When the Chainsaw Man anime series first arrived, it took the otaku world by storm. This review will look at this dark comedy, and explore why a man with a devilish chainsaw for a head attracted so many fans.
Table of Contents
- Artwork and Music
- Voice Acting
- Final Verdict
Chainsaw Man Basics
It helped that Tatsuki Fujimoto started the manga in December 2018 in Weekly Shonen Jump, the brand which churned out everything from Dragon Ball to My Hero Academia.
Of course, Chainsaw Man is considerably darker than most shonen manga. But it fits right in with Jujutsu Kaisen, another Shonen Jump dark fantasy series. Indeed, some anime fans (myself included) questioned whether it belongs in shonen, or the darker, more mature seinen category.
The first 12-episode season of Chainsaw Man ran from October to December 2022. According to reports, both a movie and a second season will arrive before too long.
When I first heard about Chainsaw Man, it sounded like an intriguing, interesting anime series worth reviewing.
It starts with Denji, a hapless teen who befriends the cute, but dangerous, Chainsaw Devil dog, Pochita. Together, they become freelance devil hunters. Already, this sounds like the premise for a pretty good anime, but that’s just the starting point.
Pochita merges with Denji, which allows Denji to transform into the awe-inspiring hybrid Chainsaw Man. Denji gets recruited by Makima of the Public Safety Devil Hunting Bureau. With his new partner, Power, he fights various devils who threaten humanity.
Thankfully, the series isn’t all fighting. The series strikes a balance between intense action, and quiet, slow-moving moments. That includes some entertaining bureaucratic politics, and some philosophical discussion.
For comic relief, there’s also what might qualify as romantic comedy, as Denji is often motivated by sex.
Note: Chainsaw Man gets a TV-MA (mature) rating in the United States. Not surprisingly, it features bloody, intense, gory, and violent fight scenes. In addition, although Denji’s immature and pervy behavior is played up for “typical anime male” laughs, some viewers may find his attempts at groping and fondling to be distasteful.
Chainsaw Man’s setting looks fairly mundane, but it is worth paying attention to. The story takes place in an alternate version of 1997 — mostly Tokyo, but also Kyoto. At first, the biggest difference is the existence of devils — creatures which represent human fears.
But, if you’re familiar with the manga, you know that there’s a huge spoiler reason for the differences between the Chainsaw Man world and our own.
Artwork and Music
The artwork falls onto the more realistic side of the anime realism/ cartoony sliding scale. This fits with the manga, and adds to the intensity of the series. It makes it feel like these events could be happening in our reality.
Kenshi Yonezu created the opening theme song for the series, Kick Back. Kick Back is certainly different from Yonezu’s more upbeat Peace Sign for My Hero Academia. But, it does capture the mood of the series.
Amazingly, Chainsaw Man has a different ending theme for every episode. That’s too many themes to remember, but it does allow the series to play around with a lot of different styles.
If you like Death Note, try episode 3. If you want to see more of Power, go to episode 4. Amusingly, they threw in an old-school J-pop song for episode 7. Well, the series is set in the 1990s, after all.
The voice acting is quite good. Each character gets an appropriate, often memorable, and distinctive voice. For example:
- Kikunosuke Toya as Denji starts out with a generic shonen hero voice. But that same voice gets crazier in the heat of battle.
- It’s a shame we don’t hear more of Shiori Izawa as Pochita. She makes the cutest little devil dog.
- Tomori Kusunoki as Makima somehow manages to be cute, sexy, quiet, stoic, and kind at the same time, even when she’s angry.
- Fairouz Ai Kadota perfectly captures Power’s boastful, hammy, and over-the-top craziness.
Chainsaw Man Anime Review: Final Verdict: 8/10
Chainsaw Man isn’t for everyone. It deserves its Mature rating. If you’re not into horror or dark comedy, you should probably watch something else.
With his Master Roshi ethics, Denji won’t win awards from the #MeToo Movement. (As others have pointed out, this could be the result of his horrible childhood.)
However, if Anime Expo cosplayers are any indication, Chainsaw Man‘s female fans don’t seem too bothered by Denji. (Or maybe they are, but they’re willing to forgive, because of the series’ strong female characters.)
Chainsaw Man is also undeniably an enjoyable, well-written story with fun characters. The anime captures the tone of the manga quite well.
For all of his faults, Denji is a shonen hero (or anti-hero) who fights evil. The series also has a philosophical side, as when the heroes are asked “whose side are you on?”
If you can handle the gore, you should give Chainsaw Man a chance.
- Crunchyroll has the series. Crunchyroll users can also watch Chainsaw Man Festival, a live-action fan event.
- If you’re in Singapore, or if you have access to a good VPN, such as NordVPN, you can watch the series on Netflix.
How to Watch Chainsaw Man on Netflix Anywhere in the World
This method works on both desktop PCs and mobile phones or tablets.
- Purchase (or start a free trial) of a VPN. I can confirm that NordVPN works for this purpose.
- In the settings, choose Singapore as your location.
- Fire up the VPN and wait for it to do its magic
- Once you’re connected, navigate to Netflix (browser or app)
- Search “Chainsaw Man” in the Netflix search bar and you should see the anime pop up.
Enjoy! Please note that if your Netflix library doesn’t update to reflect the country you selected in your VPN, you may have to clear the Netflix cache first and try again.
To do this on mobile, go to settings -> apps -> Netflix -> clear cache. To do this on PC, you have to clear the cache in your web browser.
I’ve had no trouble using this method and I still use NordVPN to watch anime from various Netflix country libraries daily.
Whether you enjoy Chainsaw Man or not will depend highly upon your personal anime preferences. However, if you’ve been sitting on the fence about Chainsaw Man, I hope this review will help you decide.