In the age of streaming and instant gratification, most viewers use the "skip credits" function available on most streaming platforms more effortlessly than they should. With this ability also comes creatives who find new and interesting ways to keep viewers watching until the last second of the show is over. Some series have found ways to make credits engaging, whether it's the opening or ending. There are shows like "Peacemaker," with its hilarious opening dance number to the comedic tags at the end of every credits sequence, and "The Sandman," which featured end credits displaying unique art to be admired by viewers. Attempts to avoid credits being skipped has bred some exciting innovation.

Then there's the anime genre, which uses openings and endings in unique ways that are almost impossible to skip. "Chainsaw Man" is a notable exception that came out this past fall anime season, as it took its credits to a new level. Meant to reflect the themes and story of the anime, openings, and endings usually serve as teases for what's to come and are typically changed after every season. However, "Chainsaw Man" took the art of the anime ending a step further by creating a new credits sequence for every single episode, each animated to a stunning level of detail. The series takes art direction to a completely new level, with subliminal messaging and powerful imagery that raises the bar for anime adaptions in the future.

Surreal And Thematically Relevant Endings

Based on the manga of the same name by Tatsuki Fujimoto, "Chainsaw Man" tells the story of Denji, a down-on-his-luck devil hunter living in poverty. It isn't until a near-death experience that Denji makes a contract with Pochita, a chainsaw devil, that transforms him into the titular character. Thrust into the whole new world of the Public Safety Divison, which are government-sanctioned devil hunters, Denji's dream of living an everyday life finally seems within reach. But with almost every ending credits that play at the end of an episode (and, to some extent, the opening scene), there are sinister undertones that suggest Denji's life is about to take a darker turn later in the series.

And that's where the ending credits get to shine. Initially, they can catch you off guard, as the first end credits sequence plays out as just the usual black screen with scrolling text, like the end of any movie. However, from the second episode on, an entirely new credits sequence, along with a song, tells its own story while also being a visual marvel. Each sequence provides its own interpretation of the manga's content, leaning more into surrealism and striking imagery that reflects the character arcs of the anime. Add in songs with lyrics that mirror the episode's plot, and it feels like a mini episode that paints the show's premise in an entirely new light. Whether it's the '90s romance aesthetic of ending 7 (pictured above) or the Power-centric ending of episode 4 that feels like commentary on the character's popularity, each one is vastly different than the other.

There's More Than One Way To Tell A Story

One ending credits sequence that best exemplifies everything great about "Chainsaw Man's" approach comes from episode 5, titled "In the Backroom," directed by Hiromatsu Shuu. After being trapped in an endless loop of a hotel floor by the eternity devil, Denji and his team soon become unnerved by their situation. The straight-lace naturalism with which Studio MAPPA animates the hotel and its surroundings makes the more fantastical parts of "Chainsaw Man" pop out of the screen. However, the end credits animation does a terrific job of doing the opposite. There's more than one way to tell a story, and these quick sequences that conclude the episodes show that better than anything.

Gone are the photorealistic backdrops in favor of kaleidoscopic visuals that play as the credits roll. Featuring all sorts of optical illusions and a song with lyrics that speak to Denji's situation both in the episode and the greater series, it's the perfect way to end the episode. Between the looped imagery meant to convey eternity, there are also eerie renaissance paintings depicting Makima as both an angel and devil, all while being intercut with apocalyptic horse imagery. The otherworldly art style and frenetic pacing of all the images all work in unison to make a perfect bookend to a genuinely spectacular episode. The best part is that you already know that the next episode of "Chainsaw Man" will have credits that are a completely different experience from this one.

Every Frame Matters

Overall, each ending in the 12-episode first season of "Chainsaw Man" is more than just stunning animation. It is filled to the brim with symbolism and thematic resonance that gives every frame purpose. Whether it's positioning Denji around other characters to convey their relationship dynamics or using its editing to tease the horrible fate that awaits one of its characters, there hasn't been a television series that's made credits as purposeful as "Chainsaw Man." The shonen makes use of every second it has on viewers' screens, pushing the art form and setting a new standard for what anime endings can do.

Other series in recent memory, such as "Attack on Titan," have used their end credits to reinforce the show's themes, but never to the level that "Chainsaw Man" has. At the end of every episode, it's almost as if viewers are treated to another perspective on what just transpired and may even find clues to where the story may go next upon closer observation. Time will only tell if Studio MAPPA's approach with its credits affects other anime going forward. Whatever the case, "Chainsaw Man" lived up to the wildly high expectations for the series and crafted a way to expound upon its thematically rich story in ways I never thought possible. Anime end credits have never worked so well on so many different levels.

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