Genre: Horror Shonen
Year Release in English: 2021-2022
Buy link: Viz Media Digital Subscription
At the beginning of the series, we meet Denji, a boy saddled with generational debt who gets killed by gangsters, only to make a pact with his dog, Pochita, to become a Devil-human hybrid called Chainsaw Man. He gets picked up by the department of public safety, whose Division 4 is managed by the beautiful, enigmatic Makima. Their primary objective is to eliminate the Gun Devil, which wreaked havoc on Japan over a decade prior.
There’s elements of slice-of-life, true horror, and exciting action as we follow Denji on his quest to fulfill the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with satisfying twist after satisfying twist.
Trigger warning: Gore, vomiting, blood, murder, gun violence, dismemberment
The art throughout this manga is efficient. While some of my faves are into meticulous detailing on everything from the monster designs to the architecture, Fujimoto definitely takes a more minimalist approach. Chapters zip by with many panels often focusing on one or two characters or lines. There are some moments the benefit from reading on a phone because there are hard snaps into a reveal that elicit a “wait, WHAT” response.
I will definitely be rereading this manga at some point because there is detail work that makes for some nice call backs to earlier chapters. In discussion with other fans of the series, the craft is reminiscent of classic mysteries complete with red herrings and misdirection that enhance the cohesion of the work in general. If you’re one for noticing neat details, the minimalism of the art style lends itself incredibly to this element of the story crafting.
Fujimoto has a knack for crafting compelling female characters. There’s best buddy, Power, and Kobeni and her thorough inability to drive. Quanxi and her four girlfriends are probably why Chapter 59 is not available on the Shonen Jump app (here is the link to the Viz site for when you get there). I love all of them and really appreciate how they function independently of Denji. They’re either Devils or Devil Hunters, but they are all morally grey in pursuit of their own wants and needs.
I cannot talk about Makima in too much detail because it would ruin so much of the story experience, but holy shit, is she my favorite. Some of the more laugh-out-loud moments come from her being so deadpan, and a lot of Denji’s character development and the emotional arc of the manga overall are tied up in their interactions. I found myself internally screaming at the twists, zipping through to the very end.
Overall, this is an action-packed romp that has interesting things to say about character wants in the context of world-ending stakes, in addition to the meaning of friendship and what happiness truly looks like. Plus a lot of cool Devil designs and hyper violence that made me squeal.