Berserk’s nightmarish Eclipse might be absolutely brutal but it’s not as half as nihilistic as the worst massacre from the manga Chainsaw Man.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Chainsaw Man chapter 91!
The blood-soaked Eclipse from Berserk shocked fans across the world for a number of understandable reasons, and while Chainsaw Man‘s hellish equivalent might not have lasted for nearly as long, the utter nihilistic nature of the massacre puts the slaughter on a whole other level.
The profound effect of Berserk‘s Eclipse derives, in part, from the number of beloved characters who die and the scope by which the world’s landscape changed, all of which is further exacerbated by the fact that it’s an act of betrayal. A mercenary leader named Griffith literally sacrifices his lifelong friends and comrades by permitting monstrous demons to feast on their flesh so that he may transform into a demon to help him achieve his dream.
In Chainsaw Man, assassins from around the world come to kill the series’ hero, Denji, once his exploits are captured on television. One of these killers is a human who later falls victim to a terrifying Halloween ability. Before her fate, she makes a contact with the Doll Devil that allows her to transform into a hideous creature. When Denji and his friends stave off her attacks, she calls upon the Darkness Devil to drag them into hell in chapter 63. The devil itself, which is a mass of body parts, effortlessly removes the appendages of his foes like they were cheap dolls. He starts with the arms and then proceeds to pluck the heads off those who stand against him. Speaking an untranslatable language causes holes to form in his opponents’ bodies as though blasted by a shotgun at close range. Three chapters later, the powerful devil hunter Makima implores the Darkness Devil to return them to Earth, and he thankfully complies.
There is no purpose for the entire bloody massacre. The Doll Devil’s contracted human just simply transports Denji and his friends there – where they all suffer – before Makima brings them all back to the human world so that they may continue fighting the Doll Devil as they had been. All of the hunters and devils who were mangled in brutal fashion went through everything for no reason, creating the sense of meaninglessness that’s lacking in Berserk’s Eclipse. Griffith needed to initiate the bloody sacrifice to undergo his transformation. In Berserk‘s world, Griffith comes across a special version of a behelit, which are spiritual stones that appear to individuals who possess the right characteristics to be reborn as a demon – but at a price. A sacrifice must be made of those closest to them. Although dark, the hell that protagonists Guts and Casca experience doesn’t just happen for the sake of bloodshed.
However, the massacre that ensues in Chainsaw Man isn’t entirely pointless, as the events shape the survivors. For instance, the Devil Fiend known as Power is traumatized to such an extent that she is forced to rely on Denji whom she usually tormented. The two begrudging allies eventually become quite close from the experience to the point where the prospect of death for one of them deeply shakes them. There is even a moment when Chainsaw Man becomes more devilish when an act of betrayal causes him to undergo his own mental breakdown, and when he’s later thrown in hell, he survives. Although the violence upon Chainsaw Man’s return to hell is never shown, knowing the chaotic mayhem that can take place within those hellish depths makes this feat all the more shocking.
So while Chainsaw Man‘s bloody massacre is much bleaker and especially more meaningless than Berserk‘s Eclipse, it’s not totally pointless – from a narrative-building perspective at least.
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