Izzy Astuto ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
On Oct. 12, 2022, Hulu premiered the long-awaited anime adaptation of Chainsaw Man, the very popular manga series made by Tatsuki Fujimoto. The manga’s first section was originally written in December 2018, finishing in December 2020. Fans of the series have been anxiously awaiting the next part after the tumultuous ending of the first section, and at the end of this past summer, they received two very exciting pieces of news. First was the serialization of the second part in the famous Shonen Jump online magazine, the most well-known manga publication in Japan. The second was the official announcement of an anime, set to be released in October 2022. So how does this highly anticipated adaptation hold up to the original material?
Chainsaw Man centers on Denji, a young man working as a devil hunter to pay off his late father’s debt. In this world, Devils are supernatural creatures spawned by society’s fears, granted power based on how afraid society is of them. As another main character, Makima, uses as an example in the second episode, coffee isn’t feared by many, if any, people, and therefore a Coffee Devil wouldn’t be that strong. However, something like a chainsaw can strike fear in many, represented through the power of Denji’s pet dog, Pochita, who is also a Chainsaw Devil.
The two of them are pretty successful at their jobs, until the yakuza that Denji is working for one day turns against him, forming a contract with the Zombie Devil. Humans are able to form contracts with Devils for power, either to fight against their general evil in the world or for their own selfish gain. The Zombie Devil tries to kill both him and Pochita, but Pochita offers up his heart to Denji, in exchange for Denji sharing his dreams with Pochita. This causes Denji to become capable of transforming between his human form and that of a Chainsaw Devil. He slaughters the Zombie Devil and yakuza, attracting the attention of the Public Safety Division, a governmental agency of professional Devil Hunters. The team’s leader, Makima, takes a liking to Denji, and he’s recruited onto the team.
In the first four episodes released as of writing this review, we watch Denji go through this journey, being placed under the surly Aki Hayakawa’s unit — a human motivated by revenge who made a contract with the Fox Devil and partnered with Power, the Blood Fiend. Fiends are Devils who have taken over human’s corpses, maintaining a human-like appearance, while behaving in the violent, unpredictable nature of a Devil. However, some, like Power, are capable of maintaining portions of the corpse’s brain, making them more rational.
As someone who read the manga back in 2020, all the way through the first part, this adaptation goes above and beyond any expectations. It does a wonderful job at keeping the same tone and pacing of the original manga, adding color and movement to these dearly loved panels. A particular standout in this version of the story is how it is animated very similarly to a live action project, with cuts to specific aesthetic angles that give the show a unique touch. Amidst all the high stakes and Devil killing, this show wants us to get very attached to these characters and the relationships they build, for reasons those who have read all of the manga are aware of. The fabricated cinematography goes a long way in establishing this as an anime that at certain points fits more into the slice of life genre than its more typical action label.
In regards to the characters, the anime also does a fantastic job at translating their personalities to the screen. Specifically Denji’s selfish dreams that he commits to after Pochita’s final wish of getting to touch a pair of boobs for the first time remains endearing, while perverted, establishing him as this awkward teen boy you can’t help but root for.
The biggest issue with the anime at this point is the impatience of waiting for more episodes! Many who have already read the manga can’t wait until some of the later arcs are adapted for the screen. If you are in this boat, or simply have fallen in love with these characters and animation style as the anime has started to come out, then make sure you continue to tune in to the rest of this season, as episodes come out every Tuesday on Hulu.