Writer/Illustrator: Tatsuki Fujimoto
English Translation: Amanda Haley
Eng. Lettering/Touch-Up Art: Sabrina Heep
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Review by: Jake West
Chainsaw Man, Vol 1 (Japanese Cover) by Tatsuki Fujimoto
WHAT IS IT?
A wild horror series set in modern Japan where devils run amok and make hell on Earth for humanity.
Think Evil Dead meets Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Saddled with his late father's debt, Denji works as a devil hunter for the Yakuza. His pet devil, Pochita, is slaughtered along with Denji when the Yakuza betray them. The two make a pact in their final moments and are reborn as Chainsaw Man!
Now, Denji is forced to work for the government, hunting devils. If he ever quits or disobeys orders, he will be put down as a devil himself. However, this union job isn't without its benefits and he's already living his dream. Even if it comes at a steep price.
The writing is a thrill ride from start to finish, the pacing is lightning fast, and not a single panel or piece of dialogue is wasted. The series is a great combination of action, comedy and horror. It skillfully blends these elements into a compelling plot you can really sink your teeth into.
The art style is gritty and realistic despite its subject matter. The fight scenes are badass, a feast for the eyes and shockingly violent all at the same time. Also, seeing a chainsaw coming out of Denji's face for the first time is peak body horror.
The backdrop of modern Tokyo is beautifully rendered and, in wider panels, there is a lot of great detail work that shows people live in and use this city everyday. This creates a stark contrast between the idyllic city and the devils' designs as they are often grotesque and otherworldly.
The action lettering does a lot of the heavy lifting. In many cases, they are used as action lines, which meshes incredibly well with the art style. Viewing the sample page at the end of this section, you can see that the chainsaw cuts flying out through the zombie hoard are actually the Japanese action lettering.
The fonts all serve the story well and enhance the reading experience. The humans and devils each have their own specific font, which makes it easy to tell who is talking, especially during fight scenes. Dialogue is often in bold for dramatic effect, the effect is used sparingly enough that it adds to certain story beats quite well (see page below).
Chainsaw Man, Vol 1 Interior Page by Taksuki Fujimoto
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Mature Content Warning: Blood, Gore, Dismemberment, Swearing, Sexual References
This manga uses the trope of sex being Denji's main motivation. This may take some readers out of the story, as it does come up quite often, and is one of the main drives behind the plot in this volume.
Some of the devil designs/concepts are odd choices for an opening volume. The muscle devil and the sea cucumber devil come to mind as they are not particularly scary or interesting.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
You should read Chainsaw Man if you like horror, supernatural terrors and well-crafted manga.
It is impossible to put down. The plot flies from one twist to the next with expert precision. Its bombastic ultraviolet fight scenes, insane monster design, and absurd gore are second to none.
This manga is simultaneously hilarious and one of the most horrifying things I have ever witnessed. The humor is well-spaced throughout and those moments of levity make the more serious, terrifying moments easier to stomach. Few manga manage to make me laugh out loud while reading it, even fewer manga have disturbed me this deeply.
Chainsaw Man is horror at its best.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto
Jujustu Kaisen by Gege Akutami
Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’edera
If you like the art:
Look Back by Tatsuki Fujimoto
Claymore by Nobuhiro Yagi
D. Gray-Man by Katsura Hoshino
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Tatsuki Fujimoto- Writer/Illustrator
Won best manga for Chainsaw Man in 2021 AND 2022.
Tatsuki Fujimoto is more heavily involved in the Chainsaw Man anime's production than most manga creators.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
Shonen Jump's website (or app), only $1.99 per month subscription, read up to 100 chapters a day. They have the entire first arc of Chainsaw Man and the second arc just started! (Not sponsored)
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