Chainsaw Man – Episode 9 – “From Kyoto”

This is why I don’t go to religious sites.

Picking up from last week, the dying remains of the Ghost Devil succeeds in resuscitating Denji for a bout with Katana Man, the two trading blows back and forth until the latter manages to gain the upper hand and bisect him at the waist. The yakuza seemingly have achieved the victory they were hoping for as we cut to the bullet train where Makima was killed… only for her to suddenly arise, much to everyone’s shock. The train eventually reaches its destination where she’s greeted by two devil hunters, Kurose and Tendo (temporary hires from Kyoto), and relays what happened to the two, following up by ordering them to round up 30 prisoners and reserve a temple.

As the yakuza attempt to drag Denji’s remains away, one of the lesser grunts suddenly explodes into a bloody mess, catching everyone off-guard as Sawatari attempts to communicate with the other teams… only for more and more of them to meet a similar grisly fate. As it turns out, the temple and prisoners were requested by Makima so she could invoke a devil contract and sacrifice the prisoners’ lives for a bit of violent retribution. To make matters worse for the enemy, Kobeni suddenly arrives (having survived the ambush at the expense of Arai’s life) and demonstrates her extremely capable skills as a devil hunter, easily dodging the Snake Devil and landing some knife and gun wounds on Katana Man, forcing them to escape as she retrieves Denji’s torso. Soon after, Makima converses with a devil hunter named Madoka informing her of the extent of the ambush’s damages and that Special Divisions 1-3 are being folded into 4 under her command. Madoka turns in his resignation, and Makima departs with Kurose and Tendo.

Given the emotionally bleak conclusion of last week’s episode, it’s kind of a swerve that we’re not given much internal time to process Himeno’s fate, jumping right into an episode full of action and extremely unnerving story development. The initial fight between Denji and Katana Man, while as heated and intense as any fight before, presents an interesting switch-up from previous encounters. While previous Devil battles were against these massive gargantuan entities, our protagonist is here faced with another human-devil hybrid on the same scale as himself. However, while they’re of equivalent statures, Katana Man does have one major advantage to him: speed. He can zip around the environment in the blink of an eye, and the direction and storyboarding of the episode does a great job of playing into that with a lot of frenetic camera movements and playing up the smoke from the resulting debris, as well as shots that are, as always, worthy of a bombastic movie poster at your local multiplex.

Additionally, these kinds of speedy reflexes are on display when Kobeni gets her time to shine as an action badass. Contrary to her easily panicked demeanor, she can in fact be quite the capable fighter in combat when the moment arises. Hearing the opening moments of “the devil appears” ramping up into the more intense glitchier bass of the track is a great way to build the anticipation for the exact moment she dodges out of the Snake Devil’s way and runs along its body in order to slice off hands, pop off shots, and show the yakuza who’s boss around here. Just to drive the point home further, we glimpse Kobeni managing to sneak a headshot against the elderly lady who ambushed her and Arai, doing so with little remorse and further painting her as someone who’s got a screw or two loose up there.

She heard everyone talking shit about her and is out for revenge.

But of course the most eyebrow-raising plot developments come from the head of Special Division 4 herself: Makima. I figured from The DiscourseTM surrounding the series, most watching have definitely given the stink-eye to her words and actions, finding something off about her. And the second she rises up from her chair on the train, alive and well after however many gunshots at near point-blank range, any and all building suspicions are now fully cemented. She speaks in such a casual manner to Kurose and Tendo, to the point of outright lying when asked about the blood on her trench coat, not to mention having a convenient excuse to avoid answering when Madoka asks her to what extent these ambushes might have been anticipated by the higher-ups.

And then there’s whatever devil contract(s) she has on hand, a secret so important that everyone present at the temple has to be blindfolded as she invokes some brutal devil powers. It’s a deliberately whiplash-inducing contrast: the seeming quaint serenity of a religious setting like a temple swerves hard when Makima starts violently crushing the enemy opposition from long distance. The animation doesn’t shy away from the brutality of this either, showing some brutal and visceral moments of gore and bloodshed, showing the victims’ faces contorted into the most painful look possible during their fleeting last moments of life. It can be a bit odd that she chooses to eliminate the low-level grunts while allowing Sawatari and Katana Man to live, but I choose to think she’s more or less trying to send a message of pants-shitting intimidation rather than trying to fully wipe out their numbers, and it certainly gets the job done. We have another 3 episodes to go as the season simultaneously escalates and winds down, so time for Aimer to play us out!

New episodes of Chainsaw Man premiere every Tuesday and can be streamed on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

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