‘Chainsaw Man’ is fine as it is despite criticism

Despite a couple of shortcomings, ‘Chainsaw Man’ is still a great watch

As the gritty music and raspy vocals of “Kick Back” by Kenshi Yonezu play in the background, characters from the anime adaptation of “Chainsaw Man” reenact scenes from numerous movies, an allusion to the cinephile author Tatsuki Fujimoto. The characters scream in fear, polish bowling balls and crawl around tables to capture their chaotic energy and unique personalities. 

“Chainsaw Man” is a manga, a Japanese-style comic targeted at an older audience with a variety of genres. The genres of manga include shonen, which consists of action-filled plots and comedy. The “Chainsaw Man” series features a trio of devil hunters who take orders to kill certain devils while unraveling more about their goal of defeating the gun devil. Entering the fall 2022 anime season, millions of anime fans across the globe hyped up the anime adaptation of the manga due to its uniqueness in terms of genre, a weirdly-intriguing plot where Denji joins the Devil Hunter Association to live in better conditions and pursue his sexual desires. He meets chaotic characters along the way who cohesively complement each other.

The source material of “Chainsaw Man” seamlessly carries over to the anime (Photo from Chainsaw Man Wiki)

With the Japanese animation studio MAPPA working on the anime adaptation, the final product of the first half of the first season of “Chainsaw Man” does not disappoint. Unlike the typical lofty goals of numerous shonen shows, the protagonist Denji sticks with his simple goals for life, preferably with a girlfriend. Later in the series, the viewer will learn that “Chainsaw Man” contains little plot armor for its characters to protect them from death, contrary to how many characters in other shonen series will survive despite how close to dying they seem. 

“Chainsaw Man” features a handful of characters with massively varying personalities, with each of the voice actors playing their respective character’s voice expertly. The voice actors playing the cool and composed Aki, charming yet authoritative Makima and the loud chaotic nature of Power add to their character’s personalities in a way that emulates the original manga. The main character, Denji, endures numerous injuries when fighting devils. The screams of pain and determination from his voice actor play a crucial role in giving the scene a feeling that is similar to the manga. 

In terms of the story, MAPPA masterfully animates the scenes while adding bits of CGI that are extremely hard to spot. Smooth movements of the characters and devils during fights all feel visually pleasing, as well as the sounds that place the viewer into the scenes. The anime adaptation also adds a twist on traditional anime, where instead of only one ending sequence for a whole season, MAPPA created 12, one for each episode. In each ending, a different Japanese artist’s song plays over the ending, adding another level of uniqueness and chaos to the show. “Chainsaw Man” also shines particularly in its character interactions in terms of plot, where Denji’s motivation for killing devils stems from his undying desire to have a relationship with Makima. 

Fans criticize various aspects of the anime, mainly the excessive use of CGI, wrong choice of voice actors and failure to capture the feeling of the manga. Despite the heavy criticism from certain fans, the current quality of “Chainsaw Man” outmatches the quality of numerous modern anime. The great work from the animation studio to capture the feel and individuality of the manga makes the show fine as it is.