As an entertainment genre, anime is often lauded for its emphasis on reality. Characters and scenes are drawn more realistically while storylines address the same things average people deal with every day. For the most part, anime is more realistic than other forms of animation. But even it can run off the rails.
Have you ever heard of Chainsaw Man? He is both a character and a manga series birthed in 2018. Chainsaw Man has proved so popular among fans that it is moving to the anime arena. The well-known MAPPA studio will be producing the series which is rumored to be scheduled for release later in 2021 or early 2022.
The thing about Chainsaw Man is that neither the character nor his story even comes close to being realistic. The story does contain realistic elements, like the Japanese yakuza, but most of what it presents is as far from reality as any low-budget sci-fi flick attempting to wow viewers with cheap special-effects.
1. A Brief History of Anime
If you are not familiar with anime as an art form, it dates back to the late 1910s and early 1920s. Animation was just emerging in Japan. Early Japanese animation styles were similar to what was being produced in the West, with the possible exception of a greater focus on human characters rather than animals.
By the 1930s, Japanese animation had been transformed into something totally unique. It was unlike anything being produced in Hollywood, that’s for sure. At its core was a desire to be more realistic. Japanese animators eschewed the proportionally exaggerated characters coming from companies like Disney. They also weren’t much in favor of overly optimistic stories that always finished with happy endings.
Japanese artists wanted their characters and scenes to look more natural. They wanted their stories to delve into real-life issues. They made a clear decision to move anime in that direction, in hopes of providing an alternative to Western animation.
2. The Chainsaw Man Story
Getting back to Chainsaw Man, its main character is a young man by the name of Denji. That’s normal enough, but Denji makes his living as a devil hunter. Now we are approaching the line of reality. We cross over when the main character ends up merging with his devil dog (whatever that is) named Pochita.
Once the line is crossed, why hold back? Chainsaw Man‘s creator decided not to. His new man-dog character takes a job with a government agency obsessed with tracking down and destroying the Gun Devil. Meanwhile, Denji uses his position to take revenge on the yakuza for double-crossing him.
We are now left with a chainsaw wielding half-man, half-dog who hunts devils and Japanese mobsters. That’s way beyond the boundaries of reality. It seems a far cry from what anime creators intended back in the 1930s. But hey, all art forms evolve.
3. More Genteel Anime Still Exists
Fortunately, Chainsaw Man is not the gold standard of modern anime. It has a huge fan base, for sure, but it’s not the only force in the anime universe More genteel anime is still being produced. It is as popular as ever, according to the folks behind the Umai apparel brand.
Umai’s original artwork would be considered the more genteel anime fans are familiar with. It rarely portrays violence. It doesn’t delve into stories that seem too unbelievable to embrace.
Many people appreciate Anime for its emphasis on reality. But even this genre can go too far. If Chainsaw Man is any indication, running off the rails of reality is always a possibility regardless of your chosen art form.