WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers from Chainsaw Man manga, so read at your own discretion.
There are a lot of reason why Aki Hayakawa, the topknot edge-lord of Chainsaw Man world with a strong sense of justice and the eye-catch for all female fans of the series, is a fan favorite character.
Some are attracted to his serious demeanor while folks like Himeno love him for his looks. To me, he’s strong but a big softie covered with a curtain of apparent stoic-ness. Himeno points out that he quickly becomes emotional even when newbies in his team die.
He’s so emotionally malleable that he subsequently decides not to participate in the operation to capture the Gun Devil because he doesn’t want to endanger Denji and Power’s lives. But fate had other plans for the young Devil Hunter, as no matter what he did, he’d either die 2 years after using his blade against Katana Man or be murdered by a Devil (Devil Hunters don’t usually have a long lifespan).
Himeno wanted Aki to survive as long as possible but unfortunately, nature couldn’t grant her wish.
Does Aki actually die?
Yes, Aki does indeed die in the Control Devil arc at the hands of the Gun Devil.
As Makima takes full control over Aki and the Angel Devil, the President of the United States makes a contract with the Gun Devil to exterminate Makima, who is capable to bring forth the “worst possible peace” on humanity.
As if he’s any better. Anybody who is willing to sacrifice his own people for political power is not noble.
Thus, the Gun Devil “descends from the heavens” and the next thing we see is the frightening list of names who were unfortunate enough to lose their life just because they happened to cross paths with him. One of names in that list is of Aki Hayakawa.
Yes! His name appears in the list.
Was Aki fated to die? Yes. But what if I told you his fate was sealed the moment Makima met Denji?
The Control Devil was on the lookout to conquer the other 3 horsemen and Denji was her number one tool to achieve that (cause’ of Pochita in his heart). We’ve already explained why Makima killed Power in another post. But what if a similar logic applies here?
Makima maneuvered the pawns in Denji’s life by purposely giving him a pleasant existence and then snatching it away, effectively manipulating him like a slave. Aki Hayakawa is one of these pawns. She forces him to pair up with the brat and ensure that they both get along, thereby framing the chain of attachment between their hearts.
Once Aki died, the chain shattered into pieces, resulting in a completely mentally unstable Denji who decides to not take decisions in his life anymore. Pochita knew this would happen and actually warned Denji to not open the door. But alas, the brat didn’t heed to his heart.
In other words, Aki was merely a piece of the greater plan to take control of Denji’s heart, aka Pochita.
A lot of fans assume that Denji was the one who killed him and understandably so, because Aki was having dreams of him playing snowball fight with Denji. So who did Denji kill?
Did Denji kill Aki?
No, Denji did not kill Aki but the part of the Gun Devil that possessed his body. After Makima overpowered the Gun Devil using various abilities possessed by those under her control, a portion of the Devil took over Aki’s body, resulting in him turning into a Gun Fiend.
Thus, it was Aki as the Gun Fiend who stood in front of Denji in chapter 77 and not Aki as himself.
Then how did Aki dream of the snowball fight?
Perhaps Aki’s brain was still functioning to recall his past memories while he was fighting Denji as the Gun Fiend. But is it possible for the brain to be alive for that long? Good news! I took great pain (one google click away) in researching for this exact phenomenon and found the much needed proof.
Stony Brook University of Medicine researchers found that individuals who were resuscitated could remember the healthcare workers’ interactions and were aware of their surroundings. They said that the brain shuts down slowly and it may take hours. The individual may be dead but aware of their surroundings.
Aki died at 3:18:26 and Makima summons the Punishment Devil at 3:18:28 to defeat the Gun Devil. Since the body possession might have taken a couple of seconds (due to the Gun Devil’s urgency), it gives plenty of time for Aki’s brain to survive, walk to his house, recognize Denji & Power and picture the whole fight in his head (albeit, in a very wholesome way).
However, this isn’t something new inserted by Fujimoto at that moment. The Violence Fiend was also able to remember his past memories as a human before the Devil took over the body.
Perhaps a Devil can choose how to possess a body, what to & what not to retain and so on…
Aki’s death left many fans, including me, drowning in a well of sorrow but I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it.
Was Aki’s death foreshadowed?
Yes, there are several indications that the Devil Hunter would meet an untimely death.
The 1st one was Himeno warning him of the risk of joining the Devil Hunter association and going after the Gun Devil. The 2nd was the fact that he was a “normal” human being.
Kishibe once explained that only those who had a few screws lose would survive the game of life even after encountering Devils day after day. And Himeno knew both she and Aki weren’t gonna be so lucky.
As a result, the eye-patched girl unfortunately met her end while saving Aki from the Katana Man.
The 3rd indication of Aki’s demise came from ending 5 of the chainsaw man anime where he walks up on a spiraling staircase and then everything starts breaking and falling, portraying the Devil Hunter’s world crashing down, along with his life.
The most obvious one is the direct statement from the Future Devil foretelling Aki’s death in “the worst possible” fashion.
That adjective doesn’t apply to Aki though.
As Denji put the Gun Fiend to rest, the Future Devil appears to clarify that Aki died in the worst possible way for the Chainsaw Man, thus fulfilling the 1st step in breaking Denji’s psyche, which brings us to the last heading for the topic.
The aftermath of Aki’s death
Topknot’s death represented a turning point in the plot, leading Denji to decide to become Makima’s dog, allowing her to further control his thoughts.
Denji laments to Makima that he wishes he had never befriended Aki in the first place to escape this tremendous guilty feeling crushing down his throat. He thinks about nothing but the knowledge that he killed Aki every day.
When they initially met, the two loathed one other. Makima’s attention was drawn to Denji, so Denji planned to inflict severe pain on Topknot and his descendants by continuously stomping his testicles.
The same deed became the basis of their first moment of bonding as they took turns kicking the Katana Man’s balls. Working together to battle the Katana Man, who has shortened the lives of so many people, represents the idea that they’ve become lifelong friends (even if it remains only in memory in the end).
Denji, Power, and Aki have since become an inseparable trio full of life and vigour. Aki felt so devoted to them that he was willing to let go of his life’s aim, which is to kill the Gun Devil, and live in peace with his “kids”.
However, Karma decided to act like a bitch and make their lives miserable. The following image (as pictured in Aki’s head) sums up their relationship:
These confessions rendered him mentally susceptible, allowing the Control Devil to enter his mind and direct him around, allowing her to seize Pochita.
Her purpose is to eliminate war, starvation, and death (the other three horsemen) with the assistance of the Hero of Hell, so establishing a world free of unequal relationships.
To Makima’s dismay, the Chainsaw Man she was fighting was actually a piece of Pochita that Denji had removed.
He had no direct impact on the outcome of Chainsaw Man vs Control Devil, but without his will, Denji and Power would not have lived as they did after his death…
Will Aki come back?
I don’t think he will and I hope he won’t. His death had an impact which would be spoiled if he ever was brought back.
Plus, we haven’t seen humans reincarnating in the Chainsaw Man universe so far, as opposed to Devils. Max to max, we’d see Aki (as he is) in flashbacks and nothing more. But we don’t really know whether they burned Aki’s body or buried him in a coffin. If the latter is true, then technically, another Devil can take over his body again just to fuck with Denji. But I personally think it’s unlikely and again, would take away the impact of Aki’s death had on the plot.
The Gun Fiend, however, may reappear if the remaining parts of the Gun Devil is made to possess a dead body. But that would be someone else’s body and not Aki’s.
There’s an interesting question posed by fans regarding this subject that isn’t addressed yet. What does happen to a single chunk of the Gun Devil’s body part after it dies? Does it reincarnate in Hell before appearing once again on Earth? How does it work?
Only Fujimoto’s pen can answer those in full certainty…