Why Denji Could Be An Anti Hero In Chainsaw Man?


The anti-hero trope in shonen anime such as Chainsaw Man involves characters who pursue justice in unconventional and sometimes morally ambiguous ways.

Unlike traditional heroes, anti-heroes' actions often have selfish motivations, even if their ultimate goals align with the broader good.

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Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

In the history of anime, many notable anti-heroes have left their mark. A prime example is Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan, who, driven by a desire to protect his loved ones, wages war against the entire world, and resorts to extreme measures that challenge traditional notions of heroism.

Another iconic anti-hero is Light from Death Note, who, dissatisfied with the justice system, takes matters into his own hands by using the power of the Death Note.

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Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

However, his pursuit of justice rapidly turns into an obsession with power and control, leading him down a path of moral corruption.

Chainsaw Man's protagonist, Denji, embodies many of the qualities associated with anti-heroes. Although he has the inherent qualities of a hero, such as courage and a strong sense of justice, his motivations often stem from personal desires and self-interest.

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Chainsaw Man (Credit: MAPPA)

This duality raises the question of whether Denji's actions, despite their positive outcomes, can truly be considered heroic or whether their self-serving nature pushes them into the realm of anti-heroes.

Denji, Chainsaw Man's anti-hero and his complex morality

Denji fits the archetype of an anti-hero in Chainsaw Man. Although he possesses heroic qualities such as courage and a sense of justice, his motives are often motivated by self-interest rather than altruism, which supports the notion that he falls into the anti-hero category.

Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

Denji's background story paints a picture of a troubled youth who faced hardship and tragedy at a young age. His father's debts left him vulnerable to the exploitation of moneylenders, forcing Denji to take up dangerous devil hunting to survive.

This criminal lifestyle, though born out of necessity, further emphasizes his anti-hero status.

Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

The defining moment that changed Denji came when he was betrayed and killed by vengeful devils. In his final moments, he was reunited with his pet devil Pochita, who was none other than the powerful Chainsaw Devil.

This fusion gave Denji a second chance at life, giving him the abilities of Chainsaw Man – he had three chainsaws protruding from his head and arms, capable of causing massive damage.

Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

Despite gaining formidable powers, Denji remained unaware of his true potential as Chainsaw Man.

His lack of knowledge of his new abilities, combined with his violent and unconventional appearance, solidifies his status as a morally complex anti-hero – a character who, despite heroic qualities, is primarily a personal Driven by desires and self-preservation instincts.

Denji's Anti-Hero Journey

Denji's new power as Chainsaw Man allows him to take revenge on the devils who wronged him. However, his life took an unexpected turn when he was rescued by Makima and recruited as a public security devil hunter.

Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

From the beginning, Denji's motivations differed significantly from those of a traditional hero driven by altruism.

Rather than pursue justice for the greater good, Denji's primary goal was to secure a normal life – a simple dream that his poor childhood had denied him.

Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

Makima's joining the organization improved his objectives, but he remained rooted in self-interest. After enduring years of suffering, Denji's only pursuit becomes the pursuit of happiness, whether through relationships or material rewards given by Makima and others.

Unlike the ideal anime hero, who selflessly strives to help others, Denji's actions are governed by the promise of personal satisfaction. This selfish nature further cemented his status as an anti-hero.

Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

Furthermore, Denji's demonic appearance, with a chainsaw protruding from his head, clashed with traditional notions of heroism.

As the series progressed, his transformation as the Chainsaw Devil – with his body covered – only strengthened his villainous appearance, reinforcing the duality of his anti-hero persona: motivated by personal desires rather than genuine altruism. A character with heroic qualities.

Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

The anime landscape has no shortage of characters whose presence challenges societal notions of heroism.

Tokoyami from My Hero Academia and Shinra from Fire Force are prime examples of heroes whose powers and images more closely align with villainy than traditional heroism.

Chainsaw Man (Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto)

However, a key difference lies in their driving motivations. Unlike Denji, both Tokoyami and Shinra are guided by an unwavering moral compass, their actions driven by a steadfast commitment to justice and protecting the innocent.

They have an innate hatred of villainy, actively combating all forms of evil.


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