Chainsaw Man Anime Opening: All Movie References Explained

The much-awaited Chainsaw Man anime is finally out and fans are now excited about its thrilling opening sequence.

In addition to showing your favorite devil hunters in action, the opening pays homage to a handful of films and other creative works. Director and storyboard lead Shingo Yamashita is quite the cinephile, recreating scenes straight from cult classics like Pulp Fiction and The Big Lebowski.

Here’s a quick guide on all the pop culture references made in the Chainsaw Man opening sequence.

Warning: Character names and minor spoilers for the first episode of Chainsaw Man. All film and work references are major spoilers.

Every reference to the opening of the Chainsaw Man anime

The Divine Comedy (1320)

Chainsaw Man anime reference to Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

The opening shot references Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s literary masterpiece, the Divine Comedy. Dante’s work tells the story of a pilgrim who passes through the stages of the afterlife: Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.

Denzi pulls his strings in front of an illustration of Alichino, a devil who is fooled by a cunning politician in the eighth circle of hell.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Chainsaw Man anime reference to Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Chainsaw Man bows to the original chainsaw slasher flick, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre directed by Tobe Hooper.

Instead of a rotting corpse on a monument, the opening shows Denji holding the devil-dog Pochita as he sits on a rock in a sepia-toned landscape.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Chainsaw Man next to a scene from Pulp Fiction
Credits: MAPPA, Chainsaw Man

Negotiations are common when you’re dealing with demons, and what better way to show that tension than in the wallet scene from Quentin Tarantino’s crime film, Pulp Fiction?

Captain Kishibe recreates the stone-cold aura of hitman Jules Winfield (Samuel L. Jackson) by holding a pistol point-blank at an unseen man across the table.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dog Chainsaw Man reference
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Yamashita adds another Tarantino scene to the mix as Makima and the devil hunters walk through the empty streets of Tokyo.

Each member of the public safety squad appears in a trucking shot wearing black suits, similar to the identity of the heist crew in Reservoir Dogs.

Sadako vs. Kayko (2016)

Chainsaw Man Reference o Sadako vs. Kayko
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

The opening sequence evokes some of the greatest horror figures in Japanese cinema, Sadako from The Ring and Kayako from The Grouse.

In their showdown film, Sadako vs. Kayako directed by Koji Shiraishi, two long-haired ghosts clash over a well. The Chainsaw Man opening simulates a similar encounter with Denzi and another demon hybrid.

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Chainsaw Man Anime Reference Of No Country For Old Men
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

It’s always good to take off your shoes after a hard day of devil hunting. Even Anton Chigurh knows that.

The Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men follows the fictional murders of hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) in 1980s West Texas. Even after performing the simple task of removing his shoes, Chigurh has a cold and distant look on his face, which Chainsaw Man reimagines with his masked character slurs.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Chainsaw Man anime reference to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Chainsaw Man opens by recreating the car scene from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, highlighting the budding friendship between Aki and Denji.

The third Tarantino film on this list, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio). Once a big name in the 1950s, Dalton finds himself lost in Tinseltown a decade later, but continues to fight for relevance with the help of his best friend and longtime stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

Chainsaw Man anime reference to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Don’t let the chainsaws and devils fool you, Chainsaw Man is funny, and Yamashita effortlessly captures the feeling in this scene from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Directed by John DiBello, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a parody film that pokes fun at sci-fi and thriller films. Government officials are eager to talk about strategies to combat the susceptible tomato, but have a hard time getting into small conference rooms.

Fun fact: The first devil Denji kills in the manga is the Tomato Devil.

Don’t Look Up (1996)

Chainsaw Man anime reference of Don't Look Up
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Chainsaw Man makes another bone-chilling reference to a lesser-known Japanese horror film, Don’t Look Up, directed by Hideo Nakata.

The plot of the movie revolves around a film crew being terrorized by a pale woman dressed in white. In the iconic scene actress Hitomi Kurokawa (Yasuyo Shirashima) looks shocked after seeing a ghost on set. Meanwhile, a co-actress possessed by a ghost, laughs maniacally in the background.

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

Jacob's Ladder's Chainsaw Man anime reference
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Chains Man Jacob’s Ladder is a psychological horror film directed by Adrian Lean that touches on the aspect of constructed reality.

In the film, US infantryman Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) fights in the Vietnam War, but wakes up back in New York after being stabbed during a skirmish. As he continues to experience hallucinations, a man approaches him and explains that his army unit was experimented with a drug that caused them to turn on each other.

The scene in question shows Jacob’s final moments, returning home and reuniting with his son who is waiting patiently on the stairs. In reality, the soldier was inside a triage tent where doctors soon pronounced him dead.

Constantine (2005)

A reference to Constantine in the Chainsaw Man anime
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Devil hunters and demon hunters? According to this Constantine reference they are all the same.

The franchise Lawrence directed superhero horror film has similar themes to the aforementioned Divine Comedy. The main character Constantine (Keanu Reeves) has the ability to travel to Hell and back and seeks to earn his place in Heaven through wishes.

Instead of Constantine and policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), Aki takes center stage with Himeno as a busy cityscape brightens in the background.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Chainsaw Man anime reference The Big Lebowski
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Yamashita sneaks in another Coen brothers reference on the list with The Big Lebowski.

Denzi and his team are seen in a bowling alley, knocking out a few pins. Like the film’s antagonist Jesus Quintana (John Turturro), Denzie likes to polish his bowling balls with saw-tooth cloth.

The Big Lebowski is much more than just a bowling movie, though. The film stars Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a slacker who becomes involved with someone with the same name as him. The biggest difference? The other Lebowski is a millionaire.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)

Neon Genesis Evangelion's Chainsaw Man anime reference
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Chainsaw Man also greets the anime world with the classic mecha series from Hideki Anno, Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Evangelion’s EVA 1 mecha is known for taking matters into its own hands when things get too tough for depressed pilot Shinji Ikari. When it was trapped inside the sphere-shaped angel Leliel, Eva 1 escaped by piercing the enemy’s shell with her hand.

Chainsaw Man exhibits the same animalistic behavior, but it actually stems from Denji’s brash teenage attitude.

Fight Club (1999)

Reference to Chainsaw Man Fight Club
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Don’t tell anyone, but Fight Club made the list as a reference to the third ball shape in the opening of Chainsaw Man.

During the Chainsaw Man intro fight scene, Power throws a golden ball that rolls down the street, looking exactly like the exploding statue scene in Fight Club.

The act of vandalism is one of the many things the unnamed hero (Edward Norton) and Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) coordinate with their respective crews. The film explores the ideas of anarchy and nihilism at the turn of the millennium.

Goodbye, Ari (2022)

Chainsaw Man Anime Reference Goodbye, Ari
Screenshot by Joseph Asuncion/ONE Esports

Yamashita Chainsaw Man brings things full circle with a nod to writer-illustrator Tatsuki Fujimoto’s latest one-shot manga. The opening sequence shows Power running away in a fiery explosion, similar to Utter’s iconic scene in Goodbye, Erie.

Goodbye, Eri is a manga that explores sensitive topics such as death and grief through teenage Yuta. The aspiring filmmaker tries to cope with his mother’s illness and death by documenting the events, but not everyone is pleased with his creative efforts.

The scenes may be moving beyond the cliché trope that “cool guys don’t look at explosions”, but in Yuta’s case, the explosion serves as a cathartic moment in her life.

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Also read: Who is Denji in Chainsaw Man? Story, Personality, and First Appearance

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