Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Chainsaw Man‘s season one finale.
Season one of Chainsaw Man has come to an end, but the story is far from over. The anime is an adaptation of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s manga of the same name, which currently sits at 115 chapters full of action, drama, comedy, and a lot of blood.
By now, the author is known for including subtle elements in the narrative that allude to bigger metaphors or future events. One of the best examples of this is the maternal imagery constantly surrounding Makima, which perfectly ties into her identity and Denji’s underdeveloped understanding of love. While Fujimoto loves to throw in little details, it’s not always clear what they mean, with some being more open to interpretation than others. Case in point: the “Easy revenge!” cigarette.
Warning: Spoilers to follow.
In episode 12 of the anime, while Aki is almost suffocated to death by the Ghost Devil, he thinks back on a moment he shared with Himeno long before her demise. During the flashback, Himeno offered Aki a cigarette, but upon finding out that he was a minor at the time, she took it back from him. Himeno then promised to save the cigarette and give it to Aki when he became an adult and needed something to take the edge off. Back to the present, Aki opens his eyes to see the Ghost Devil has released him from its hold, and it extends one of its many hands to the hunter. Opening its palm, the Devil reveals a cigarette, with the words “Easy revenge!” written on it.
When Aki takes the cigarette to examine it, his eyes widen, as if he is struck by understanding. Immediately after, he repeats something Himeno told him once: that the Ghost Devil has no eyes, so it merely sees fear. This implies that if Aki doesn’t fear it, the Devil can’t locate him to attack, which allows the hunter to calmly climb into the creature’s head and kill it as he remembers Himeno. While the scene was beautifully portrayed, it brought about confusion for viewers, who are left to ponder over the words scribbled on the cigarette.
What was the meaning behind the “Easy revenge” cigarette?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut explanation as to what the words mean, as the author of the manga never talks about it, and the story doesn’t dive deeper into it. However, over time fans have drawn their own conclusions from the material, so it’s possible to interpret the cigarette scene in different ways.
First and foremost, the most obvious assumption is that Himeno left the cigarette (and its message) for Aki. Due to her contract with the Ghost Devil, where Himeno gave herself fully to it, it’s likely that she still has some influence over the creature, whether by direct control through her spirit or thanks to a command given before her death. This could be why the Devil gives Aki the cigarette in Himeno’s place, even after being ordered by Akane to kill him. Some believe that the former hunter predicted how the Ghost Devil’s fight against the Katana Man and Akane would turn out — with the girl taking control of the Ghost after it was eaten by the Snake Devil. Thinking that Aki could once again have to face off against Akane, Himeno instructed the Ghost Devil to give Aki the cigarette as a way to remind him of their previous conversation. This theory suggests that the cigarette was the key to helping Aki defeat the creature. This explanation doesn’t satisfy many fans, though, because it seems highly unlikely that Himeno would be able to predict all these events.
Another explanation could be that the Ghost Devil was acting out of its own will, and threw in the towel so that Aki could have an easier time getting his revenge on the Gun Devil and those responsible for Himeno’s death. In truth, the Ghost Devil has a kinder appearance than others of its species, and we know it’s possible for Devils to form attachments to humans — i.e., Pochita and Power. However, there’s not enough information about the creature to affirm that this was the case.
The final theory, which gathers the most support among Chainsaw Man fans, goes back to the initial idea of Himeno giving the cigarette to the Ghost Devil before her death, so it could reach Aki when the time was right. The majority of fans believe that “Easy revenge!” was a simple reminder for Aki to take it easy. As we know, Himeno had a very relaxed approach to life, the complete opposite of Aki, who is dead set on vengeance against the Gun Devil. The former hunter worried about Aki losing his life in his pursuit, and tried to dissuade him from it before, to no avail. With this in mind, the words on the cigarette can be interpreted as a reminder for him to take the easier road and accept what he can get; in other words, to celebrate the small victories.
Toward the end of the episode, the sentiment is brought back when Denji suggests getting a small revenge on the Katana Man for shooting Himeno. At first, Aki reminds him that their job as Devil Hunters is to simply capture the man, not torture him in order to ease their pain. He also claims that Himeno would not be happy with that attitude. However, after taking a pensive look at the cigarette, Aki puts those thoughts aside, joining Denji in kicking the antagonist. In this scene, the hunter seems to be taking his former partner’s words to heart, and taking advantage of this easy revenge he’s being allowed. As he does it, Aki hopes that Himeno can see what he and Denji are doing from heaven, and claims it is a requiem.
Now that Chainsaw Man‘s season’s first season is over, enthusiasm for a possible second installment is building among fans. While waiting, though, viewers can stream all 12 episodes of season one on Crunchyroll and Hulu.