After a bloody introduction last week, the second episode of Chainsaw Man hits the ground running with set up for the rest of the season. “Arrival in Tokyo” picks up moments after episode one by giving Denji (Kikunosuke Toya, Ryan Colt Levy) a proper conversation with the woman who found him. Makima (Tomori Kusunoki, Suzie Yeung) immediately presents as a cipher by switching between speaking softly to Denji and making it abundantly clear that she’s now calling the shots.
Not that Denji minds – once Makima feeds him on her dime at a rest stop, he’s infatuated. This is also the first notable deviation from the manga. In the manga, Denji has a bit more time to consider things as there is a one-off devil encounter included in this sequence. That fight is an easy cut that makes the rest of this episode flow and should indicate that MAPPA isn’t interested in wheel-spinning.
Instead, “Arrival in Tokyo” breaks nicely into three parts: the aforementioned Makima part, which concludes with her bringing Denji into Public Safety and into part two with squad leader Aki, and we’ll get to part three shortly. Aki (Shogo Sakata, Reagan Murdock) is a hardass who immediately clocks Denji for only joining up because of his newfound affection for Makima (Denji making it obvious doesn’t help) and promptly tells him to buzz off. Their conflict makes up the crux of “Arrival in Tokyo” as Aki isn’t wrong. One can make plenty of excuses for Denji’s mentality and behavior – and to Chainsaw Man‘s credit even at his most thirsty Denji never steps into entitlement territory – but as he is now he’s directionless.
Through Aki’s confrontations Denji does at least find motivation in what else but being thirsty for some physical contact. Again, there’s a lesser version of these events that could have easily been an embrace of the incel crowd, but Denji is motivated instead to put forth more effort instead.
This still isn’t healthy, obviously, as evidenced by the episode’s third act that introduces us to Power. Power (Fairouz Ai, Sarah Wiedenheft) is a fiend, a devil that possessed a corpse; as opposed to Denji’s situation somehow that isn’t explained but can be surmised as the reverse. Power is loud, proud, and perfectly portrayed in animation. She’s paired with Denji which first takes him back until he realizes he might have a shot with her if he plays his cards right. That thought quickly takes a back seat as the episode ends with a truly exquisite gone sequence as Power shows off her blood powers to completely liquify a devil, laughing maniacally in a pool of purple guts and Denji wondering if he’s actually bit off more than he can chew.
“Arrival in Tokyo” is still very much Chainsaw Man in setup mode, but the characters we meet are instantly compelling. Each new performance is effective in telling us quite a bit about who they are even as we’re still learning what their deal is. So far, MAPPA’s adaptation has been sleek and at this point it is safe to say this series is in good hands.