Title: Chainsaw Man.
Writer(s): Tatsuki Fujimoto.
Artist(S): Tatsuki Fujimoto.
Publisher: Viz Media.
Release Date: December 3rd, 2018 to December 14th, 2020 (Part One).
Genre(s): Action, Comedy horror, Dark Fantasy.
My Overall Rating:
Young, wild, and free. The period right before adulthood is a slippery slope for many youngsters. Constantly trying to figure out who they are, what they want to be, how to build meaningful relationships, how to get an intimate partner, and what makes them happy, their journey for answers is riddled with innocence and immaturity, mashed together in an incomprehensible mess of emotions and thoughts. For some, the frustration generated from this complex and youthful psyche is sometimes best portrayed through a sudden surge of unchained violence. Written and illustrated by mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto, now collected in eleven tankōbon volumes, he delivers one of the most beloved shōnen series, which also happens to have recently been green-lit for a second part to be serialized in Shueisha’s Shōnen Jump+ online magazine.
What is Chainsaw Man about? The story follows Denji, a sixteen-year-old boy who must carry on his dead father’s incredible debt to the Yakuza. Unable to pay off these monetary debts, he works as a Devil Hunter with his Devil dog companion, Pochita, hunting down and killing Devils for the Yakuza. On an unfortunate day, the Yakuza betrays him by dealing with the Zombie Devil and kills Denji who then receives and accepts a contract with his Chainsaw Devil dog and is reborn as a human-devil hybrid known as Chainsaw Man. After exacting revenge upon those who betrayed him, he is recruited by Makima to join a team of governmental Devil Hunters known as the Public Safety Division. Although condemned to death if he acts against them, being a Devil himself and all, he agrees to join their ranks, hunt down Devils, and try to live a normal life despite the weirdness of his colleagues and the world before him.
Fooled by the premise and the chaotically entertaining first volume, this series quickly spiraled into a perverted, absurd, and awkward world that relentlessly shoves the reader with a motley of quirky and ridiculous characters who are all socially inadequate and effortlessly violent by nature. The protagonist’s obsession with boobs and having a girlfriend, while might be relatable to a younger audience that finds respite in the ridiculous, was an early hint at mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto’s direction, and should’ve been a warning I heeded as the series, volume after volume, never really grounds itself in anything logical, original, or amusing. The strange and inept characteristics found in these characters, especially Denji, do reflect a gawky reality found among adolescents but is exponentially caricatured to an extent that it makes his journey foreign and impossible to sympathize with.
If the character front was hopeless, it wasn’t the story that was going to save this series. Not only was it all over the place, sometimes simply taking a detour for the sake of doing a quick action-only volume, but it was also unashamedly flexible to the mangaka’s whim, as it should be, but with no regard for story-telling structure. At one moment you’ll have Denji finding a new love interest who ultimately ends up being an insane Devil wanting to kill him, at another instant, you have Denji somehow getting a bounty on his head and becoming the target of countless other Devils, and at another instant, there’s a devastating Gun Devil that’s about to kill billions of people and someone needs to stop it. The perversion noted within the protagonist also often becomes a central pillar of his characterization, making his motives infantile and irrelevant, overshadowing any little world-building and story-telling elements. If I had to summarize this series to someone, I simply wouldn’t know where to begin.
Now here’s where there might be some source of appeal for readers out there: the action. This series capitalizes on its ultraviolent, gory, and horror-focused action scenes and it’s not to be taken lightly. Creatures and people get shredded in unimaginable ways. Destruction is vital to this world, and so is self-destruction among these weird characters. With rough yet heavy penciling, mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto infuses this series with dark and awkward comedy with severe horror fantasy, and he has a blast doing so. In fact, some volumes are composed of chapters purely of action without a single dialogue bubble within sight. However, in this manga form, there’s a severe choppiness and lack of fluidity from one panel to another, even when it’s purely story-oriented, making some of the later volumes completely incomprehensible. While sometimes this absurdly, comical, and chaotic style is a relief to get through, it is also its flaw, making me wonder how on Earth there’s a strong fanbase for this and that a second part to this manga series has been confirmed.
Chainsaw Man is a crudely dark, quirkily bizarre, and relentlessly violent manga series following a devil-human hybrid in his perverted and immature adventures.