By Owen Glancy
“Chainsaw Man” was perhaps the most anticipated new anime of 2022. The show is based off of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s hit Shonen Jump manga of the same name and was produced by Studio Mappa.
What is immediately noticeable right out of the gate is how pretty this show is. Every episode has movie-quality animation that makes simple talking scenes look immaculate.
This level of quality is especially apparent in the show’s insane action scenes. The wide array of creative monster designs and wacky powers make every fight unpredictable and fun.
The score by Kensuke Ushio is masterful and elevates every scene where it’s featured. It makes me wish that the score was used more often, as many scenes don’t have any music at all. While these scenes still work, Ushio does such a great job that I can’t help but want to hear more of his work.
The show’s characters are all excellent. The writers made liking these generally horrible people easy. Denji is almost solely motivated by greed and lust, but his tragic childhood and easy-going nature balance him out and make him very fun to watch.
The characters surrounding Denji are all just as fun. Aki is a perfect straight man to the seemingly unending chaos, who has plenty of badass moments throughout the 12-episode run.
Power is hilarious, and her Eric Cartman inspirations are obvious, making for an incredibly funny character. Makima is an appropriately alluring and mysterious authority figure whose scenes toward the end of the season feel genuinely suspenseful and haunting.
Sadly, not all characters are given the same attention to detail as our main quadrilogy. Arai and many of the other devil hunters introduced about halfway through the season are very dull and extremely forgettable.
The villains are often not very interesting and bland. While the season’s final villain, Katana Man (or Samurai Sword in the English dub) is cool, he doesn’t make up for eight episodes of uninteresting prior villains.
The show’s greatest strength, and weakness, is the story and its pacing. The story starts off very generic and average. While the production value is excellent, everything else is par for the course in this action anime genre.
However, once Katana Man is introduced and his story arc begins, the pacing picks up. This is where the show really started to shine.
“Chainsaw Man’s” third act features plenty of chaotic action scenes, more excellent music, fun new characters, and good animation that make the slow start worth it.
Another occasional flaw of the show is its use of CGI. While it isn’t quite as ugly as many other anime, the use of it alongside the breathtaking and detailed 2D animation is what makes it stand out. It isn’t always ugly, but it still does take the viewer out of the experience.
Typically, when choosing between watching any piece of foreign media there is a choice between the original language with English subtitles or an English dub of the original language. Normally, I prefer subbed anime, but “Chainsaw Man” has a pretty good English dub.
Some characters sound off, with Aki being perhaps the most glaring example, but it’s exciting to see an English dub this good for a high-profile show like this.
“Chainsaw Man” is proof that new original Shonen anime are still being made. The incredible animation and music make the production feel cinematic, like each new episode is an event that demands your full attention. Many characters are super entertaining and interesting, and the fast-paced story leads to an adrenaline rush unlike any other in anime.
However, the show is held back by a very slow start, generic early plot lines, boring villains, and inconsistent CGI. This seems like a long list of detractors, but with a third act so good and with central characters this entertaining, they are minor complaints.
“Chainsaw Man” is an anime that not only meets but exceeds its lofty expectations.
B+: A wild ride, with a slow start