In this gory, yet sentimental debut, Chainsaw Man sets the stage for what is sure to be an exciting season.
We recap the Crunchyroll anime series Chainsaw Man season 1, episode 1, “Dog & Chainsaw,” which contains spoilers.
Life for Denji (voice by Kikunosuke Toya) has never been easy. The only things he has to call his own are the debt he inherited from his father and his dog, Pochita. It’s hard to imagine things getting any better for him, but this first episode marks the beginning of the rest of his life.
While making a pact with the devil may not sound like the smartest or safest idea, it may just be your best option when you have nothing left to lose. Denji finally has the power to do something about his situation, but only time will tell if becoming Chainsaw Man will improve his life or makes things even worse.
Chainsaw Man season 1, episode 1 recap
The episode opens with a first-person point of view, with a young man reaching to open a door. Just as quickly, we cut to presumably the same young man, waking up in bed, ready to start his work day. This is where viewers first meet Denji, who works several less-than-desirable odd jobs to pay off an immense debt left to him by his father. He’s even sold an eye and a kidney, but it has barely made a dent in his overall principal. He makes the most money working for the Yakuza by killing devils or supernatural creatures that feed on human fear, with his dog, Pochita – who also happens to be a devil.
Denji and Pochita make quick work of the Tomato Devil and are offered 400,000 yen for their efforts. However, the old man they work for quickly scams them with hidden finders fees, dwindling Denji’s income to 70,000. After bills and debts are paid, he’s down to 1,800 yen, or approximately $13. Denji reveals it’s the only money they have left for the next month, and with no food at home, they will likely be dining on sliced bread for dinner.
The old man and his driver sit in a nearby car, watching Denji walk by. The driver wonders why they hire Denji, and the old man explains that not only is Denji paying off a debt, but he also does everything he’s told. Seemingly desperate for cash, Denji even accepts the driver’s offer to eat a used cigarette for 100 yen with no hesitation but quickly reveals to Pochita that he only pretended to eat it.
Back at their home, which is more of an old storage shed, Denji speaks of his dreams to one day be able to afford luxuries like jam for their bread. He also has dreams of having a girlfriend or even scoring with a girl, but highly doubts any of these things will realistically happen for him before he pays off his debt or dies.
We briefly flash back to a miserably rainy day, where a young Denji stands in front of a grave. In the car beside him, the old man relays that Denji’s father hung himself without ever paying a single installment on his debt, leaving it behind for Denji. What feels like it may be a touching or sentimental moment turns dark as the old man tells Denji he has one day to come up with the first 700,000 yen or they will chop him into pieces.
In the cemetery, young Denji first encounters Pochita, a devil that appears to be part dog with half a chainsaw protruding from its forehead. He begs the devil to kill him, but upon seeing that Pochita is injured, he chooses to save its life by having it drink some of his blood instead. Together they form a pact to help one another and get the old man to agree to hire them as devil hunters.
Back in the present, Denji struggles to sleep and instead shares with Pochita his dream of sharing jam with him one day before suddenly coughing up blood. His mother died of a disease with similar symptoms, but he has no time to dwell as someone knocks on his door to reveal he has another devil-killing job available.
Denji’s driven to a remote warehouse to meet the old man but does not see any devils present the more they walk around. He wonders if they left before the old man begins to “praise” him for what a good worker he was. He compares Denji to a loyal dog before declaring he hates dogs and having Denji and Pochita stabbed from behind. He reveals that, like Denji, he made a deal with the Zombie Devil for demonic powers. The exchange feels incredibly unbalanced, considering those who make deals with this particular devil also become Zombies he can control. Still, it’s clear that for some, even the illusion of power is better than nothing.
The devil releases his army of devil zombies against Denji, who hobbles away, bleeding with Pochita in his hands. He does make it far before being violently attacked and murdered, his body left beside Pochita’s in a dumpster.
While Denji seems dead, Pochita clings to a sliver of life while reminiscing about his time growing up with his human companion. He recalls a time when Denji requested that Pochita take over his body after he dies, as he heard it was a power devil’s possessed, and he does not want Pochita to end up alone in the world. His only other request is that Pochita try to make his dreams come true.
Back in the dumpster, we see that Pochita has begun fusing his body to Denji’s. The faint sounds of a heartbeat can be heard, so it seems to be working.
We see Pochita and Denji together in the dumpster, but it’s much brighter, and neither is injured. We’re somewhere between life and death, as Denji asks Pochita if the devil has taken over his body. The devil shocks him by answering in actual words, saying that he wants to give Denji his heart in exchange for Denji living out his dreams and sharing the experiences with Pochita. Before he can say yes or no, Denji suddenly shoots awake and sees Pochita’s tail, which also happens to be the cord to a chainsaw, sticking out of his chest.
Chainsaw Man season 1, episode 1 ending
Denji ends up back in the warehouse, face to face with the Zombie devil and his minions. He resents everyone there for wanting more than they have, which only leads him to feel bad for not appreciating his life with Pochita more.
He pulls at the cord on his chest, ready to attack, but when nothing happens, a mountain of zombies descends upon his body to eat it. Suddenly, the faint sounds of a chainsaw echo through the building, and then out pops Denji – or rather, a version of him.
Equipped with a chainsaw popping out of his head and one at the end of each hand, Denji has become something not quite human and not quite devil. This is the viewer’s first real look at Chainsaw Man, and it does not disappoint. He launches a frenzied attack against those around him, tearing apart both zombies and the Zombie Devil. It’s a graphic and gruesome scene that still feels incredibly satisfying, given all that Denji has been through so far.
After murdering every devil present, Denji stands amongst the corpses in the middle of the warehouse, still in his chainsaw form. A black car pulls up, and three people get out: two men and one pink-haired woman with distinct yellow eyes. They see that someone made it to the Zombie Devil before them before noticing Denji.
The pink-haired woman approaches with no fear and notes that Denji smells neither like a human nor devil. She asks Denji if he is the person behind this, but all he can manage to respond is, “hug me,” as his body gives out.
Catching him before he hits the ground, the pink-haired woman declares that Denji is human as his chainsaw features melt away. She reveals that she, too, is a devil hunter, but with the Public Safety Devil Hunters. She gives him two options: to be killed like a devil or to be kept by her as a human. Although being “kept” sounds strangely similar to being a pet, Denji doesn’t seem to mind. He asks what would be for breakfast, and she replies several everyday things, including “bread with butter and jam”. It’s clear that Denji is enamored with the idea, saying, “That sounds awesome,” as the episode ends.
Chainsaw Man definitely capitalizes on a familiar anime niche, with Denji becoming a half-devil, but it has its own flair that sets it apart from other shows. It’s easily set itself up to be one of the best shows this season, if not this year.
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