WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers from Chainsaw Man Manga Part 1. Read ahead at your own discretion!
Makima. An enigma in the entire Chainsaw Man series & the demon amongst devils. She is a high-ranking Devil Hunter in the Public Safety Services apparently on a mission to bring down the Gun Devil. Even the mention of her name makes her devoted followers bark with excitement. She is stunningly attractive, clever, and confidently marches ahead carrying the torch, lighting humanity’s way to eradicate death, hunger and war.
Or is it that simple…?
Her motives may seem noble on the surface but a stern nose can pick up the scent of hypocrisy lurking in the shadows. For instance, Makima is perceptive enough to know that the Yakuza’s “necessary evil” was only an excuse for their criminal behavior. However, she insists that the government does indeed collar and control genuine instances of essential evil.
Is this a lie as well?
Kishibe said at the end of part 1 that if Nayuta was given to be raised by the government, she’ll probably turn out like Makima again. Does that mean that the Control Devil was actually brought up & nurtured by the government as a child? I think that seems to be the case.
The notion of evil or evilness is something humanity isn’t a stranger to. The same, of course, goes for demons or devils in any culture as well. Whether Makima was truly evil or not has been debated ever since she took Denji under her wing.
In this post, I address the topic from a cultural and psychological perspective and discern whether that’s really true or not.
What is evil?
The question of what evil is has been debated amongst philosophers for centuries. Evil or evilness is interpreted different across cultures. Generally speaking, doing something evil means causing harm to someone else against their will.
Since Fujimoto loves to take references from the Bible often, let’s take a look at what it means according to Christianity. In the Old Testament, evil is understood to be an opposition to God, his will as well as something unsuitable or inferior such as the leader of the fallen angels – Satan/Lucifer (I’ll talk about Lucifer in detail later).
In other words, evil is something that goes against the natural flow of God’s creation by artificially claiming to either be God or attempting to control God’s creation to satisfy one’s greed/lust. This includes willfully committing acts to get deeply entrapped into the 7 deadly sins, namely envy, gluttony, greed or avarice, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath.
An evildoer is someone who, out of their own free will, take delight in engaging in sinful actions.
With that said, does Makima come under the bracket of an evildoer?
Is Makima actually evil?
It’s honestly difficult to answer that question since Makima’s backstory isn’t revealed yet so far. But If the government raised her since birth, she probably was made to use her powers for selfish reasons. My sense is that Makima wasn’t intrinsically evil, though her actions do come under the bracket of an evildoer.
Let’s delve into what I meant, little by little.
Like Johan from Monster, her expressions are either stoic or sinister for the most part. She had no remorse for either killing/controlling her targets or breaking Denji’s happiness to achieve her goal. She’s committed at least 5 of the 7 sins in the list. That qualifies as someone as evil right? RIGHT?
But, there’s one scene which changed all of that.
And what triggered it? Seeing a mother and son hug warmly in a film that had the potential to change Makima’s life. Why did that scene make her cry more than any other?
Pochita explains in chapter 97 that Makima always wanted to form equal relationships with others but could only establish them through the power of fear.
Both Pochita and Makima shared the same dream – to have someone hug them. That’s why Denji (with Pochita as his heart) too cried for that scene.
She wanted a world where she could live in peace in the arms of a loving family but since people around her were terrified of her, she thought she had no other choice but to bring them under her control.
Is that the right way of going about it? No, because you’re ignoring the fundamental right of every individual, i.e., free will.
It reminds me of a scene in the 2003 film Bruce Almighty in which Bruce (Jim Carrey) tried to force Grace (Jennifer Aniston) to fall in love with him against her free will despite his Divine abilities. This demonstrates that loving someone with their consent is not only morally appropriate, but also more appealing than using force. That love is cleansed.
Makima, on the other hand, does force things around against people’s free will to get what she wants. But is she built that way because she’s the Control Devil? Does she only have herself to blame?
Is only Makima at fault for her actions?
I believe that’s not the case due to the possibility that the Japanese government raised her to be an agent of chaos. Normally kids don’t know what is right and wrong and merely listen to what their guardians tell them. So it’s highly likely that she incorporated the philosophy & mission of the government into her psyche.
This is backed up by 3 things:
- Kishibe saying that Nayuta would end up like Makima if she was raised by the government.
- She has a contract with the Japanese President & the higher ups in the government lays out instructions that she needs to carry out.
- She thinks acts of “necessary evil” can only be performed by the state.
Fujimoto presented a bleak picture of Chainsaw Man from a political perspective, since the countries despise each other and the Japanese government wouldn’t hesitate to resort to foul play to take control of other nations. How so? Makima reveals that the Gun Devil elimination operation was a sham to lure in the parts of the Devil other nations have in their possession.
Despite the abundance of foreign spies in Japan, the other nations are pretty frightened of Makima and her power. That’s why the President of USA went as far as sacrificing 1 year of every American’s lifespan to kill Makima and prevent Japan from taking the lead.
The government practically used her as a pawn in their own scheme, making it seem as though she, not Denji, is the true canine.
Her dog-like mentality was displayed when she was biting Denji’s finger where she says “Remember this (the bite). So that even if you can’t see, you’ll be able to tell it’s me, from how hard I’m biting”. It’s a common canine mentality to not want to be forgotten by its owner. Hence, it resorts to such gestures in an effort to forestall such an outcome. Perhaps the leash put on her neck by the government is making her act in that way.
Now, compare Makima’s behavior to Nayuta’s. The latter was brought up in the way she exactly wants as requested by Pochita – with atmost love and affection from Chainsaw Man (Denji).
Nayuta isn’t hurting anybody (at least so far) because she found a sense of belonging-ness Makima had been looking for all this while.
Nayuta was not brought up to be a control freak as Makima was, thus she did not become like her. Therefore, the Control Devil’s inherent evil isn’t a result of who she truly is.
Knives and weapons aren’t inherently harmful. The morality of an action depends on the motivation behind its execution. You can use a knife to cut vegetables and feed your family, or you can use it to slit someone’s throat and satisfy your bloodlust.
Similarly, Makima or the Control Devil can use her abilities in the service of good. Unfortunately, her upbringing dictated her to use them to satisfy her and the government’s lust for power & dominion over others. But now, Nayuta has the opportunity to use them diligently thanks to Denji.
Regarding Makima herself, Fujimoto once said that she is a character that symbolizes “domination”, as taken from the series “Breath of the Stars” which served as one of his inspirations for Chainsaw Man.
Everyone born in this planet has the urge to rule over others. But Makima, being the Control Devil, has that urge multiplied. She was created out of humanity’s fear of being controlled, so in that sense, she’s not wicked because she’s simply doing what she knows. But that sensation of control is fueled by complex emotions.
Is Makima selfish & egotistical?
Yes. Even her desire to have “equal relationships with others” is also selfish. Why? Because her goal is limited to her and Chainsaw Man (Pochita), whereas she sees everyone else around her as dogs or slaves (including Denji).
Another of her objectives is to erase hunger, death, and war from the face of the Earth with the assistance of Chainsaw Man (albeit, by controlling him). It may appear to be a laudable purpose, but the number of corpses she leaves behind in the process does not add up.
What’s more, Makima really doesn’t care about Denji other than the fact that he has Pochita seated in his heart. This is supported by her disappointment in the Chainsaw Devil harboring Denji’s feelings during the final battle of the Control Devil arc. Despite knowing her true feelings, Denji still loved her and accepted to take Nayuta under his care.
Makima’s selfish desires is backed up by her pride. Throughout Part 1 of the manga, she is always smiling and seems calm and in control, when she is seen speaking to her employees in a businesslike tone even in the midst of a crisis.
Her human form can easily fool the innocent but nobody other than Kishibe recognizes the red horns hidden underneath the carpet. Throughout Part 1, she pretends to be a human with having multiple contracts with “Devils” rather than a Devil herself.
However, After Aki’s death, Makima begins to show her true colours to Denji. This is all a guise she uses to get what she wants.
The real Makima is cold and calculated; she treats those around her like “dogs,” whom she can use at will and who will do as she says without question.
Nonetheless, any living being, egotistical or not, is deeply concerned with his or her own survival. That’s why the final time we see Makima display any emotion is during her death. As Denji pulls out his chainsaw to finally finish her off, she begins to sweat profusely and visibly display signs of concern.
By the name goes, a Control Devil is by nature egotistical & manipulative. She sees herself higher than any pathetic mortal that crosses her path. Fujimoto got this idea for Makima by analyzing Benten’s character in The Eccentric Family.
Along with his superiority complex, the mangaka brought in a different side of Makima not discussed much amongst the fandom.
Because he (Benten) is an unfathomable being who is higher than humans, but he has his own sadness, but we, the lowly ones, can’t be there for his sadness. It would be nice if we could show that in Makima too.
In Makima’s terms, she has her own sadness (inability to form equal relationships) but we, the lowly ones (humans) can’t be there for her sadness. She says she only wants to be with Pochita forever due to the respect she has for him (only him).
This, again, is another selfish desire which Pochita recognizes but feels compassionate for her because both share the same ultimate goal, but goes about in different ways.
Makima seems like a fallen angel with a twisted mindset, kinda like Lucifer from the Bible. And there are evidences from both the anime and manga to support this. I’ll elaborate in greater detail in another post.
Devils in Chainsaw Man, for the most part, aren’t black and white, like those in myths and Makima isn’t an exception. Whether she’s truly evil or not, there’s no doubt she’s one of the most intriguing characters in the series.
What do you think? Is Makima evil? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
CHAINSAW MAN © 2018 by Tatsuki Fujimoto/SHUEISHA Inc.