Last week I divided up all my screencaps because the episode went through so many visual changes that when you grouped them all together, they lost their impact. This sort of visual evolution adds a sense of movement to the episode.
This week it’s the complete opposite. All my screencaps look like they could be from the same scene. Everything from the depth of field to the color palette and even, with a few exceptions, the angles were surprisingly static during this episode. And I know why they did it. At least I think I know. If I’m right, it’s really awesome. One word: claustrophobia!
I said it didn’t I. I love time shenanigans! We are now officially in a devilish time shenanigan. Denji probably has the healthiest attitude towards it as well.
The demons of Chainsaw Man have been mere accessories so far. We hardly see them or get to know anything about them. And they are all obstacles at most. None of the actual terror of the story comes from the demons. As I keep saying, I am way more scared of Makima. But Chainsaw Man as a story still scares me. Or at least makes me feel uncomfortable.
I don’t know how much of that is because I read the manga and found it truly unsettling at times. I couldn’t tell you whether the anime is better than the manga but I can say with some assurance that the manga was tenser and scarier. The same things happen but somehow it just felt so much bleaker in the manga.
And this part, this particular demon is associated with one thing for me: claustrophobia. Being stuck on a hotel floor with no means of getting out because space has wrapped in itself is already suffocating enough. But being trapped in a particular second in time, that unbearable. How can they even breathe? Starving seems like a particularly awful way to go for a demon hunter. It just adds insult to injury!
But in the colourful action of the anime, this type of quiet tension can be lost. Denji and Power, as incarnated by newcomer Kikunosuke Toya and pure fabulousness Fairouz Ai respectively, can brighten up even the dreariest of settings. It’s next to impossible to recreate the sinking feeling of being trapped in a vacuum that this arc was meant to be under those circumstances.
And this is where the production steps it up. The entire episode is in dingy warm tones. Warm is the wrong word for it, it’s the type of warm that’s all humid and sticky and uncomfortable. The type of warm that saps you of your energy and you know nothing good will happen until it breaks. And they just keep it at that. Have the characters talk in circles just slowly reaffirming how screwed they are. Have Power decide the win a Nobel prize because the ridiculousness of it just highlights how stupidly f**ked they are. Keep all that exciting action out of it until the very end.
But then in the middle, throw in a flashback that contrasts everything. One that’s all cool-tined, sad but optimistic and sweet. One that even ends with a joke, although a slightly dark one. That makes the dull ochre hues that much more oppressive.
It’s cool, right? It might not be as impressive at first glance as those ridiculous Ufotable fighting scenes but it’s still solid production values. Someone cared about this material and understood. They wanted it to have the right vibe. There is a chance all of this is in my head. But hey, now it can be in your head too.
And now for the random stuff, I noticed in this episode of Chainsaw Man that I can’t fit anywhere else:
I liked that Power has Bermuda shorts on. It’s very striking, manages to be both completely unprofessional and completely unsexy at the same time and seems like exactly what power should be wearing. The uniform but somehow wrong. And not in a try-hard way. Just like everything she touches casually becomes a little off.
Aki seems to have a lot of gum-based solutions. I hope it’s a recurring theme because I love it!
- Chainsaw Man ep1 – A Normal Life
- Chainsaw Man ep2 – The Power
- Chainsaw Man ep3 – Motivations
- Chainsaw Man ep4 – Little Dreams
- Chainsaw Man ep5 – House of Mirrors