bond was with Pochita. The thoughtful and heartfelt moments mix well with the impressively animated action scenes and the crude Humour. Chainsaw Man was originally a bestselling manga (begun in 2018, with over 20 million volumes sold by the end of 2022); this enjoyable Anime adaption has also proven popular. [SP]


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