Episode 11 – Chain Sawman

Episode 11 – Chain Sawman

How would you rate episode 11 of
Sawyer? Community score: 4.5

That says a lot about the quality of Chainsawmanits overall tone and pacing that we can get an episode like “Mission Start,” which is the closest the show has come to giving us a typical exposition-heavy, table-setting story, and it’s still packed with gore. fun and cinematic glow that the series has become known for. If you look at it on a purely technical level, not much happens this week: Aki makes a contract with Future Devil (which is technically an event that already started last week); Denji and Power finish their last round of training and are given the final mission to take out Katana Man (aka “Samurai Sword”) and his minions; Makima has a meeting with the mafia; we meet a bunch of new enemies who work for the security department; and finally Aki finds himself in a fight with a familiar enemy. There are a lot of moving parts, yes. Nevertheless, they are all in the service of setting up genuine the focus of the story, which is the attack on Katana Man’s zombie-ridden hideout that will play out in the upcoming season finale; there’s not much room this week for interesting character development, gripping drama or slam-bang action.

And yet, as they say, life finds a way, and Chainsawman has once again managed to squeeze pretty much every last drop of satisfying dramatic potential out of the source material. Is this the best episode of CSM ever? No, but it’s an episode that in many other anime movies would be more than happy to follow the success of its predecessors and get a bunch of “boring” stuff out of the way so the crew could put all their time and attention to work on the final. Thanks to the consistently incredible work that FOLDER have done to animate this thing, but perhaps the closest we get to “boring” this week is the one scene where Katana Man and Sawatari have to do their mobster-y plan and lay out their plan to wipe out the security department with an army of zombies that they has hidden in the basement. You’re in a pretty good place as an anime when the episode’s weakest scene involves casually dumping dozens of zombies into an ongoing war against all manner of freaks and weirdos with evil devil powers.

Plus, as everyone has learned by now, the true secret sauce Chainsawman the recipe is the fact that its silent, dialogue-heavy scenes are usually equal, if not more so more convincing as Chainsaw-Goes-Brrrrrrr splatterfest stuff. Kishibe already won us over with his deadpan personality and hardcore training tactics, but you know what really is he proving that he’s an asshole? He can sit down with Makima and causally accuse her of being a self-serving liar, despite everything we know she’s capable of.

Likewise, while Makima has already done a lot to reveal the bottomless depths of her ruthless and devious nature, you know what really proving that she is 100% not to be fucked with? I don’t know, maybe the way she casually strolls into a room filled with murderous yakuza and demands access to all the information they have on Gun Devil by showing them a paper bag filled with the freshly fried eyeballs of their loved ones? Yes. She didn’t even have to start melting people’s brains with her creepy stare to make the point; only Makima showed up.

Speaking of showing off, you know that Tatsuki Fujimoto (and by extension FOLDER crew) just had a hell of a ball introducing the new batch of Fiends n’ Devils who have come to help Denji and Co. for the Katana Man mission. The Violence Fiend is a badass who kicks ass really well; the Spider Devil is a Goth Queen Weirdo who tears up the shit with her spider legs very well; and Angel Devil is a perfectly innocent Good Boy who, I don’t know, sucks the very essence of life from the flesh of his enemies really well? Shark Fiend is there too, I guess.

We’re not talking about Shark Fiend in this house.

The point is, I fully expected “Mission Start” to end at, well, the start of the mission and leave all the good stuff for next week. Thankfully, not only do we get to see the new bunch of idiots destroy the house in a satisfying way, our boy Aki gets to continue his “Secretly The Most Badass Character in All of Chainsawman” hot streak when he and his new friend Future Devil must face Himeno’s former ally, Ghost Devil. This fight is amazing to watch, with the animators perfectly capturing the weighty and difficult movement that Aki must manage to land his hits in such a cramped and hostile environment. The action is enhanced by the dark and fatalistic undertones of the fight; Aki already knows he has two years left to live if he has it lucky, and when you see him being strangled by Ghost Devil, it’s clear he wasn’t just playing cool when he told Future Devil he doesn’t care when or how he dies. He already discards his life every time he returns to the battlefield.

It’s the strong mix of stupid, violent acting and sharp human pathos Chainsawman gets so right, and that’s what makes even this (relatively) low-key chapter of Chainsaw-ga such a joy. I don’t know which feeling to prioritize going into next week’s final? Am I hyped by the amazing climax that is sure to come? Am I sad to know this insanely awesome TV season is coming to an end? Do I get bitter and righteous, knowing that it will be who knows how long until we get our second season?

You know what? Maybe I’m better off if I take the Denji approach to things and say, “Screw it! It’s depressing to think about!” Let’s enjoy the chainsaw goodness while we have it and enjoy some artery-clogging Super Toast in honor of Denji, He Who Rips Most Heinously and Tears Most Bodaciously. Next week it’s his turn in the spotlight, and he wouldn’t want us to tune in on an empty stomach, would he?


Reserve leftovers

Power’s playlist I wasn’t sure about the new ending theme from Queen Bee, “Violence”, but after a few listens the song has grown on me. The same goes for the abstract CGI visuals; at first I thought they were a little too cold and sterile, but I think they work well as a mood piece, albeit one that’s very different from, say, the chaotic energy of last week’s ED. Solid stuff, all in all.

Kids say the Denji-est things! I’m tempted to give Line of the Week to Future Devil, of all characters, if only because of his demented chorus of “Mirai saikouuuuuu” (“Rules of the future!”) has been stuck in my head on repeat for days now. Plus he does the silly little dance when Aki sticks his head into Future Devil’s gaping breast-eyeball-vagina thing. Runner-up might go to Kobeni, who once again embodies the Big Mood energy with his pitiful cry of “I hate this.” Meeting Denji and Powers…well, everything about them, really.

• Sound off in the comments, folks: What’s the oddly specific concept-turned-devil you’d want to be in a battle against an evil zombie horde? I think my Fiend zone would have to be the Public Speaking Devil, who in my head canon is like a giant, anthropomorphic microphone in a snarky suit that forces his enemies to give an impromptu speech about current events, lest they explode from inside out or something. Everyone knows zombies are bad at public speaking. Suck it, undead yakuza!

Chainsawman currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop culture, which can also be found on Twitterhis blog and his podcast.

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