Chainsaw Man episode 3 brings back Denji’s Chainsaw Man form in pretty exciting action and violence. This episode’s one-off villain brings us the Bat Devil, and I’m slightly disappointed. In the manga, I felt like the monster was a lot more foreboding. It is partly one of those things where the page turn in a manga plays a significant factor, but I also think the original image that revealed the Bat Devil was the main thing. Like this devil’s face was shadowed to the point of abstraction, with only its eyes glowing out, with its presence not only framing Power but dominating the panel with its size. And I don’t think this anime did anything in its own way to capture that uneasiness with those things that exist without the page-turn factor. And while the voice actor did an excellent job for the Bat Devil, the problem I think I’m going to have as a manga reader, in this case, is that the voices that I imagined for the monsters in the story are a lot more intimidating, to put it mildly. Like I felt the way the actor voiced Bat Devil was almost too humanly, and maybe it’s on the audio engineers for not abstracting his voice to suit the character more.
Unfortunately, Chainsaw Man is a blend of genres; dark fantasy, comedy, action and horror. And MAPPA prioritises some of those and does the bare minimum for CM’s horror. It’s a shame though not surprising. Many people say that it’s hard to do horror in animation, but I think the problem is from a lack of trying, with Studio Laika being the outlier in this case.
There was a moment that did disturb me, though, and that was the Bat Devil’s weirdly delicate gulp of Power’s cat Meowy. Its juxtaposition against Power’s memories with her cat also elevated it. It triggered a horrible memory of mine of a viral video on YouTube that I won’t mention the details of.
So before all of that goes down, we get a decent amount of time for Denji and Power to interact. At this stage, the two are like bickering siblings, which eases on and off throughout their story. Even in this episode, that dynamic changes due to Denji’s particular motivation in life. The two are petty coworkers in their teens (though maybe not Power because she was and is the Blood Devil before getting a human body).
As I said in the previous episode, in terms of what she is, Power is the opposite of Denji. A demon with a human body, and Denji, a human with devil parts and abilities. These are plot elements because they are physical aspects of CM. This episode then brings in the story element for these paralleling opposites. Denji is very much a dog guy and still misses Pochita, even though he will always literally be with him. And Power is a cat gal who misses her Meowy being held hostage by the Bat Devil. And while the two might not get along, they are pet people, and they gain an understanding from each other when it’s almost too late.
Also, last time I said I had some mixed feelings about the comedy for CM. In this episode, I laughed out loud when Denji completely changed his attitude in front of Power when she offered for him to touch her breasts in exchange for saving her cat. The execution of that scene worked just fine.
Regarding Denji’s motivation in life to touch breasts, I think some people might be turned off of the show because of that. And that’s perfectly fine, to be honest. I am not a big fan of the pervy ani-boy trope, but only when it’s presented as uncritical and proceeds to embellish in the character’s worse moments. With something like Mushoku Tensei, I liked that Rudy, the main character’s issues, were contextualised with trauma, over a decade’s isolation, and being raised on the worst side of the internet. The story does not use that sympathetic backstory to justify Rudy’s behaviour and attitude. Rather, it makes a point that it is imperative that Rudy take some personal responsibility for his second chance at life, which he failed to do in his first.
Likewise, with Denji, I feel like his weird attitudes and assumptions around sex and intimacy to start with are contextualised by the fact that he is feral. He’s never been raised by adults, really, he’s never been to school, and he’s never had anything. It’s just been work, work, work. Speaking of which, I noticed in this episode that this series might have a commentary on capitalism, just subtly, when it’s mentioned that Denji and Power should have gone to prison because they killed a devil that was owned by a business. But I may have also read into that a bit too deeply as I think the implications of that moment flew over my head back when I read the manga. Anyways there are organic reasons Denji is the way he is currently, including the fact that he is at an age where one thinks about sex constantly. So he’s under-socialised and going through puberty. Likewise, Power is also as feral as Denji, maybe more so than him, as she is very indifferent to letting Denji touch her breasts to start. And I think maybe it’s because of the gender equality of feralty being more or less even that makes CM more palatable than what Mushoku Tensei was. Though I’ve also been a little bit vague on what Power’s gender is. Like I assume Power is a girl, but that’s mostly because her human body is female, and I don’t recall her gender being confirmed in the manga before she took on this form as the Blood Devil. I think it’s somewhat worth wondering about.
Lastly, the ED is terrific! And regarding the OP, if you haven’t yet, you should check out Mother’s Basement DEEP analysis of it. It goes hard! And also, there is now, as of today, an English dub for CM has simulcast on Crunchyroll. I haven’t checked it out yet, so I can’t vouch for its quality, but if it ends up being good, I may watch it when I inevitably binge-watch CM once it’s complete.