Home Anime

All of the movie references in the ‘Chainsaw Man’ opening theme

How many movie references did you catch?

Chainsaw Man Opening
Image via Crunchyroll

The Japanese manga series Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto was first released in 2018 and just last year it received its first animated adaptation on Crunchyroll.

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 Chainsaw Man and Reservoir Dogs comparison
Screengrab via Crunchyroll and Live America Inc./Miramax/YouTube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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)

Chainsaw Man and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Four Square Production/YouTube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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)

Chainsaw Man and Pulp Fiction comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Miramax/YouTube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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)

Chainsaw Man and Jacob's Ladder Side by Side Comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Carolco Pictures/YouTube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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)

Chainsaw Man and Once Upon a time in hollywood side by side comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Columbia Pictures/Youtube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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)

No Country for Old Men Chainsaw Man Side by Side Comparison
Images via Crunchyroll, Paramount Vantage, and Miramax/Youtube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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)

Chainsaw Man Side by Side comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Bandai Visual Company/Youtube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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)

Chainsaw Man and Sadako vs Kayako Side by Side comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Kadokawa/Youtube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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.

Constantine (2005)

Chainsaw Man and Constantinde Side by Side Comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Warner Bros Pictures/Youtube/Vocal Pineapple Academia

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)

Chainsaw Man and The Big Lebowski comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Polygram Filmed Entertainment/Youtube Vocal Apple Academia

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)

Chainsaw Man and Fight Club Comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Fox 2000 Pictures/YouTube/Simone Rosati

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)

Chainsaw Man and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Comparison
Images via Crunchyroll and Vortex/YouTube/Donna Bees

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.

Francisca Santos
About the author

Francisca Santos

Passionate about gossip, a dedicated music enthusiast, and an unapologetic weeb, Francisca is a freelance writer at WGTG. When she's not writing, she can be found taking her dog on walks, defending BTS' honor, and re-reading 'One Piece'.