How would you rate episode 5 of
Sawyer? Community score: 4.5
I’ve been saying for years that the problem with so many anime that try it, so desperate to be “sexy” is that most of them don’t seem to have the faintest idea how sex actually works; or at least they are so stuck in the routine of repeating tired old tropes and emphasizing cheaply fan service that they completely lack a real one human element, which you know is quite important when it comes to making sex and sexuality interesting to watch on screen. Chainsawman, although? damn it, Chainsawman absolutely sheep sex. It can’t be understated how important this is to the show’s success, either, as Denji’s likability as a main character lives and dies on the anime’s ability to transform his purposeful horniness into a set of genuinely nuanced character traits and motivations, rather than simply being the food for lame jokes.
Actually this week Chainsawman is proof that all you need to make sex work in animated form—other than having a basic understanding of how real humans (or demons alongside humans) interact with each other on a physical and emotional level—is a bunch of really good jokes. Do you know what a good joke is? The way this fifth episode animates the hell out of Denji and Power’s fumbling in the bathroom, directing it like it’s a scene straight out of an intense psychological thriller, with the punchline that Denji is so thoroughly overwhelmed by the experience of touching Power’s breasts that it shatters his brain for a day. For this scene to be such a big payoff for such a stupid setup, Chainsawman must understand and execute three different ideas simultaneously:
1. The touching of the breasts is inherently funnier when so much perverted labor has gone into lovingly animating every condescending frame of Power’s power moves.
2. Denji’s brain freeze is inherently funnier when his expression is shot and framed perfectly across multiple cuts and when the extent of his mental breakdown is pushed to the absolute limit of believability.
3. The one genuine punchline isn’t Denji being such a perverted idiot that he literally can’t process an iota more of external stimuli for at least twelve hours after squeezing Power’s chest; it comes when, after all of it Denji’s first coherent thought is, “Is that it?”
That’s the funnest and most wonderful thing about it Chainsawman, and that goes without saying in episodes that aren’t as action-heavy. Chainsaw Man as a character may be one of the dumbest little perverts ever to score the title role of a blockbuster TV series, but at his core, Chainsawman Anime is very good. In Denji, Tatsuki Fujimoto has taken a complete joke of a character, one that we’ve seen waste time and kill brain cells in countless shonen anime over the years, and planted him in a world that feels, for lack of a better word, genuine. Denji isn’t just a wise-cracking window-peeker with a fetish for Boss Mommy Leash Time; he is a very sad and broken little weirdo who longs for love and meaningful human connections like everyone else.
It’s this careful tonal balance, not to mention the positive amounts of directorial flex on display, that make the episode’s other display of obvious degeneracy so damn effective. I can’t remember the last time an anime was allowed to be this deviously lewd – and I mean honestly, really confused by sexual tension – like the scene between Denji and Makima. Sure, the woman is so obviously leading Denji by his strip of flesh that it’s frankly horrifying to see her work him so effortlessly, but to Makima’s credit, she does give Denji some good advice. Sex stuff is better when it’s with a person you get; it’s what makes such simple actions as Denji rubbing Makima’s earlobe or Makima nipping at the memory of her bite on Denji’s fingertip a thousand times sexier than 99% of everyone “ecchi” anime ever made. It’s a lesson that allows Denji to grow never so little to a more mature and likeable main character. Yes, sure, a horny and neglected boy who spent most of his life longing for some seasoning to add to nightly slices of bread is going to be overloaded with all this attention. He’s clearly going to fall head over heels for the woman who is so clearly using his balls to bypass his brain. However, you cannot delay the child from trying to live his best life!
If you ever needed proof of that Chainsawman operates on a different level, but consider that every word I just wrote just covered two scenes of this episode – can you imagine wringing legitimately interesting themes and artistic observations out of the likes of MHA’s Mineta, or – Sweet Merciful Anime Jesus forbid – damn Zenitsu? I haven’t even covered the haunting flashback that reveals Aki’s tragic encounter with Gun Devil’s apocalyptic powers or the hilarious Denji/Power dynamic that develops when the former finally recovers from loving the latter’s delinquent melons. I could go on for even more paragraphs about the cool and creepy way fear and the spread of cultural panic is the source of power for creatures like the Gun Devil, but I suspect we’ll be able to cover that even further down. the road. We even get some of that precious Himeno and Kobeni screen time! Any episode that gives Himeno and Kobeni more screen time is automatically an awesome damn episode of Chainsawman™.
I’ve seen some people complain about it Chainsawman wasn’t the anime they expected based on all the hype, but I’m hoping now that they’ve realized that it might just be even better than the version of CSM that was built up in their minds by all the trailers and fanart. This is a show that’s as good at being horny-but-somehow-elevated trash art as it is at being a masterfully macabre splatterfest, and it’s still a great time when the dick has and the chainsaws have been tucked well into their familiar pants/armholes. It’s a good-ass story, pure and simple, and it’s one of the grandest, grandest stories to grace our screens in quite some time, and is the icing on the cake.
Odds and ends
• Power’s Playlist: How does each new ED keep getting better? “In the back room,” thanks syudou, is another song, but the wild visuals elevate this ending to the new #1 spot in my rankings. I’m a sucker for surrealist images. Not only does this eerie sequence continue the mood of the sketchy endless hotel that Division 4 has found itself in, but the tableaus are all beautifully drawn and animated. I will be watching this on repeat next week.
• Kids say the Denji-est things! Our titular badass has been in the spotlight here for too long, so I’m going to give the best line of the week award to “If you misbehave, I can always choke you to death,” if only because I can acutely hear the cries of fanboys and fangirls all over the world, everyone shouting “Please!”
• In other funny news, according to Tatsuki Fujimoto‘s own Twitter account, the prank that Denji and Power pulled on him was apparently… to put shit on his nose? It’s, um… yeah, it’s pretty screwed up, though I’ll forever be haunted by the question this revelation poses: Was it Meowy’s dokie that they wiped across Aki’s face… or was it Power’s?
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.