At last, I've finally been able to subscribe to Crunchyroll! And there's a ton of anime that I have in my watchlist to catch up on, plus the new releases. I'm a little late coming to Chainsaw Man because of my delay in getting Crunchyroll, but it's still quite a new anime to me. And boy, was it hyped. Every day on my Twitter I saw things from it, plus I follow members of the English VA cast, so I saw a lot of clips, gifs, and memes from the show.
Because of the hype, it was one of my most anticipated series and I was completely intrigued by the premise. Plus, when I was in Japan, my students would draw art from the manga. I've known about the show for a while. So...was it everything I was hoping for?
Um...well...sigh...I actually was disappointed by it.
Denji is a young boy who works as a Devil Hunter with the “Chainsaw Devil” Pochita.
One day, as he was living his miserable life trying to pay off the debt he inherited from his parents, he got betrayed and killed. As he was losing his consciousness, he made a deal with Pochita, and got resurrected as the “Chainsaw Man”: the owner of the Devil’s heart.
Story: This premise sounds amazing, right? A down-on-his-luck guy who fights off devils and gets resurrected as one! And later he joins a group of Devil Hunters to take on far more dangerous monsters in the city. Sounds golden, right?
Actually, the plot is straightforward and solid. No qualms about it here.
Characters: What made this show not work so well for me had to do with the characters. I really feel like I couldn't stand behind anybody (with one exception) due to how they were depicted, their motivations, etc. Let's take a closer look.
What I like about Denji (played by Ryan Colt Levy) is that he's led a truly miserable life and is very sympathetic. He is in so much debt that he sold his right eye, one of his kidneys, and one of his testicles, and still hasn't made out on top, so he kills devils for additional money. And the fact that he is betrayed by the yakuza and dies a horrible death is really heartbreaking. When he comes back as the Chainsaw Devil, his body parts are restored to him, and he is a powerful fighter. So far, so good!
What I don't like about Denji is that once he joins the Public Safety Devil Hunters, he's thinking with his dick. I think his motivation to live the good life is sound--after all, he'd been denied so many good things in his life--but the fact that he is propelled to do his work in order to touch breasts or make out with a girl is annoying. Especially the breast thing. There's a lot of anime out there that is very boob-focused, and I'm so sick of it. Because of this horniness, I'm not so invested in Denji's character. If he grows out of this, I will be.
Power (voiced by Sarah Wiedenheft) is a Blood Fiend, a devil that has overtaken a human's corpse (and she uses blood to make weapons and fight). She also works for the Public Safety Devil Hunters and speaks in elevated/old-fashioned language at times, in a very commanding tone (things like "Grovel before me!" and "Behold! Witness me!", etc.). She is quite murderous and hyper and pretty much lives for her cat, Meowy. Sometimes I found her to be funny but a lot of times she just got on my nerves.
Aki (played by Reagan Murdock) is my favorite character in the show, and if I keep watching it, he'll be the reason why. He joined the Public Safety Devil Hunters in order to take vengeance for his family, who were killed by the Gun Devil. He has made contracts with more than one devil and is willing to sacrifice his lifespan in order to meet his goal.
He's mysterious and a bit on the stoic side (although he has a moment where he shows intense emotion at the loss of his partner), and I desperately want to know what will happen to him. The Curse Devil tells him he only has two more years of life in him, and the Future Devil tells him he will die in the most horrific way (although Aki cuts him off before he is informed how). I'm really nervous for his character and want to see him live, even though it's set up that he won't.
Himeno (played by Katelyn Barr) was Aki's partner. She made a contract with the Ghost Devil and sacrificed one of her eyes to it in order to use its power. Himeno deeply cared for Aki and had a crush on him, and she taught him to smoke (which I don't like). She is a good superior but also acts really stupid and horny when she's drunk. She makes out with Denji and vomits in his mouth and then later propositions him for sex, even though he's only sixteen. When she died, sacrificing her entire body to the Ghost Devil in order to protect Aki, I didn't feel much of a sense of loss, probably because of the less-than-flattering depiction of her while she drank, and the fact that she was ready to easily sacrifice Denji to the Eternity Devil.
Makima (voiced by Suzie Yeung) is an interesting character. She seems to be a competent leader but isn't afraid to sacrifice the lives of Denji and Power if they act up. We don't know a lot about her but she seems quite manipulative of Denji, especially when she puts his hand on her breast and flirts with him, being sure to add, "I have something I'd like you to do for me." She knows Denji likes her and is using that to her advantage with the Public Safety Devil Hunters. She has an astounding ability to crumple and explode people by using their names and her hands to do so--this isn't explicitly explained--so she must be a devil of some kind. That's the mystery around her. I can't decide if I like her or not. I'm more curious about her than anything else.
Animation: The characters are gorgeously animated and I really like the designs of some of the Devils, like the Ghost Devil, for example. And the show isn't afraid to get violent, either.
Voice Acting: As much as I didn't care for a lot of the characters in this show, I think the voice acting of the English cast is impeccable. I think my character standouts are Denji, Power, and Makima, although I like Aki, too. I thought this show was well cast and there weren't any voices that seemed out of place at all.
Low Points of the Season: I think because I couldn't get attached to most of the characters, that left a poor taste in my mouth. I just don't care about what happens to most of them. I'd care more about Denji if he wasn't a horny teenager; everyone else (except Aki) can go on their merry way. As I mentioned before, if I decide to keep watching this show, it'll be to find out what happens to Aki. If I hear that Denji has matured and has stopped focusing on boobs, then I'll be more invested in him as a character.
High Points of the Season: I really like some of the designs of the Devils in the show. The Ghost Devil looks really cool, for example. The battle scenes were very visually interesting and top-notch. Be forewarned if you have a gentle stomach, though. It's a gory show.
Final Thoughts: After all of the hype surrounding this show, I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed, largely because the characters just didn't do it for me. I feel like we don't know enough about them to be invested in them, so I don't care if they die are not--the one exception being Aki. I almost care about Denji--I certainly did at the very beginning--but his hormonal antics just reek of other boob-focused anime, for which I am really, really tired of seeing. I hope he becomes more mature as the series goes on.
In the meantime, I'm not sure if I'm going to watch the second season. Of course there's going to be one, but if I don't care about the people in the show, there's not much motivating me to continue on. It depends on what I hear about the show and what's upcoming.
A lot of people will probably disagree with me on this one, and that's ok. The show is super popular and well-loved. I'm glad if you enjoyed this show. I wish I enjoyed it more.