Chainsaw Man Episode 5 Stays Weird With The Gun Devil

Life is full of disappointments. Professional, personal, economic, big and small, in your youth and in your adulthood, in love and in being single. But in "Chainsaw Man," Denji is a character who hasn't experienced disappointment, not really. After all, he hasn't even come close to achieving his dreams, until now. Of course, by this point, he's accomplished everything he's ever dreamed of, from eating good food to sleeping in a real bed, to his ultimate goal of touching boobs. Unfortunately for Denji, he's finding out life is full of disappointments.

Picking up right after the cliffhanger of last week, "Chainsaw Man" actually goes ahead and shows Denji fondling Power's chest in rather detailed and fluid animation. And then she reveals she padded her bra, which sends Denji stumbling as his dreams shatter, and the animation becomes uglier, less heightened and closer to reality, with each subtle muscle movement interminably long and unpleasing.

One of the very low-hanging fruit criticisms of the manga at this stage was the fan service and Denji's horny attitude. In case it wasn't clear already, however, this episode proves that "Chainsaw Man" is better than that. Denji is a horny teen, sure, but his disappointment is genuine because he realizes touching boobs is not what he was looking for, it doesn't make him happy. If that dream didn't pan out the way he hoped, then any future aspirations he may have are now put into question, and it threatens to break the promise Denji makes Pochita.

A new goal

Enter Makima. When Denji tells her what happened, she explains that he was never going to feel full satisfaction unless he had a bond with the other person. She proves this by grabbing Denji's hand and putting it on her own chest, which makes him crazy to the point he stops listening to everything she says. Denji has his biggest moment of actual realization, discovering what he actually wants is not just sex, but some human connection — which he hasn't had since Pochita fused with his heart. It is a brilliant moment devoid of the fetishization of the earlier scene with Power, yet it may still be the most sexually tense scene in a mainstream anime of the year.

And it is also what makes this a special anime, particularly in the context of shonen anime. Characters like Mineta, actual peeping perverts whose sole purpose is to be comic relief because of how creepy they are, are quite prevalent in anime and manga, while many female characters are objectified in moments of fan service just for the sake of it. But "Chainsaw Man" mocks and comments on how shallow and empty that kind of empty fan service really is and how it doesn't serve any function, not to the audience and certainly not to the characters.

Still, it works for Denji who now has a new goal: to have sex with Makima. Granted, he does have a bond with her, in that she showed him the bare minimum of kindness that one time. He has reason to believe he can accomplish that goal too, as Makima offers him a deal — she will grant him any wish he wants, as long as Denji kills the Gun Devil.

The bad guy is revealed

That's right. If devils gain power because of how much fear they instill in people, then the Gun Devil is one of the most powerful ones out there. As Makima tells it, the Gun Devil showed up in the U.S. a decade back, when the world tried to cash in on using guns to fight devils, but ended up fueling gun-related violence and deaths. When a terrorist attack involving guns happened in the U.S., the Gun Devil showed itself and killed over a million people in only five minutes.

The images of a burning skyscraper, and a news ticker mentioning that the U.S. senate "almost" passed gun control in the aftermath of the Gun Devil's attack, this is the episode of the show with the most biting commentary yet. Even if it downplays the damage compared to the manga, and even if we don't see the devil, the scene is very effective at building up a formidable and scary villain, especially when we get a flashback of a young Aki watching his entire family murdered by it in a split second.

Continuing the episode of heartbreaks, we finally meet the rest of the devil-hunting team that Denji is going to work with, and the "Attack on Titan" levels of tragic backstories for why they are mostly rookies. In another flashback, we see Aki first partnering up with his mentor, Himeno, whose six previous partners all died fighting devils. Still, at least Denji, Power and Aki seem to be getting along better, with the two rascals doing horrible pranks on their boss, and Aki using pavlovian tricks to keep Denji and Power in line.

It's loop time

The episode ends with the team entering a building they think is haunted by a devil containing a piece of the Gun Devil, which senses other pieces and can eventually lead to the real deal. The only problem is that the building seems to be stuck on some kind of loop, which is never good news.

For this week's ending theme, artist syudou performs over what may be the trippiest and most gorgeous anime ending of the year. Directed by Hiromatsu Shuu, who did the viral opening for the Chinese animated show "Spare Me, Great Lord!" the ending is full of repetitive imagery and symbolism like Möbius strips made from chainsaws, MC Escher stars and more. Stay weird, "Chainsaw Man." Stay weird.