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An opening this dense has to be broken down into separate parts, so we will have a look at it in two halves, the first being the build-up that uses movie references to demonstrate our main cast’s characteristics to be expected throughout the anime. The first reference is more historical than pop-culture related, pointing to a picture from Dante’s Divine Comedy of a devil who a politician fools as Denji pulls his chainsaw cord, foreshadowing his subservience to Makima. The next ten seconds are packed with Yamashita’s love of cinema as Makima leads our gang of Denji, Power, and Aki across an empty Tokyo street in black ties and suites, mirroring the intro to Reservoir Dogs.

There is a short nod to Texas Chainsaw Massacre straight after, followed by Captain Kishibe mirroring Jules Winnfield’s wallet scene in Pulp Fiction, another nod to Quentin Tarantino’s works. Then, in quick succession, we get a reference to the horror movie Sadako vs Kayako, Galgali posing as Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, another Tarantino flick in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and a comedic scene from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Finally, the first section is rounded out with three horror references starting with Hideo Nakata’s lesser-known movie Don’t Look Up, the psychological horror Jacob’s Ladder, and the superhero thriller Constantine.

There is much to unpack here, with our character’s power dynamics illustrated in these references. In addition, Denji’s position in these movie scenes helps us understand his role throughout Chainsaw Man. This is best exemplified in his being led around by Makima to show his obedience towards her, his friendship dynamic with Aki demonstrated by the car ride from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and the terror in his eyes as Power laughs in ode to Don’t Look Up. Further, into the opening, we get a reference to the opening title of Thor: Love and Thunder while Makima leads Denji on a leash hitting the nail on the head of his subordination to his new master. In complete contrast, we have a reference to The Big Lebowski, where our four main characters are goofing around playing a game of bowling to bring forth the tone that these people look out for each other. Similarly, the scene mimicking Attack of the Killer Tomatoes brings out the comedic value Chainsaw Man has woven into its bloody story.

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