“Denji has a simple dream—to live a happy and peaceful life, spending time with a girl he likes. This is a far cry from reality, however, as Denji is forced by the yakuza into killing devils in order to pay off his crushing debts. Using his pet devil Pochita as a weapon, he is ready to do anything for a bit of cash.
Unfortunately, he has outlived his usefulness and is murdered by a devil in contract with the yakuza. However, in an unexpected turn of events, Pochita merges with Denji’s dead body and grants him the powers of a chainsaw devil. Now able to transform parts of his body into chainsaws, a revived Denji uses his new abilities to quickly and brutally dispatch his enemies. Catching the eye of the official devil hunters who arrive at the scene, he is offered work at the Public Safety Bureau as one of them. Now with the means to face even the toughest of enemies, Denji will stop at nothing to achieve his simple teenage dreams.” – MAL Synopsis
I wanted to hold off on reading this because the anime adaption was announced earlier this year. With it being confirmed to be released late next year I just had to scratch this itch. It’s impossible to escape this manga. It’s beloved on the internet and I needed to see what all the hype was about. I read this in about two-ish days and I’ve genuinely never consumed something that’s completely batshit crazy at times while also having really deep and interesting themes. Chainsaw Man was a wild ride.
I didn’t expect this story to be as good as it was. It’s fast-paced with the different story arcs that are back-to-back to back. Yet it still found the time have those chill character-building moments and slower-paced panels. In a world where there are a handful of stories and manga especially about demons/devils and people who slay them. This manga found a way to make that all feel new, unique, and refreshing. There are a few things that contribute to that. The world of Chainsaw Man always feels very familiar yet off. In a sense that there’s something very similar to our real world but something is also off. That gets explained in the later chapters but that sense and feeling help the vibe of the story-heavy. This is great because this shit is crazy. Reading Denji and co fighting and killing all types of various devils was a treat and a half. All while a really compelling story unfolds. There’s some top-notch foreshadowing that leads to some amazing payoff. I loved the references and inspirations as well. There are multiple Spiderman/Comic book references throughout. There’s literally a version of the iconic train scene from Spider-Man 2, it was great. The fights range from just all-out bouts to some with really cool tactics used. There’s a perfect balance between the two. I love how we got the best of both worlds when it comes to the final fight. This story is like a crazy train that’s always in go mode but slows down at some points. It was great.
There are a few themes that this story tackles that are very prominent. They’re always there but it’s definitely more subtle at the beginning and pretty heavy-handed (not in a bad way) by the end. Characters willfully being ignorant to keep peace of mind. Denji loses that ignorance as he becomes more ingrained with society and people around him and therefore he loses that bliss along the way too. Then there’s having control over others and how being in a position with that control can warp how you perceive people and relationships. Hand in hand with that is fear and how the devils are born of humans’ fear and the stronger that social cognition is the more powerful the devil. Then there’s the idea of dreams and whether chasing them is more fulfilling than actually achieving them. Those were definitely the most prominent to me on my first read There is also a fair amount of biblical imagery used, and some other themes really gave this manga that Evangelion feel.
Speaking of powers. I loved the power system here. When it comes to demons/devils being born from humans’ fears that’s not a new concept, but I’ll always be a sucker for it because it invites some really cool and creative possibilities. So here even within that, there are different types of devils. Actual devils, fiends who take over humans’ almost dead bodies, hybrids who are fiends but retain their humanity, and then there are humans who make contracts with devils at a cost. And the stronger the cost the more powerful the devil/ability. With all that being said, man did Fujimoto use every inch of creativity when he created some of these designs and powers. I don’t wanna get ahead of myself cause I’ll gush over the art and designs later. But like these devils and powers are so fucking cool! Chainsaw man looks like something right out of Doom, when Aki first summoned Kon and many of the later panels and fights. It’s just cool, there’s no other word to explain it.
Denji is the dumbest main character I’ve ever witnessed and that makes me sad. It’s nothing new for protags to be dumb and simple. It’s pretty much always used for laughs and antics with no real rhyme or reason behind it. That’s not to say that’s not the case here cause it 100% is. Denji is hilarious and he and Power had me laughing often. It’s just when you look behind the veil, and remember the deeper reasons why Denji’s character is like this. It’s genuinely tragic. That first chapter set up just how depressing and inhumane his life was. Barely eating, mistreated, treated like a dog, selling body parts to make money, and used, he’d never even gone to school before and he’s 16. The setup from that chapter alone really made me want the best for him constantly. With his trauma and pain successfully hooking me and investing me into his wellbeing. It made everything he goes through hit like a truck. And he goes through a lot. The manipulation and control never stop and it hurt to see. Also, me being a 20 year old, I’m not that far removed from when I was his age. So he’s somewhat relatable when it comes to his constant lusting after women. Now I wasn’t down as bad as him, but I get it. Once again though, the control never stops as his lust is constantly used against him and I can’t help but feel sad about that too. He’s never really had any sort of affection in his life, especially from a female. All he has are urges, urges which are natural that a normal person learns to handle. But he is far from a normal person and I hated seeing that be manipulated. It’s not all tragedy though. I loved watching his relationship with Aki and Power grow. Cause it’s pretty subtle until you realize Woah, they’re really like a family now. They really care for each other. It was so sweet to watch and I could read a whole manga about Power and Denji just clowning around.
Power is the best. The highest iq character ever. Seriously she was so endearing, almost like a toddler in the way that she talks weird, constantly lies, her funny quips, hating vegetables. It’s shocking how she literally never got annoying, she got more loveable as the manga went on. As she grows with the others. It was a joy to read. Again, her dynamic with Denji is just amazing. Love those two together.
Aki is a great character. The “stoic” one of the trio, for him to play that role he never comes off as bland and I was constantly interested in his personal goals and motivation from the jump. I think it helps immensely that his character design is awesome. As the story progressed I was very interested in his personal journey as a whole and he’s really a tragic character through and through. For all his stoicism, he clearly has a big heart, and those panels where that’s shown just added so much to him. As the “big brother” of the trio, he was amazing.
I think just due to my past experiences from my 20 plus years on this earth, I’ve just got a radar for manipulative people. That radar went off hard the very first-time Makima was introduced and it kept ringing and ringing the whole manga. She comes off as somewhat open yet mysterious. There’s this aura of sinisterness around her constantly. Yet I can’t deny just like everyone else in the manga, she was cool as hell. I can’t stress how much I love what Fujimoto did with her character. In a series with very memorable characters and moments where basically every chapter was memorable. She definitely has the most out of everyone. Every panel she was in just added to her mystery and allure, all the way up until the endgame where there’s some super satisfying payoff with her character.
Theres so many other characters I can talk about from other officers to devils and just other antagonists. Fujimoto does a great job fleshing characters out just enough to make you at least care a bit before he does the deed and offs them. Which, A lot of characters died in this manga. Some were way more impactful than others, but nonetheless, it never felt like somebody died just to die or was written off abruptly. They all serve their purpose. And my favorite side character is easily Kobeni, Fujimoto needs to leave that poor girl alone.
I haven’t read too many mangas so far in my life. But among those, I have read this easily has the best paneling. Before I even get into that, the character designs are my favorite ever. Even over bleach. The devil hunters all look stylish in their suits and formal attire. The hybrids look cool as hell when they transform. The fiends have amazing artwork. And last but definitely not least, the actual devils themselves are breathtaking. The detail in the artwork is crazy and the designs are unimaginable. Add that all together with beautiful backgrounds and everything constantly being well-drawn and detailed. Then you get some of the best paneling I’ve ever seen. I think the best example of this is my favorite panel in manga and I just wanna talk about it a little bit.
This comes from about halfway in the manga and without spoiling. Some context is that this is the darkness devil in hell. Bodies of astronauts are divided one row on the left with their upper bodies in prayer, on right their lower bodies sticking out of the ground. All lined up in this long panel leading to the devil of darkness. That symbolism is so strong. So many of us are scared of the dark, it’s the unknown, anything could be lurking. So imagine being an astronaut in space. Surrounded by nothing but darkness. People have gone mad from being in space with no sense of up or down. That could explain the bodies in half. Even then, they’re all praying. The bravest men this world can produce, that venture off into the void of space, praying to a higher power for relief. Space is the primordial level of darkness. This one panel with no dialogue says so much and there are so many more examples of stuff like this throughout this manga. Fujimoto is truly special.
So yeah Chainsaw Man on the surface is just pure action-packed fun. It has all the style and flair that you could ask for. Its fun factor already makes it amazing, but there’s really something deep super compelling about so many characters and aspects in this manga. It really shocked me the more I kept reading. I was absolutely hooked. Fujimoto crafted something special. I could really talk about various aspects of this manga all day. Especially the art and paneling. I can’t wait for part 2 and the anime adaption as well. Chainsaw Man is amazing.
Chainsaw Man – 10/10