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‘Chainsaw Man’ review: “Gun Devil” is the best episode yet 

By November 9, 2022March 29th, 2023No Comments4 min read

Chainsaw Man has, very quickly, become one of the funnier week-to-week series currently airing, at least for those able to stomach the gore and guts that pinwheel wildly off of recently severed devils. The darkness has always been present, how could it not, but between Denji and Power, two absolute doofuses that you can’t help but root for as they’re only now being treated if not as humans then with any semblance of humanity, a lot of the grimmer aspects have been alleviated. Even the self-serious Aki being made to play it straight against his two new reluctantly accepted wards offers pockets of hilarity as his stoicism and relative scheduled peace are drastically altered by their involvement. 

All of this to say that, by the time we get to the tail end of episode five, “Gun Devil,” the horror framework is a dizzying, electrifying change of pace that succeeds in creating a deeply unsettling environment. The episode is already littered with either throwaway brutality or direct moments of tragedy, from Aki’s backstory to the existence of the Gun Devil itself and its origin birthplace being the U.S. This is a corrupt, and broken world, and it’s something we’ve known since episode one as we watched Denji struggle to survive and seek out simple pleasures, like jam on toast. That said, thus far at least, it’s never been a show that wallows in despair, with characters picking their specific goals and dreams they wish to achieve in order to get through a day of devil killing. 

It’s the juxtaposition of environment and tone that strengthens the comedy and, likely, makes Denji (and power) such fantastic protagonists. 

Because Denji’s absolute, abject despair at discovering that touching some boobs wasn’t the life-altering experience he thought it would be driving the majority of the humor for the first portion of the episode before it pivots into striking horror. 

It’s crude humor, with jarring violence, and all done with a deftness of hand and excellent artistry that it elevates both because it’s not just his want to touch Power’s boobs that makes it funny, it’s the absolute life and death circumstances he builds around the idea. The horror works because the character designs are so finite with details that the small motions of the faces of those meant to be protectors give way to their fear, while the creature designs are hideously rendered so that as much as we want to look away we can’t help but turn back around to see how and why they were drawn as they were. 

It’s hardly revelatory at this point with both the show and the OP and EP’s demonstrating a considerable amount of talent and shocking restraint considering the subject matter. But it’s a testament to the writing team that Denji and Power are such well-defined characters that at this point it just takes one animated look from one to the other, provocative and teasing, to unleash laughter. Similarly, the glee in which Denji is designed as he barrels through the hotel hallways at the end, having been promised a kiss if he finds a devil who may have eaten a piece of the Gun Devil, is delightfully exaggerated, tongue wagging as he charges down death for small intimacies. 

It all culminates in one of the bigger cliffhangers (for anime-only fans) of the series thus far, as Denji, Power, Aki, and the rest of their crew realize that the hotel they’re in isn’t what it seems and that, even though they seemingly killed a low-level devil, there is a palpable evil at large that has roped them into a looped space, as each corner they turn and staircase they ascend leads them back to the same blood-splattered wall. 

Eerie, hilarious, and even heartbreaking, this might be the strongest episode of Chainsaw Man yet. It achieves the balance of an abrasive tone while assertively pushing the dial forward in terms of accelerating the narrative.

Featured Image Courtesy of Crunchyroll/MAPPA

  • Chainsaw Man - 'Gun Devil' - 9/10
Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

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