The Most Important Episode of Chainsaw Man! Chainsaw Man Episode 1 [Review]

At last! The widely popular manga Chainsaw Man makes its debut! This episode covers chapter 1 in the manga.

Recap & Reaction

One major thing to note about Chainsaw Man is that the creators will be adding in a lot more anime only scenes. From the opening scene, episode one starts off just a little bit different with Denji walking up to a closed door

Yes, Yes. Let’s start off with the classic literary symbol of a closed door.

With the animation and darker color palettes bringing out the dusty and grime of Denji’s living situation, he wakes up in his bed telling Pochita “it’s time to go to work.”

A character like Pochita plays the role of this cutesy captivating partner of Denji. Having Pochita bark like it’s a little puppy dog was a fine choice to get the audience to feel like “that was one of the cutest little barking sounds I’ve ever heard.”

Denji walks with Pochita and spews off how much each part of his body parts he sold off was worth. They eventually run into a tomato devil and quickly take it down. An old Yakuza man appears to congratulate Denji and takes a hefty fee for Denji’s work. What was supposed to be a 400,000 yen reward, became a 70,000 yen reward where he only ends up with 7,000 yen after all of his bills are paid. He continues telling Pochita that they are only going to have a slice of bread for dinner.

The old man and one of his other gangster partners start discussing about Denji and Pochita as Denji is walking across town with Pochita. The younger mob member questions why they would hire Denji and his “little devil” friend to take down devils? In response, the old man explains that Denji is paying off his late father’s debt and he just “does what he’s told.” The driver pulls up to Denji calling him “dog” and offers 100 yen for eating his cigarette with which he happily accepts.

These first few scenes very quickly explain what kind of guy Denji is and what type of situation he is in. He’s a simpleton that’s crazy enough to sell one of his testicles. He’s absolutely getting screwed over by working off his dad’s debt. And that he is a mindless mutt that just does whatever he is told as the punching bag—the proverbial punching bag.

In Denji’s next scene, he speaks openly to Pochita about how having a “normal” life is a pipe dream. Normal people get to “put jam on their bread.” Furthermore, he explains how “he’ll die before having a girlfriend.” In the end, if he could have one wish come true, it would be “scoring one with a girl.”

This scene just further explains the really crappy life Denji lives. Very quickly, the idea of Denji’s dream start a very important theme for Denji’s character.

The scene shifts back in time when Denji’s father passed away. The same old man explains that he “hanged himself” and that Denji must pay it off in his stead or else “be chopped to pieces.” Once the old man drives away, a little orange devil (Pochita) shows up to attack Denji. Being placed in one of the most depressing situations, Denji tells Pochita to “just kill him because his life is lost anyways.” Then, he notices that Pochita is actually bleeding profusely. Instead of fighting a heavily damaged Pochita, young Denji offers his blood to him to recover. As Pochita is biting Denji’s arm to recover, he says “my blood isn’t free, this is a deal.”

This is a very sad and pivotal moment for young Denji. When his life was looking like it was basically done, he ran into another creature that needed just as much help as he did. Establishing the essence and purity of their relationship is very important to contrast against literally getting screwed by everything else in the story. Having this relationship to hold onto and where it leads to is a foundational moment for Denji’s story.

In the very next scene, it shows young Denji taking down a small devil using Pochita, offering to the mob that he’ll work for them as a Devil Hunter.

The scene shifts back to present day with Denji and Pochita in bed. He goes on to explain his dreams again with the jam on bread, having a “girl he can flirt with, play video games with and hug in bed.” After getting acknowledgement from Pochita about how awesome that dream was, he ends up vomiting blood; referencing that his mom had heart disease that made her cough up blood. Then, the old man shows up to Denji’s place to give him his next orders to take down another devil.

Once again the story is hammering home Denji’s dreams. It’s a Denji motif that we should expect to carry on until it gets satisfied.

As the old man drives Denji off to his next mission, Denji mentions in his thoughts that “he wishes that they would just let him dream.” The old man takes Denji out to an old abandon looking warehouse where Denji repeats that he doesn’t sense or see any devils in the area. Cutting Denji off, the old man starts saying some not so great words for Denji’s situation by saying, “we’re pretty grateful to you, y’ know?”

Without even knowing what happens next, I think everyone knows what kind of set up this is, right?

The old man continues saying how much he “doesn’t like the smell of dogs” and that the Yakuza “made deals with the devil like Denji.” Their next objective? Kill devil hunters.

*Gruesome Impalement*

There’s a very important lesson here with Denji getting betrayed and thrown to the side after being used. What I would have liked during Denji’s impalement is if they added a little comedic quality to this moment. The zombie could have been a hot woman of some sort. That would have really thrown Denji off, offering some funny statement as it relates to his dream.

In a skin crawling reveal, the old man turns into the Zombie Devil. It then goes on to give a patronizing speech to Denji about offering humans just a little bit of its power in exchange for their slavery.

“Humans are dumb. In exchange for power, they offer to become my slaves.”

That speech from the Zombie Devil tells us everything we need to know about what foundational metaphor we’re working with here. This Zombie Devil basically represents Denji’s boss and literally turns people into zombies. It’s a great symbolic choice of a villain that perfectly wraps up Denji’s entire existence—working on this bigger metaphor that I’ll explain a bit later.

While coughing up a storm of blood and staggering from having a gaping hole in his body, Denji tries to make a break for the exit. Eventually, the zombies catches up to him and he gets repeatedly stabbed, screaming out how basic of a life he wanted that he couldn’t have.

Why isn’t Denji allowed to get some basic booty? WHYYY?!~

The next scene features Denji chopped to pieces with blood dripping into Pochita’s mouth. It makes Pochita recall a conversation that it had with Denji essentially saying that when he dies, Pochita is allowed to takeover his body. After taking over his body, he wants Pochita to “escape the Yakuza and live a normal life”—living out Denji’s dream.

Let a man dream and try to achieve it!

**Slightly controversial opinion coming up**

One thing that Pochita lacks (nitpicking) in its design is a more relatable appeal. It acts and even barks like a dog (trying to make it relatable), but it looks more like a random orange shikigami plushy with a random chainsaw coming out of its face. It’s just hard to directly connect to something that looks undefinable, even though it’s supposed to be a dog. My issue here isn’t the character. It’s the aesthetic design that could have looked a bit more appealing in someway (to sell merch).

Pochita morphs into Denji’s body, as all of Denji’s body parts slowly reattach and reassemble. Pochita strikes a deal with Denji that he will “give his heart to Denji, in exchange for Denji showing him his dream.” All of the sudden, Denji wakes up from the trash bin all in one piece with no wounds, reviving all of his missing body parts before he sold it off.

This was kind of a surreal, yet somber scene. Having the flashbacks of Pochita running with his tail hanging out and noticing it hanging out from his chest might be my favorite moment from this episode. It was a satisfying touching moment that gave Denji a reward for his friendship and loyalty towards Pochita.

Denji gets out of the trash can and the Zombie Devil is surprised and startled that Denji came back. The Zombie Devil sends the zombies to consume Denji, but before he gets surrounded by the zombies the second time, he pulls the strings in his heart to unleash Denji as Chainsaw Man. Emerging from the pile of zombies, Chainsaw Man goes on a rampage and just rips apart each and every zombie, slicing up the Zombie Devil along the way.

This might be THE highlight moment for Chainsaw Man. There was just tons of blood, gore and slicing of bodies to pieces in a highly animated effort. It wasn’t anything out of this world, but it was cool to see how the action looked. Personally, it’s the feel good moment of Denji and Pochita that makes this moment shine. Chainsaw Man mowing down all of these zombies was just the icing on the cake.

Makima and a couple of her men show up to the scene to find a bloodied Chainsaw Man standing there. She smells him and realizes that he doesn’t have a scent of a devil or a man. Denji asks her to “hug him” and so she does in kind of a dramatic fashion. Then, all of Chainsaw Man fades away and Denji’s form reappears. As she is holding Denji in her hands, she states that she is “a devil hunter that work for Public Safety.” Soon after that statement, she gives Denji 2 options: to be killed by her or “keep you as a human.” Continuing further, she says that she will “keep him and make sure he’s fed.” Denji asks about breakfast with Makima naming off a bunch of delicious sounding food and Denji responds with “that’s awesome.”

My initial reactions to this scene from a story and speculative point-of-view still remains the same as it did in the manga. Since I’ve already caught up to the latest chapter of the manga, it’s hard to not talk about the “mystery” and speculative parts of the story without just outright spoiling it.

If you guys want my “spoiler thoughts,” check out my Chainsaw Man manga part of the website. I’ll be putting out a deeper dive review for the Public Safety Arc soon!

The Makima Problem

What I will critique though is the delivery of the scenes with Makima appearing and hugging Chainsaw Man. In the manga panels, Makima comes off a lot more alluring. The choice of angles that the anime used for the “dramatic hug” takes away the over-the-top happy look she gives when she hugs him. Makima should have a very glowing and charismatic aura about her. In the anime, she seems a little more tamed than I would have imagined. Add in the fact that they kept a more somber tone for Denji; I would have loved it if they were able to turn this scene into something more loose and humorous.

Denji Represents the Common Folk w/ Ordinary Dreams

Denji represents the common man. In chapter one in the manga and this first episode of Chainsaw Man is literally everything you need to know about Denji and the symbolic metaphors that it represents. Here we have Denji, the guy with aspirations and dare I say the “American Dream.” In this case of Denji, he just wants a very basic life and normal things like “jam on bread” and to be a intimate with an attractive lady.

Denji’s whole life has been one of slavery. He barely thinks of himself, except when he dreams. No matter how terribly these debt collecting Yakuza members treat Denji, he still just does whatever they say.

A perfect analogy for this circumstance is the full-time white collar or blue collar worker that is working for scraps, only to dream of the chance that they get to live out a better life. It’s an even better analogy for Denji’s circumstance when you think about how he just wants his life to be “normal.” That’s pretty much a majority of society in a nutshell.

This overall analogy of Denji as the common man, gains EVEN MORE traction as the old man reveals himself to be the Zombie Devil. The guy(boss) that’s been slowly bloodsucking away Denji’s “labor” to payoff his “debt,” draws too close in parallels to the reality of the working class. Denji has a very simple dream that he wants to achieve and these controlling entities around him want to throw him away after all that he has done.

I will not give any spoilers in these reviews!

Last Thoughts

In retrospect, we are going to be coming back to this episode time and time again because the metaphors to understanding Denji’s journey is constantly traced back to this episode. His dreams are kind of hilarious and basic, but that’s one of the key ingredients that make Chainsaw Man, Chainsaw Man. Denji’s recurring motif of a “dream” and the metaphors that prevent him from achieving his dream is one that makes sense as a constant issue for Denji.

In terms of the quality of the execution of the episode, it was solid. It was nothing that completely blew me away like a Ufotable fight scene or of an elaborate premise like in Summer Time Rendering that ended its first episode off an epic cliffhanger. Honestly, it’s all about the relatability of Denji and how he is being prevented from achieving dream. That’s the most important takeaway from this episode.

The Best is Yet to Come!

All of the best elements of Chainsaw Man has yet to be revealed (duh!). So, it might be a few episodes at the very least, before I can truly commit to saying that this series is a must watch. This episode is a foundational episode with many of the darker elements of Denji’s situation being portrayed along with all of the rated R gore.

Why I like Chainsaw Man is the level of depth that gets masked in the comedy and the brilliance of the story. That all takes time with more characters getting character development through multiple arcs. The secret sauce of Chainsaw Man reigns heavily on the performance of these central upcoming characters. There are many pivotal moments where the anime series must deliver crucially funny and dramatic moments. Striking that balance between funny and dark is where the magic of Chainsaw Man lies.

Will the anime bring out the best qualities of Chainsaw Man, making it reach the top of the totem poll? Or will it just be another anime? There’s immense potential and pressure on this series to succeed. I for one, cheer for everyone to succeed, even people I don’t like.

Here’s to hoping that the hype matches everyone’s expectations!

It’s a dark and sad story for Denji. In that darkness lies the feelgood relationship that Denji and Pochita establishes that’s thoughtfully done in this episode. That’s the highlight of the episode—their relationship culminating into Chainsaw Man with Chainsaw Man just ripping the zombies to shred as the cherry on top. If I had to rate this episode, I’d give this episode an 8.8/10. The little nitpicks I have with this episode can be represented with the appearance of Makima’s scenes and the aesthetic design of Pochita.


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