Chainsaw Man Review

Teenager Denji is brought back to life by his demon dog’s sacrifice, and his newfound chainsaw power finds him hired into a group of demon hunters.

Watch this anime if you

  • want something more than just reincarnation or rebirth into other world anime
  • would like some more original story
  • have a protagonist whose only concern is for himself rather than for society or the world
  • interesting characters

Avoid this anime if you

  • don’t like to see a lot of blood and gore in shows

Chainsaw Man Review

Man. Demon. Chainsaw. Chainsaw-head Man. Chainsaw Man. Generally, the words chainsaw and head invoke a rather gruesome image when they’re written into the same image. Anime about hunting demons aren’t particularly new, with the more recent Jujutsu Kaisen reminding audiences of the staying power of such a genre.

Where Chainsaw Man differs from other demon-hunting anime is that Denji, the protagonist, doesn’t have grand allusions of saving the world. In fact, his motivations for hunting demons are more personal—saving the world just happens to be incidental.

The first episode establishes the mood for the series: Denji’s struggle for survival and desperation for food is exploited when he’s offered a morsel of food if he eats a cigarette butt. To the audience’s disgust, he does so, illustrating not only Denji’s desperation but also the depravity to which society has sunk.

Denji eats a cigarette butt for food money—it’s a little dry.

It’s in this kind of society where people are taken advantage of and coerced into the eternal battle between human and demon that viewers are introduced. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when Denji’s motivations for hunting demons are personal rather than altruistic. After all, no one helped him when he was down.

Though selfish, Denji’s goals aren’t grandiose either. He fights to eat good food. To have a safe place to sleep. To touch a girl’s boobs. Whether or not he manages to accomplish his goals is the purview of this first series.

Denji’s pursuit of those goals gradually reveal a more urgent plot that underlies the series: an extremely powerful demon, the Gun Devil, has terrorized society for a long time, killing many people, and the relatives of these victims have joined the governmental agency tasked with hunting demons in order to exact revenge not only on demons, but also on the powerful Gun Devil itself.

Denji’s unique ability, turning his body into chainsaws, may seem absurd at first. But the medium of animation allows such absurdities not only to exist, but also to flourish and entertain. Denji is joined by other humans who have contracted with demons for powerful abilities.

Denji joins the government group called Public Safety. Among his immediate teammates are Power, a blood demon, and Aki, a hunter who has contracted with a few demons. These contracts form the basis of power for humans who have joined Public Safety, and the details of these contracts are closely held lest they reveal limitations or weaknesses.

Demon hunting isn’t for the squeamish…or for those who want to live long, healthy lives.

The anime explores the backgrounds of each team member and the motivations that drove them to join a governmental agency that leads to almost certain death due to the nature of its mission. Perhaps for Denji, the knowledge of this more fleeting life—and perhaps the fact that he has died once in the first episode—encourages him to live life to his own definition of the fullest.

Denji’s selfishness is curtailed by the friendships he forms with his companions. Obstacles to his goals at first, Power and Aki gradually grow on Denji, and before he realizes that his world has perhaps broadened to include his coworkers, they’re taken away.

The anime isn’t shy about taking characters away from viewers once these characters are established. Killing off characters is one of the more difficult choices writers have to make, especially in a short series.

Investing time to develop a character only to kill him or her makes it all the more difficult to continue the story because writers have to start over again. That’s one reason why short-lived characters tend to come on strong, and the nature of Public Safety’s work means that these characters generally come on strong to make the impact they need to make.

Chainsaw weapons make for bloody messes.

The plot of Chainsaw Man isn’t really special—demon-hunting protagonists occupy the vast landscape of anime, but this series is unique in its absurd idea of having a chainsaw-head-wielding man who vanquishes demons by gruesomely slicing off their limbs. Once viewers get past the absurdity of the idea, Denji’s adventure is an enjoyable—if not bloody—one where he learns that there’s more the miserable world that he has grown up in.

Read reviews of other anime below.