Who is Santa Claus in ‘Chainsaw Man?’

Santa Claus Chainsaw Man
Screengrab via YouTube/Anime Anxiety

Fans of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man are no stranger to the weird and the eerie. Whether it’s traversing the many doors of hell, losing limbs to the corporealization of the fear of Darkness, or playing in the snow, there’s always horror lurking around the corner — or on the next page. 

Chainsaw Man began its serialization in 2018. Published in English by VIZ Media, the series’ first 8 volumes were compiled together as the Public Safety Saga introduced readers to the world of Devils, hunters, and hybrids. The manga’s unprecedented popularity culminated in a much-anticipated anime adaptation by studio MAPPA and the team behind Jujutsu Kaisen, streaming on Crunchyroll. But, the anime adaptation has yet to get to the manga’s International Assassins arc, covering chapters 53-70 of the manga. As such, we’ll need to get into spoilers for anime-only fans wondering just who — or what — is Santa Claus?

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Chainsaw Man.

Who is Santa Claus?

Santa Claus is one of the creepiest and most other-worldly characters in a series known for body horror. Santa Claus is not quite a Devil or fiend, not quite a human devil hunter nor weapon hybrid like Denji and Reze. In fact, it’s hard to nail down just who or what Santa Claus is, let alone where they come from, because they have no one body. 

We are introduced to Santa Claus in Chapter 54 as devil hunters and hitmen from around the world are employed by international governments to kill Denji and take his heart — the Chainsaw Devil Pochita. Of primary concern to Makima and Public Safety is the old German devil hunter Santa Claus, who we meet as an old man with perverse intentions the German government is happy to indulge. 

When Santa Claus arrives in Japan, we quickly see why he is so feared. He has a contract with the Doll Devil. Devils in Chainsaw Man, remember, are corporeal forms of human fears, and as such, they gain power in proportion to how feared they are. However, while the Doll Devil may not seem particularly frightful next to concepts like the Eternity Devil or the Darkness Devil, Santa Claus’s powerful and costly contracts have granted him an immense power.

With his contract, we see how Santa Claus can create dolls out of people. Spreading his marionette by touch — and each doll’s spreading like contagion from dolls to more ordinary people — Santa Claus has at his disposal a worldwide network of innocent civilians he can manipulate into doing his bidding. As they hunt for Denji, we see them in a zombie-like stupor with arms transformed into large blades. The fighting is tense as Public Safety must avoid even a single scrape to resist becoming dolls themselves.

But there’s more to Santa Claus than an old man controlling thousands of human puppets. When the battle moves to Hell, we learn that another Devil Hunter, the Soviet agent known simply as Master to her pupil Tolka, is also Santa Claus. While the old man we knew as Santa Claus sacrificed himself to complete a contract with the Hell Devil, it’s unclear whether Santa Claus’ soul, essence, and identity resided in the man and transferred to the Russian hunter – or if the old man was himself a special puppet known as a “perfect doll.”

Regardless, the new Santa Claus assumes a monstrous and powerful form. She nearly defeats Denji and the assassin-turned-prey Quanxi. Ultimately, an unlikely combo attack from Denji and Cosmo — one of Quanxi’s many girlfriends — saves the day. 

What happened to Santa Claus?

Santa Claus meets one of the more gruesome fates in Chainsaw Man, which is really saying something. While Denji cripples her body by lighting himself on fire and attacking head on, Cosmo is uniquely able to destroy the hive mind’s mind and prevent her from escaping into one of her many dolls. 

Cosmo is a fiend, or a Devil inhabiting a human corpse. While her Devil is not explicitly named, its power is a terrifying omniscience. She is able to reveal all the knowledge of the universe to the woman known as Santa Claus, who loses her mind, so to speak. And while it drives Santa Claus to a “Halloween” induced madness, it condemns her thousands of dolls to the same fate. 

There are still many questions left not fully answered. Was there one human controlling the many dolls known as Santa Claus? How much agency did anyone have? Will the thousands of innocent people reduced to mumbling “Halloween” as their brains break ever regain their consciousness? It’s hard to tell, as Santa Claus poses as several devil hunters around the world in the arc, and the Academy Saga has yet to address the implications of the fight