「キスの味」 (Kiss no Aji)
“The Taste of a Kiss”
BENEATH THE SURFACE
Bathed in the infinite Devil’s blood, Denji falls and rises, gets torn apart and build back up again. He drinks, thrashes, slices, laughs––and repeat. In a world where Devils feed off people’s fears, it takes a nut case to scare the shit out of a Devil. But amidst all this chaos, something catches our attention: how does this Devil even know about “Chainsaw” Denji? Pochita’s merge with Denji is quite recent so, how come there are devils actively searching for him? Well, I think we all know the answers to this one, and it starts with: Pochita’s name is not really Pochita; his ‘dog’ form wasn’t his real form; there’s an interesting backstory waiting to be told.
Looking down the elevator shaft, a slightly flushed and bedazzled Himeno-san watches––after three whole bloody days––as Denji eventually forces the Infinite Devil to surrender––more accurately: the crying devil apologizes and begs to be killed by offering its heart.
In the Evangelion-esque cemetery flashback, Himeno-san and Kishibe (Tsuda Kenjirou)––aka beaten up Nanami––have a meaningful conversation about the nature of devils and what it takes to survive in the world of devil hunting. What I found meaningful about this conversation is that it seems to be pointing toward what I think might be one of the core themes of Chainsaw Man’s narrative: the philosophical discussion of fear. If Himeno-san’s biggest fear is to lose Aki, how does that affect her life experience? If Kobeni’s fear is being failure and dying because of it, how does is she showing up to her challenges? What about Aki, and Makima-san? I think this is a fascinating subject, the nature of fear itself. What are they [fears] anyway? Where do they come from, and what is their purpose? Do they control us, or can we control them? Is life without fears even possible? If not, can we live alongside them? CSM is a narrative that uses a lot of metaphors as its fuel, and while this one is still on its speculative phase, I think I’m onto something. What do you guys think? Probably that I should be talking about the vomit kiss. That was a gold moment in history for me, I had no idea it was coming since I haven’t read the manga. Points for authenticity and nastiness.
Also, was anyone going to tell me Power was based on Eric Cartman or was I just supposed to find this out via TikTok? Everything just makes so much more sense to me now. I wanted to expand on some other things, but I’m on a bit of a tight schedule and won’t have time to write anything until Sunday, so I asked Choya to contribute to this review! I want to make sure these reviews are always up before the weekend, so here comes the rescue:
Hey guys and gals, I usually do the caps for Chainsaw Man since it’s fun to see how they captured some of the manga’s artwork, but this week, I’ll be adding to Gabie’s post with my perspective on the Eternity Devil arc and Episode 07. As amazing as the series has been so far, I loved this current arc in the anime back when I read through the manga since it’s where you get a better feel for what the Public Safety sector is like and why working there is considered to be a death sentence for those desperate enough to sign up.
Kobeni and Arai might’ve made some new enemies with newer audiences during the Eternity Devil fight, but it’s because they’re not immune to panicking and miscalculated judgment calls that they make for compelling characters. With the odious cloud of death hanging over all of these characters, they should be freaked out by all of this because they still haven’t cast aside their humanity to live and die for high-risk work conditions. Kobeni is saddled more by confidence issues, but Episode 07 does far more justice to Arai since the guilt of wanting Denji killed pushes him to offer him a kind, helping hand when he’s upchucking Himeno’s “first kiss”.
Himeno’s earlier flashback as Denji fights the Eternity Devil also solidifies the notion that it’s pure luck that keeps people like Arai and Kobeni alive. Himeno still finds it hard to learn from Kishibe’s advice to leave all facets of sanity or sympathy out of the window for survival. Himeno and Aki might dedicate their all to their jobs, but both of them also suffer from being altruistic enough to be bothered by factors like having to bury yet another pupil or prioritizing others’ lives over their own.
Similarly, the big Public Security dinner hammers this down even harder with Kobeni freaking out when she catches on to the fact that many of the people sitting there have replaced employees who barely made it past a month before being brutally murdered on the job. It’s a system that thrives off of exploitation and only those like Denji and Power who are accustomed to surviving through harsh living situations are able to live to see the next day.
On a lighter note, I did get a kick out of how they adapted Denji’s first kiss. One perk of doing the caps after reading the manga was seeing how they mirrored some of the more iconic moments from this scene. Denji making the same exact face when he refuses to kiss Himeno and then immediately backtracks was hilarious in the manga.
The anime has garnered controversy by placing more emphasis on having the characters move realistically through a faded color palette, but I haven’t had as much of a problem with this direction because Fujimoto’s love of cinema would inspire a more cinematic feel for the anime. That being said, it has caused some of its lighter-hearted moments to get overshadowed by the push to maintain a cinema verite aesthetic for the entire show.
While I think the anime misses out on the same rhythm with the two panels showing how superficial Denji’s loyalty is when his libido makes most of his life decisions, this episode managed to be incredibly funny because of Denji’s wavering loyalty. Does he want to save himself for the pie-in-the-sky chance to date Makima or does he want the instant gratification of Himeno’s advances?
To the anime’s credit, they knocked Denji’s first kiss out of the park. I’m impressed that they managed to add to the first parts of their kissing by having them aggressively French kiss before Himeno vomits. Where you could be tricked for a moment that Denji has nothing to worry about until Himeno pulls away for the horrifying reveal. They also did a good job with the mean comedy that came from Power’s reminder that Denji will eat just about anything before he gulps down all of the puke and the immediate follow-up with kid Denji mocking rats for what’s on their dinner menu. Also, good grief was the gulping scene even worse in the anime because I didn’t realize exactly how much vomit he ate until the episode aired.
On a semi-related note, this episode had a very nice ED with much of the song and animation being dedicated to Denji’s unfortunate first kiss. My favorite aspect of it though is the nods to retro RPGs and 90’s anime pin-ups that are scattered throughout the ending. One thing about Chainsaw Man that I gravitate towards is the inspiration it grabs from films and video games, so seeing this ED lean into the world of Famicom and Super Famicom gaming was a nice treat in an episode filled to the brim with beer and barf.
ED7: 「ちゅ、多様性。」 (Chu, Tayousei.) by Ano