…so would a Coffee Devil be able to actually make drinkable coffee from itself or what?
Picking up from last time, Denji’s finding it extremely frustrating to work with Power, especially after she tries to throw him under the bus after the two are reprimanded by Makima over an unauthorized devil killing (it was Power’s fault and she knows it). While grabbing some beverages, Denji vents about the loss of Pochita, to which Power responds by venting about the loss of her own pet, a cat named… well, Meowy. During the conversation, Power extends an offer to our protag: if he offers to rescue Meowy, she’ll let him touch her boobs… and that’s how the two end up at a lone house on the outskirts of town where the cat was last seen. Unfortunately, Power might have fudged her words a bit, knocking Denji unconscious and dragging him into the house to offer him as a blood sacrifice to Meowy’s captor, the Bat Devil.
The Bat Devil ingests Denji’s blood to heal injuries from a previous battle and soon abandons the house to wreak havoc in the city, but not before turning back on his deal with Power, swallowing both her and Meowy. But Denji isn’t having any of this, as his dedication to his goal of touching boobs leads him to hitch a ride on the Bat Devil, eventually transforming into Chainsaw Man as the two square up and trade blows in the city. After several back-and-forth attacks and quite a bit of city destruction, the episode ends with Chainsaw Man claiming victory over his furry wrinkly opponent!
So remember what I said in the premiere review about Denji being easy to sympathize with but difficult to like? This episode leans extremely hard into that dichotomy, mainly filtered through his interactions with the extremely chaotic entity known as Power. Both characters are in the position of having lost the one companion in life that meant something to them: Denji with Pochita, and Power with her cat. It’s kind of a surprising fact to learn that Power cares for something considering how she’s shown with a very brash and bitter attitude, hating humans and devils and… well anyone that isn’t her. But from a certain perspective it makes a lot of sense given the motifs of the animals in question: dogs and cats.
Generally speaking, both animals have certain expected attitudes associated with them (with what I am about to say coming with the caveat that there is no doubt far more nuance to their behaviors than this, I’m just speaking as far as the typical person’s mental shorthand). Dogs are considered very friendly and loyal, following instructions when told and really easy to get along with… assuming you treat them properly. Of course, if a dog is treated poorly, then it’s very liable to turn on you and go feral, not unlike Denji when he expressed his unbridled rage at the yakuza during that first episode but then expresses affection for Makima given her treatment of him up to now. Conversely, cats are often seen as very finnicky creatures, requiring a very specific set of circumstances to feel comfortable in while also changing their attitudes and minds on a whim no matter what. Think of how some cats have one very specific spot on their body that they’re okay accepting pets and scritches on, but if you deviate away from that even slightly (from my experience it’s usually trying to touch the belly floof in any way), you’re probably losing that hand, or at least ending up with a bite mark.
The flashbacks with Power and Meowy demonstrate this perfectly: Power was just this devil in the woods killing wild animals for pleasure, and Meowy approached her in a state of malnourishment. Power decided to fatten them up so she could eat them, but Meowy did not seem to scream or run in fear away from Power, which caused Power to be strangely caring towards the little feline. The symbolism is pretty on-the-nose, a convenient shorthand for how the two can’t really get along currently… but then again, there’s been times that dogs and cats have gotten along pretty well out in the world. Denji’s able to recognize this as similar to the feelings he carried towards Pochita as the only companion he ever had, with the anime reminding us of the unfortunate circumstances of his childhood and overall upbringing…
…and then the episode smacks you in the face again with his intense desire to cop a feel. And when I say intense, I absolutely mean it. The episode does not pull its punches with how much Denji wants to grab Power’s boobs, from his performative upset attitude when she first makes the offer to the confrontation with the Bat Devil. As the two are punching and slashing at each other, they’re creating constant mayhem and carnage within the city, and Denji can only focus on how frustrating it is that this is all getting in the way of his sleazy ambition. There’s even a specific action beat where the Bat Devil throws a car and its driver at him, and he decides to toss it back while actively declaring he does not care about the driver’s life in the slightest. He’s just functioning on pure id throughout all of this, any sense of conventional heroic nobility be damned.
Of course it’s worth noting that the battle against the Bat Devil is, as expected, a very thrilling fight. Kiyotaka Oshiyama is credited as the devil designer for the anime, and they do a really great job capturing the grotesque nature of the aforementioned devil, from its imposing physique to its hideously wrinkled mouth and face. It definitely captures the gruesome nature of Fujimoto’s original illustration work in an effective manner. Additionally, the storyboarding of the fight is still as fantastic as the Zombie Devil fight, conveying this imposing sense of scale against the backdrop of the city as Denji flies and leaps through the air to combat his oversized foe creating a tangible sense of momentum. And let’s not forget the stamp of victory that our protagonist leaves on this fight, his killing blow seeing him leap wildly into the sky and dramatically landing onto the ground, posing victoriously as the guts and blood of the Bat Devil rain down upon him. It’s pretty damn cool and works really well in capturing the action movie poster appeal of Fujimoto’s double-page spreads.
Outside the main plot threads this episode, there is some interesting worldbuilding happening on the periphery, mainly in the scenes following Makima. The main thing is her meeting with the higher ups at Public Safety as they question her about the nature of her team setup/new recruits, setting up some international political intrigue with prospective conflict against the Soviet Union (which apparently still exists in this world), as well as a primer on the nature of Devils in this world, their existence/power being dependent on the degree to which they’re feared by humanity. It definitely creates intrigue as to the kinds of Devils that will be shown throughout the story, and it’ll be exciting to see more prospective Devil action next week! And now we close out with this week’s ending theme, “Hawatari 2 Oku-senchi” by one of my favorite bands (and probably one of yours as well): Maximum the Hormone!
…You know it’s been almost 10 years since their last proper album? I miss them so much.
New episodes of Chainsaw Man premiere every Tuesday and can be streamed on Crunchyroll and Hulu.