In the current landscape of anime adaptations, there aren't many animation studios doing it like MAPPA. Currently known for taking the helm from another animation studio to work on the final season of "Attack on Titan," they've also kept busy with the successful first season of "Jujutsu Kaisen" and have even more projects on the way. Along with the upcoming second season of "Vinland Saga" on Netflix, MAPPA is currently being praised for its work on the first season of "Chainsaw Man." The 12-episode series is filled with gory visuals and a story that can be tragic in one moment and darkly hilarious in the next.

The overwhelming work the studio has had to deal with in recent years hasn't stopped MAPPA from giving each project the attention it deserves. Aside from the stunning detail and staying faithful to the source material, MAPPA also clearly has faith in the success of its projects. While manga sales are one easy indicator to tell if an anime will be successful, how international audiences will receive the adaptation can still be a gamble. Nevertheless, the team behind the adaptation of "Chainsaw Man" were confident that the manic energy of the Shonen would become popular with audiences.

'Chainsaw Man Really Hits The Subculture'

In an interview with Crunchyroll, the staff behind "Chainsaw Man" talked about what made the project stand out from equally popular anime at the time. To MAPPA Ceo Manabu Otsuka, it all had to do with the tone of the series:

"Within Japanese entertainment, I believe 'Chainsaw Man' really hits the subculture, specifically the topics and themes in the story. There are other very popular titles like 'Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba' and 'Attack on Titan,' but within the popularity scene, you see that Chainsaw Man is a little different. It's much crazier, simply put."

"Much crazier" is an understatement because "Chainsaw Man" has non-stop moments of insanity. Denji is a Shonen protagonist whose drive differs from all the other protagonists in the same genre, creating a stark contrast that is a breath of fresh air. Moreover, the themes of control, willful ignorance, and desires of the heart are what Otsuka believes resonate with fans of "Chainsaw Man."

"That sort of theme is something a lot of readers right now are wanting. It's maybe the times that people are more interested in that sort of topic. I think that's why it matched the time the story came out and why it's really popular right now."

A Beautiful And Chaotic Puzzle

It isn't just the superficial aspects of "Chainsaw Man" that make it so popular. Sure, all the bloody chainsaw chaos and creatively designed devils make the series more entertaining. Still, Otsuka thinks if fans look further beyond the kinetic action, there's a touching story there about found family:

"On the surface of the story, you see things like violence and action, which is definitely a charm of the series. But if you go deeper into what's going on, it really is about family and bonds between those people and the relationships those people hold with each other."

Overall, not just one specific aspect of "Chainsaw Man" has made it so successful outside of Japan. Every subversion of Shonen expectations, emotional beat, and intricate world-building all fit together like chaotic pieces in a puzzle to create a beautiful picture. Makoto Kimura, Executive Director at MAPPA, put it best when he said in the same interview that it's the sum of all the different parts of the series: "You have the violence, the action, the comical parts, and then you'll have these peaceful, heartfelt moments throughout."

Season 2 of "Chainsaw Man" is yet to be confirmed, but it's hard to believe that the successful anime/manga will not finish the story they started telling. As it stands, there are still a couple of major arcs left in the story so more likely than not, this unconventional Shonen will continue to find success in the near future.

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