Poster Image for the series "Chainsaw Man" from IMDB

Devils and Dreams: Chainsaw Man Anime Episode 1 Review

After years of anticipation from fans, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s hit manga series “Chainsaw Man”, finally has an anime adaptation.

The series is rated TV-MA (IMDB) in the U.S., mainly for violence. The first season will consist of 12 episodes and is streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu. The animation studio for the series is MAPPA, which also worked on popular series like “Attack on Titan” and “Jujutsu Kaisen.” Did the show live up to the massive hype?

Per IMDB the plot synopsis reads “Following a betrayal, a young man left for the dead is reborn as a powerful devil-human hybrid after merging with his pet devil and is soon enlisted into an organization dedicated to hunting devils.”

The protagonist, Denji (voiced by Ryan Colt Levy in the English dub and Kikunosuke Toya in the Japanese sub) is a poor boy who is faced with a massive debt to the Yakuza after his father’s death. As part of his work to repay that debt, Denji works as a private “Devil Hunter” for the Yakuza with the help of his devil dog Pochita (voiced by Lindsay Seidel in the English dub and Shiori Izawa in the Japanese sub).

The voice acting in this episode was great and displayed the voice actor’s talents from the beginning. Even though the first episode has just been released, Kikunosuke shows off the range of his voice acting by going from being a kind boy to screams of agony to insane laughter as he fights zombies. Izawa is limited in her role by barking for most of the episode; she still gets to have a line of dialogue with Denji in an emotional scene which she also does a good job of.

The pilot episode “Dog and Chainsaw” adapts Fujimoto’s story perfectly from page to screen by using the entire first chapter of the manga for the episode while adding some extra moments and scenes to the episode.
The episode’s story introduces us to Denji and Pochita and works to establish the bond between the pair, as well as sympathy toward them, which it does very effectively.

When they aren’t fighting devils, they are in their home, a shed. Most of the time, they are eating a single slice of bread for dinner between them and talking about how dreaming is the only thing Denji has to get by. There is also a flashback to Denji’s past, where we see them making their first deal, and Denji’s favor; that should he die, Pochita take his body to live a normal life.

Another main character in the series we meet in this episode is the mysterious devil hunter Makima, who finds Denji after his bloody battle with the Zombie Devil. Makima, played by Tomori Kusunoki is only in the episode briefly at the end, but she will be an important part of the series going forward, and Kusunoki does a great job in the role. I look forward to seeing how she continues to play the character.

Going back to before Makima’s introduction, we get the highlight of the episode; Chainsaw Man versus the Zombie Devil. The fight was extended from the manga, which, though it makes no difference story-wise, works to just show off MAPPA’s work and to please the fans which I appreciated. For the squeamish or those that do not like ultra-violent and graphic fights, then this series is not for you.

The soundtrack is very solid. It adds to the tension after Denji’s betrayal and adds excitement to his first fight as Chainsaw Man. The opening “Kick Back” performed by Kenshi Yonezu is also a good opening that I feel gets better the more you listen to it, and I enjoyed the closing song “Chainsaw Blood” by Vaundy. Each episode will have a new closing song, while the same opening will remain for the rest of the season.

Animation-wise, this series looks spectacular. MAPPA has impressed me in recent works, such as the film “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” and they bring their best again here. My one issue, which I think is my biggest flaw with the episode overall is the CGI. Sometimes it looks pretty good and others it looks off to me, especially in the zombie fight scene.

For a series premier, “Chainsaw Man” did a great job. The story was great in the first episode, and it will only go up from here on out. I’m very excited to see how MAPPA will finish out these 11 remaining episodes and where we will end the season in comparison to the manga. If you are looking for a new anime to check out, I would highly recommend “Chainsaw Man.”

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