2022 Was a Great Year for Anime

The Best Anime of 2022

Another year over, another year closer to anime fans achieving pop culture hegemony. All jokes aside, 2022 was a particularly good year for Japanese animation. Not only did we get some incredible films and series in 2022, but several of these ended up breaking the Internet. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for us to look back on the best anime to come out of Japan.

Full disclosure: in addition to anime series, we will also be counting movies. Considering the success that several anime films had at the box office this year, it’s justified.

Attack on Titan Season 4, Part 2

Just when you thought that Attack on Titan couldn’t get any bigger, it does just that. The second part to the hit anime’s final season premiered in January 2022, and the Internet went crazy over it. Given how this part saw series protagonist/antagonist Eren Yeager enact his plans of unleashing an army of Titans to wipe out all humanity beyond his island home, that was to be expected. In addition, when the opening for the new part, “Rumbling” went up on YouTube, it wound up trending. Given how the part ended on a massive cliffhanger, fans are chomping at the bit to see the grand finale in all its animated glory. 

Spy x Family

It’s the spy comedy that’s taken the anime world by storm, Spy x Family. Making its anime debut in 2022, Spy x Family combines all the action and escapades of classic spy films with the kind of comedy that will leave you in stitches. Set in a fictional world locked in a cold war, Spy x Family follows Twilight, an agent tasked with spying on an enemy politician to stop a potential war. To do this, he builds a fake family with a little girl named Anya and a woman named Yor. The twist is that Yor’s secretly one of her country’s best assassins, and the only one aware of this is the mind-reading Anya, whose desperate to keep her found family intact.

Even though it’s the new kid on the block, Spy x Family has already won the hearts of millions, and it’s not hard to see why: the characters are so likable. Anya’s a precious little cinnamon bun who only wants to have a real family and will go to great lengths. Despite only taking them in as part of his cover, Loid comes to genuinely care about Anya and Yor. Lastly, Yor’s dual nature as a deadly assassin but clumsy and caring housewife makes her one of the top waifus of the year. If you haven’t already watched it, you should check out Spy x Family.

One Piece

This year was a good year for One Piece, period. On the manga front, the series completed its biggest and longest arc to date, the Wano Country Arc that saw Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates go head-to-head with one of the strongest pirates in the world. Meanwhile, that same arc continues to be adapted into anime to great fanfare. When Crunchyroll posted some of the best clips on YouTube, they trended several times. 

Lastly, the series latest film, One Piece Film: Red, saw massive success in its native Japan and overseas, with its soundtrack trending on iTunes. With the series entering its final saga and Eichiro Oda promising it to be more epic than ever, now’s a good time to be a One Piece fan.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero 

After so many years of getting the short end of the stick in favor of his dad, Dragon Ball finally made Gohan great again. When the remnants of the Red Ribbon Army come out of hiding (again) while Goku and Vegeta are away, it falls to Gohan to deal with the threat. However, Gohan’s neglecting his training again, much to everyone’s disappointment. Frustrated by this, Piccolo uses this chance to force Gohan to reawaken his fighting spirit.

Even though this movie sees the franchise use 3D animation as opposed to 2D, it doesn’t make the film less amazing. The film brings back much of the humor from the early days of the original manga while carefully balancing it with a ton of action. In addition, the film sees Gohan and Piccolo gain new forms that put them in the running for strongest characters in the franchise once more. The former gets a form that, for all intents and purposes, effectively canonizes the popular fanmade transformation El Blanco. El Blanco is canon, people!

Chainsaw Man

Yet another newcomer to the Shonen anime scene, Chainsaw Man has also taken the anime world by storm. Set in an alternate 1990’s Japan where Devils exist, the series follows Denji, a young, teenaged Devil Hunter whose life’s cut short by a group of Yakuza. However, Denji gets a second lease on life when he fuses with his Devil friend, Pochita, becoming the infamous Chainsaw Man. Now, Denji hunts down even more Devils. Not for the sake of humanity or for justice or revenge, but for the simple goal of living a normal life. That, and to get lucky with a woman.

Chainsaw Man is one of the most popular anime on the market right, and it’s not hard to see why. The characters are quirky and the series is filled with so much blood and over-the-top violence that it would leave Attack on Titan jealous. If you haven’t been watching it, then you need to be. It’s a slow burn at first, but once it picks up, you’ll see why it’s so popular already.

My Hero Academia Season 6

While the fifth season may not have been that exciting, it was just a prelude to the real show: My Hero Academia, Season 6. With the villains growing more powerful than ever, the heroes make their move to put an end to the destructive plans of Tomura Shigaraki. However, what should’ve been a decisive victory for the heroes turns into an all-out war that pushes both sides to their absolute limits. Characters die, heroes and villains unlock new abilities, and shocking revelations emerge. This is My Hero Academia at its absolute best, and the season’s only halfway over.

JoJo : Stone Ocean

Netflix ruined the hype for this. JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure is one of the greatest shonen series ever. The last decade’s seen the anime inspire countless memes as it finally achieved worldwide popularity. However, the decision to have Part 6 air on Netflix prevented it from reaching the heights it should have. Netflix made the decision to release the season in batches, which is good for streaming but terrible for building up hype. As a result, the final act in the original JoJo timeline almost flies under the radar. 

Anime Training Arc=Badass Protagonists

Chainsaw Man, Ep 11 Review

When an anime protagonist wants to overcome insurmountable odds and beat an enemy that kicked their butts, what do they do? They have an anime training arc, get stronger, and then go back for a rematch. In this case, Special Division 4 has a collective anime training arc to take down the Katana Man. However, will it be enough to take down the Katana Man and his Devils?  

Yes. That’s what happens with an anime training arc.

Training Time’s Over, Time for Payback 

Having trained under Kishibe for an unspecified amount of time, Denji and Power start to show some improvement. At least, that’s what Kishibe says, since he pushes back their training to once a week. However, he also lets them know that they’re going to be launching their mission to take down the Katana Man and his rogue Yakuza the next day. The Special Division’s future rides on their success; if they fail, Denji and Power die. In other words, they shouldn’t fail.

The success of what will happen is the main source of drama for the episode, with Makima even visiting the Yakuza upper echeleons to get more intel…is what I wish she was just doing. In addition to that, she then intimidates the Yakuza into cooperating with the government or face destruction.

This moment show’s how no-nonsense Makima is about her job. When the Yakuza boss refuses to cooperate at first, saying they’re a necessary evil to keep worse gangs from outside Japan out, she doesn’t have it. She gives him a bag of eyes from their other members, their families, and more. It’s a morbid sight and one that would intimidate most people. As I’ve said before, Makima scares me. 

The Raid Begins! The Other Members of Special Division 4 Make their Debut!

The third act of the episode sees Special Division 4 start their raid on the forces of the Katana Man and Sawatari (the girl with the Snake Devil). This moment serves as a chance for us to meet the other members of their group, and most of them are either Devils or Fiends. 

It’s more apparent now why Makima’s Division is cause for concern. Most of the members are either crazy people, Fiends, Devils, or some combination of all three. Denji fits right in with all these oddballs, for better or worse. 

Aki’s Anime Training Arc Pays Off

The real highlight of the episode, though, is Aki. He made a contract with the Future Devil, who, despite it’s strange appearance, is a troll by nature. It likes to mockingly say that “the future rules,” and unlike others, it’s worked with, it barely asks for anything from Aki. All it wants is to live in his right eye, and it will let him see a few seconds into the future. 

The catch to this, though, is that it wants a front-row seat to Aki’s inevitable death, something it found very interesting. Like I said, it’s a troll. 

As I said last week, it’s pretty evident that most of these people aren’t going to live to see retirement. The implication that Aki’s death is so morbid that the Future Devil wanted a front-row seat to it makes it pretty obvious. However, it’s still disturbing to see that the series equivalent to Sasuke will likely die before the anime ends.

Regardless of the short life expectancy, it’s clear that the anime training arc’s paid off. The Yakuza are going down. The one regret that I may have is the fact that the first portion of the anime ends next episode. Here’s hoping they can finish the Katana Man Arc in that time. 

Happy Holidays everyone!

I Give “Mission Start” a 3/5

Anime Training Arc. Brought to You By Kishibe

Chainsaw Man Ep. 10 Review

The first round between the Yakuza of the Katana Man and Public Safety Division 4 of the Devil Hunters has ended. Both sides have retreated to lick their wounds and mourn the dead. In this case, most of Division 4’s either dead or quit. Aki’s lost his partner, Denji got his butt kicked, and Power? She ran away like a coward. Thus, in accordance with the laws of Shonen anime, this defeat means the protagonists must train to get stronger. To do that, Makima brings in someone crazy. So crazy that he makes Denji and Power look sane in comparison: Kishibe.

Master Kishibe Pulls No Punches

With most of their members dead or quitting Public Safety to go private, Makima needs to make sure her remaining members (the main trio, Kobeni, and Madoka) are up to the task. To that end, she arranges for each of them to get stronger in some fashion. For Aki, this means forming a contract with a new Devil. For Denji and Power, though, this means training under the strongest Devil Hunter they have: Kishibe.

Kishibe only likes three things in life: booze, women, and killing Devils, and he’s good at the last one. So good, in fact, that he was Aki and Himeno’s teacher at one point. In other words, he’s as nuts as they get, and brutal to boot. When he meets Denji and Power at a cemetery, the first thing he does is attack them and beat them to near death.

While his training methods sound sadistic, there’s a method to his madness. Only the strongest and craziest people can become Devil Hunters and survive. And with his monstrous strength and lack of fear, Kishibe’s crazy and strong enough to train Denji and Power. 

The bad news? His training methods involve beating them within an inch of their lives until they can beat him. It’s brutal, Spartan, and sadistic…but effective. They do slightly better the next day.

Aki Goes Devil Shopping

As for Aki, he finds himself dealing with a different problem. After what happened with the Katana Man and that girl with the Snake Devil, he’s out of a Devil Contract. Thus, his next step is to get a new one from one of the Devils the Public Safety Division has captured. What follows is like a cross between going to buy something at the store or adopting a new pet. In this case, the “pets” are Devils that can kill him.

The one that Aki considers is the Future Devil. Considering how it represents the fear of the future (which can be pretty scary), I can imagine that such a being must be pretty strong. The uncertainty of the future scares a lot of people, thus making it very dangerous. 

I’m suddenly very worried.

None of These People Will Live to See Retirement, Will They?

The more I watch Chainsaw Man, the more I realize something bad: none of these characters are going to live to see retirement, are they? 

I’m being serious. With the rate of casualties as a Devil Hunter, I don’t think anyone of these people can expect to die in their sleep from old age. Not Denji, not Power (can she even age?) And certainly not Aki. Thanks to his contract with the Curse Devil, he only has two years left to live. He knowingly gave up his chance at a long life to get revenge on the Gun Devil. And I thought Sasuke was bad.

Regardless of their short lifespans, the trio fo Denji, Power, and Aki seem determined to live life to the fullest. Firstly, that means finding the Katana Man, and putting him in his place. And once they undergo their anime training arc, they will do so. For Himeno.

I Give “Bruised and Battered,” a 3/5

Kishibe Arrives! Begin the Anime Training Arc!

Chainsaw Man, Ep 10 Review

The first round between the Yakuza of the Katana Man and Public Safety Division 4 of the Devil Hunters has ended. Both sides have retreated to lick their wounds and mourn the dead. In this case, most of Division 4’s either dead or quit. Aki’s lost his partner, Denji got his butt kicked, and Power? She ran away like a coward. Thus, in accordance with the laws of Shonen anime, this defeat means the protagonists must train to get stronger. To do that, Makima brings in someone crazy. So crazy that he makes Denji and Power look sane in comparison: Kishibe.

Master Kishibe Pulls No Punches

With most of their members dead or quitting Public Safety to go private, Makima needs to make sure her remaining members (the main trio, Kobeni, and Madoka) are up to the task. To that end, she arranges for each of them to get stronger in some fashion. For Aki, this means forming a contract with a new Devil. For Denji and Power, though, this means training under the strongest Devil Hunter they have: Kishibe.

Kishibe only likes three things in life: booze, women, and killing Devils, and he’s good at the last one. So good, in fact, that he was Aki and Himeno’s teacher at one point. In other words, he’s as nuts as they get, and brutal to boot. When he meets Denji and Power at a cemetery, the first thing he does is attack them and beat them to near death.

While his training methods sound sadistic, there’s a method to his madness. Only the strongest and craziest people can become Devil Hunters and survive. And with his monstrous strength and lack of fear, Kishibe’s crazy and strong enough to train Denji and Power. 

The bad news? His training methods involve beating them within an inch of their lives until they can beat him. It’s brutal, Spartan, and sadistic…but effective. They do slightly better the next day.

Aki Goes Devil Shopping

As for Aki, he finds himself dealing with a different problem. After what happened with the Katana Man and that girl with the Snake Devil, he’s out of a Devil Contract. Thus, his next step is to get a new one from one of the Devils the Public Safety Division has captured. What follows is like a cross between going to buy something at the store or adopting a new pet. In this case, the “pets” are Devils that can kill him.

The one that Aki considers is the Future Devil. Considering how it represents the fear of the future (which can be pretty scary), I can imagine that such a being must be pretty strong. The uncertainty of the future scares a lot of people, thus making it very dangerous. 

I’m suddenly very worried.

None of These People Will Live to See Retirement, Will They?

The more I watch Chainsaw Man, the more I realize something bad: none of these characters are going to live to see retirement, are they? 

I’m being serious. With the rate of casualties as a Devil Hunter, I don’t think anyone of these people can expect to die in their sleep from old age. Not Denji, not Power (can she even age?) And certainly not Aki. Thanks to his contract with the Curse Devil, he only has two years left to live. He knowingly gave up his chance at a long life to get revenge on the Gun Devil. And I thought Sasuke was bad.

Regardless of their short lifespans, the trio fo Denji, Power, and Aki seem determined to live life to the fullest. Firstly, that means finding the Katana Man, and putting him in his place. And once they undergo their anime training arc, they will do so. For Himeno.

I Give “Bruised and Battered,” a 3/5

Makima Scares Me Now

Chainsaw Man Ep 9 Review

To paraphrase Wolverine from the X-Men comics, “All right, Yakuza bastards. You took yer best shot. Now it’s my turn!” 

That was the exact thing that went through my head while watching the new episode of Chainsaw Man. The Devil Hunters got ambushed by the Yakuza and seemed to be on the ropes. However, the Yakuza failed to finish the job. Now it’s their turn to hit back, and Makima’s not taking any prisoners. She’s killing them!

Round One! Winners: Yakuza

Last episode, the Devil Hunters came under attack by Yakuza working for the guy whose grandpa Denji killed in the first episode. Now that man can turn into a Katana-Devil hybrid similar to Denji, and he wants them all dead. What follows is probably the best fight in the anime to date. Chainsaws and Katana slashing, blood’s pouring, and it’s just flat out epic.

Sadly, it’s over all too soon, with Katana Man slicing Denji in half to beat him, which is also awesome. And with Aki out, Himeno dead, and Power missing, there’s no stopping Katana Man and his associates (including the girl with the Snake Devil) from taking Denji.

However, the Yakuza made one big mistake, one that a lot of villains make. When you’re out to kill your enemies, never turn your back on them until you’re sure they’re dead. 

Now it’s Makima’s turn.

Makima…She Scares Me

As someone who’s only watched the anime, I have no clue how Makima survived the Yakuza’s attempts to kill her. For now, I’ll chalk it up to plot armor/contract with whatever Devil she has in her back pocket. It doesn’t matter, though. What matters is what she does next…and it honestly scared me a little. 

So after killing her would-be assassins off-screen without batting an eye, Makima comes up to her colleagues and tells them “I’m going to need a temple and some death-row inmates.” As soon as I heard that, I knew where this was going: she was going to sacrifice them to use some terrifying powers to deal with the thugs who decided to mess with her people. 

I don’t fully understand what she does, but seeing Makima sacrifice these condemned prisoners makes the Yakuza explode! It’s like something out of Death Note, but far bloodier. It was horrifying! Seeing all those criminals blood and guts exploding is nightmare fuel.

If I didn’t have my reservations about her before, now I’m convinced: Makima is dangerous. However, what she does is one of the three best moments of the entire episode.

Where Was this Kobeni Last Arc?!?!

The last great moment of the episode comes from, of all people, Kobeni. Kobeni, who I kept saying wasn’t cut out for being a Devil Slayer, and a female version of Usopp, but less lovable, saves the day. After killing her assassin (her friend doesn’t make it, though,) she tracks down Katana Man and the snake girl. Then she manages to fight them both off and send them running for the hills. In a series already filled with badass moments, this one stood out.

When I was watching this, though, all I could think of was “where the heck was this Kobeni when they were trapped in the hotel?!? I want more of it!” 

In all seriousness, though, I was actually impressed with how badass Kobeni was in this episode. Not only did she kill her attacker, but she saved Denji. As far as I care, that makes up for her trying to sacrifice him a few episodes ago.

Let the Devil Hunt Begin

So, the episode ends with both sides regrouping following the first battle. While many Devil Hunters died, including Himeno and Arai, the Yakuza got off far worse. As for Denji, I’m sure he’ll recover. He’s regenerated from being chopped into pieces thanks to Pochita, so he should be able to grow back the lower half of his body.

This episode was by far the best one yet. I’m glad I started watching Chainsaw Man, because it’s one of the best shonen anime in this new generation of the genre. The one hang-up I have is how the action sequences end too soon. I need the chance to enjoy them, Studio MAPPA! 

Oh, and RIP to Himeno and Arai. We hardly knew ye, but the former will live on in fan-art.

I Give “From Kyoto” a 4/5

Denji is Crazy Enough to be a Devil Hunter

Chainsaw Man Episode 6 Review

I’ve noticed a trend in the Shonen genre. Besides possessing crazy amounts of willpower, many Shonen protagonists are, to varying degrees, crazy. They either display behavior that makes most people think they’re nuts…or do things that no sane person would do. The irony’s that their crazy lets them pull off the impossible and survive things that would break others. Why am I bringing this up? Because the latest episode of Chainsaw Man confirms that Denji’s crazy. And that craziness helps him to survive a situation that the saner Devil Hunters break under.

Oh, and the same goes for Power.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure up in Here!

When we last left off, Denji and his group weren’t looking so hot. They went hunting down a Devil in a local hotel, but found themselves trapped on the 8th floor. And they can’t get out; it loops back around, like a sadistic Mobius strip. Even time’s stopped for them. In addition, they can’t call for help, so they’re trapped, unable to do anything about it.

This reminds me a lot of an enemy Stand in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. If you’ve read the manga or seen the anime, then you know some enemies can manipulate reality like this to break the heroes. It comes down to whether the protagonists can keep their heads straight and think of a way out. However, that’s hard to do when they’ve got a limited amount of food and water to ration. Once that runs out, then they either have to find a way out…or wait to die of starvation or dehydration. The latter is not a great way to die. 

Sanity Can Be a Weakness in This Line of Work

Last week, I said that two of the new Devil Hunters, Hirokazu and Kobeni, gave off “Red Shirt Energy.” They both seemed like they’d die pretty fast. While they do survive this episode, their behavior does nothing to change a simple fact: they’re not cut out to be Devil Hunters. They’re too sane to do so.

Sanity is, obviously, a good thing. It helps keep us alive and with a grasp on what’s going on around us. However, there are moments in fiction when being sane can be more of a hindrance than of help. Case in point, we have Kobeni, who’s an absolute coward. And unlike people like Usopp or Mr. Satan, it’s not played for laughs. It is genuinely sad to see her break down in their current situation and admit that she’s not cut out for this job. Her parents said it was either this, or become a sex worker to pay for her brother’s college fees! Is it really a surprise when their Devil enemy offers to let them go in exchange for killing Denji, she jumps at this chance. 

The Perks of Being Crazy, as Shown by Denji

Now compare Kobeni and Hirokazu’s behavior to that of Denji and Power. When faced with this impossible situation, what do they do? Power starts saying that when she gets out of this, she’ll win a Nobel Prize and become the Prime Minister. And Denji? He decides to sleep it off.

In other words, they’re both crazy. Aki and his partner, Himeno, don’t count in this instance, as they’ve probably dealt with crazy messes like this before. In addition, all four of these people understand that being a Devil Hunter’s the kind of job you shouldn’t take if you want to live to see old age. You either have to be very brave, very skilled, or very crazy to take it up. And Denji is crazy. We’ve already that before. So, what is their solution to dealing with this Devil?

Simple: they fight it.

This is a Shonen anime, after all—usually, the best solution in a Shonen series is to beat up the enemy even if that notion is crazy. Its this crazy willingness to do crazy things that makes Denji perfect to be a Devil Hunter. As for Kobeni and Hirokazu, they should quit this line of work while they can. Or, in Kobeni’s case, get an office job with the Devil Hunters. 

I Give “Kill Denji” a 3.5/5

Denji’s Quest for Girls Begins!

Chainsaw Man Episode 2 Review

Question: what would you say if you met a beautiful but mysterious woman who asked you to come work for her in exchange for anything you wanted? Most people would say no because such an offer is very sus. When you’ve hit absolute rock bottom in your life, though, and said woman’s the first person to treat you with decency, it’s hard for common sense to win the argument. Especially when said person happens to be Denji, whose life has been so bad his only real goal is to get lucky with a girl. That’s assuming he can live long enough as a Devil Hunter. 

Denji the Devil Dog Finds a New Master…

After the brilliantly bloody origin story of the titular Chainsaw Man saw Denji break free of his Yakuza master’s, he will need a new job. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the woman Denji met, Makima, recruits him to join the government-backed Devil Hunters she helps lead. They’ll provide room & board for Denji so long as he helps them continue to hunt down Devils using his newfound powers. If he refuses, then Makima’s allowed to kill him like a Devil. 

Some people would object to the obvious “join-or-die” choice offered or say that it’s not even a real choice. However, Denji agrees immediately because they’re offering the dream of a normal life that he’s had for as long as he can remember. That, and Denji’s head over heels for Makima. 

Some shonen protagonists have lofty goals and ambitions that drive them forward in their stories. Goku wants to be as strong as he possibly can. Naruto’s is to become Hokage. Luffy wants to become King of the Pirates and throw the world’s biggest party (that’s a big fan theory, anyway.) Denji, though? Besides getting a chance to live a normal life, Denji’s only dream…is boobs.

At Least Denji Has a Clear Goal in Life.

No, really. As he goes out on his first mission as a Devil Hunter, he decides that his next goal, now that he’s gotten close to a woman, is to get his hands on boobs. If it were most other people said this, they would get slapped and called a pervert. Yet despite how impure his dreams of scoring may sound, it’s how genuine Denji sounds when he says this stuff that can be endearing. All he wants is to have a chance at love in life, something a lot of us can relate to. Ironically, this simple desire lets Denji demonstrate the pure-hearted nature found in many Shonen protagonists. I’ve only known Denji for two weeks now, and I already like him.

Of course, no good Shonen story’s complete without its supporting cast, and we get to meet two of Denji’s new comrades this episode. Firstly, there’s Hatayama, a no-nonsense Devil Hunter who flat-out tells Denji that unless he gets proper motivation, he will not survive in their line of work. So he’s the tough-love kind of person. Then, we have Power, a Fiend, or Devil who possessed a dead human’s body. I love Power. She’s bold, loud, and exuberant, and she will ask anyone or anything to fight her. She’s perfect for Shonen Jump, in my opinion.

There wasn’t a lot of action in this second episode, but given how the first cours has a dozen episodes, I’m willing to give Chainsaw Man time to get its foot in the door. Once that happens, though, I’m looking forward to seeing if Denji can stand alongside Shonen Jump greats like Goku, Naruto, Luffy, and the Joestar Family. I’m pretty sure he can, though. I’m rooting for him in his quest for love!

I Give “Arrival in Tokyo” a 3.5/5

‘Chainsaw Man’ Slaps A With Bloody Series Premiere

Chainsaw Man Ep. 1 Review

A few years ago, I went to an anime convention and came across the strangest thing: there was a guy cosplaying as some character with chainsaws coming out of his arms and head. That ended up being my introduction to Chainsaw Man, the newest in the long line of hits from the house of Shonen Jump. I learned more about it in bits and pieces as time went on, but I never found the time to read it. However, that may have changed, with the highly-anticipated premiere of the Chainsaw Man anime on Crunchyroll. It’s rare for me to watch a Shonen anime without so much as a passing understanding, but if this is what Chainsaw Man is like, then I think I need to get to reading.

In a World Filled With Devils…

In the world of Chainsaw Man, Devils are a fact of life. They rise from Hell and feed on the fears of mankind to gain power, then return to Hell when they die. It’s up to Devil Hunters to slay them and protect people, and among them is the likes of Denji.

Denji is unlike many Shonen protagonists I’ve seen. He’s not insanely strong (yet), driven by incredible life goals, and he’s not a living meme. He’s, for all intents and purposes, a loser, being worked like a dog by the Yakuza to pay off the impossible debt his dead Dad owes them. When we first meet him, his major dreams consist of living a normal life and scoring with a girl at least once before he dies. If it weren’t for the fact that his best friend is a Devil dog with a chainsaw coming out of its head, he’d pass for any other down-on-his-luck teenager.

Then we have Pochita, the series mascot and one of the most adorable things since Chopper from One Piece. Pochita’s a Devil, but also a very loyal dog who wholeheartedly loves Denji. Together, this odd take on a boy and his dog make for effective Devil Hunters for the Yakuza. Too effective, it would seem. In the end, the Yakuza make a pact with another Devil to kill Denji, ending his life before he even gets a chance to live.

Except this is a Shonen Jump series, and the protagonist of a Shonen Jump series won’t die so soon into their story. The two form a pact as Denji lies dismembered in a dumpster alongside Pochita. Pochita fuses with Denji to repair his body in exchange for letting the Devil see his dreams of living a normal life. And what comes out of this fusion is a complete and utter badass.

…Chainsaw Man Reigns Supreme.

In its first major fight of the series, Chainsaw Man sets itself as a cut above a lot of Shonen anime. It’s incredibly violent and bloody, befitting the unhinged and psychotic nature Denji posseses as the Chainsaw Man. Given how the Yakuza screwed him over his entire life, though, it makes his rampage very cathartic to watch. As for the fight itself, it’s a visually impressive fusion of traditional 2D and 3D animation. It’s a testament to how far the medium’s come that it’s becoming harder to tell the two apart when combined. 

By the time the dust settles, Denji’s put the Yakuza in their place just in time to meet this cute Devil Hunter that works for the Government. She gives him the choice: he can die, or come work for the other Devil Hunters and get room and board. Denji, eager to live his dream of a normal life, doesn’t hesitate to say yes.

Overall, it looks like the hype surrounding Chainsaw Man was the real deal. I’m very intrigued with the premise of the series, and will likely add it to the list of manga I’ll read every week. As for the anime, I’m looking forward to watching it for the next three months. Rev it up, people. This is going to be good!

I Give “Dog & Chainsaw” a 4.5/5

Blackbeard Needs to Be Luffy’s Final Enemy, Not Rocks!

The end of One Piece is near, no matter how badly fans may want otherwise. Mangaka Eichiro Oda recently confirmed his goal to end his legendary manga in around three years. That means that the final battle for the fabled treasure that seems to hold all the answers to the mysteries of the world will soon be upon us. On one side, we have Monkey D. Luffy, the newest Yonko and the living embodiment of fun and freedom. On the other side, we have Blackbeard, the man who slew Whitebeard and took his powers for his own. For many fans, it seemed as though Blackbeard would be Luffy’s last and greatest challenge to claiming the One Piece.

Then, we learned about Rocks D. Xebec, the greatest enemy the Pirate King Gol D. Roger ever faced. Now, fans speculate that Xebec, not Blackbeard or the World Government, will be Luffy’s final opponent. That is something that I strongly think would not be a good idea.

Rocks D. Xebec, Gol D. Roger’s Biggest Enemy

Firstly, just who is Rocks D. Xebec? According to the Marines from Garp and Sengoku’s generation, Rocks was the most feared pirate in the world before the rise of Gol D. Roger. A vicious and bloodthirsty man, Rocks sought nothing less than world domination. To that end, he delved into secrets the World Government tried to suppress. In addition, he assembled a crew of powerful pirates that wreaked havoc on a global scale. Among them were three of the future Yonko: Whitebeard, Big Mom, and Kaido. Rocks was considered to Roger’s first and greatest enemy.

Thirty years before the present day, the Rocks Pirates launched their most ambitious attack yet. On the island called God Island, they attacked the Celestial Dragons. However, they were beaten by an unlikely team up of Roger and Monkey D. Garp. After that, God Island vanished from all records, and Xebec was declared dead by the World Government.

Or is he?

The Fan Theories About Rocks Being Alive

There are rumors and theories going around the fandom that Rocks D. Xebec didn’t die at God Valley. Some fans think he might still be alive in some form, with theories ranging from being the true mastermind behind the World Government to some kind of connection to Blackbeard. Regardless, these fans are convinced that Rocks might be the final challenge Luffy must face to become Pirate King.

I’m sorry, but no. Just, no.

Blackbeard Needs to be the Final Opponent Luffy Fights

So, I will acknowledge that, regardless of his status in the present day, Rocks has an important role to play in the final stretch of the series. Oda never introduces a character or concept without planning on it playing a part down the line. I can even admit that Blackbeard might have some connection to the Captain of the Rocks pirates. However, I do not think that Rocks will be the final big bad of the series. That honor falls to the World Government and, more importantly, Blackbeard himself.

If you read my review of where the top contenders for the One Piece stand, you should know my rationale for Blackbeard.

• He and Luffy both became Pirate Captains around the same time

• Both carry the Will of D.

• Blackbeard has a Devil Fruit that cancels out other Devil Fruits.

• Both believe in freedom and fate, but have very different ideas on what that means

• Blackbeard was responsible for the events that led to Ace and Whitebeard’s deaths.

In other words, Oda has been building Blackbeard up from the start to be Luffy’s antithesis. Thus, it makes sense that Blackbeard, not Rocks, be the final opponent that Luffy must face.

My Theory: Blackbeard is the Rocks of Luffy’s Generation

While I won’t deny that Rocks is important for that finale, I believe that it won’t be Rocks himself that will play a role. Rather, it will be his will and legacy that he left behind. Oda has repeatedly talked about the idea of inherited will being passed on. In this case, what if Blackbeard chose to inherit Rocks’ will and desire to conquer all? In other words, what if Blackbeard intends to do what Rocks couldn’t and conquer the world?

We don’t know what Blackbeard’s endgame might be, but given how he’s gathering Devil Fruit powers, world domination isn’t out of the question. One thing’s for sure, though. When the final clash between Luffy and Blackbeard comes, they’ll talk about it for years.

Why You Need to Read Diligence of the Shield Hero!

RJ Writing Ink Interviews Allen Blaster, author of the Shield Hero fanfic, Diligence of the Shield Hero.

In 2019, The Rising of the Shield Hero made waves in the anime community. It was a different kind of Isekai, one where the hero wasn’t an ace that succeeded at everything but one that struggled in a world out to get him. It proved very popular. Then we got the second season earlier this year, and it felt like all that potential went down the drain. 

I would’ve been very disappointed in how the second season turned out…if I had watched it more. However, I have already found something else to love. A fanfiction for Shield Hero that’s so good that it surpasses the official series: The Diligence of the Shield Hero. For the last year, I’ve known the fanfic’s author, Allen Blaster, fairly well on Discord. Thus, when I wanted to interview him for D&A Anime, I was delighted to hear him say yes. I hope you enjoy this interview about one of the best fanfic one could expect to find and the one behind it. 

Interview

RJ: Thank you again for doing this interview, Allen.

Allen: Alright.

RJ: First thing’s first, though: what made you want to get into writing fanfiction in the first place?

Allen:

This pretty much sums up why I got into fanfiction in the first place. I am a sucker for teenage romance. And after reading a lot of it, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at writing my own.

RJ: You really are a fan of Ren and Wyndia, huh?

Allen:

RJ: So, Allen, when did you discover The Rising of the Shield Hero? Were you a fan of it before the anime came out or did that lead you to become a fan?

Allen: I discovered it in June of 2019 thanks to the recommendation of a good friend. I only recently watched anime with some roommates like Code Geass and Attack on Titan, and decided to give it a shotI binged the entire first season throughout one night, and the rest was history.

RJ: Nice. So, why don’t you tell us a little about your series, Diligence of the Shield Hero? For the readers that haven’t read it yet. Like, what’s it about and what sets it apart from the official series.

Allen: It starts with Naofumi learning of the rape accusation before he was accused and what happens to him after that because he ran away. Then it evolves by kickstarting character growth for the other Heroes earlier on due to how events go down well, focusing not only on Naofumi but on the other Heroes and their parties too.

RJ: And it’s all the better for it. Now the series has an ensemble cast that can carry their own weight.

Allen: I feel that is one issue the anime had regarding its second season. Ironically enough, I’m staying more true to the characters and events from the light novels than they were. There was so much content they cut from the Spirit Tortoise Arc that further established Eclair, Granny, and even the other Heroes like Ren.

RJ: What was your inspiration for writing this fanfic?

Allen: Obviously not the entire thing. It started out with me just wanting to write a start that’d allow for Raphumi to develop because I loved them so much in the anime. I ended up loving them even more after reading the LN’s and seeing how much Raphtalia meant to Naofumi there. Then, after the first arc, I ended up writing more and more, continuing down the rabbit hole to see where the path would go

RJ: Plenty of people would think shipping Naofumi with Raphtalia Is weird due to her technically being ten. Do you think it is?

Allen: I have a whole freaking thing on my fanfiction profile explaining why this is stupidI sum it up as “if you want to argue another race’s age instead of how quickly or slowly they mature being the primary thing that makes them legal, you are advocating for Baby Yoda to be made legal.” In short, I don’t find it weird at all, and what I find weird is people trying to inflict human standards on a race that isn’t human, to begin with.

RJ: Fair enough. Btw, did you know that your fic’s tv tropes page says it’s better than canon?

Allen: Yes, I do know that. And it is fine for people to have their opinions. But I don’t prefer people using that message to spread word of my fic around. Despite its shortcomings, I love the anime, and I love the light novels it’s based off of even more. I cannot put into words how much the original story means to me.

RJ: How were you able to make Bitch even worse than she was in canon?

Allen: I didn’t. I simply allowed her more opportunities to be herself. 

RJ: With more screentime?

Allen: And the version of events that played out. The first real big change up was nothing stopping Motoyasu from being made the Lord of Lute (Riyute) Village. So there was nothing to stop Malty from doing what she was going to do there.

RJ: Where do you get inspiration for all your original characters? Because there are quite a number of them.

Allen: The inspiration sometimes comes from them getting introduced into the story for an event and me thinking about them in general. That was how my Hakuko OC Dou-Lon ended up getting added to it. Other times, I start with a concept for a character like Altara, and then, later on, I had thoughts that led to a parallel with Darth Vader’s transformation. And I look at what I wrote and realize I can fit it in easily.

RJ: Alright, last question: Who’s cuter, Raphtalia, Filo, or Raph-Chan?

Allen: Wyndia, Lol.

He really likes Wyndia, a dog demihuman that the anime has yet to introduce. 

Click here to read the fanfic for yourself. Updates Every Monday