‘Chainsaw Man’ Episode 1 Review: Mappa’s New Series Takes TV Animation to a New Level

Chainsaw Man has become one of the most successful new IPs in the manga industry in the past few years. The work of Tatsuki Fujimoto has a unique style that cannot be replicated. The series works with a collection of themes and ideals that feel very much in line with what the audience wants from life. The series has become something that goes much deeper than just entertainment. Some might say that the manga has been overhyped, but looking closely, it is not an exaggeration to say that the Chainsaw Manga is almost perfect. Now, the story jumps to the screen. Can it match the quality of the manga?

Chainsaw Man is an anime series produced by Studio Mappa, and serves as an adaptation of the manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto. The series follows the main character, Denji, an ordinary young man who has lived only a life of scarcity and suffering. His only friend is a chainsaw devil he calls Pochita, and together they try to survive by working as devil hunters to pay the bills and Denji’s debt to the Yakuza, which he inherited from his father. One day, Denji is recruited by a girl called Makima into the Public Safety office, and his life changes forever.

One of the things that really makes Fujimoto’s work feel potential like one of the most cinematic mangas ever created is the fact that he uses visuals more than anything to tell his story. The way his panel work feels more reminiscent of that of a storyboard than a normal manga, making the images almost move as you see them while reading. With just a few chapters, people knew that this manga could translate beautifully into the anime medium, and whoever would take on the project needed to do it justice.

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Enters Mappa, one of the most successful and talented animation studios of the recent era. Mappa is the studio working behind some of the most successful anime of the last decade; Attack on Titan, Jujutsu Kaisen, Vinland Saga, and many others comprise their library of beautifully created anime. More than any other Studio working right now, Mappa’s objective seems to be pushing animation to new limits. The success of Chainsaw Man, as a manga, allowed them to receive the necessary resources to try something new that would blow people’s minds.

The anime project for Chainsaw Man has been in the works since 2020, which is a long time for a TV anime production. However, by just seeing the first episode of Chainsaw Man, everybody can understand why it took so long. The Chainsaw Man anime is not just another manga adaptation. It is a project that tries to take TV animation to a new level by using a configuration of different new and old techniques and, of course, tons of labor from some of the most dedicated animators in the business.

The result is movie-quality animation on a TV show. The first episode seems to be indistinguishable from a high-budget anime film, and yet, we are talking about a seasonal anime show. To see the movement of the characters, the framing of the shots, and the intensity of the battles is just breathtaking. Everybody who worked on this project can be proud of their work and the fact that they have managed to do something that has been seen as impossible for many years.

The first episode’s title is “Dog & Chainsaw” and just like the manga itself, the simplicity of the title hides a strong core that will be the one thing people are going to fall in love with. Denji’s motivations as a character are so simple that everybody will be able to understand them. A good meal, a place to live in, some friends, a girlfriend. Denji doesn’t ask for much. For him, a good life is enough of a reward. So, with a character with such simple desires, audiences are able to relate to him in ways that are easier than with other anime characters.

This episode is only the beginning, and it setups Denji’s motivations, but also sets the concept of devil contracts. Devils exist in this world, and they are able to make deals with humans in exchange for something. In this episode, we see a greedy group of Yakuza who enter into a deal with a very dangerous devil. The result of such a deal was not pretty at all, and definitely, one side received more benefits than the other. The concept at this point is still just a fragment of the overall world-building that we will see in future episodes. And trust me, things will only get better from here on out.

Chainsaw Man’s first episode is a triumph when it comes to bringing movie-quality animation to our TV screens in the shape of a TV series. If Mappa really manages to bring this level of consistency from beginning to end, we are then faced with one of the most impressive animation projects ever created. The story might appear simple at this point in the story, but as new characters are introduced and the world-building expands, then the depth of the story will only come to light, brighter and stronger than ever. You better get on the bandwagon right now.

SCORE: 10/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.