Upon getting the green light for the anime series, Chainsaw Man immediately gathered legions of fans who were perpetually waiting for the show to drop. With its impressively detailed art style by MAPPA, the animation studio responsible for powerhouses Jujutsu Kaisen, Attack on Titan, and Yuri on Ice, it’s no wonder fans can’t get enough.
Alongside the well-received first season, the opening theme also received quite the buzz online for some time. Created by Shingo Yamashita, the show’s intro displays his love for cinema by referencing cinematography influences throughout the sequence. Yashamita was praised all across social media for his barrage of references, not limiting the spirit of Chainsaw Man‘s intense story. On that note, here are all of the movie references found in Chainsaw Man‘s opening sequence.
Reservoir Dogs (1993)
The intro from the opening is a reference to Quentin Tarantino’s 1993 Reservoir Dogs. Much like Chainsaw Man‘s opening, Reservoir Dogs‘ introduction sequence shows the characters appearing side by side in their suits in a similar juggling camera shot. Coincidentally, the background sound is also eerily similar in both the movie and the anime. Yamashita clearly knows his audience.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)
This one may not be as noticeable unless you’re a cinephile through and through. In a shot nearly identical to that of The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Public Safety Devil Hunter’s Kishibe, Kobeni, Aki, and Arai appear surrounded by world maps and even a well-placed diagram of the Tomato Devil. This is a particularly interesting reference, as the Tomato Devil is, funnily enough, present during a reference to the 1978 satire film by John de Bello.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
One of the most obvious references in the opening is that of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. In an uncanny side-by-side comparison, the similarities are blatantly obvious. Kishibe holding a gun at whoever’s behind the camera is an obvious allusion to the diner scene in Pulp Fiction where Jules attempts to get his BMF wallet back. Clearly, the animator is a big fan of Tarantino since references just keep popping out, and honestly, we can’t blame him.
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
In a seemingly perfect comparison, Jacob’s Ladder is referenced in the opening of Chainsaw Man through the Angel Devil sitting on the staircase. Much like Macaulay Culkin’s character who has to lead Jacob into the light, Angel portrays a similar paradoxical existence by being both an Angel and a Devil. It is also especially fitting considering Angel has a more innocent and even merciful nature than the rest of the devils, befitting to the innocence of a child.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
Believe it or not, here’s our third Tarantino reference in just one opening sequence. The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood reference may be overlooked for its short and seemingly mundane action, where Aki and Denji are seen in a car with their backs turned while Aki is backing the car. This shot is almost an identical reference to Tarantino’s latest film featuring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, which was as criticized as it was loved.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
In this shot in the opening sequence, Public Safety’s Devil Hunter Galgali is seen taking his shoe off in what seems to be a motel room of sorts. From the angle of the shot to the art piece behind the character, this is an obvious reference to No Country for Old Men, the thriller directed by Ethan Coen in 2007, that quite possibly had the most intimidating villain of all time. Or at least, one of them.
Don’t Look Up (1996)
With perhaps a more obscure reference that only true film buffs would notice, the opening sequence references Don’t Look Up, a 1996 Japanese horror movie by Hideo Nakata. In one scene, a lady is seen with a mysterious figure behind her as she covers her mouth in fright. The anime opening shows Denji also with a figure behind him, who was later in the series introduced as Power, but it shows the young man also covering his face.
Sadako vs. Kayako (2016)
With another reference to a Japanese horror classic, Chainsaw Man also referenced the 2016 Kōji Shiraishi film. In both shots, two characters are fighting on top of a well, with the reference made obvious in the animated opening, with Denji attacking Katana man with his Chainsaw Man form, as both of them are jumping on top of the well – and someone else entirely jumps inside the well, much like the 2016 film.
With a bolt of lightning almost identical to the one in the shot where Himeno hands Aki an object, there’s a clear reference to the 2005 supernatural horror film Constantine. Similarly, like in Francis Lawrence’s movie, the Chainsaw Man instance is situated on a rooftop at night, with city lights below the two characters, identically mirroring its original reference. While this could have been mistaken for Moulin Rouge‘s rooftop scene with “Come What May,” any Lawrence fan could pick up on the obvious nuances.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Chainsaw Man opening unmistakably pays homage to an unforgettable scene from The Big Lebowski, particularly in a segment where Denji and his friends are at a bowling alley. In this iconic moment from the 1998 comedy directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, Jesus is seen cleaning his bowling ball in a distinctive and slightly risqué manner. Denji mirrors this action, cleaning the ball in precisely the same way, fitting his character to a T.
Fight Club (1999)
Although it is just a golden sculpture, any Fight Club fan could easily pick up this reference from miles away. Near the end of the opening, the golden ball is used by several characters while in a fighting sequence. This becomes a particularly interesting reference, given that the sculpture is also used in a revenge assignment in director David Fincher’s 1999 cult classic, sending the Golden Ball Rolling into a coffee bar.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The last movie reference was right at the start of the opening sequence when a young, weakened, and famished Denji is seen holding Pochita in his arms in the middle of a graveyard. This reference sticks out right away, as both openings of the anime and the horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre start with a grave robber stealing remains from a graveyard. Though I must say, Chainsaw Man‘s version is slightly more wholesome, even if incredibly heartbreaking.
Although there are plenty of cinematography references throughout the opening sequence, there are others that homage to different mediums, including a reference to mangas Neon Genesis Evangelion and Goodbye Eri. For movie fans, these references stuck out like a sore thumb, and only time will tell what the opening for the season season will be.