It is a very easy thing to say that Chainsaw Man has been a growing phenomenon in the anime and manga sphere for the past year. At least in the land of Shonen Jump reading. Up to the point where people in the anime industry are knocking at the door of Studio Mappa right now to work on the anime adaptation of it. There is a reason for that. To spoil my own opinion of it, Chainsaw Man is an incredible manga. At least this first part is and I just don’t know how it made it to being on Shonen Jump. This is like Devilman Crybaby in 2018 in terms of scope because Chainsaw Man is yet another modernized version of Devil Man. There are differences, but that is the story in broad strokes. Uncle Go Nagai would be proud of this manga. I wonder if he read this.
The following after this post will have spoilers. For me, it’s impossible to dig into this manga without talking about it in some amount of detail. Beware that fact.
Chainsaw Man is a manga set in a universe where devils are created by human fear. So that means there is all sorts of devils in them from gun devils to even the smallest kind of fear. In that universe, there is a young boy named Denji. A young man who has had no formal education and is paid by the Yakuza to do all sorts of deeds. One day, he runs across a dog named Pochita. It’s the first thing he has ever cared about something or had any strong emotions at all. When Denji is killed by the Yakuza, Pochita becomes his heart and Denji becomes the legendary Chainsaw Man, A devil with Chainsaws. After annihilating the Yakuza’s devil, Makima, an attractive young woman from Public Safety, hires him on to work for her.
The deal Makima gives Denji to work for him are very basic things. Food to eat, a safe place to eat, and general access to every day necessities that he hasn’t had beforehand without any strings attached. Ha. It’s a simple deal for an organization that gets a lot from the legendary Chainsaw Man joining the Public Safety Devil Hunter unit. Especially with Makima making that contract which Denji. One he follows along with at first because of her general kindness and how generally hot she is. Her hugging him was that singular human emotion, horniness, that drove him forward from that point on like a dog.
Living with Denji are too unique beings that go beyond understanding. All on purpose as set up pieces. Power is a female feigned that loves her cat Meowy and has an endlessly powerful and hilarious ego. If she does something by accident, she will say it was her grand design. If she didn’t achieve anything, she blames it on everyone else. She is also endlessly crude and doesn’t believe in bathing or flushing toilets. I love her. Aki, the poor man, is a guy with a contract that takes away his life span away from him when he makes deadly attacks and is the normal guy working hard to keep his family unit from killing each other. Somehow, he succeeds despite how annoyed he is. The poor big brother character.
The beginning arcs are the character building arcs. Power originally tried to trick Denji by feeding him to a devil, but Chainsaw Man defeated it. There is also the locked in a hotel arc where you get to know a lot of other people like Aki’s first partner Himeno who gets horny while drunk, has a crush on Aki, and has a contract with the ghost devil, Kobeni the endlessly relatable character who is pure millenial in human form because of how she does dangerous tasks only for money and is under paid, and so many other characters. Somehow with Denji’s help they escape, but a lot of their fates are written on the wall. Death.
There are two things driving things forward. The first one is Denji’s growth as a human being. He is still an uneducated person, but he learns more about value and what is important to living. Denji doesn’t want to just touch and hang out girls over time, he learns to want a balanced relationship between him and anyone he’s interested in. He learns this by dating and fighting Reze, who is part of a bomb devil and really hot and amazing, and by Makima only using his basic instincts from the beginning to keep him in line. Denji growing out of that phase is important to the story because Makima never sees him, only Devil Man. A very important and powerful thing for him to discover.
The second thing driving the story is Makima herself. Almost everything that happens is in relation to Makima in some way. Reze becomes interested in Denji and wants him to get away from Makima. She also used Aki and Power to make Denji more submissive. Also, a lot of Public Security people die by being associated to Makima as well and Makima cannot die. We see her assassinated multiple times and it never works. There is an arc where a guy named German Santa, a powerful assassin with a lesbian polycule whose name is Quanxi, and japanese yakuza members go out to kill Makima and Chainsaw man themselves. None of them succeed. Even the old man working for Public Security, Kishibe, who trained Power and Denji wants to eliminate her. Doesn’t that say something? As I’ve described, Part one ends in a way you would expect it to but somehow heartwarming as well.
With all that drama are plenty of moments of levity, hilarity, gore, moments that will gross you out from how they are drawn, and lots of horniness. Welcome to the life of a dog! All of it fits together to provide that atmosphere of Chainsaw Man. There are tons of body horror, bizarre or otherwise. That’s what you get with a guy with a chainsaw head and arms. Characters are also framed as sexual beings, which is true for everyone. Reze is a hot woman who skinny dips with Denji and I’ve already talked about Himeno when she’s drunk. We could also talk about the one-word Denji can read is balls or that moment Himeno threw up right into Denji’s mouth. That was his first kiss and it was ruined. It all works together in a tasteful way because Denji is a teenager. A horny boy trying to find his place in life.
The manga art is very memorable and decently ok. Not the best art, but its good enough the messages it wants to convey across pretty well. The action is good when it wants to be. There are also lots of gore, lots of chainsaw, and lots of excitement! Very simple character designs, but also very distinct character designs that you can tons of personality in despite some of them looking similar. Each person has at least one trait that makes them stand out in some way. It also helps that Chainsaw Man is drawn in a very memey way. I mean that. You can take entire panels from this manga whole sale and they are just an internet meme. It allows some fantastic moments to be even more memorable than they could have been otherwise and it works with the general atmosphere of the manga too.
Part One of chainsaw man is a very wonderful read. In my language, that could mean solid and yeah, that’s it. If there is one thing I can say that is wrong about it, there isn’t a lot of down time. One arc happens right after another with one chapter of set up which can lead to not a lot of emotional whiplash. Which is great, because I like it when manga can be very consistently toned. Still, I would like more of a chance to dig into these characters a bit before they, you know. Other than that, I can’t recommend Part 1 of Chainsaw Man enough. It is a wonderful experience you can’t get in a lot of places these days. Such a unique experience for Shonen Jump as well. Read it on the Shonen Jump app, it’s only 97 chapters right now.