Story & Art by Tatsuki Fujimoto
Translated by Amanda Haley
Touch-Up Art & Lettering by Sabrina Heep
Design by Julian Robinson
Edited by Alexis Kirsch
Love it or hate it, Weekly Shonen Jump has fostered some of the most iconic series in manga, and it’s core concepts of “Friendship, Effort, and Victory” are prevalent throughout its series. Still, we often have a narrow perception of these concepts, commonly associating them with ambitious underdog stories like My Hero Academia and Haikyu. In truth, the values of Weekly Shonen Jump can be interpreted in dramatically different ways, and no series shows this better than Chainsaw Man. The first volume of Chainsaw Man is now available from Viz Media, so let’s take a look at what makes this series standout from its contemporaries!
Chainsaw Man centers on Denji, a young devil hunter who is forced to pay back his dead father’s debt. When Denji is suddenly killed on a job, his pet devil Pochita merges with his body, reviving him as a human-devil hybrid that can unleash chainsaws from his appendages. As a result, Denji joins the Public Safety Devil Hunters to exterminate devils, with the hopes of getting closer to its alluring leader Makima.
At first glance, Chainsaw Man feels a bit off from what you’d expected from a Weekly Shonen Jump title. While it’s easy to sympathize with Denji’s poverty, he is by no means a traditionally “good” person. Denji is incredibly crass and selfish, narrowly focusing on his mundane priorities. While this may make it difficult to invest in Denji’s story, it also presents him as a fascinating character. Denji has lived such a harsh life that his values have been drastically warped from the norm. While most protagonists would have an ambitious goal to achieve power or status, Denji only wants to indulge in the pleasures of an ordinary life. Denji simply wants to embrace the joys of youth, but he is shackled by his own circumstances.
While Chainsaw Man’s cast isn’t fully fleshed out in this first volume, there are still some notable additions. The leader of the Public Safety Devil Hunters Makima serves as one of Denji’s early motivations in the series. Makima excels at taking advantage of Denji’s emotional innocence, enticing him with romantic advances to make him follow her orders. In reality, Makima views Denji as a pawn that she is willing to kill to suit her needs. The toxic relationship between the two of them is hard to read, but it paints the dark picture of Makima’s character. While she may be protecting humanity, her subordinates are nothing but weapons to her.
This volume also introduces Denji’s partners Aki Hayakawa and Power. Aki is a Public Safety Devil Hunter whose family was killed by a devil. Aki serves a foil to Denji’s wild behavior, being far more reserved and orderly in his duties. This creates some entertaining tension between the two, and a solid dynamic that will continue to evolve throughout the series.
Denji’s other partner Power is a fiend, a devil which has possessed a human corpse. From her introduction alone, she exudes personality, loudly announcing her presence and acting humorously over-the-top. Power is able to make even Denji’s antics seem tame in comparison, as seen when she kills a devil by jumping off a rooftop and then screams her victory. Power perfectly encapsulates the tone of Chainsaw Man: bloody, insane, and thoroughly entertaining.
If Chainsaw Man didn’t stand out enough narratively, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s artwork does the deed. The series has a rough yet detailed look, pairing fittingly with the manga’s ample violence and gore. The designs of the devils are especially intricate, contrasting with the more simple human designs. This gives the devils a more abnormal vibe, while also forming a sense of horror around them. That said, combat is where Chainsaw Man truly shines, as Fujimoto will depict the conflicts in meticulous detail with numerous large panels. Every battle feels more epic than the last, and creates an addicting sensation while reading it. The different facets to Chainsaw Man’s visuals make it feel like a series that only Fujimoto could create, cementing it as a truly special series.
Chainsaw Man is a wild and action-packed manga that will excite readers at every turn. Denji’s outlandish behavior and values makes him a unique protagonist, crafting a narrative that feels unpredictable yet incredibly fun. This is one manga that will be hard to put down.