After a spectacular first episode, Chainsaw Man is back. Right off the bat, something needs to be said about the opening titles: they will never get old, and the barrage of movie homages thrown at viewers within seconds is impressive. Mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto has made his love of movies and television clear in his previous manga work, and Chainsaw Man is no exception. This Anime OP is sure to go down as an all-timer when all is said and done. That said, episode 2, Arrival in Tokyo, is an excellent display of worldbuilding comedy and waxing philosophy.
After being discovered by the lovely Miss Makima, Denji is treated to a proper meal. It’s a surreal moment for Denji, who’s never been treated kindly in his life. In his first experience with Makima, Denji immediately falls head over heels for the woman giving him clothes and food to eat, as any homeless devil hunter would. Denji’s (mostly) innocent mindset throughout this ordeal is fascinating, as his low living standards could teach almost anyone to be happy with what you got. Makima is a mysterious and alluring character whose explanation regarding Denji’s abilities leaves us with more questions than answers. Her intriguing design, specifically her eyes, is brought to vivid life by Studio MAPPA, and I can’t wait to see her in action in future episodes.
WWorldbuildingis the focus of Arrival in Tokyo, and the episode does it well. Moreover, we get an introduction to the more professional side of devil hunting. While Denji was a street-level freelancer, the more bureaucratic government devil hunters exist in their own realm. Complete with uniforms, Denji’s devil-hunting profession suddenly feels a lot more real. Taken out of debt by his own chainsaw hands, Denji is now a city boy and is even given a new handler since he is half devil, after all. Enter: Aki, a no-nonsense devil hunter who is already fed up with Denji upon just meeting him.
From the start, it’s clear that the Aki & Denji pairing will work on so many levels. Moreover, Aki will clearly be the straight man in all future interactions. Picking a fight with Denji to scare him out of the devil-hunting profession, Aki is given a rude awakening. The hilarious fight between the two shows their stark personality differences. Chainsaw Man shows viewers that devil hunting isn’t for everybody. Those that are in the profession are clearly troubled. Denji’s first day on the job is a rough start, but he nonetheless is undeterred.
Denji is forced to live with Aki, which leads to Denji experiencing a life he never dreamed of. Being able to bathe, use a toilet, and eat toast with every jam possible was endearing. It’s all Denji ever wanted. However, Chainsaw Man starts to take an existential turn when, despite achieving his dreams, Denji still finds himself wanting more. While on the job with Aki killing a fiend, Denji begins to contemplate what it is he really wants. As over-the-top Chainsaw Man is, the series manages to use the absurdity of shonen to delve into real human struggles.
Of course, any deep pondering and philosophical questions end with Denji resolutely deciding he wants to touch a pair of boobs. That’s the next step forward for his goals, and it’s a great comedic way of approaching the idea of sustaining your happiness in life. Things take another unexpected turn when Denji is given a partner: the fiend named Power. Already a huge fan favorite in the manga, Power is brought to life in the anime in spectacular fashion. She’s on patrol with Denji, who immediately sees this partnership as Aki’s way of screwing with him. Whatever the case, the stage is set for Chainsaw Man to really kick things into high gear. Arrival in Tokyo is a compelling and surprisingly philosophical episode, managing to be entertaining without Denji revving his chainsaw even once. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Chainsaw Man Episodes are Simulcast on Crunchyroll and Hulu Tuesdays at 9:00 PT
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