Although Chainsaw Man has been packed with action and intensity, it is now in a transitional stage as it prepares for the season finale. These narratives that fill in the gaps between significant occurrences frequently hold just as much significance as the crucial moments they link. The tenth episode of Chainsaw Man, "Bruised & Battered," may be the most thought-provoking one so far in the anime. It uses thoughtfully chosen music to explore deep themes as it switches between larger arcs. It may be difficult to make a lasting impression, and viewers may yearn for the action of earlier episodes because of how slowly it is delivered.
The attack on Public Safety's Special Division Devil Hunters by Samurai Sword, Sawatari, and their allies is finished with the song "Bruised & Battered." The survivors of the ambush are left to deal with the grief that comes with the loss of the vast majority of their colleagues. Although each main character reacts to this in their own unique way, they all start to move forward in the direction of becoming stronger and defeating those who killed their allies.
One of the most notable aspects of the episode is its extremely sparse use of music throughout. To complement the visual aspects of the animation, each installment of the anime has included a carefully orchestrated score composed by composer Kensuke Ushio. In contrast, the vast majority of Episode 10 is set to a profound silence, which is no doubt intended to depict the surreal numbness and despair that can accompany the death of a loved one but leaves the episode feeling lacking.
The few tracks that do appear in the episode are all extensively used. When it does so, it does so delicately to bring attention to the memory of a friend who has passed away in one case and the sentiment of someone who wants to grieve but is unable to in the other. A critical ear can easily discern the team's intention in this scene, which was to depict the sorrow and apathy that follow a tragedy by using eerie silence. This effective direction also captures a general sense of stagnation that, for better or worse, permeates the episode.
Chainsaw Man has developed a reputation as a thrilling journey through a bloody, violent, and gory blood-fest. Since Tatsuya Yoshihara, the episode's director, also serves as the show's action director, it is to be expected that the two brief fight scenes in Episode 10 feature outstanding battle choreography and animation. Even so, given how over-the-top and bombastic the anime has been up to this point, some viewers might find the general lack of energy outside of these scenes to be a little disorienting.
Finally, the problem with Episode 10 is not so much with the episode itself as it is with its relationship to the rest of the series preceding it. "Bruised & Battered" appears to be successful in embodying the emotional substance that makes up this section of the story. The problem is that each previous episode relied on some sort of surprise or challenge to expectations. Chainsaw Man has raised the bar for deflating expectations each week, from the unexpected use of gore to some sort of unholy marriage between body horror and toilet humor. The somber introspection seen here feels almost too conventional, regardless of how artistically depicted, and feels off-brand for the series.
But in the long run, it's unlikely that this brief lull in the anime's pacing will drive away any viewers. It is almost certain that any viewers who have stayed with the show up to this point will watch the final episodes. Even though this week's episode may have a very different tone from the majority of the series, Hiroshi Seko does a good job of setting up the upcoming events and building to a vengeful confrontation between the main cast of the show and its current antagonists.
In addition, viewers will discover that many elements that contribute to the episode's slow feeling disappear when viewed separately or again while paying close attention to every detail. For those who enjoy the more human and nuanced aspects of the show, Episode 10 is sure to generate a lot of discussions even though it may not make much of a splash right now. It might even be regarded by some as one of its best episodes once placed within the context of the soon-to-be-completed season.
Chainsaw Man streams on Crunchyroll weekly, with new episodes airing every Tuesday.