Picking up from last week, Himeno is in a completely drunken state and gearing up for sex with Denji until she stumbles upon a lollipop in his pocket. Said lollipop was given to him by Makima shortly after The KissTM to help Denji take his mind off the taste of you-know-what, with Himeno falling asleep in bed and our protagonist on the floor before anything really happens. The next morning, the two share breakfast and muse about their interpersonal relationships, agreeing to form an alliance to help Denji get with Makima and set Himeno up with Aki.
Soon after, Makima is headed off on her previously mentioned business trip… until she and her fellow devil hunters are ambushed by gunmen posing as passengers on their train, leaving them for dead. This isn’t limited to just Makima on the train: several devil hunters across Japan are ambushed by similar attacks, including an elderly lady aiming a gun on Kobeni and Arai, their fates left unknown for now. Meanwhile, the rest of Division 4 are enjoying a meal when their conversation is suddenly interrupted by a man with sideburns venting about how much he loved his grandfather: the elderly yakuza that Denji had been paying his debts to up until recently. As the reality of what’s happening sets in, the man pulls a gun on the team, forcing Aki to summon the Fox Devil to take care of things… until the man emerges as another human-devil hybrid made of katanas. The group attempts to hold their own against Katana Man, but even Aki summoning the Curse Devil isn’t enough, as a mysterious woman supporting Katana Man appears. Himeno, suffering from serious injuries, decides on a last act of desperation: she sacrifices her life to invoke the full power of the Ghost Devil to keep Katana Man at bay, but even this is not enough as the episode ends with the mystery woman summoning the Snake Devil to consume the Ghost Devil, leaving the remains of Himeno’s clothes where she once stood.
“Don’t die on me, Aki. So that when I die… you can cry over me.”
These are the last words spoken by Himeno before her untimely demise… it’s an emotionally devastating and sudden capstone to her presence in the story. A life full of death and misery, constantly having to take shit from civilians who she let down by having their loved ones die on her, living a life where she’s rarely ever been able to form a meaningful connection with anyone, save for Aki… and this is the note it ends on. She is so willing to put her own life on the line for the one person that she’s ever been even remotely close to, a man that her affections run deep for, letting herself die in the heat of battle to grant him a further shot at life. The pain of her own death is, to her, less severe than having to live with the guilt of watching another partner die on her.
The gut-punch of this arc is definitely pushed a lot by the phenomenal direction of this particular episode. The anime adaptation has put a great deal of effort so far into the cinematic look and feel of its production, and there’s a lot of great choices being made constantly in this episode, starting with the opening. The first third of this episode essentially recaps where the previous one ended, except switching things up to Himeno’s point of view as she drunkenly takes Denji back to her own place and gets more comfortable as he rests on the bed. From the moonlight peering in through her bedroom’s distinctly styled window to the shot composition giving us unique viewpoints of the location (the stovetop, the entryway, etc.), we’re given a really tangible sense of her living space. While it certainly appears a bit more spacious than Aki’s own living space, it also feels solitary and lonely by comparison, not unlike Himeno’s own life. The morning conversation afterwards is also excellently directed, swapping from distant location shots to POV views and even some security cam-style shots. The actual moment of death for Himeno stings that much harder thanks to two particular aspects of the scene: the needle-drop of the soundtrack piece “sweet dreams” (first heard when Denji meets Pochita), and the final moments being almost purely silent save for the heavy breathing of Aki Hayakawa, the rooftop shade slowly peeling back until reaching the remains of her clothes, stopping as the sunlight rolls over her eyepatch: a highly unsettling shot.
The episode as a whole gets extraordinarily tense in the back half, starting from the moment the gunmen ambush Makima’s train. Considering the previously mentioned facts about the strict gun control laws in the aftermath of the Gun Devil massacre, this scene comes as quite the surprise. Additionally, the music during this brief montage of shootouts serves as an ironic counterpoint to the on-screen action, playing this quaint but cinematic piano melody that sounds almost akin to a Debussy composition. And while the big fight against Katana Man ends in tragedy, the actual back-and-forth of the fight itself is thrilling and tense with a lot of incredibly strong direction and animation. The invocation of the Curse Devil is a particularly great moment, with some extraordinarily unsettling skeletal imagery blanketed in ominous darkness as it attacks Katana Man. The battle allows for the episode to let loose with a lot of wonderfully grotesque creature designs: the hideous teeth/gnarled visage of Katana Man, the massive Snake Devil, and the multi-armed monstrosity of the Ghost Devil’s true form, which punctuates the scene with pink flowers on its torso and even bleeding blue blood. A truly phenomenal episode of anime all around, and now it’s time for TK to play us out this week.
New episodes of Chainsaw Man premiere every Tuesday and can be streamed on Crunchyroll and Hulu.