One of the most eagerly awaited anime of 2022 was Chainsaw Man. One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen, and My Hero Academia are just a few of the classic and contemporary fan favorites that compete with the well-known shonen manga in terms of sales. Chainsaw Man quickly followed suit and took over social media, becoming one of the most well-liked anime of Fall 2022. Its Blu-ray sales, however, paint a different picture. The Chainsaw Man fandom is currently anxiously awaiting news on whether the series will receive a second season despite only selling 1,735 copies in its first week in Japan.
Many people now watch anime on streaming services and other platforms because physical media is becoming obsolete. Still, Blu-ray is Japan's main tool for determining which series are popular and which ones are box office duds. Given that there are only two episodes on the Blu-ray, its cost of 6,934 (about $53 USD) may have been a problem. All 12 episodes would run about 40,800, or $310 USD, at that rate. Taking into account all of these problems, do Chainsaw Man's underwhelming Blu-ray sales in Japan suggest that the show might not get a Season 2?
What Went Wrong With the Anime Version of Chainsaw Man?
Chainsaw Man's anime adaptation was surprisingly controversial. Though global fans loved it, domestic fans felt something was slightly "off." Studio MAPPA received criticism for making the anime look too clean, with sluggish CGI work as one of the main complaints. Some fans also weren't happy that it replaced over-the-top visuals -- typically synonymous with shonen anime -- for a more cinematic approach. Many felt it didn't capture the manga's gritty atmosphere and criticized its rather bland color palette. This may be why the anime didn't do as well as expected sales-wise.
One fan in Japan even started an online petition for Chainsaw Man's anime to be remade, disparaging the anime for being an unfaithful adaptation of Tatsuki Fujimoto's work and having forgettable music with lackluster visuals. The Blu-ray's Amazon reviews tell a similar story, with many chiming in to criticize the director for not being a true fan of the series. Many reviewers expressed that the anime entirely misunderstood the manga's gritty tone.
Another reviewer stated that the manga's tone was scattered, going from eroticism and gag comedy to seriousness and brutal battles in a way that still made sense. However, this person felt like the anime only relied on sexual innuendo blended with a serious tone that didn't capture the essence of Chainsaw Man. Another called it "an animated adaptation that looks like a bad Japanese movie." On the plus side, many reviewers agree that the opening theme and the 12 different ending songs were a bright spot for the adaptation.
Global viewers, however, feel that MAPPA met their expectations for quality by producing Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan and that the story was enhanced by the use of more cinematic visuals. Everyone seems to agree that Chainsaw Man moved too slowly in some places and charged ahead at warp speed in others. The pacing is a point of contention for both audiences. The general consensus seems to be that while the adaptation was visually appealing and faithful to Fujimoto's art style, a more stylized approach to the story would have been nice. Nevertheless, the data is accurate. The domestic reception of an anime is crucial, which may be the reason the Blu-ray bombed in Japan.
The Oricon Chart Didn't Include All of Chainsaw Man's Sales
Chainsaw Man was outperformed by series such as Lycoris Recoil, Bocchi the Rock!, Spy x Family, and even Paw Patrol in Japan, where Blu-ray sales are the main indicator of a show's popularity. For any anime series, selling 1,735 copies in its first week is concerning. For Chainsaw Man, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. The DVD was sold by MAPPA along with other items on its own website.
Doom-posters initially claimed that this wouldn't change the numbers. However, MAPPA's online store sales accounted for approximately 10,000 copies that weren't counted on Oricon. This may well be enough to salvage the series and ensure it gets a second season. Though the anime adaptation has garnered criticism, it doesn't seem like Chainsaw Man's momentum is slowing down anytime soon. Despite its less-than-impressive first-week sales in Japan, all signs still point to Chainsaw Man receiving a Season 2.